Slovenia is a small alpine country nestled between Austria to the north, Italy to the West, Croatia to the South and Hungary to the East. With a population of around only 2 million and a cultural interest in the outdoors, pre-trip research suggested that the Triglav National Park, one of the largest national reserves in Europe, offered an ideal ‘playground’ for a multi activity outdoor trip.
At 2,864m Triglav represents a formidable challenge first climbed in 1778. The first ascent party started out from Bohinj, our chosen departure point.
Our first day trek was a leisurely walk alongside a stunning deep gorge with a photo opportunity at the prominent ‘Elephant Rock’. After coffee and cake the hard work of our ascent began through woodland before reaching the open mountain side and our first views of Triglav. Our first refuge, the Vodaikov Dom, offered simple basic accommodation, hot meals and even a warm shower, if you were prepared to queue.
Leaving Vodaikov Dom by 08.30 the air was still cool and the views impressive. Shortly after Dom Planika we encountered our first sections of ‘protected path’, steel cables and ‘staples’ secured to the rock to clip into, affording some security against a fatal fall. However, being attached via a potential ‘lightening conductor’ was much more of a hazard especially as Triglav is renowned for some impressive and dangerous electrical storms! With dark clouds rolling in the views were interrupted and speed became essential.
The final ridge climb to the summit was as exhilarating as it was challenging. However, we still had a technical descent down loose gulley’s and a traverse across sheer rock to conquer before we arrived at our second refuge just after 5.30pm for a well-deserved rest, food and sleep.
Our final trek was a descent down through the valley of the seven lakes, a leisurely and relaxed journey through stunning scenery in ideal conditions.
The reminder of the week was dedicated to kayaking. Slovenia is renowned for exceptional kayaking on crystal clear aqua marine rivers. Our first journey from Lake Bohinj followed the Gorge and negotiated various drops and section of rapids. It presented the first opportunity to ‘run’ a river and test skills on moving water whilst paddling a closed cockpit kayak. It also proved to be a thorough introduction to capsize and rescue skills in moving water!
Our second outing was a total contrast. Mezinca mine, close to the Austrian border, ceased excavation of Ore in 1994. Since then a small section of the huge mine which is 700m below the surface offers an opportunity to kayak through some of the now flooded shafts. This unique experience started the moment we boarded an original miners train. Four to a carriage was cosy, and then black as night as the carriage doors were closed and we descended three kilometres on a narrow-gauge line deep into the mine. The experience of travelling through the mine by foot and by kayak gave us a taste of what it would have been like working 12 hour shifts in this environment.
Our final day spent relaxing in the popular resort of Bled with its emerald green lake, picture postcard island church and cliff topping medieval castle was a fitting end to an energetic week.