THE VALLEY NEFCERKA – GOING TO A GLACIAL PERIOD IN A FEW MOMENTS?
Article by Juraj Sipos
The summary of this article is to draw attention to some of the most conserved parts of nature in Europe. The Valley Nefcerka is one of them. A possible destruction around this valley may be very harmful for nature. Some people and governments have always had difficulties to respect the fact that living in harmony with nature is the only priority for our future.
Slovakia lies in the center of Central Europe and many tourists, among whom Americans are not any exceptions, find it really attractive. One of the world’s youngest (in the geographical terminology) mountain range called the Tatras or the High Tatras (Vysoke Tatry) lies in the heart of this small country. The arrangement of these mountains is very dense, which means that in the Alps (Austria, Switzerland…), for example, there is a bigger distance between particular peaks. The High Tatras peaks are condensed and thus exceptionally attractive. In these mountains, you can make most of any touristic trips just in one day and you can see all the loveliness of nature hidden within the woods and the rocks.
The history of these mountains started some 500 million years ago and they are part of the Carpathian mountain ranges. Later, after these mountains emerged from the Mesozoic ocean some 80 million years ago, they started to be formed on the surface.
Scientists have proofs that prehistoric people dwelt in the caves of the Belianske Tatry and there are also some sources that say that when the village Novy Smokovec was founded, workers dig out a silver coin with the portrait of Marcus Aurelius.
The Tatras can be divided to the Western Tatras, the High Tatras, and the Belianske Tatras. This mountain range is in the north of Slovakia and Poland owns part of it too. The deceased John Paul II loved these mountains and he often visited them as a priest before he became the Pope. The highest Tatras are the High Tatras, where the Gerlach Peak (2,655 meters above the sea level) is the highest peak in Slovakia. The Belianske Tatras have a lot of caves and it is possible that ancient dwellers lived here, as there are prehistoric proofs found in some caves (an ancient stone axe, for example).
Matej Bel (1684 – 1723), a Slovak Lutheran pastor, one of the greatest scholars of the 18th century (Slovakia was under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy) wrote a big work entitled Notitia Hungariae novae historico – geografica, which got even beyond the borders of the then Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The work popularized the geographical splendor of the Tatras, as part of it was also a precious map and a lot of information about the Slovak geography. Thus, some famous European scholars visited the Tatras, probably being also inspired by Jean Jacque Rousseau’s ideas about the benefits if people come back to nature and identify with it. Some of these were Göran Wahlenberg (a Swedish naturalist), Robert Townson, and many others.
The High Tatras had some mining history too. The first mining activities started in the 15th century. Under the government of Matej Korvin (1458 – 1490), mining tunnels were built in the height of about 2000 meters and less around the Krivan Peak. But even in spite of the great enthusiasm, the results were not so good as expected. Some people say that gold can be found in these tunnels even today, but with bears around and going deep into the darkness on one’s knees only is quite dangerous.
The contemporary Tatras
Presently, the High Tatras are under the protection of TANAP, which is the Tatras National Park (established in 1949). The High Tatras have always had a good spa history, as the weather and overall nature with breathtaking vegetation is incredibly healthy for people with breathing diseases.
In 1970, the World Ski Championship took place in the High Tatras and from till then quite a modest and to the world unknown place an attractive tourist place with cableways and good transportation developed all over the region. The Western and Belianske Tatras are exception.
As these are real mountains, the weather can change any time with harsh effects. If you go up into the hills and the sun is shining, always expect that hailstones can fall on your head in a few minutes. Tourists should never forget to put a wind-jacket in their packsacks and good shoes on their feet. Some years ago, a calamity occurred in the High Tatras, as the wind was so strong that it literally cut off many trees from surface. Some wood industry companies want to take these fallen trees out of the woods even from the most protected areas.
The Valley Nefcerka – Why Are You Crying?
As the High Tatras is the national park, some activities are not permitted. Some places, too, are prohibited to see. The Valley Nefcerka is one of them and let me just describe why.
This valley lies above the lower situated and neighboring Koprova dolina (valley); it is under the Krivan Peak; the route to the Valley Nefcerka is not visible. It is the most protected reservation in Slovakia and it has wild nature unique in all Europe. It officially does not have a touristic access. As it has been preserved this way for a quite long time, there may be yet some unknown species of flora and fauna not observable anywhere in the world. The valley starts with woods, then follow dwarf pines, a howling waterfall, the Krivan’s wall on the right hand and the rocks everywhere; then you can see the dark blue mountain lakes with the clearest water in the world. The valley ends with the ridge of the Furkotsky Peaks accessible from a different valley (Furkotska Valley, with mountain lakes carrying the name of the above-mentioned Swedish naturalist – Wahlenberg’s lakes). The Nefcerka Valley has three mountain lakes called Terianske lakes (deep up to 47 meters) and the Nefcersky stream runs out of them. In the Valley Nefcerka, there is the Nefcerka Waterfall high almost as a 30-floor building. The valley’s name is probably derived from the Neftzer family lineage, which took care of the royal property from the year 1695 up to 1762.
On the web of TANAP, the Valey Nefcerka is specifically mentioned as one of the areas that rock climbers are not allowed to enter: http://www.tanap.org/en/climbing.php
Nefcerka can be seen from the Krivan Peak, which is freely reachable by tourists (some 4 hours from Strbske pleso – a ski center): http://www.summitpost.org/image/270225/154957/valley-nefcerka.html
From animals living in such hidden places like this nature’s jewel I describe here, we can mention eagle, Eurasian lynx, marmot, but also many others such as viper, chamois, bear, wild cat… Among the ones that is very special is Branchinecta paludosa (a creature from the class of primitive and primarily fresh water crustaceans). This is a water creature that has one special attribute – it does not live anywhere in the world except Greenland, Siberia, Scandinavia… Then we have thousands of miles and we suddenly find it in the High Tatras. This ice relict lives only in two High Tatras lakes and one of them is said to be the higher Furkotske lake (pleso) in the Furkotska Valley – a neighbor of Nefcerka.A source in Wikipedia has a little information too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatra_National_Park%2C_Slovakia
Of the flora, we can also mention some interesting plants. One of such species is Erysimum wahlenbergii, which was discovered by the above-mentioned Swedish scholar and which carries his name. This plant grows up to the length of one meter and it has yellow flowers like wild radish. This kind of the plant class has not been found anywhere in the world.
More information about the High Tatras (as well as about the above-mentioned Göran Wahlenberg and Robert Tounson) can be found in the English Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Tatras
I remember visiting the Valley Nefcerka with my father in 1968. It has been one of the most vivid experiences I have ever had, as the Soviet army entered aggressively our country (Czechoslovakia at that time) exactly on that day in August. As we were coming back, we listened to the radio. Even at that time, no cars were allowed to push their wheels to the Koprova and Ticha Valley. Now too, the access to the Valley Nefcerka is not given to anybody except for special purposes (scientific ones, etc.).
Is the heavy machinery allowed to go just as near as the Valley Nefcerka to cut off and take away the fallen trees only because it yields profit? The noise these machines produce is to the nature’s ears the same what the heavy artillery to human ears. Yet, we have a law that if someone destroys a nest of a protected bird he or she is sentenced to prison. Can the heavy machines come here, scare the animals, or even destroy birds’ nests built in the area of the fallen trees? The Valley Ticha, which is neighboring with Valley Koprova, has its website and you can see pictures of these machines here: http://www.ticha.sk/zhrnutie.htm
If anybody would like to visit Slovakia, it is a good idea to start with Slovak websites. There is much more than the Valley Nefcerka in the High Tatras. Quite a famous Slovak artist, Julius Koller, installed a UFO Gallery on one of the High Tatras’ mountains. The Ganek Peak is inaccessible to all but expert climbers. The idea with the UFO Gallery and the stars being attached to climbers’ eyes helps to find a new dimension.
There is quite a good website for finding an accommodation within a wide spectrum of hotels and various cheaper places in villages even near or in the High Tatras. If someone would like to visit the Tatras or just Slovakia, this Slovak website would help: http://www.prenocuj.sk/. It has a good database of accommodation offers in Slovakia. In Slovak, “accommodation” is “ubytovanie” and it is easy, if you are here, to ask people in an Internet café about the meaning of various words that you do not understand.
The Valley Nefcerka is the most eye-catching thing I have ever seen. I remember one Frenchman, while visiting the Krivan Peak, as he said on the top of it: “This is the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life”. I agree with him.
About the Author
I write and sell various articles, especially computer ones and I have a website: http://www.freebsd.nfo.sk/