?umava National Park, Ceský Krumlov - Stein Travel
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?umava National Park

The name `umava translates as the "Whispering Forest" - and it perfectly sums up the magical nature of this natural jewel in the heart of Europe. The `umava forms with the Bohmerwald, which it adjoins on its southern border, the largest forest in central Europe - "Europe's Green Lung".

For forty years, during the Communist era, `umava flora and fauna flourished relatively undisturbed by human activity, as the area fell within the Iron Curtain exclusion zone. Now the watchtowers and minefields have gone and visitors are encouraged, but the `umava's nature is still protected and is even thriving - the once-rare lynx is regularly seen. In addition to the whispering trees of the `umava Forest, visitors can explore the park's marshes (with peat-loving plants), rushing streams (home to otters, kingfishers and other animals), glacial lakes and mountains.

The park is criss-crossed with well-marked footpaths and cycle routes, which become cross-country ski paths in the winter. The area is popular with Czechs for winter sports, with several good skiing resorts. Lake Lipno on the edge of the park offers a variety of water sports activities in the summer.

Although the summer is the peak holiday season (all attractions are certain to be open) - the `umava is beautiful all year round. The winter sports season is December to March. Spring is popular with nature lovers, as this is probably the best time for seeing flowers and birds and the Autumn colours of the `umava Forest can be spectacular.

Visitors can opt to stay in a hotel or cottage in the Park itself or in one of the historic towns on its edge including Prachatice, Cesky Krumlov, and Kasperske Hory.

Information & Facts

Language

Czech is the official language but English and German are also widely spoken.

Money

The official currency is the Czech crown, locally known as the Koruna (CZK), which is divided into 100 haler. Most credit cards including American Express, Diners Club, Visa and MasterCard are accepted, but it is best to have cash handy when travelling away from Prague and the main tourist centres. Travellers cheques and foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some hotels; commission is highest in hotels. Banks are closed on weekends. ATMs (known as 'bankomats') are becoming more common in Prague and are probably the best way to obtain local currency at a good rate and without commission. The Czech Republic is still cheap compared to the rest of Europe, though the gap is closing.

Time

GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).

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