Camping in Šumava
A hiking holiday in the Czech Republic's largest national park
Despite its size, the Czech Republic has a surprisingly large number of camping options.
Small mountain ranges, flat lake districts, rolling hills, thick forests and the wine country all have their charm.
One particularly enchanting area is the Šumava national park, in the southwest corner of the Czech Republic, by the German and Austrian borders.
In 1991 the area was given national park status. With a total area of 945 square kilometers, it's now the largest protected area in the Czech Republic.
The downside of camping in the Czech Republic is that it's illegal to camp outside of officialkempink areas, and these tend to be crowded and filled with cars. The upside of this, of course, is that the hiking trails themselves are unspoiled by intensive human camping.
The facilities at almost all Šumava campsites are pretty good, and most have small basic restaurants (občerstvení) so it isn't necessary to pack your own food.
It's worth getting your hands on SHOCart's excellent Česko Camping map, which shows the location and facilities offered at campsites across the country, with information in Czech, English and German.
Some hardcore campers may, however, be determined to camp illegally, outside an official camp, in order to fully experience the countryside. If that's the case, you should avoid lighting fires and make sure that you have a compass, a good map, water and enough money to pay the fines if you're caught. Also, make sure that you aren't camping on the trail itself.
There are many ways and places to camp in Šumava. While one option is to hike from campsite to campsite with full gear, and set up camp as when you arrive, a more pleasant alternative is to hike to one campsite, base yourselves there for the rest of your stay, and take a series of daylong hikes in that area.
Antýgl, 22 kilometers south of Kašperské hory, makes a great base and is probably your best option if you're looking to stay in a town in the Šumava area. The Antýgl site is situated on the banks of the Vydra river and is separated into two sections: A and B.
If you prefer quiet, section B is the better option; the restaurant, main office and hordes of family caravans are in section A. The price is 50 CZK per person per day, plus 50 CZK per tent, plus VAT - which works out to be 185 CZK per day for two people.
The camp itself is basic but safe and clean. It's wise to bring a couple of small padlocks with you and lock your tent while you're out hiking during the day. Everyone respects the 10pm noise limit and the being permitted to build campfires is a huge plus.
Day trips from Antýgl
There are numerous day trips you can take from Antýgl, ranging from the easy to the demanding. No matter which route you take though, the hilly local terrain means that there's sure to be a lot of up and down.
Another thing to remember is that the area gets a lot of rain and, particularly when storm fronts move in, the weather can change dramatically. It's not uncommon, for instance, to go, within a few hours, from 30° Celsius and sunny to 10° C and rainy. Even at the height of summer then, be sure to bring warm clothes and waterproofs.
Antýgl – Modrava – Tříjezerní Slať – Antýgl
Distance: 15 kilometers
Time: 6 hours (casual pace)
From the campsite head towards Rokyta, where you pick up the yellow trail. This will lead you to the red trail and on to Modrava.
One of the hike's highlights is reaching the summit of Adamova hora. At the top, you can follow a long ridge, lined by meadows full of wild flowers. The view here, particularly when the bright purple lupines are in bloom, is majestic making this a perfect picnic spot.
As you descend you reach Modrava, a small town with a few restaurants. One option is to head to Zlatá stezka which pours ice-cold Gambrinus beer and offers hearty meals. (The pork tenderloin in fresh wild mushroom ragu is superb!)
Crossing back across the Vydra, follow the road to your left and hug the Roklanský potok stream. This is one of the Czech Republic's cleanest bodies of water and makes a great swim break in hot weather.
Finally, a seemingly endless hill awaits you, but you're rewarded with some tree-covered shade as you enter the forest. Here you follow the nature trail through the Tříjezerní Slať peat marshes - an area that cost several would-be escapees their lives during the Russian occupation. The walkway covers just a small area of the bogs but it gives you an idea of the terrain.
The remainder of the hike, through the lush pine forest of Šumava, back to Antýgl is very pleasant.
Here's a couple of other nice hikes:
Antýgl – Turnerova chata – Horska Kvilda - Antýgl
Antýgl – Filipova Huť – Kvilda – Modrava – Antýgl
The Turnerova chata is a great place for lunch, three kilometers from Antýgl, along the Vydra river.
In the early summer, and after heavy rains, the river is deafening and at some points has Category 5 rapids. Be careful if you want to swim - the Vydra's strong current and submerged caves can easily catch out even the most proficient swimmer.
Camping Supply Checklist
Tent with rain fly
Camping gas cooker, with propane
Knife with corkscrew
Several good pairs of socks
Bottle of rum (for grog)
When To Go: June–September
Recommended Campsites: Antýgl, Zahrádky, Vodník, Boubín, Blanický Mlýn
Camping Fees: 50 CZK per person + 50 CZK per tent per day
Recommended Maps: Česko Camping (SHOCart); Šumava - Železnorudsko Povydří, Churaňov (SHOCart)
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