Bohemian Switzerland, part 2-day 2-Pravcicka Gate
Many claim Pravcice Sandstone Gate to be the main attraction of the National Park. It’s like Tower Bridge in London or Sagrada Familia in Barcelona- must see on your trip list.
While it’s truly extraordinary and unbelievably beautiful natural phenomenon, it’s unfortunately also one of the most visited hiking trails in the whole region. Unless you plan to have a date with nature only, go ahead. There’re more tourists than you can imagine, especially at the gate itself. People coming from different directions all meet here. I don’t of course imply that you shouldn’t go there, because it would be a pity no to see 16 meters tall and 26 meters wide gate, but bide your time.
There’re several ways to get to Pravcice Sandstone Gate, depending on your accommodation choose either Hrensko, Tri Prameny, Mezni Louka or Mezna as your starting point. If you start in Mezni Louka, follow the red path which goes along educational trail as well. There’re interesting points described at the information boards (German and Czech subscriptions only) It’s good to stop and read at least for a moment. It’s around 6 kilometers to the Gate. Then you may follow the red path to Hrensko and combine the trip with a boat. Hop on a ferryboat on Kamenice River(so called Edmundova souteska) and get back on a green path from Mezna to Mezni Louka.
You may also start in Mezna-then choose one of two directions-either to Mezni Louka and follow the path I described above or to Hrensko. Follow the yellow hiking path or enter the Edmund’s Gorge as well and enjoy the ferryboat ride to Hrensko. Then follow the red path together with educational trail to Pravcicka gate. You will walk by Tri Prameny - a spring of underground water, spruce forest until you reach the gate and Sokoli hnizdo, a restaurant and lodging house. The entrance free to the area cost 70 kc - there're two view points on the Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland and the gate.
During the peak season bus drives every hour or so between Decin and Mezna. Sadly in late October the situation looks differently. It runs only few times a day, the last one in direction to Mezna leaves after 6, it's better to study the schedule thoroughly beforehand. Take notice of tiny, little marks-they all have meaning.
If you want to go by car, park at one of the parking spaces in Hrensko, close to Tri Prameny or Mezni Louka. Full day admission is 120 kc or 20 kc per hour. Besides chargeable parking spots I didn’t see any free parking over there.
Maybe because of the season or because of the restrictions, I didn’t see many bikers around. No bikes are allowed in the first zone of the National Park, the same goes for path leading to Pravcicka Gate. There're around 55 kilometers of cycling paths in the area, however as long as you want to get to some attractions, either it's forbidden or barely possible on a bike.
The terrain was without doubt varied, some climbs were difficult and gruelling others child's play and restful. The 3 hour walk among the majestic rock villages and sandstone formations, combined with view on picturesque villages, dreamy valleys or romantic rivers will last in our memory forever. No matter if you visit Bohemian Switzerland during summer or in the middle of autumn, breathtaking panoramas will remain the same. Everything started 90 millions years ago, when the area was covered by shallow and warm sea. Sand laying on the ground gave birth to this empire of rocks. Each and every of them unique in shape and colour.
In October and November mind the earlier arrival of nights and sudden drop of temperature as you plan your trip, because you may be trapped in the middle of the forest and since sleeping in the first zone of BH National Park is prohibited it may be a tough night. Take your light with you, no matter how early you set off, it may get useful on the way.