Slovenia is one of the best countries to get to know European Nature. This small country is situated right between the Alps, the Hungarian plane, the Dinaric (Balkan) mountains and the Mediterranean sea, and its flora and fauna is a combination of all these zones. There are high mountains, crystal clear rivers and lakes, vast forests including some of the last unspoilt primaeval forests in Europe, and a mysterious underground world of thousands of caves. Within one or two hours of driving, you can experience the Alpine, Central European and Mediterranean climate. What better place to start, if you would like to discover European nature? In this tour, which is designed especially for visitors and groups from outside of Europe, we combine stunning natural areas with Slovenian cultural heritage including riding on a horse-cart and the art of making salt out of sea-water.
We have not set a fixed date for this tour. The optimal season is between the end of April and mid-September. Earlier and later in the year, there are few plants flowering and we may have to adapt the program in case there is to snow in the mountains.
The price of this tour is valid for private groups of 5-8 persons. If you are a travel agent and you are interested in this tour for your group: please contact us for the price and availability.
On request, we can customise and/or extend this tour with, for instance, expert guided tours to the cities of Ljubljana or Piran, visiting a medieval castle or birdwatching in different areas. Our speciality is to show you the best nature areas in Slovenia, for the best city-visits we will include local expert guides.
This tour differs from our tour “The Mysteries of the Karst – Slovenia Nature Tour” because during this tour:
Ljubljana (Brnik) airport. Please contact us if another airport is more appropriate for your group.
1695,- Euro per person for 5-8 participants.
175 € per person
Upon arrival at the Ljubljana (Brnik) airport, our guide Paul will be waiting for the group. The program of the first (and last) day depend on the flight schedule. When possible, we include a short hike to get a first impression of European nature.
Intermittent Lakes are a typical feature of Karst (limestone) landscapes. The water level fluctuates, one day they are full of water. A few days later, they may be dry. Always, they are full of life!
Lake Cerknica is the largest intermittent lake in Europe. In fact, it is also the largest lake in Slovenia and the only Slovenian lake with an inhabited island and an eldorado for water birds. That is when there is water in the lake. At other times, the lake-bed changes into a vast expanse of flower-rich meadows.
Our day starts with a visit to the interactive model of Lake Cerknica. In a small exposition, this natural phenomenon is explained in a beautiful and understandable way. We then continue to the sinkholes: large crater-like holes in the ground in which the water disappears. From here, we continue to our lunch-place by means of a traditional horse-cart.
In the afternoon, we take a 4-km hike at the most remote part of Lake Cerknica. This is where, after heavy rain, vast amounts of water appear from the side of the mountains. Sometimes, forest animals come to drink here and we may see their footprints along the springs.
Southern Slovenia is dominated by limestone which originates from oceanic sediment, created at the time of the dinosaurs. When the African and European continents collided, the limestone got uplifted, forming the Alps and many other parts of Slovenia. Rainwater partially dissolved the limestone and created an »emmentaler cheese with holes« under our feet in the form of caves and underground rivers. Many of the underground holes are small, but there are also spectacular, kilometres long caves. In fact, well over 11.000 caves have been registered in Slovenia until now, and each year new caves are discovered.
We visit one of the most beautiful and natural show caves in the surroundings. At the entrance, the cave guide provides us with rubber boots and special cave-lights which work on an accumulator. Armed with these, we enter the darkness like real explorers. On the way, we encounter the remains of Cave bears which hibernated and sometimes died here in the Ice ages. Also nowadays there are animals living in the cave, but most of them are minute because there is very little food here. If we are lucky, we find troglobiotic millipedes, beetles and woodlice, which have various adaptations to living in complete darkness. At the end of the cave, we find an enchanting small underground lake.
Also nowadays we can encounter bears here, the Slovenian forests are home to a healthy population of several hundreds of Brown bears. Occasionally these bears enter the villages at night, in search of fruit from the orchards and other edibles. They are wary of people and not easily seen. Our best chance is to wait at dusk in special hides at feeding places in the forest. If we are lucky, we can then observe them in their natural habitat. The feeding places attract other species as well, and we may see fox, badger, roe deer and several species of birds.
The city of Koper was once an island in the Adriatic sea. It was connected with the mainlany with extensive salt pans. After years of neglect, these former salt pans are now transformed into a bird-reserve of international importance. On our morning-visit, we can expect to see many different species of waterbirds including waders, ducks and egrets!
We continue our day at the actively used salt-pans of Sečovlje, where the traditional methods are still in use to produce one of the finest table-salts in Europe. In a well-made exposition but even more at the salt-pans themselves, we learn how this is done.
We continue our day inland, into the Dragonja valley. Here, the tiny stream flows over white rocks. We get a true taste of the Mediterranean with colourful Bee-eaters, Orioles, Hoopoes and Shrikes, while Nightingales sing in the background. We rest in the pleasant shade at a local house, where the owners show how to extract rich scented oils from medicinal herbs.
We walk along a kilometres long canyon, over a path which has been chiselled out of the cliff-face. On the way, we cross the canyon over a narrow bridge, with a view to a ten-meter high waterfall. And all of this is underground, in one of the most spectacular caves in the world: Škocjanske jame. This Unesco world heritage site is a true must-see for all nature-lovers who visit Europe for the first time …
In the afternoon, we again find ourselves at a cliff, but now in the bright sunlight on the edge of a Karst plateau. Besides the impressive view, this is one of the best places for butterflies in Slovenia. And, in front of the cliff, we can frequently observe birds of prey, including kestrel, buzzard, golden eagle and peregrine falcon.
After this, we head northwest, to the Alps, where we will stay in a different accommodation for the coming two nights.
River Soča runs from the Julian Alps in Slovenia through Italy (where the river is called Isonzo) to the Adriatic sea. Despite its length of only 138 km, it is known for its unforgettable beauty. Its ice-blue water flows through a narrow valley and much of the river remains unspoilt today. The river is home to the endemic marble trout, a magnificent fish which can reach up to one-metre length. While we follow the river, we visit the Tolminka fish hatchery, where local experts raise marble trout to restore the species in its native habitat.
We get a true feeling of the high Alps when we drive over the Vršič pass with a height of 1.611 m a.s.l. We use the opportunity for a hike in the high mountains before we descend to the famous (and touristic) lake Bled. Here, we move off the main route to a local farmhouse, where we stay for our last night in Slovenia.
Depending on our flight time, we will visit one or more nature areas on the way to the airport.
Moderately difficult. During the tour, we will hike up to 5 km in a morning or afternoon. We follow unpaved roads and small trails. While we walk slowly and stop many times, the terrain can be difficult, rocky and occasionally steep. However, we will leave the real climbing to others. Please make sure that you have good hiking shoes and sturdy trousers!
The temperature fluctuates with the season. In early April and September, it can be chilly and night-temperatures may drop to freezing. In summer, daytime temperatures are mostly high and can be above 30’C. We will be out much of the days, please be prepared for all kinds of weather. Please take a sun-hat and suncream. In the cave, it is cool, only around 12 oC.
During the tour, we will be staying at a countryside hotel or agritourism. This way, we are at an optimal driving distance from the areas which we intend to visit. Please note that we can only secure the best accommodations for you, when you book well in advance!
During this tour, we will use a van which has eight seats for participants and one for the driver. The tour guide will also be the driver of the van. This gives us a maximum of flexibility: how long we like to stay at each place, is up to us.