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Hiking on the Keszthely Plateau in the autumn


Szent György Hill
Balaton

There are many things in nature that are even more beautiful in autumn than at any other time of the year. The damp, cold air just adds to the sometimes seemingly unrealistic experience. This is the time when the best foggy photos can be taken. Here’s a slightly more challenging tour for you in the Western Balaton region.

Hévíz Tour

There are only a few places in Hungary, where you will find hot water above the ground. We have plenty of thermal water, but it rarely flows on the surface. An exception to this is the stream that drains the water from Lake Hévíz to Kis-Balaton. The water in Hévíz Stream is just as clean and hot, and is full of fish just like in summer, but presents an even more mystical sight. The steaming water and the frosty rime on the bank create a real fantasy world. You will definitely enjoy the mystical experience as you glide with your boat into the fog that covers the surface of the water. The steaming water heats up the bottom of the kayaks, so you will be in no danger of catching the cold either. The water is still full of purple water lilies and green plants. But be aware of the concrete locks that tend to just pop up suddenly in the fog. You may even be lucky enough to spy a kingfisher. After an hour of paddling, you get to the Northern Cross Channel: this is were you should turn back. Though the current is not very strong, you may want to calculate half an hour or a bit more for the return journey. The Hévíz Drain itself crosses a nature conservation area, so if you want to enter, you’ll need to apply for a permit with the Balaton Uplands National Park Directorate. We advise you to book your place on a tour weeks ahead, because the number of seats is limited and they get booked up fast. If you still have strength and time left, visit the stupa and the golden Buddha statue in Zalaszántó, and if you are lucky, you may even be able to hear some of the roaring and bellowing of the rutting deer.

 

In the footsteps of István Fekete

If you are already in the region, visit the Kis-Balaton Visitor Centre that opened last year in Fenékpuszta, where you will find electric vehicles or even canoes or kayaks to discover Kis-Balaton. The visitor centre includes an interactive exhibition, a cinema and an educational trail on the roof. This part of the lake is home to many species of animals and more than 300 different types of birds nest here, including the reed warbler. The easiest way to get to the visitor centre is via Road 76, at the turn-off between Sármellék and Balatonszentgyörgy.

Up to the bottom of the sea

If you are looking for a bigger challenge, you should try to climb up the nearby Szent György Hill. The 414-metre-high monadnock is made up of fascinating basalt organ pipes. The monadnock is often used by hang gliders and paragliders as a starting point, since the place seems to be made for such sports and the local air currents are perfect for gliding. The hill was created from the sediments of the Pannonian Sea, which was then covered up by basalt from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. When the lava cooled down, vertical cracks appeared, which were then widened and shaped by frost and wind. The sight of these basalt pipes – sometimes 30 metres tall and 1-2 metres thick – is simply awe-inspiring. There are trails that lead up to the top of the organ pipes, and from where you will have a beautiful view of the surrounding land.

 

This is the best time to play in the mud

The Balaton Off-Road Festival is held at the end of August every year, and as part of the festival, visitors are welcome to have a go on the track in Cserszegtomaj. Don’t forget to shower afterwards, though!

MOVE AROUND LIKE A HUNGARIAN