PEATS Slovakia – Eco Tourism at Sahy

There may be some changes to the itinerary due to weather or unforeseen circumstances.

Dates: 30 Aug – 30 Sept 2021
Number of Participants: 6+accompanying person (AP) 
Duration: 4 weeks

PEATS Application form

The PEATS placement in Slovakia is hosted by Grampus’s long-term partner, the Ipel Union. This NGO was formed in 1992 and has as its primary objective the management of the natural and cultural assets of the Ipel river water catchment. The placement is based in the small south Slovakian village of Ipel’ský Sokolec, near to the Hungarian border.

Activities of the placement are likely to include:

 Footpath and habitat clearing and maintenance

 Footpath marking

 Vegetation clearance for nature conservation and research projects

 Amphibian surveys

 Research type vegetation mapping activities

Preliminary Itinerary

It is very difficult to break down the programme to weeks, since there are various activities, which are dependent on weather and field conditions, so a week-to-week itinerary would not be realistic. The placement has 4 main parts though

  • The Ipeľ Union and the Kingfisher Centre (our environmental education and visitor centre) is in the vicinity of a Ramsar wetland site on one side and a Turkey oak forest on the other side. There are 2 footpaths managed by us in the area, one in the Ramsar site, its total length is 14,5 kms, while the other one in the surrounding forest is 7 kms in length. During the summer, they both need maintenance and some renovation work. The tasks will include some vegetation clearance, painting the fainted marks , setting up new orientation signs in the field, repair work on the watch towers, setting up a couple of missing interpretation boards, etc. One of the trails needs an extension of a couple of kilometres, which means more path clearance and sign painting work.
  • The Ipeľ Union is taking part is several research projects focusing on flora and fauna of the region. One of the present research projects is focusing on the avifauna of the Ipeľ River, and especially the Poiplie Ramsar site. There will be some bird watching, counting and ringing with the help of local ornithologists on the site, as well as some maintenance work for habitat conservation. Also, during this project the construction of a boardwalk and a bigger watch tower is planned, which may start in the period of the placement, but it all depends on various factors including land property issues and procurement processes. If these get sorted by the time of the placement, there may be work in this field as well.
  • Ipeľ Union has several partners in the region focusing on eco-tourism activities. We are in connection with horse farms, bee-keepers, wineries etc. A selection of these businesses (depending on their availability) will be visited, and there will be some practical work to do and skills to acquire with them.
  • There are also some smaller tasks to carry out if time allows, such as building natural water retention systems (dams) in the forest, mowing grass and clear up sites within the area and in the close vicinity of the Kingfisher Centre. Also some renovation work, such as painting of wooden structures may occur.

The itinerary will depend largely on the weather during the placement.

The cultural programme will include cultural visits to Esztergom in Hungary, which is a historical town dating from Roman times and with an impressive Roman Catholic basilica and Banska Stiavnica, a UNESCO World Heritage town established in the Medieval period by German miners.

There are some interesting local hiking opportunities, including the 32 kilometre trail, which is mainly through oak forest, to the medieval ruined Cabrad castle. Typical animals in the forest here include red deer, roe deer, wild boar and beech marten with lynx in the adjacent Ipoly Duna National Park (over the river in Hungary). There is the opportunity to visit this Park and meet the ranger. The local people are friendly and welcoming and are chiefly ethnic Hungarians. Although Slovakian is the official language, Hungarian is more often spoken on a daily basis in the village. During their stay in the village participants might also visit various local vegetable gardens and learn about sustainable food production – and buy produce from villagers. There is also local honey and wine production. Participants will fly to Bratislava and be transferred by taxi Sahy. Usually towards the end of the placement, it is possible to spend a couple of days sightseeing in Budapest, although this will depend upon any covid-related border restrictions which will be monitored carefully throughout the placement.

Participants on this placement will need good outdoor footwear and waterproofs. The climate has a very hot summer and cold winter with a short autumn and spring. Insect repellent is required because much of the land is swampy and low-lying. A phrasebook with Hungarian as well as Slovakian is recommended; some local people speak German as a second language. English is spoken by young people but not usually by older people.

The Ipel river is good for swimming (with care- always heed local advice) and fishing.

Funding

The EU Erasmus + funding will cover return UK flights, insurance, accommodation and food. Participants will need extra funds for personal purchases and excursions.

If this placement interests you, then please read through the information on the PEATS environmental main page . You will find the application form is available to download on this page, as is the “Quality Commitment” which all applicants have to read.

For past participants feedback, please refer to the Participants Report page.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission

This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.