Countryside and vicinity
The attractive Upper Nitra scenery offers opportunities for hiking, sports, recreation and relaxation. With a view toward preserving the most valuable parts of the countryside, containing impressive geomorphologic formations on inorganic subsoil and unique examples of fauna and flora, the following were established:
- 2 Protected Scenic Areas (CHKO - chránené krajinné oblasti)
Ponitrie CHKO (Lehota pod Vtáčnikom, Podhradie, Kamenec pod Vtáčnikom, Bystričany, Čereňany, Oslany, Horná Ves, Radobica)
Strážovské Vrchy CHKO (Valaská Belá, Čavoj, Tužina)
- 4 National Nature Preserves (NPR - národné prírodné rezervácie):
Rokoš NPR (Nitrianske Rudno, Diviaky nad Nitricou, Diviacka Nová Ves, Nitrianske Sučany)
Veľká Skala NPR (Bystričany)
Vtáčnik NPR (Kamenec pod Vtáčnikom, Bystričany)
Vyšehrad NPR (Nitrianske Pravno, Vyšehradné)
- 4 Nature Reservations (PR - prírodné rezervácie)
Biely Kameň PR (Cigeľ, Handlová - Nová Lehota)
Buchlov PR (Čereňany, Oslany)
Makovište PR (Kamenec pod Vtáčnikom)
Temešská Skala PR (Temeš, Čavoj)
- 1 National Natural Monument (NPP - národná prírodná pamiatka)
Prepoštská Jaskyňa NPP - Priory Cave (Bojnice)
- 5 Natural Monuments (PP - prírodných pamiatok)
Hradisko PP (Prievidza - Hradec)
Kobylince PP (Prievidza - Malá Lehôtka)
Končitá PP (Kamenec pod Vtáčnikom)
Prielom Nitrice PP Valaská Belá)
Sivý Kameň PP (Podhradie, Lehota pod Vtáčnikom)
Within the Upper Nitra Valley can also be found several protected types of trees: the Bojnice linden tree and Bojnice ginkgos (Bojnice), ash trees under Buchlovo (Čereňany), three linden trees by the church and a honey locust (Diviaky nad Nitricou), a linden tree by a spring (Diviacka Nová Ves), a yew tree and an enormous sequoia at a rectory (Handlová - Nová Lehota), a beech tree under Jaseňova skala (Kamenec pod Vtáčnikom), a linden tree at Šajbe (Koš), two linden trees at a cemetery (Malá Čausa) and ten linden trees by a church (Poruba).
Hydrological conditions in the region are quite appropriate for developing a tourist industry. The Nitra River runs through the center of the district, with the Nitrica entering it on the right bank and the Handlovka on the left bank. The Nitra originates in the Malá Fatra and its total length is 197 km. The source of the Nitrica is in the Strážovské Vrchy and the river runs for 51 km. The Handlovka starts on the slopes of the Vtáčnik range and is 32 km long. The waters contribute significantly to the region's mineral and thermal springs. The Bojnice thermal springs, with a temperature of 28 - 48 oC, has become the base for the development of the Bojnice Spa, which as a result of extensive investment and reconstruction is also turning into a destination for clients from outside Slovakia, in particular from German-speaking countries. Here they undergo curative treatment for motor system diseases and diseases of the nerves. The Chalmová spa is regionally prominent and prospective development is also being offered by the thermal waters at Koš, where a spring was drilled as a solution for protecting Bojnice's thermal waters from the coal that was being mined in Nováky's deposits. The spring's flow is 810 l/min and once modifications have been made in the vicinity, it can be used to meet the demand for a publicly accessible swimming pool. Among the other mineral springs that have not been utilized yet are a Class I and II spring near the eastern shaft, which is located in the Handlová lignite mines, a borehole in Opatovce nad Nitrou and three sources of mineral water in Chalmová: the lower seep, upper spring and a CH-2 borehole, all of which are situated on the pool grounds.
In terms of summer recreation, the reservoir at Nitrianske Rudno is currently being used and a tourist center is being established nearby that would be appropriate for summer recreation and water sports. In spite of the relative pollution of the Nitra, the district also has good conditions for fishing within the trout zone - the headwaters of the Nitra to Nedožery as well as the Nitrica and its tributaries, the grayling zone from Nedožery to Prievidza and the mullet zone in the Nitra below Prievidza
There are several protected areas within the district boundaries, in particular CHKO Ponitrie, which spreads out over the cadastral territory of the villages of Podhradie, Lehota pod Vtáčnikom, Kamenec pod Vtáčnikom, Bystričany, Čereňany, Horná Ves and Radobica. Another large protected area is Strážovské Vrchy CHKO, which extends into the villages of Tužina, Valaská Belá and Čavoj. The total area of the protected scenic areas within the district's jurisdiction is 16,519.4 hectares.
Smaller protected areas in the district include 4 national nature reservations - Vtáčnik, Rokoš, Vyšehrad and Veľká Skala, whose total area within the territory of the district is 389.5 hectares.
There are also 4 nature reservations located within the district - Biely Kameň, Temešská Skala, Buchlov, Makovište - and a single national natural monument - Prepoštská Jaskyňa (Priory Cave), which is located within the City of Bojnice. The location provides a valuable record of climatic changes and how Quaternary plants and animals appeared. This is one of the most important archeological locations in the Slovak Republic with the oldest occurrence of prehistoric Neanderthal man in the Upper Nitra.
There are a further 5 natural monuments among the protected areas in the district: Končitá; Sivý Kameň; Hradisko; Prielom Belanky and Kobylince. Their total area is 15.02 hectares. Appendix 1 shows an overview of protected areas in the region.
The above natural attractions are not being sufficiently used at present to create a regional tourist industry. In many cases, markings and information about the above attractions are missing at the point where they are located. Some of them are indicated on maps of existing bicycle trails.
Several of the attractions in the protected areas are accessible by educational trails, for instance the trails at Vtáčnik and Buchlov; the student educational trail at Kľačno; the Fraňo Madva Educational Trail, which runs from Nitrianske Sučiany through Madvova Dolinka to Nitrianske Rudno, and the educational trail to Vyšehrad, which is a significant archeological location, too.
Vtáčnik Education Trail
focuses on natural science, conservation and history. There are starting points at Kamenec pod Vtáčnikom, Gepnárová Dolina and Bystričianska Dolina, where the main entrances are from the Bystričany and Kamenec pod Vtáčnikom SAD bus stations. The entire trail is 7.8 km long and has 11 stops along it with informative signs. The trail itself winds through demanding terrain. The educational trail connects to yellow- and blue-marked hiking trails. The trail was opened in 1996 and is administered by the Slovak Environmental Agency in Banská Bystrica through the Center for Protection of Nature and the Countryside, Nitra office and by the Ponitrie CHKO.
Buchlov Education Trail
focuses on natural science and conservation and was laid out at the Buchlov nature reservation inside the Ponitrie CHKO. Starting points are from the SAD bus station in Oslany, Bystričany or Horná Ves. The entire trail is 5.3 km long and has 8 stops with informative signs along it. The trail itself is not difficult, though access to the educational trail is more challenging. It was opened in 1983 and reconstructed in 1990. This trail is also administered by the Ponitrie CHKO.
The starting point for the Kľačno Educational Trail for Students
is at the Nitrianske Pravno train station. The trail runs northeast from the village of Klačno and is 3.5 km long. The trail's focus is on natural science and the environment. There are 6 stops on the trail and it is not demanding. It opened in 1997 and is administered by the Kľačno Outdoor School. It is the only trail that is also usable during the winter.
Vyšehrad Education Trail
is located inside the Vyšehrad NPR. The trail is accessible from the SAD bus station at Prievidza, Turčianske Teplice - Jaseňovo or Nitrianske Pravno. The length of the trail is 2 km and there are 6 stops along the trail with informative signsl. The terrain is easy to moderately demanding and the trail focuses on natural science, history and archeology. It was opened in 1982 and in 1995 the information panels were changed. This trail is administered by the Slovak Environmental Agency in Banská Bystrica through the, Center for Nature and Countryside Protection, Liptovský Mikuláš office.