Activity Julian Alps
Taking to the Trail: Cycling in Triglav
Rugged mountains and endless blue skies mark the scenery of Slovenia’s only national park, one of the most picturesque regions in central/eastern Europe. Towering at breathtaking altitudes of more than 2,000 metres, the Julian Alps scale above lush forests, valleys, lakes, and rivers – the perfect playground for the avid outdoor cyclist. The park and its surrounding area offers a wealth of paths and trails to explore, ranging from peaceful day rides to challenging all-terrain courses, with pleasant interludes of villages and outposts where the adventurer can sit back and enjoy a refreshing drink or meal.
Preparing for Your Journey
As with any journey, preparation for Triglav entails taking some measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Checking EU regulations in regards to which documents to bring such as passports and other forms of identification, customs declarations, and any health-related or political situations is essential (there is little to worry about in Slovenia, fortunately). Accessing information on which time of year is the most optimal for travel in terms of exchange rates is easily done online by reviewing reports on market trends, as well as checking travel and flight times where off-seasons often offer excellent discounts. Determining this well in advance will not only help you reach the information you need to save on your currency exchange, but will also give you a better idea how to budget. It is also important to research travel insurance and if you are taking your own bicycle, to ensure that it is covered as well.
With several local and national companies providing bicycle rental services, the cost of a rental is likely to be more feasible than transporting a bike to and fro places by plane; trains and coaches are generally more accommodating in this instance. Most importantly, preparing physically and mentally is key – when intending to embark on a more strenuous journey, make sure that your fitness levels are in good shape well in advance. Also prepare for the time of year you are planning to cycle, pack plenty of food, water, a first aid kit, repair pack, warm and light clothes, a map and a compass, and phone (in case of a signal). Always know your route, where you can stop for rests, and how to keep safe.
The Best of the Bike Trails
Several places present ideal starting and ending points for cycling trails in Triglav and the Radovna Valley, including Lake Bled, Jelovica, Bohinj and Pokljuka Plateaus, and Kranjska Gora. It is fairly easy to find travel companies which not only offer guided tours for all levels, but can also offer ample advice on which are the best routes for self-guided expeditions. Popular styles include road cycling, mountain biking, freeriding, and family cycling.
Lake Bled is one of the most popular routes, perfect not only for cycling but for rafting, paragliding and other extreme sports. The town of Bled overlooks a spectacular glacial lake, and is famous for its castle, church, and beautiful views of the mountains – a heavenly rest-stop between cycling runs. Travelling the 40 kilometre trek to Bohinj Lake – Triglav’s largest body of water – from Bled involves a steady 700m climb after a relatively easy descent into the valley. Pokljuka’s magnificent plateau reveals spectacular views all the way into the Bohinj Valley, including Savica Waterfall and Vogel Mountain. Baška Grapa to Tolmin is another exciting trail, spanning 61km and advancing 1100m upwards. It features beautiful historical relics and a paradisal bathing spot where the Soča and Idrijca Rivers collide. Following the Soča River cyclists can continue to Bovec (46km, 440m climb) through Hemingway country (much of the scenery here is discussed in A Farewell to Arms) home to the Boka Waterfall. Bovec is Slovenia’s adrenaline junkie hotspot, perfect for whitewater rafting, paragliding or hiking through Mt. Kanin.
En route to Kranjska Gore from Bovec means that you can enjoy 45km (1100m climb) through the Upper Soča Valley of Trenta, brave hairpin bends through the Vršic mountain pass, and be within reach of returning to Bled which is only 41km and an easy climb of 150m away along the Radovna River; be sure to stop at the Vintgar Gorge on the way.
Slovenia has enjoyed a massive surge in recent years of enthusiastic cyclists finding their way through its beautiful landscapes – stunning scenery, a vibrant culture, excellent cuisine and friendly locals make it one of the top destinations in Europe for the avid and casual adventurer alike – so visit Triglav National Park and take in one of the region’s best treasures!
The Slovenian Mountains: An Adventure Sports Paradise
Think of Slovenian action sports and your mind most probably turns to skiing in the infamous Kranjska Gora area. Indeed, Slovenia attracts skiing enthusiasts from all over the world during the winter thanks to its jaw-dropping range of snow-covered mountains. However, what many people don’t know is how many other extreme and adventure sports the country has to offer; from caving to rafting, the rugged and wild landscapes of the Slovenian mountains are the perfect place for the adrenalin junkie. And Kranjska Gora – although best known as a winter sports destination – is a great base for extreme sports all year round.
White water rafting
Regions such as Bovec – famous for its beautiful Boka waterfall – offer excellent locations for white water rafting. The wild and rapid rivers, which cascade mercilessly among jagged mountain rocks, act as a natural rollercoaster for rafts. Holding between four and eight people, rafts hurl down the rough rapids and break-neck speeds – an activity definitely not for the faint hearted. For those that prefer to ease into the sport a little more gently, Ziv Zav (Kobarid to Tolmin) and Lake Bohinj (Bohinj to River Sava Bohinjka offer slightly easier courses. Alternatively, for the most experienced and daring, head for lower Sava (Soteska to Bohinjska Bela) where you will come face to face with some of the most extreme navigable rapids in the country. Rafting in Slovenia is not only desirable, but also fairly cheap. At each region are a host of companies offering a range of one-off cheap cruises down some of Slovenia’s most infamous rapids. Likewise, there are also several well-priced trips that take place over several days, offering visitors the opportunity to experience several of Slovenia’s rafting hotspots.
For those that want to experience the beauty of the Slovenian mountains from a different angle, paragliding is a must. The country has several hotspots from which you can literally take off like a bird, using thermals to aid your ascent. People come from far and wide to paraglide in Slovenia – as well as being popular with tourists it is also home to many international paragliding events. Schools in the country offer both one-off tandem flights, where you will take off strapped to a pilot, and courses that will enable you to fly your own glider upon completion. The best place to fly from is Soca Valley, with most schools being situated here, and Bohinj is also popular. Paragliding is hugely weather-dependent, however Slovenia offers very reliable conditions for the sport; the best months to fly are between May and August.
The Slovenian Alps offer some of the most challenging and breath-taking climbs one could dare to imagine. The daunting rock faces are a climber’s paradise, and many adventurers flock to the region to test their skills. The most famous climbing point is Triglav, an imposing mountain often lovingly referred to as Slovenia’s “kingdom”. The picturesque villages of Dovje and Mojstrana are the perfect starting points for a climb or hike up Triglav. Despite the extremity of some of the country’s climbs, there are many schools that offer experiences at varying degrees of difficulty, mostly situated in Bohinj, Tamar Dolina, Trenta. For those looking to take climbing to another level, adventure classes are also offered in “ice climbing”; a new craze that involves climbing frozen waterfalls in the winter. Also, make sure you visit the famous north face of Triglav in Vrata valley, as well as Peričnik waterfalls in Vrata valley – both fantastic places to climb. Finally, Dovje and Mojstrana have just 2,000 inhabitants; however the villages have born 18 Winter Olympic Games participants, and six well-known Himalayan climbers.
• Hiking in Dovje Mojstrana