In March 2016 IFWP congress in Slovakia earned an official patronage from the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic.

Wednesday 1.6. 2016 - Arrival

  • Botanic garden in Tatranska Lomnica opened 9:00 – 17:00

18:30 Congress room SAV Academia

Opening ceremony: IFWP and SAFP president speech, meeting with the IFWP Board, short movie about Slovakia and nature, data about location Highlights of the IFWP history

19:30 Dinner

Informal discussion about the future of IFWP

Thursday 2.6. 2016

5:00 Breakfast
5.30 Velicka Valley photography (A)
5:30 Spiš castle - European ground squirrels (B)
6:45 Dunajec river rafting (C)
15:00 Spiš castle - European ground squirrels (C)
15:00 Dunajec river rafting (B)
Botanic garden in Tatranska Lomnica opened 9:00 – 17:00
19:30 – 20:30 Dinner

Friday 3.6. 2016

5:00 Breakfast
5:30 Velicka Valley photography (B)
15:00 Velicka Valley photography (C)
15:00 Spiš castle - European ground squirrels (A)
6:45 Dunajec river rafting (A)
Botanic garden in Tatranska Lomnica opened 9:00 – 17:00
19:30 -20:30 Dinner

Saturday 4.6. 2016

5:00 Breakfast
5:30 Velicka Valley photography
5:30 Spiš castle - European ground squirrels
Botanic garden in Tatranska Lomnica opened 9:00 – 17:00
Partcipants will register for the localities during the congress

Slovak Museum of Nature Protection and Speleology in Liptovsky Mikulas (bus transfer from SAV at 15:00)

16:00 IFWP General Assembly for Delegates
18:00 IFWP competition award ceremony, exhibition of the winning pictures
19:30 Rout + traditional slovak music

Sunday 5. 6. 2016 – Departure

5:00 Breakfast
5:30 Velicka Valley photography
5:30 Spiš castle - European ground squirrels
Botanic garden in Tatranska Lomnica opened 9:00 – 17:00
Partcipants will register for the localities during the congress

The Velická Valley

We are happy to announce you that participants of the IFWP congress in Slovakia have an unrepeteable opportunity to visit the very unique Velická Valley. We waited quite long to get the official permission to visit this marvelous place while it is closed to the public and have professional guides which will guide our photographic trips.

This most important location for wildllife photography is a 6 km long terraced valley, situated below the eastern slopes of a huge crotch of the Gerlachovský štít (Gerlachovský Peak) - the highest peak in the High Tatras (2654.4 m). It is characteristic with a huge basin on its southern slope. Above the first rocky terrace at the Velické Mountain-lake, a mountain hotel has been built, called Sliezsky Dom (Sliezsky House). Behind the lake you can see the green marked path ascending through the sc. Večný dážď (Never-ending Rain) waterfall up to the grassed Kvetnica field with a slowly disappearing mountain-lake of the same name. The typical fauna in this area consists of marmots, chamois, bears, wolves and lynx. Marmots and chamois are almost all the time at the locality so there is opportunity to have them captured in sunrise and sunset sceneries. To take picture of bear is not impossible, lynx and wolves are moving in the area usually during the night so to take a good shot takes enornous effort and plenty of time. There is not permitted to build hides in this highly restricted area or use any kind of baits, even though there is always a chance to observe all of typical species. In June many rare flora species can be found in Velická valley which is perfectly suited for macro and landscape photography, visually most attractive during sunrise and sunset - and that is when we will go there!

Velická dolina

Velická dolina © Ivan Kochan (SAFP)

Flóra Velickej doliny

Flóra Velickej doliny © Ivan Kochan (SAFP)

Kamzík vrchovský taranský (Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica)

Kamzík vrchovský taranský (Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica) © Jakub Mrocek (SAFP)

Svišt vrchovský taranský (Marmota marmota latirostris)

Svišt vrchovský taranský (Marmota marmota latirostris) © Marián Zelina (SAFP)

Orol skalný (Aquila chrysaetos)

Orol skalný (Aquila chrysaetos) © Ivan Godál (SAFP)

Orol skalný (Aquila chrysaetos)

Rys ostrovid (Lynx lynx) © Ivan Godál (SAFP)

Medveď hnedý (Ursus arctos)

Medveď hnedý (Ursus arctos) © Ivan Godál (SAFP)

Vlk dravý (Canis lupus)

Vlk dravý (Canis lupus) © Ladislav Dziviak (SAFP)

© Boris Rovný (SAFP)

© Boris Rovný (SAFP)

Spiš castle - European ground squirrels very unique locality

There are not many places in the world that can combine history and wildlife photography. But Spiš castle is one of them. Here you can find large colony of furry fellows having their ground burrows located inside the castle courtyard.

The European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus) is about the size of a brown rat, with an adult measuring 20 to 23 cm (8 to 9 in) and a weight of 240 to 340 g (8.5 to 12.0 oz). It has a slender build with a short bushy tail. The short dense fur is yellowish-grey, tinged with red, with a few indistinct pale and dark spots on the back. The underside is pale with a sandy-coloured abdomen. The large dark eyes are placed high on the head and the small, rounded ears are hidden in the fur. The legs are powerful with sharp claws well adapted for digging. Males are slightly larger than females otherwise they look alike. The European ground squirrel has a shrill alarm call that will cause all other individuals in the vicinity to dive for cover. It also makes various soft chirruping and growling noises. These animals hibernate until march continuing with mating season in april and may. It is not rare to see and capture mating in the beginning of june when we will have the opportunity to visit this place. Animals are very photogenic on behalf of their cute gestures, active life style and are not too shy. The possibility to take pictures in this area is almost 100% depending on the weather – rain.

Something from the history:

The ruins of Spiš Castle in eastern Slovakia form one of the largest castle sites in Central Europe. The castle is situated above the town of Spišské Podhradie and the village of Žehra, in the region known as Spiš. It was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1993 (together with the adjacent locations of Spišská Kapitula, Spišské Podhradie and Žehra). This is one of the biggest European castles by area (41 426 m²).

Spiš Castle was built in the 12th century on the site of an earlier castle. It was the political, administrative, economic and cultural centre of Szepes County of the Kingdom of Hungary. Before 1464, it was owned by the kings of Hungary, afterwards (until 1528) by the Zápolya family, the Thurzó family (1531–1635), the Csáky family (1638–1945), аnd (since 1945) by the state of Czechoslovakia then Slovakia.

Originally a Romanesque stone castle with fortifications, a two-story Romanesque palace and a three-nave Romanesque-Gothic basilica were constructed by the second half of the 13th century. A second extramural settlement was built in the 14th century, by which the castle area was doubled. The castle was completely rebuilt in the 15th century; the castle walls were heightened and a third extramural settlement was constructed. A late Gothic chapel was added around 1470.

The Zápolya clan performed late Gothic transformations, which made the upper castle into a comfortable family residence, typical of late Renaissance residences of the 16th and 17th centuries. The last owners of the Spiš Castle, the Csáky family, abandoned the castle in the early 18th century because they considered it too uncomfortable to live in. They moved to the newly built nearby village castles/palaces in Hodkovce near Žehra and Spišský Hrhov.

Spišský hrad a sysle žijúce v jeho okolí

Syseľ pasienkový (Spermophilus citellus) © Jakub Mrocek (SAFP)

Dunajec river - rafting

The Dunajec river is one of the most beautiful places in Slovak Republic forming a border between Poland and Slovakia for 27 kilometers in the Pieniny range, east of the Czorsztyn reservoir. It is the only river taking waters from the Slovak territory to the Baltic Sea. The Dunajec is 274 kilometers long, running through southern Poland for 247 kilometers, which makes it Poland's fourteenth longest river. It has a basin area of 6,804 square kilometres (4,852 in Poland, and 1,952 in Slovakia).

IFWP participants will be able to capture beautiful landscape sceneries of the Zamagurie region from a wooden raft. We will have our rafts only for IFWP participants so no public will join our cruise. Rafting trips are organized by Pieniny Gorals since the early 19th century.

From photographic perspective the most important area is the Dunajec River Gorge.

The gorge is characterized by some of the most interesting geological and geomorphological structures and area-specific natural ecosystems with little anthropogenic influence. It is featured on UNESCO's Tentative List of World Heritage Sites in Poland. The conditions for the development of unique flora and fauna in this area are closely related to the limestone and dolomite rock strata. Literally, the rock is the foundation for this one-of-a-kind environment. There is the occurrence of the Carpathians' plant and animal species, in many cases endemic. Their varied morphologic segmentation is responsible for the area's original and highly valuable aesthetic character.

Splav Dunajca

Splav Dunajca

Botanic garden in Tatranska Lomnica

It is situated on the northern-eastern boundary of Tatranská Lomnica. It is located on the territory of 3,2 ha. The visitor can see here 270 types of Tatra plants growing on various biotopes, some of them are possible to be purchased in form of seedlings or seeds. We will manage to have no public inside the garden while we are taking pictures there. This is a typical macro locality organized into tree parts: granite and limestone alpine garden and peat moor. In the Exposition of Tatra nature also a small geological area can be found and a memorial place devoted to those who enforced and realized the idea of Tatra National Park.

Botanická záhrada (Tatranská Lominca)

Flóra botanickej záhrady