The Brown Bear’s land – before and after the IBA congress tours

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6 days 5 nights
Availability : september 2018
Worldwide
Slovenia
Min Age : 18+
Max People : 14
Tour Details

In cooperation with the 26th International Conference on Bear Research and Management, we organise two bear tours: one before and one after the conference. These bear tours are complimentary with the conference. During the tours, we visit key bear areas in southern Slovenia, and, of course, we go bear watching as well.  The program of the pre-conference tour is the same as the program for the post-conference tour. The number of participants is limited to 19 persons per tour. When more persons subscribe, we will organise additional tours with a similar program. 

Timetable:

11-16 September 2018: pre-conference tour

16-21 September 2018: IBA conference

22-27 September 2018: post-conference tour

Departure & Return Location

Pre-conference tour: we can pick you up at Ljubljana (Brnik) airport and will drop you off at the IBA bear conference location. 

Post-conference tour: we will pick you up at the IBA Bear conference location and can drop you off at Ljubljana (Brnik) airport. 

If you prefer to be picked up or dropped off at another airport, we can assist with booking local transport to this place (for instance the shuttle-bus GO-Opti), however, transport to another airport or railway station is not a part of the tour program. 

Tour Price

795,- Euro per person with 5 or more participants.

With less than 5 participants, the price per person will be higher. 

Price Includes

  • 5 nights accomodation based on double rooms (single supplement applies)
  • Full-board
  • Transport in Slovenia
  • English (Dutch, German ... ) speaking local guide
  • Tourist tax
  • Bear-watching fee
  • Entrance fees
  • Basic accident insurance

Single room suplement

95 Euro

Price Excludes

  • Travel insurance
  • Any private expenses
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Flight to and from Slovenia
  • Transport to and from another airport than Ljubljana (Brnik) or transport to a railway station
  • Additional days with/without a program for early or late arrivals (note that we can organise these as well!)

Things to take

  • Photocamera
  • Sun hat
  • Waterproof hiking shoes
  • Waterproof clothes
  • Tick repellent
  • Binoculars
What to Expect

Each day we visit a different area in Southern Slovenia. This is the core-area of Brown Bears, where they reach the highest density in Europe. Driving time is typically around one hour, single way. On-site, we will be hiking distances up to 10 km in a day. On the way, we often stop to look at animals and plants, as well as, hopefully, bear tracks! During the tour, we take plenty of time for taking photographs. 

Our daily schedule changes somewhat due to the different places which we visit, but in general, breakfast is at 8, lunch at 12 and dinner at 18 h. 

Expect to be outdoors in all kinds of weather. However, in case of continuous heavy rain, we will change the itinerary and visit an indoor exhibit or a cave, at no additional costs to the participants.  

Itinerary of the pre-conference tour 11-16 September 2018

Day 1Arrival to Slovenia

Participants who arrive at Ljubljana (Brnik) airport will be picked up at the airport. Please contact us when you know the arrival time of your flight! If you arrive at another airport, by train or by car, please let us know as well, so we can either assist you with the booking of local transport to the accommodation (not included in the tour price), or arrange for you to be picked up on the way.

When your arrival time allows, we will have a hike in the surroundings of our accommodation, which is situated in the brown bear area in Southern Slovenia!

Day 2Into the Slovenian Karst region & Bear Watching

Today we visit the Bloke plateau, which is situated at an altitude of 750 m a.s.l. In winter, this is one of the coldest parts of Slovenia: temperatures commonly reach minus 25 degrees centigrade and snow cover may last for months. In fall, we hope for lovely sunny weather. By the end of September, the forest leaves turn yellow and orange: this is possibly the best season for landscape photography! In the forest edge, Nutcrackers are gathering hazelnuts and now is the best season to see them. We also have a good chance to see Fire Salamanders, and, of course, tracks of Brown Bears which are preparing to hibernate. Landscape-wise we see the low-bog meadows around the lovely meandering Bloščica stream as well as forested hills on limestone and dolomite.

In the afternoon, we will go Bear Watching, which is organised by local bear guides(hunters) who are managing feeding places in the forest. Expect to sit quietly in a hunters’ hide from approximately 16.00 h until dusk at 20.00 h.

Day 3From the Karst Spring to the Top of a Mountain

In the Slovenian Karst, rivers flow underground. Underneath the mountains, they emerge in the form of beautiful karst springs. This morning, we hike to the largest and most mysterious Karst Springs of Lake Cerknica. We follow the forest edge in this quiet area. In fact, it is so quiet here, that animals including Deer and Bears regularly come to drink. When we are lucky we can find their tracks in the soft sand on the forest paths. This is also a good place to observe forest birds, including Woodpeckers and Raven.

After a lunch in the field, we drive up to a mountain where we have another hike. This time we go up, all the way to the top. This place isn’t too high (about 1000 m asl), but it is a vantage point which offers a beautiful view over the surroundings. It is also a good place to see butterflies (weather dependent!) and Rock Buntings.

Day 4The Kočevje Primaeval Forest

Hidden in the vast expanses of the Slovenian forest, there are special reserves which remain untouched by man. The Kočevje primaeval forest reserves are among them. These reserves consist of a strictly protected core area, surrounded by a buffer zone. Both in the core area and in the buffer zone, nature is allowed to run it’s course. The essential difference, is that we are allowed to enter the buffer zone as lon as we keep to a narrow path. In the core area, no human activity is allowed. From the path, which leads along the edge between the buffer zone and the core area, we get a fantastic impression of the Slovenian Primeaval Forest. Last winter, the path became even wilder, when a midwinter storm felled a numbber of large trees. In order to follow the path, we now have to climb over these trees and make detours around them, which is an even better primeaval forest experience!

Day 5The Mediterranean part of Slovenia

Just one hour driving from the middle of the county, we enter an entirely different climate zone. We leave the continental climate and enter the Mediterranean! The change is sudden and marked by the presence of different animal and plant species. Sun-loving reptiles stand out: Karst- and Italian Wall Lizard abound. Common and Sessile Oak are replaced by Downy and Holly Oak. In summer, the landscape can be barren here, as the hot sun dries out the earth. Late September, on the other hand, can be very pleasant indeed.

We visit two entirely different areas today. In the morning, we explore the restored bird reserve Škocjanski zatok. Once an abandoned salt pan, filled with waste, this is nowadays a hotspot for migratory waders and ducks. It is now Slovenia’s only breeding site for Purple heron and one of the best places to observe Least Bittern, Pygmy Cormorant and Little Tern.

In the afternoon we go eastwards, where a small, unspoilt river cascades over white rocks. Dragonflies chase over the water and we may hear Yellow-bellied toads calling. This is one of the best Slovenian reptile habitats and on sunny days, we can expect late butterflies These include the enigmatic Nettle-tree butterfly, the only European representative of Lybitinae subfamily. The Mediterranean part of Slovenia is also a place to relax and to taste authentic Mediterranean culinary specialities.

Day 6Return to Ljubljana

Up from mount Slivnica, we have the best view over the Cerknica valley, by far. From here, we can see the intermittent lake with its patchwork of small meadows and fields and surrounding villages. The mountaintop itself has lovely extensive meadows while the slopes are largely covered by Beech forest. This is also a place of legends: on cold mornings, witches gather here to brew magic potions and fly on their broomsticks over the valley. Later in the day, when the sunlight scares the witches away, paragliders follow their paths because the view from the top never ceases to amaze …

In the afternoon, we take you straight to the conference-accommodation in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana.

Itinerary of the post-conference tour 22-27 September 2018

Day 1Arrival to Slovenia

In the morning, we pick you up at the conference accommodation in Ljubljana. Around lunchtime, we expect to arrive at our tour accommodation where we settle in.

We start our tour in the afternoon at the top of mount Slivnica, from where we have a wide view over the surroundings! What better place to get to know the Slovenian Karst: from here we can see the extensive forests, low mountains, intermittent Lake Cerknica and on a clear day even mount Triglav, the highest mountain in the Slovenian Alps! We then continue with a hike in the Beech-Silver Fir Forest, which is the dominating forest association in the region. In fall, some of the loveliest plants flower here: Cyclamen, Willow Gentian and Autumn Crocus. What better place to relax after the busy conference days?

Day 2Into the Slovenian Karst region & Bear Watching

Today we visit the Bloke plateau, which is situated at an altitude of 750 m a.s.l. In winter, this is one of the coldest parts of Slovenia: temperatures commonly reach minus 25 degrees centigrade and snow cover may last for months. In fall, we hope for lovely sunny weather. By the end of September, the forest leaves turn yellow and orange: this is possibly the best season for landscape photography! In the forest edge, Nutcrackers are gathering hazelnuts and now is the best season to see them. We also have a good chance to see Fire Salamanders, and, of course, tracks of Brown Bears which are preparing to hibernate. Landscape-wise we see the low-bog meadows around the lovely meandering Bloščica stream as well as forested hills on limestone and dolomite.

In the afternoon, we will go Bear Watching, which is organised by local bear guides(hunters) who are managing feeding places in the forest. Expect to sit quietly in a hunters’ hide from approximately 16.00 h until dusk at 20.00 h.

Day 3From the Karst Spring to the Top of a Mountain

In the Slovenian Karst, rivers flow underground. Underneath the mountains, they emerge in the form of beautiful karst springs. This morning, we hike to the largest and most mysterious Karst Springs of Lake Cerknica. We follow the forest edge in this quiet area. In fact, it is so quiet here, that animals including Deer and Bears regularly come to drink. When we are lucky we can find their tracks in the soft sand on the forest paths. This is also a good place to observe forest birds, including Woodpeckers and Raven.

After a lunch in the field, we drive up to a mountain where we have another hike. This time we go up, all the way to the top. This place isn’t too high (about 1000 m asl), but it is a vantage point which offers a beautiful view over the surroundings. It is also a good place to see butterflies (weather dependent!) and Rock Buntings.

Day 4The Kočevje Primaeval Forest

Hidden in the vast expanses of the Slovenian forest, there are special reserves which remain untouched by man. The Kočevje primaeval forest reserves are among them. These reserves consist of a strictly protected core area, surrounded by a buffer zone. Both in the core area and in the buffer zone, nature is allowed to run it’s course. The essential difference, is that we are allowed to enter the buffer zone as lon as we keep to a narrow path. In the core area, no human activity is allowed. From the path, which leads along the edge between the buffer zone and the core area, we get a fantastic impression of the Slovenian Primeaval Forest. Last winter, the path became even wilder, when a midwinter storm felled a numbber of large trees. In order to follow the path, we now have to climb over these trees and make detours around them, which is an even better primeaval forest experience!

Day 5The Mediterranean part of Slovenia

Just one hour driving from the middle of the county, we enter an entirely different climate zone. We leave the continental climate and enter the Mediterranean! The change is sudden and marked by the presence of different animal and plant species. Sun-loving reptiles stand out: Karst- and Italian Wall Lizard abound. Common and Sessile Oak are replaced by Downy and Holly Oak. In summer, the landscape can be barren here, as the hot sun dries out the earth. Late September, on the other hand, can be very pleasant indeed.

We visit two entirely different areas today. In the morning, we explore the restored bird reserve Škocjanski zatok. Once an abandoned salt pan, filled with waste, this is nowadays a hotspot for migratory waders and ducks. It is now Slovenia’s only breeding site for Purple heron and one of the best places to observe Least Bittern, Pygmy Cormorant and Little Tern.

In the afternoon we go eastwards, where a small, unspoilt river cascades over white rocks. Dragonflies chase over the water and we may hear Yellow-bellied toads calling. This is one of the best Slovenian reptile habitats and on sunny days, we can expect late butterflies These include the enigmatic Nettle-tree butterfly, the only European representative of Lybitinae subfamily. The Mediterranean part of Slovenia is also a place to relax and to taste authentic Mediterranean culinary specialities.

Day 6Departure day

Today’s schedule depends on the participants flight-schedules. When time allows, we take you on a hike through the extensive Beech Silver Fir forest in the Slovenian Karst. However, our priority on this day is to timely take you back to the Ljubljana (Brnik) airport.

We can also arrange for a longer stay at the accommodation, as well as an extension of the post-conference tour program.

Diffculty

This is a moderately difficult tour. While we are not planning any real mountain climbing, we walk up to 10 km on each day and frequently go off-road. 

 

Accommodation

We will stay at an agritourism or comparable accommodation in the Notranjska region. This offers us maximum flexibility: we are right in the middle of the area which we visit during the tour. 

Transport

During this tour, we will use a van (up to 8 participants) which will be driven by the tour organiser.