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Sunny, beautiful landscapes, lots of time to take pictures, excellent local food and of course many species of flowers and butterflies are the ingredients for this special nature tour! We are outside in nature most of the time and cover only short distances: this is an ideal tour for nature photohgraphers.
During this tour, you can expect to see over 80 species of butterflies, as well as many hundreds of species of wildflowers. To do this, we visit sunny mountaintops, beautiful meadows in the hills and small clearings in the forest. We go to places with different altitudes, from the lowland to well over 1000 meter a.s.l. and we visit different climate zones: Mediterranean, Continental and sub-Alpine all within Slovenia!
Butterflies love sun-exposed sites. This is why we find most butterflies on sunny, south-exposed slopes. Here, in in the flower-rich meadows of Southern Slovenia, we often record more than forty day-butterfly species in a single day! However, each butterfly species has its own, specific habitat, and to see some of the most special species, we have to go to specific places. On this nature tour we visit wet meadows where Large Copper butterflies live, and small mountain valleys for Poplar Admiral, Purple Emperor and Scarce Fritillary. During our Flowers and Butterflies tour, we visit a variety of butterfly habitats and in this way, we can see many different butterfly species in a single week.
In the same places where we find most butterflies, we also find high diversity of flowers. The extensively managed meadows, which are rarely fertilized and mown only once or twice each year, turn into a garden of Eden full of flowers. Each meadow seems to have its own colours: in some places, the violet Meadow Sage dominates while the next meadow, just a few metres further, may be white with Ox-eye Daisies. Some of the most special meadows are yellow with Rattles. These flowers grow on the most nutrient-poor soils and where rattles grow, wild orchids are often close by. With all this richness we will spend most of our time in meadows during the Flowers and Butterflies and tour. However, the forest is never far and the rich understory hides botanical surprises of its own …
We arrive at Ljubljana airport where we meet our local guide and tour organiser. Depending on our arrival time we may have a stopover on the way to our accommodation. Here, we have the first impression of the colourful Slovenian meadows, which are at their best in early summer!
In Slovenia, we do not have to go far to find beautiful meadows, which are full of flowers and butterflies! Especially on the mountain slopes, there are many meadows which are extensively used for hay-making. These meadows are not fertilized and mown only once or twice each year. These are the best places with a high diversity of flowers. And, where there are flowers, there are butterflies as well!
Today we spend most of our time on the Bloke plateau, which lies at an altitude of 750 meter a.s.l.. Because of the high altitude, the nights are colder and the season is somewhat delayed. This means that in early summer, we can still find many typical spring flowers and butterflies. Dry meadows are the most species-rich, and this is where we start. But, we won’t forget about the wet meadows, close to the Bloščica stream. These wet meadows are home to somewhat fewer species, but instead, these species here are often rare and local ones.
Karst poljes are periodically flooding valleys in the limestone reion. They typically have a flat bottom and water flows in and out of the poles through underground rivers and streams. In winter and early spring they are mostly full of water. Later, when the water level drops, they turn into flower-rich meadows.
Depending on the water level, we plan to spend most of today in the Planina and Cerknica polje, which are both excellent areas to see many species of flowers. However, they are less good for butterflies because caterpillars have difficulties surviving the periodical flooding. So, towards the afternoon we move up to nearby mount Slivnica. This place is also good for flowers and in addition, it is excellent for butterflies too! Of course, the flowers species are different from those in the valleys …
Between yesterday’s area and the area which we visit today is just a single mountain ridge. Nevertheless, the climate here is markedly warmer and drier. We visit mountain slopes which were once intensively grazed pastureland for sheep. When the grazing was legally restricted, the vegetation recovered and we now find interesting stages of succession from open land to forest. Part of the area, a gentle, open slope called Volovja reber, is of special interest. Floristically, this is one of the richest areas in Slovenia while it is also designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and a Natura 2000 site. In recent years, the destiny of this area was heavily disputed because of a plan to use the site for windmills. After several years of battle in court, the plan was cancelled, and we can continue to enjoy the exceptional area like it is.
Stepwise, we move southwards and today’s destination is the Dry Karst, somewhere halfway between Cerknica and the sea. Here, we find a lovely landscape with small meadows and overgrown stone-walls. Later, in summer, it can become dry here and appear almost barren, but now, everything seems in bloom. This is an excellent area to search for flowers, including the insect-mimicking Ophrys orchids and the unusual firework-plant. With so many flowers, it is also an excellent area for butterflies.
In the afternoon we make a stopover in a rather different habitat: wet meadows which are not standing out because of their species-richness. Instead, we find some very rare species here, including Siberian Iris and the Large copper butterfly!
Large butterflies tend to use high mountain tops as their meeting point, a behaviour known as hilltopping. If a mountaintop is also full of flowers, it becomes one of the best places to be! Today we make several short hikes over the edge of a large inland cliff. For butterflies, this functions as a very long mountain top and we can expect many species including frittilaries, Erebia’s and swallowtails. Of course, there will be many flowers as well including rare Alpine species.
This might well be the warmest day of the tour when we go in view of the Mediterranean sea! The day-theme is the same: many different butterflies and flowers, but species and scenery differ once more. This is a suitable ending to ensure that you will remember this tour! Outstanding and expected species are the large orchid Hymantoglossum adriaticum and the interesting Nettle-tree butterfly.
The scheduled direct flight Ljubljana-Amsterdam departs flight departs at 9.20. therefore, we will have an early rising and make sure that you are well in time to catch your flight! For those who would like to extend their stay in Slovenia: we can take you to the city of Ljubljana after we leave the rest of the group at the airport.
The price of our custom tours is 1,195 € per person.
This price includes 7 nights accommodation, meals, transport in Slovenia, guiding, transfer between Ljubljana airport and the accommodation.
The price does not include: airplane tickets, travel insurance, any private expenses, alcoholic drinks
There is a single-room supplement of 135 € per person.
Optional additions: transfer from other arrival points like Venice airport.
Your principal guides will be Paul or Jana (both for larger groups), who are licensed local guides and naturalists, living in southern Slovenia. They speak English, Slovenian and Dutch. Sometimes, they are joined by other specialized guides. For instance, in caves, there will be a specialist cave/guide.
Transfer to and from Ljubljana (Brnik) airport is included in this tour. Please tell us when you arrive at another location or by other transport means so we can help you arrange transport to the meeting point at the accommodation.
For groups, we cooperate with several local accommodations which are comparable with Agritourism or a countryside hotel.
For families and groups of friends of up to 4 people, we can include staying in our authentic Slovenian farmhouse called the Dormouse house, see the tab “Holiday House” on this website.
1 – 3 participants: a personal car, the guide is also the driver
4 – 8 participants: a minibus, the guide is also the driver
We think that tasty, high-quality meals are a very important part of any tour! Where possible we prefer it when we can eat local dishes, based on locally produced ecological products. Often, we include seasonal fruits and other farm products.
Breakfasts often include home-made bread with pršut (Slovenian wind-dried ham), cheese and eggs from local farms, as well as home-made marmalade and Slovenian honey.
Lunch during our tours is often a tasty picnic, which we enjoy in a beautiful, natural area. Such a picknick consists of delicious home-baked bread and a variety of local products depending on the seasons together with home-made juice and Slovenian tea.
Dinner is usually served at the accommodation, but in case you stay at our farmhouse “the Dormouse house” we may drive with you to a local farmhouse and eat there. Have you every tried Slovenian štruklji, which are a delicious kind of dumplings, or ajdove zganci, a buckweed-based food – a Slovene staple from the old times?
We can provide vegetarian meals and of course take any requirements into account which you may have, like allergies and based on religious beliefs. We will ask you about this sometime before the start of the tour. Sometimes, it means that we will have to buy ingredients which are not available locally.
This is an easy tour and mostly, we will not go far from our minibus. We will walk slowly and not very far: we expect to walk at most 4 or 5 kilometres each day. However, we will walk off-road and sometimes in wet vegetation or on hard, rocky ground.
We spend much of the time in meadows and other open habitats in the full sunlight. Please make sure that you bring a sunhat, suncream, and clothes with long sleeves against sunburn! Comfortable and water resistant shoes are also recommended.
Waterproof hiking shoes
Tick- and mosquito repellent
Refillable water bottle