Winter in Slovenia can be harsh and long, and snow can last for several months. Then, in springtime, nature suddenly comes alive. When the temperature rises, deciduous trees become green again. Many forest flowers emerge to use the brief interval of light between the end of the winter and the closure of the canopy of trees: these are the early spring flowers which we see during this unique nature tour. Snowdrop, Crocus and Hellebore: many of us are familiar with these flowers from the garden. In Slovenia, they grow in the wild. Because of the early season, these plants are rarely seen by foreign visitors!
Each day, we drive to a different part of the country, where we can see different species of flowers. Here, we make short hiking excursions. Of course, we take lots of time to make photographs of the flowers and the stunning landscapes in which they grow. This exclusive tour takes place outside of the tourist season and outside of well-known destinations, therefore, we expect to see few other tourists, if any.
In early spring, the weather can be unpredictable. Therefore, we plan a warm lunch indoors on most days.
Please note that this is a photography trip and not a collecting trip: many spring flowers are legally protected in Slovenia and it is not allowed to take any of these plants from nature.
Arrival and departure from Ljubljana Brnik airport.
Helleborus multifidus ssp. istriacus
Brnik airport near Ljubljana is small, so it is easy to find the luggage and go to the arrival hall. Here, in a place which is just a little bigger than a living room, our guide waits for us. Minutes later, we continue our way in a van, which will be our means of transport for the coming week. On the way we already see the first spring flowers: violet coloured native Crocus, growing in the woods!
We are in the Slovenian Karst, a limestone area where the rivers and streams flow underground. Now, in spring, there is a lot of water underground. So much that the lowest valleys become flooded and change into little lakes. Here, in the Pivka valley, there are 18 of these temporary lakes! In their surroundings, there are numerous wild snowdrops and white crocus, as well as Istrian Hellebores and Christmas Rose, creating an increadible scenery!
We stay in an accommodation underneath the mightly Mount Nanos, and can easily see the limestone cliffs of its slopes. Westwards, these cliffs continue to form the edge of a Karst plateau. This is our destination for today because here is where White and Violet Crocus grow together in amazing numbers. These little flowers turn the meadows into colourful carpets for just a few days in springtime. So, if our timing is right and the season isn’t too early or late, we are in for a real treat!
Further along the cliffs, Aurikels may already start to flower as well. They have gone a bit out of fashion as garden plants, but many will know them as a favourite from the Victorian era.
Towards the Slovenian coast, Grape Hyacinths appear. There are two species here, Muscary botryoides and M. neglecta. they have a slightly differing flowering time and, because of this, we have a good chance to see at least one of them in full bloom. In warm years (which isn’t possible to predict before), we may also see the first wild orchids when Early Spider Orchids make an appearance in the Olive yards.
Today we drive a bit longer, in order to reach a special area in Eastern Slovenia. Here, we are in for a special treat! In a flooded ancient forest, we find wild Fritillaries among thousands of Spring Snowflakes! In some places, the water reflects their beauty, which provides incredible compositions for photography.
In the same general region, we head for an entirely different area in search of the darkest Helleborines. Their flowers are such a deep shade of violet that they appear nearly black. It is hard to believe that these beauties are just as natural as the other flowers which we have seen during this trip.
If conditions are right, and there isn’t too much snow, we visit one last place. Here, on the very top of a small mountain, we may find one of the best places of the trip. Between Snowdrops and Spring Snowflakes, we find many hundreds of wild Winter aconites!
Full of memories we leave this small country. The Spring Flowers here are truly inspirational. But now, we have seen the Slovenian landscape and we have heard about the beauty of early summer. One thing is for sure, we will be back!
Easy. During the tour, we will walk slowly and stop many times, but terrain can be difficult, rocky and occasionally steep, without real climbing. Please make sure that you have good hiking shoes and sturdy trousers! While we hope for pleasantly sunny early spring weather, we may get cold wind and occasional showers, please dress accordingly!
During the tour, we will stay at a local accommodation in Southern Slovenia. Here we have luxurious two-person rooms and home-cooked meals, not far from the first Spring Flowers.
During this tour, we will use a van for up to 8 participants. This gives us a maximum of flexibility: how long we like to stay at each place, is up to us. due to the kind of places which we visit, we can allow for a somewhat larger group than usual during our tours.
If there are 2-3 participants, we will drive with a personal car.