On the half-hour walk to the base of the hill, rich vegetation was evident, from the multitude of wild berries and native plants to the oak trees and non-native black pines. Our chosen hiking location may have been particularly diverse as it was not far from the Visegrad hills, an international biosphere reserve whose flora and fauna is strictly protected. At the base of a particularly steep looking rock formation, the group left the tree-covered trails and began the 700 meter ascent.
At the top, Iveta Teibe, an Environmental Sciences Masters candidate and environmental educator from Estonia, lead the group in some light-hearted environmental education activities. Most of the activities, including sketching the sounds of nature, and forming a "snake chain" in which participants' eyes are closed, encouraged everyone to observe closely the sounds and smells of nature. "These activities should help us to relieve some stress and come a little closer to nature and one another," said Natailjia Vrhunc Elersek. "We are hoping, as well, that everyone will take some activities back to their home countries to introduce the next generations of environmentalists to nature."
"The outing was just what I needed. To get back into the nature and remember why we work so hard to protect it. It was really a great day," said Marina Chichua, Environmental Sciences Masters candidate fom Georgia, "Thanks to all of my colleagues who made it happen."