Last July we spent a week in the Triglav national park, in what is called the Julian Alps. It was created in 1961 in Tito’s time when Yugoslavia still existed. The park borders the Italian and Austrian Alps and may be considered, together with the Kamnik Alps, as the end of the alpine mountain range. The name Triglav comes from the highest summit (2864 metres) and means “three heads”.
We went there to do some mild hillwalking which proved not mild but quite strenuous at times. Being featherbrained with no new SD card available, I realised the Ricoh GRD 4 was the only option as a photographic tool. Yet it proved to be a reliable companion during the walks and the weight of the camera was easily forgotten in the outer pocket of the rucksack.
Whatever guidebook you read, Velika Planina appears everywhere. It’s a plateau you reach by first taking a cable car and then a chairlift. You may think the plateau will be crowded, considering at all the cars parked below, but the area is vast enough to accommodate everyone.
Slovenian families take their kids up there for the day. It’s not a strenuous walk and the cable car and chairlift save the effort of the main climb up a zigzag forest path with no vista at all. It is one of the very few remaining examples of an Alpine shepherd villages — if not the only one . Once you leave the chairlift and after a really mild short ascent, you discover the village with the Alps in the distance.
The path descends slowly among flowers and cows straggling all over the plateau. The village is made of wooden cabins with paths running between the huts. Most of the houses were burnt during the Second World War, but have since then been rebuilt traditionally. The walk round the village and meandering between the huts and cows takes about two to three hours, including lunch with traditional cheese and meat you can have in some of the huts.
Some farmers still milk the cows the old way and, if you feel like it, you may spend the night in one of the huts. The cheese is a must-try. Once you’re down again the road from the cable car leads you to the source of the Kamniska Brstrica with its crystal-clear water, something you’ll see in every river in the Slovenian Alps. The Carniolan honey bee is to be seen in any valley as well.
Bled and the Vintgar gorge
Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj were Tito’s favourite holiday destination. The villages are on the eastern side of the national park and concentrate the majority of tourists. If you don’t like crowds, traffic jams and so on just avoid the place.
We just stayed overnight to visit the Vintgar Gorge early the next day. We had a really early start for a holiday, but by 8.30 in the morning you already had to pay five euros to park the car and another twenty to enter the gorge. We were a bit cross, but it was well worth the hassle.
The path runs along the gorge, with wooden walkways, for a mile. Noise from the few people is covered by the sound of the rapids and waterfalls along the river. The mist was slowly lifting by the time we entered the gorge. In the calm sections, you can spot many trout (sorry, anglers, but fishing is forbidden).
This is the first village coming down from the Vrsic pass from Kranjska Gora. If you wish to stay in a quiet village at the hub of many paths, this is the place and that’s what we did (Anze Apartment highly recommended for the kindness of the owner). The village boasts the only national park house with a small museum, an organic market on Saturdays in the summer and a small shop that sells delicious apple Strüdel (with cinnamon of course).
There are still a few traditional houses. The sunrises and sunsets in the mountains around were really magnificent. For people who like kayaking, Bovec or Tolmin might be better destinations but you’ll lose the quietness of the place.
The Soca trail
This was the first hiking trail to be created in the national park. It runs along the river, from the source to Bovec 25 kilometres downstream. Starting from Trenta, it will take you more than two hours to reach the source.
The path meanders on both side of the river, runs through woods, passes an alpine botanical garden and the statue of Julius Kugy, the first alpinist to climb Mount Triglav. It then crosses the road and leads you to the source of the Soca, although the path is not well indicated in that last section.
You can access the source only by means of a very narrow and rocky ridge which, very fortunately, is furnished with a simple steel-wire handrail to keep you on the not-so-straight but decidedly narrow.
The other part of the trail is mostly downhill (some 20 kilometres one way) but you can get a bus in Bovec or
It’s a wonderful walk but, unfortunately, you get very little access to water taps on the way and a good three litres of water was necessary to complete that part of the trail. The colours of the river are really amazing and having a picnic on the way, with the sound of birds singing and the water gurgling is pure enjoyment.
Don’t ask me to pronounce the name, I can’t. This popular walk starts from the end of the Lepena valley, some ten Slovenian kilometres from Trenta. The path goes up regularly in a forest on a steep zigzagging path. The later is quite uncomfortable as tree roots and rocks stud the path all the way up to the pass (sturdy and high mountain hiking boots are recommended).
On reaching the top, you can access a mountain refuge that provides a welcome break before going to the lake or climbing mount Krn, one of the summits that can be reached from the mountain refuge. A path then leads takes you on a 15-minute walk to Krnsko (lake) Jezero. It is a special piece of water because it is the largest high-altitude lake in Slovenia.
Walking on mountain paths, surrounded by flowers, is always a pleasure and the GRD 4 proved very handy with its 10mm macro mode.
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