I arrived at base on Thursday afternoon. It was a long drive of more than 1,000 km from where I started two days ago, with heavy snowfall most of the way through Austria and wintery driving conditions in Slovakia too.
In Bratislava, I met up with Tomas, the expedition scientist. It was a brief encounter at a service station on the way to discuss preparations, logistics and permissions for the expedition vehicles in the Veľká Fatra National Park. The forestry department staff there have told Tomas that quite a few bears are active instead of hibernating, some even having young ones. Maybe we will be lucky!
At base in Švošov I was warmly welcomed by František Pompáš, our host and owner of the house we will call home for the next couple of weeks. The welcoming drink offered was Tatra tea – a very special homemade refined vodka with honey, wild flowers and some other unfamiliar spicy stuff. Beware the Tatra tea!
After tea, I spent most of the rest of Thursday unpacking boxes, writing shopping lists and going through paperwork.
It’s been thawing here, but there is still now on the mountains. The forecast (www.wunderground.com/sk/ruzomberok) is for more thaw and rain for a few days, followed by a drop in temperatures and snow.
Hello everyone and welcome to the Slovakia 2017 expedition diary.
My name is Malika and I will be your expedition leader. It’s been seven years since I led this project and I am really looking forward to returning to Slovakia.
In a few minutes I will be leaving from Höchberg in Bavaria, Germany. I have packed items such as GPSs, binoculars, paperwork etc. from the stores into three boxes; the rest is already in storage in Slovakia.
Today I’ll drive for seven hours or so to Vienna, and tomorrow another four to our expedition base in Švošov, where I should arrive around noon on Thursday to set up. Tomas, the expedition scientist and his assistant Noro will join me on Saturday morning.
From what we’ve heard from our partners on the ground, the study site is covered in snow – good conditions for our surveys. Keep your fingers crossed that the temperatures will stay low enough to get more snow instead of rain.
I hope your preparations are going well. I will be in touch again once I have arrived at base with updates from the site.