Hiking among Alpine pastures of Pokljuka

IN Hiking , Hiking blog , Julian Alps , photography , snow , Sunset , Winter hiking

Hidden in southwestern Pokljuka, a high karst plateau in the Julian Alps with 6,300 ha of mostly fir forests, are numerous Alpine pastures with old wooden huts that seem lost in time. Some of them have been changed into tourist homes, while others are kept simple by the new generations of the old shepherd families. In summer, hikers can make a stop to taste delicious home-made cheeses, sour milk and sometimes local cured meats and štruklji – a welcome relief on their wanderings along the long trails of Pokljuka.

In winter, however, there is a sense of contented isolation. As often as not, from late-autumn until mid-spring the pastures, especially the higher ones, are uninhabited and inaccessible by car, and can only be reached on skis or showshoes. Set against a playground of high peaks of the Julians Alps and yet so snugly hidden in the otherwise thick forest, Pokljuka’s Alpine pastures offer perfect winter hiking goals with breathtaking views of the winter wonderland.

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Adventuring in the Julian Alps

After a long summer, spent mostly guiding in the mountains, it’s nice to just sit back and look at how the sun lures hikers out and about while the rain again sends them back into the comfort of home. The fast every day work – life routine changes for a couple of hours or, if we are lucky, days, and we get to rush outside to enjoy ourselves. It feels almost like pressure to maximize a sunny weekend, collecting memories which will undoubtedly fade rather sooner than later in this rushed way of life. 

Instead, breathe in and take a step back. Go outdoors to recharge, to soak up the tranquility of mother nature and its wonderful creations, and to return back home feeling positive and energized.

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Colors of the fall in the Julian and Karavanke Alps

As fog creeps into the sleepy valleys, hiding its browning trees, the cold whitens the mountain tops in the surrounding Alpine ranges, and the daylight shortens, one thing is certain. The carefree mountaineering summer season is finished. The mountains now demand more planning and more weight on the backs, nonetheless, the best days are only yet to come. The changing colors of the fall have turned the mountains, rich in larch forests, completely golden, and the copious rainfall will soon replenish the Alpine streams and lakes after a long hot summer. 

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Wandering about the mountains above Lake Bohinj

I’ve walked in the fairytale mountains above Bohinj and between my first and second attempt to climb the 1,761-m peak Mt. Pršivec I realized something; to hike in that area you have to understand the background. Its remoteness nestled among towering mountains has shaped the locals over the centuries, giving them the skills to not only master the surrounding peaks but even conquer Mt. Triglav as the first. Tackling any trail in their playground might thus bring unexpected hiccups like a section of expert terrain on a trail marked as easy. Yet, dreamy views and the adventure will leave you craving for more.

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Visoki Mavrinc, a gorgeous and safe peak above Kranjska Gora

Way up high – above the lively Alpine town of Kranjska Gora, a glacial valley with a mountain stream, the evergreen fir forests and an escarpment that ends with some of the highest mountains in Slovenia – is a comfortable 1,562-meter peak. The trail to get there narrows from a broad valley to a forest which ends quite unexpectedly on an open flat top. We gasped at the sight. Perhaps even more than the tall peaks, this rather low peak opens to sublime views and lets you soak up the intense history of the place and magic of the Alps without risking too much on the way.

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Secret gems of the Soča Valley

As the sun sparkles over the emerald green Soča River, which winds from its source at 990 meters above Trenta all the way to the Adriatic Sea at Italy’s Trieste, the surrounding hills and mountains call for an adventure. There are endless options in the area and it would be wrong to think that one could only get a kick out of the river. While the Soča truly is spectacular and deserves the attention, the Soča Valley is just so much more; it’s interwoven with various hiking trails that bring us either high up into the Alpine world, or to hidden waterfalls, meadows with wooden houses out of a fairy tale, gorgeous lakes, and even mysterious remains of the WWI.

Let’s dive in.

Join us on a guided tour Soča Valley and the Alps

Read also: Where to hike around the Soča Valley in amazing Western Slovenia

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Twelve Mountain Adventures in Slovenia You Will Likely Fall in Love With

Close your eyes and listen for a moment. Did you hear loud voices from the road outside? Or a faint rumble of a home appliance? In an ever-louder noisy world of the valley one needs a sporadic retreat to the silent world of amazingly wild and incredibly remote mountains. To lie down in an empty Alpine meadow, bask in the warmth, and daydream to the light symphony of birdsong and distant whistles of a chamois guarding its territory. There is no need for silence but only to become in sync with nature, whose vague silhouette we can barely still recognize in the cities.

Whether you live in Slovenia or are planning just a short visit, here is a list of the best twelve beginner-to-advanced hikes and climbs I’ve done this summer. Maybe you’ll find an intriguing idea for a bad-ass family outdoor adventure or maybe you’ll head for a romantic getaway high up in the mountains. Either way, while you’re huffing and puffing your way to the top, stop for a bit to reflect and appreciate how divinely different the Alpine world actually is. Serene and tranquil.

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An amazing day climbing Mala Mojstrovka in Slovenia’s Julian Alps

I’m very excited to give you a story written by Nick, our very special guest from Ireland who hiked and climbed with us last summer. Enjoy the read!

It was a wonderful sunny summer’s day in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. I had been comfortably dined and rested at the hotel and just finished a magnificent breakfast that was truly regal in its volume and variety. That day was my first day climbing of a ten-day mountaineering trip expertly planned by Exploring Slovenia. As the early morning sun warmed me up, I eagerly awaited the arrival of Neja, who owns the company, and has arranged all the guiding and mountain accommodation for my stay in the Julian Alps. Neja arrived promptly and introduced me to Samo, an IFMGA mountain guide and an expert on these demanding high level routes. Neja and I had planned some tough climbing over the coming days and I quickly found both Neja and Samo easy going, chatty and with a good sense of fun too.

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The beautiful Vršič Pass in winter

Beginner winter climb in the Slovenian Alps: Mala Mojstrovka

{A disclaimer for the wise: conditions in the mountains can change very quickly, therefore plan your climb accordingly; read about the planned route, check the avalanche reports, the amount of snow in the mountains, and reports about the temperature and wind changes, consult with mountain guides and local climbers,…}

As crocuses, primroses and spring snowflakes awake from the hard soil and the nature in the valleys begins to pick up more vibrant hues of blue and green, the mountains continue to stand firmly their winter ground in the face of the awakening spring. You drive to them in perfect sunshine, but end up climbing in temperatures way below freezing with occasional snow blizzards and fierce wind chills. Yet, the freezing temperatures make the snow stable and awesome for some serious winter ascents, and that’s what counts when you’re slowly battling your way up on the steep snow glazed slopes.

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The peak on the brink of the accessible

Through the window of a car, I remember being awestruck as a child by the serrated outline of a rugged mass of rock and snow, usually shrouded  in a swirl of clouds, towering over Gozd Martuljek’s green and vibrant landscape. Later I learned that the Martuljek Mountain Group is the remotest and wildest part of the Julian Alps with only two mountains accessible on marked and secured trails. Other peaks, all over 2K, quietly watching the world from their solitary abode, remain a place for experienced mountaineers, comfortable with climbing and manoeuvring through the labyrinth of faint tracks.

Many years later I am still awestruck; so much that entering that mystical world seems like a far-fetched unattainable adventure that only exists in dreams. Particularly so in winter. Coming close to it to catch a glimpse of the elusive beauty and absorb the grandeur is another matter. And there is no peak closer than Vrtaško Sleme, which at its 2,077 meters brings you so close to the Martuljek Group it seems like you can almost touch its first peak Kukova Špica.

Exploring Slovenia’s Guided Tour to Špik – another peak in the Martuljek Group

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