We’ve been to 17 of the 59 national parks in the United States. 6 of the 9 national parks in Slovakia. All of the national parks in Slovenia (okay, this one is meant to be a joke because Slovenia has only one national park… but we’ve been there). Altogether 18 national parks in Europe. And what is the number for our own country? 5 – but rather only 4.5 – out of the 10 national parks in Hungary.
All the reasons to ignore our own backyard
It’s not just about numbers but numbers also mean something. In this case they mean that living 20+ years in a country doesn’t necessarily mean that we know it very well. Of course, we have our excuses. We spent majority of those years as kids or students and we didn’t have the independence, the time or the money to travel anywhere on our own. But we are out of excuses by now. After moving back to Hungary as adults we started to travel extensively in Hungary and in our neighboring countries. And in Europe. Maybe more in our neighboring countries and in Europe than in Hungary. So here we are.
We are passionate hikers and we love mountains! Like the Alps. Or the Tatras. Hungary doesn’t really have them. Kékes is the highest peak in the country at 1014 metres (3327 ft) above sea level. Does that even count as a mountain peak? (Let me tell you a secret. In Hungary we call anything above 500 metres a mountain. So that we have some. And Kékes is a mountain peak.) Our country has 10 national parks. And most of them are not in the mountains – I mean even by Hungarian measure. So what’s their specialty? Well, here we are again.
Of course, we remember some stuff we learned in school about the significance of Hungary’s national parks. Even thinking back to those lessons bore us to death. It has a lot to do with teachers and school though rather than the national parks themselves. We haven’t even seen most of them after all. So we think it’s time for a new challenge! It’s time to discover and re-discover our national parks. They are national parks for a reason. It’s time not just to learn about them but to experience them in real. All of them.
Hungary’s 10 national parks
So first of all, here they are – in alphabetical order:
- Aggtelek National Park
- Balaton Uplands National Park
- Bükk National Park
- Danube-Drava National Park
- Danube-Ipoly National Park
- Fertő-Hanság National Park
- Hortobágy National Park
- Kiskunság National Park
- Körös-Maros National Park
- Őrség National Park
So the challenge: visit all of Hungary’s national parks!
Considering that distances are short in Hungary and all of these parks are easily reachable from Budapest we gave ourselves a year: from this spring until December. Our initial goal was that during this time we want to visit all of Hungary’s national parks and figure out what is special and beautiful in each.
After second thoughts we should probably give ourselves more time for that discovery. Mainly because we already have a lot of travel plans for this year. On the other hand, one weekend spent in any of the parks doesn’t mean we already know it. Or maybe it will be pouring rain during that whole weekend we spend there (*cough* actually, it’s past tense, happened already on our first visit to Hortobágy National Park *cough*). So there’s no strict deadline. This year or next, we are going to discover all those national parks and we want to share our journey with you!
We are going to write a post series of 10 pieces to introduce each of the parks and share their most amazing secrets with you. We’ll start with the 4 we’ve already been to several times and then continue with the newly visited ones. So stay tuned as we do!
How about you and your national parks at home? Which one is your favorite?