Lovers of winter sports are in their element in Slovenia this year with plenty of snow at all the major ski resorts, numerous tracks for cross-country skiing and also several good mountain roads, which have been prepared into sledging tracks.
I, unfortunately, am not keen on any of these sports but I do enjoy winter hiking if the snow conditions are right and if it is a nice sunny day – as it was on Saturday. Well actually, here in Radovljica it was somewhat cloudy but that’s one advantage of living close to the mountains, if it’s cloudy down here in the valley, it’s more often than not sunny up above, so with a little effort you can soon be up enjoying the warmth of the sun, relishing the views and reaping the rewards of ones effort.
Having spent 20 minutes shovelling snow to clear a parking space (that’s winter in the Alps!), the walk towards Dovška Baba began. The peak of Dovška Baba (1891m) is part of the Karavanke Alps and is most directly reached from the village of Dovje. This is a walk I do a good few times a year and always usually go to the top, from where there are stunning views in all directions, towards Slovenia on one side, and Austria on the other. However, with the current amount of snow it took longer to get just half-way up than it would usually take to get to the top and back. But it was just so lovely to be outside and to feel the warmth of the sun and being there, up above the clouds it was almost like I had momentarily entered a different country, or at least a different season. Of course I wasn’t alone in seeking the sun and some snowy fun, there were quite a few people walking up with skis or snowboards on their backs, some snowshoeing and also quite a few others dragging their sledges up, in order to enjoy the rapid descent. This photo, taken on the way up, shows the views over the Julian Alps and to Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain (2864m).
Radovljica is sandwiched between the Karavanke and the Julian Alps, so there is a wide range of choice for all kinds of sporting activities, both summer and winter, for adrenalin seekers or for those wanting a more gentle experience or just to enjoy the views, and all within easy reach. Radovljica is in the region of Gorenjska, which is also home to Slovenia’s only national park, Triglav National Park.
Triglav National Park (TNP) is named after Triglav, the highest point in the park, whilst the lowest part is the Tolminka Gorge at 180m. TNP extends along the Italian border and close to the Austrian border in the north-west of Slovenia and covers 880 square kilometres, or more than 3% of Slovenia. Two-thirds of TNP is covered by forest, the predominant species on the south side being beech whilst on the north side spruce and larch trees dominate. In fact, wherever you go in Gorenjska you won’t be far from a forest since ¾ of the region is covered by it.
TNP is a paradise for hikers, although it must be noted that there are some strict rules in place to protect the flora and fauna within the park i.e. flowers may not be picked, fires may not be lit and camping is not permitted anywhere within the park. More information about TNP can be found here – http://www.tnp.si/national_park/
A fun, and different, experience for hikers wishing to stay overnight, is to stay in one of the mountain huts within the park. A stay is a good way to sample a bit of the real Slovenia – just don’t expect too many home comforts – but a bed and a home-cooked meal is often all you need after a long day of hiking. I’ve spent quite a few nights sleeping in various huts and its always an interesting experience!