Hortobágy equals traditional caldron goulash and the romanticized image of Hungarian betyárs – or at least this is what we thought until now. And so we set out to explore the Alföld, the largest contiguous plain of Central Europe, the endless horizon and rich cultural traditions of which earnt a spot in the UNESCO World Heritage list. During our trip, it turned out that Hungary’s north-eastern part has a lot of cool things to offer, and there’s even quite helpful assistance available to help us explore the sites in the form of true local patriots who are happy to talk about the story and traditions of the land, which they keep preserving carefully and diligently unto this day.
Check out the map below drawn by Róbert Farkas – we also prepared a brief guide featuring some of the locations!
The story of the Crater Lake took a quite dramatic turn in the sixties, yet the dwellers still talk about it cheerfully. Everyone living in the area remembers when at the dawn of August 24, 1961, the gas flowing out at gas drilling area no. 36 of Hajdúszoboszló spontaneously ignited, and a flame of almost 100 meters blazed up in the middle of the plain. The flames rising out of the lake were burning for weeks, and the dwellers of the area “could even read at night at the light of the fire”. Several stories can be heard about this event in the villages and towns nearby: one of the most original and creative ones is that of Zoltán Szálka, who also shoots a pseudo-documentary on the catastrophe with the help of crowdfunding. The lake has become a popular hiking destination, and there is also a fishing club on its area.
Bird-watching on the steppe in the morning
Safari tours have been organized at Hortobágy for a long time, allowing those interested to visit wild horses and aurochs with a pimped seven-passenger Defender. Even though it is not included on the website of the National Park yet, those visiting Hortobágy will soon be able to participate in other similarly exciting adventures: at the bird-watching starting early in the morning, they will be able to observe more than a hundred bird species with the help of birdwatcher Balázs Kis, in addition to the wild animals living in the park. The tour is absolutely worth waking up early, as off-roading spiced up with Balázs’s stories and the lovely birds flying up from time to time becomes a truly unique experience.
Hortobágy Bird Park – Bird Hospital Foundation
The Bird Park lying on a vast area and the bird hospital open for tourists offer an opportunity to admire the flying fauna of the region firsthand. The area outfitted with a large aviary, lakes and a playground allows visitors to see and observe many species, and one can also take a sneak peek at an operation.
Poroszló Strudel House
The village of Poroszló is most known for the Ecocenter at Lake Tisza, but you shouldn’t miss out the strudel house either, offering the best strudels in the country. Tímea Krusperné Bádonyi and her husband, Károly involve their entire family in running the Strudel House in Poroszló: and the help is much needed, as in addition to the strudels melting divinely in our mouth, the home-made jams and the likewise fantastic wild garlic pogácsa is also quite popular amongst customers.
Tiszaörs Barázda Social Cooperative
We have already med the pasta made in Tiszaörs in the recipes of several reliable Hungarian gastro blogs, and so we knew we had to make a stop at the place where it is made right away. In addition to giving jobs to locals and families, the Cooperative established in the framework of the Start work program manufactures truly healthy products by also meeting market requirements.
The dry pasta-making workshop (that has been taken to a small plant level in the meantime) is currently located in an elementary school, where they also run a small shop.
Sarud adventure village
You can drive amongst impressive farmhouses on the streets of Sarud, on the way to Lake Tisza with the adventure village just nearby. The Adventure Shore is not only a beach, but an adventure center, as well, offering a water playground, climbing base and trampoline park in addition to bathing in the lake, also offering sports equipment rental services. The final coolness factor is provided by sailing, making it clear once and for all that we shouldn’t limit this type of sports to Lake Balaton, on the contrary!
Check out and enjoy the longer version of our Hortobágy video!