Slapy Lake – Vodni Nadrž Slapy

Slapy Lake © Ricky Yates

Last Monday, being my day-off, Sybille and I decided to take advantage of the warm sunny weather and pay our first visit this year to Vodni Nadrž Slapy – Slapy Lake, and the little lakeside village of Ždán. The village and lake are about 50km south of our home with the journey taking about an hour in the car, because of needing to either get through or around Prague, before being able to head out into the Bohemian countryside.

The lakeside beach at Ždán © Ricky Yates

Slapy Lake has been formed by the building of the Slapy Dam across the Vltava River. Both take their name from the village of Slapy which lies a couple of kilometers west of the site of the dam. As I explained in my earlier post entitled ‘A Trip up the Vltava River’, the dam was constructed during the Communist era between 1949 – 1955 in order to generate hydro-electricity, as well as to control river flow and hopefully help prevent flooding further downstream in times of high rainfall. Slapy Lake, behind the dam, stretches south for over forty kilometres and is widely used by small pleasure boats and yachts. Along the shore and in the surrounding wooded hills, there are a large number of Chata or Chalupa – little (usually wooden) holiday cottages. Outside of Scandinavia, the Czech Republic is probably the European country that has the highest percentage of population who own a country cottage/second home.

The village of Ždán consists mainly of holiday cottages of various shapes and sizes, together with a bar-restaurant, a couple of simple hotels and a slightly more upmarket yacht club. And between the lake shore and the narrow access road running through the village, there is a wide grassy area, partially shaded by a variety of trees, where you can freely walk, picnic, sunbathe and gain access the lake to go swimming.

I hope these accompanying photographs convey something of the beauty, simplicity and tranquility of this location and why we both like it so much. The water is clean and clear and was already pleasantly warm for swimming. And because we were there on a week day, it wasn’t at all busy, despite being a fine and sunny day with the temperature in the mid-twenties.

Sam the dog swimming in Slapy Lake © Ricky Yates

Another reason why I find this spot so relaxing is the almost total lack of signs or regulations, instead leaving people to use their commonsense. Since we were last here in 2010, some strategically placed boulders or a stretch of low fence mean you can now only pull onto the grass and park at one end of the area. But there is none of the ‘Health & Safety gone mad’ culture that you get in the UK these days with signs warning of the danger of drowning in water, or telling you not to do this or that.

Our day-out at Slapy Lake also cost very little beyond the petrol for the 100 km round trip in the car and 50 Kc for two pre-lunch beers. We packed a picnic lunch which we sat and ate in the partial shade of the surrounding trees.

This was also Sam the dog’s first real day out with us beyond his regular daily walks. Labradors are meant to be good swimmers so we did wonder how he would take to the water. After some initial uncertainty, he soon discovered that he could swim, particularly if we threw a stick into the lake for him to retrieve! I think both he and we look forward to several more return trips to Slapy Lake over the coming summer months.

Sam drying off under the trees © Ricky Yates

13 comments to Slapy Lake – Vodni Nadrž Slapy

  • Lovely photos of a great day out, Ricky. The lake reminds me of a smaller one near our French cottage created for the same reason almost 100 years ago. EDF in its wisdom is now planning to dismantle the dam and the lake will disappear. Sigh….

  • Ricky

    Hi Perpetua,
    Glad you like the photos. I struggled somewhat to get pictures that truly convey how delightful the spot is. It is grassy with a variety of trees and the water of the lake lapping the shore. It is very difficult to get all of that into one photo! I also tried to avoid intruding on other people’s privacy by photographing them at too closer quarters as I tried to photograph the natural scenery surrounding them & us!

    I don’t think there is any chance of the Slapy Dam ever being dismantled. Instead, I hope the often suggested idea of constructing a boat lift alongside it, will one day come to fruition thus allowing through navigation from Slapy Lake to the navigable Vltava below the dam & downstream to the Labe/Elbe.

  • Your pictures are great! This is one of our favorite places, too…very serene and tranquil, and the scenery is beautiful. It’s amazing how much this area is like the state where I grew up–Minnesota.

    Sam looks like he very much enjoyed his swim and first major outing! Sounds like you all had a much-earned day of rest and relaxation! :0)

    Have a great day,
    Sher :0)

  • Ricky

    Hi Sher,
    Thanks for the compliment about my pictures. I did know that you & Jirka also liked this area from your blog post of May 2008 about walking the waymarked hiking trails around Slapy Dam. Did I ever tell you that I found your blog for the first time by putting Slapy Dam into Google & this post popping up, several months before I met you in person!

    Sam thoroughly enjoyed himself. We had a very tired puppy at the end of the day!

  • Karin Shepherd

    Perhaps we could change the name SLAPY to SLEEPY! Ha, ha. Your pictures truly made me feel relaxed. I felt a bit “sleepy” from all that sun, breezes, shade, beer, great picnic lunch Sybille made, the gentle slapping of the water and throwing that stick for Sam! What a perfect outing! I look forward to discovering Slapy Lake next year!

    • Ricky

      Hi Karin,
      Glad you enjoyed the post. I like your suggestion of changing ‘Slapy’ to ‘Sleepy’ – I deliberately explained in the blogpost that ‘Slapy’ was the name of a Czech village as the word could have other meanings in English! If you are here in the summer next year, (rather than the winter as previously), then it is a great place to go.

  • bibax

    The noun ‘slap’ means ‘chute’ (a steep-sided passage through which water flows rapidly). So Slapy (plur.) means The Chutes in English. In the past, the Vltava (from Old Germanic ‘wilt ahwa’ = wild water) was a wild river with many rapids that disappeared when regulation was finished.

  • Ricky

    Hi bibax,
    Thank you for the explanation of the village name of ‘Slapy’ as well as the origin of the name of the Vltava River. Funny that in German, the Vltava is now known as ‘die Moldau’!

  • Slapy Lake (or better Slapy Dam?) is definitely one of the most beautiful places for recreation near Prague. Zdan is a good choice, although I find the regions around Chotilsko (a few kilometers further from Zdan) even more picturesque with beautiful meadows, forests and water.. For example, the sunset over Zivohost is a magnificent sight!

  • Richardinprague

    Hello Rick,

    When I first came to stay in the Czech Republic, the lady who is now my wife took me for a weekend to stay at a campsite near Slapy reservoir. It was really lovely, but the thing that impressed me most was that in the evening the woods were full of fireflies. I had never seen them before, and was fascinated to watch them!

    All the best!


  • Glad Sam swims – my old lab never took to swimming – he could -if he had to – but he didn’t do it for fun! He was staying with a friend once when i was overseas and it was hot in Wgtn – about 30C so the kids biked home from the river to get old Brandy to take him for a swim – he wouldn’t go further than his paws LOL.
    OTOH I remember at about age 8 being sent out on a kids surf board to dissuade the poodle from chasing the ferry that was heading out of the harbour – and he really didn’t want to turn around – it was quite tricky getting a dog to follow you while swimming!

    • Ricky

      Hi Lis,
      Sam absolutely adores swimming & if off lead, dives, (or more accurately, belly-flops!), straight into ponds & lakes. He’s had many enjoyable swims these last two weeks we’ve been away from Prague on holiday.

  • Simone

    Hi Rick , I found myself in Slapy a few years ago when I was travelling around Europe before starting university in the US. What a beautiful place , your picture of the lake brought back memories of swimming in the summer sun and sleeping after drinking too much fabulous Czech beer (Budvar I think). Lovely memories of a beautiful place.

    Simone from NYC