Fly to Krakow, transfer to Smokovec (approx 2½hrs).
After breakfast we have a short transfer to the goral village of Zdiar. Starting at the Strednica ski centre we follow the ridge of Spisska Magura Mountain all the way to the Bachledova valley. On the way there are some lovely views over the ridges of the Belianske Tatras. The terrain will be relatively easy. Some of these routes were used long ago by local smugglers to bring goods either from Poland to Slovakia or the other way around.
Today begins with a trip on the local Tatra train up to Strbske Pleso Lake (1361m) framed by the white peaks of the surrounding mountains. This is one of the most popular areas in the whole of the Tatras for winter sports and we will receive instruction from the leader before heading out across the frozen lake to and beyond to try our skills. As a sport, cross-country skiing is one of the most complete work outs, as its motions use every major muscle group. The skis are long and thin, the toe of the skier's footwear is attached to the ski with a binding, while the heel remains free. This area is great for beginner and intermediate cross country skiers, and lunch can be taken at one of the restaurants on the bank.
After a transfer of about 1 hour across the border to the Polish town of Zakopane we have a morning to try our hand at dogsledding. Mushers will instruct the group on how to control and drive a sled. You will have turns driving your own single sled, usually pulled by 3 dogs around a beginner's circuit, then a trip as a passenger in a two-person sled with a larger team. If there is time we may take a tour of the town known as the 'capital' of the Polish Tatras. After a hearty lunch in one of the local restaurants we will transfer to the nearby village Bukowina Tatranska for a relaxing afternoon in the recently built thermal pool resort which offers number of different pools, slides, jacuzzis and saunas, a great way to while away an afternoon.
A short trip on the local train takes us to Tatranska Lomnica, one of the best areas for downhill skiing in the country. Here you will find a number of slopes to choose from. Our first stop is the the rental shop to pick up skis or a board. The day is then ours to enjoy. For those looking for a relaxing break there is the option locally to take the cable car to the second highest peak in the whole of Slovakia, the Lomnicky Peak and enjoy the amazing views from the highest Slovakian bar at 2634 m.
We have a free day to choose from the many activities available in the Tatra Mountains region these include all of the activities we have tried during the week, as well as snow tubing, and ice skating. There is also the beautiful Belianska Cave near Zdiar with waterfalls, pagoda-shaped stalagmites and numerous little lakes. The Tatra town of Poprad and the capital Krakow are also reachable in a day. The leader will of course be on hand for advice.
There are many hills to choose from around the village of Zdiar, our destination today, so dress warmly for a morning of fun trying all the different sleds and ways of coming down the hill. In the afternoon we will jump on the sleigh pulled by a hardy pair of horses and go on a tour around the village, offering views of the surrounding mountain peaks and folk architecture of Zdiar along the way. Horse keepers will make a warming picnic of hot tea and hot wine and some snacks for us at their shelter in the nearby forest. There is then the option to go to a local museum for those that wish.