Magical springs of Lake Cerknica

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half-day
Availability : May to August, on appointment
Min Age : 5+
Max People : 16
Trip Details

You may well have heard of the Lake Cerknica in Southern Slovenia. This Lake may be present, but sometimes it disappears in only a few days. Let us take you to this magical place on our Half-day Wildlife Trip to the Disappearing Lake!

The water in Lake Cerknica raises and falls with an irregular pattern, and in summer it is usually dry. We can then easily find the deep sinkholes where water has disappeared near the village Dolenje Jezero, but have you seen where the water appears? On our half-day trip, we will visit the main springs of the seasonal Lake Cerknica.

In rainy seasons and when the snow is melting in spring, water is spewing from the stone slopes and continues to flood the entire valley, forming the largest Slovenian lake with a surface over 25 square kilometres. But in the summer water retreats to streams and underground caves, and the lake bottom changes into beautiful flower-rich meadows. The springs are then dry, and we can easily walk through their stone beddings. Close by are the upper parts of the stream Stržen, which hold nearly always some water. This is an outstandingly beautiful place with a fairytale atmosphere. However, only a few people come here. Sometimes, animals come here to drink, and if we are lucky, we may find the footprints of deer, bear, and wolf! Our excursion takes us along meadows which are full of flowers and through the forest all the way to the springs with crystal clear water.

The starting point for this excursion is only 1.30-hour drive from Bled, 1.00-hour drive from Ljubljana and 45 minutes drive from Postojna Cave.

Availability

With the water level, this trip is usually possible from May until August. In this period it is available on request from Wednesday through Sunday. Please, send us an enquiry through the form on the right. 

Price

Price of this half-day tour is 75 € regardless of the number of people. However, the number of participants on a single excursion should not exceed 16. This way we can offer maximum nature experience to everyone. 

Difficulty

Easy to moderate. In the half-day, we will walk about 4 kilometres at an easy pace. We will follow unpaved roads and also smaller paths. The whole route has almost no difference in height. This tour is suitable for children over five years of age if they have the ability to walk distances.

Meeting point

If you are arriving by car, we can meet at the Lake Cerknica. If you come by public transport, we can meet you at the train station Rakek or bus stop Cerknica. 

Price Includes

  • guiding in English, Dutch or German
  • accident insurance during the trip
  • local taxes

Price Excludes

  • transportation costs to the meeting point
  • meals during the trip, except for a light snack

Things to take with you

  • Photocamera
  • Binoculars
  • Good walking shoes
  • We recommend long trousers
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hat
  • Tick- and mosquito repellent
What to expect

The main stream of the Cerknica valley, Stržen, only rarely dries out, but the water level in the valley fluctuates tremendously. After heavy rain and when the snow melts in springtime, the water quickly rises and forms a lake of up to 35 square kilometres. The lake’s water then gradually disappears through caves and holes in the ground. Our guided walk takes us to a less-known part of the valley/lake, where its main springs are situated. This is a quiet place, where animals come to still their thirst on summer nights. We are unlikely to see the largest of them, but we may spot the footprints of red deer, bear, and wolf on the way.

Birds are easier to see and hear, and right at the start we already may find yellow wagtail, reed bunting, and corncrake. Also, larger birds frequent this part of the Lake Cerknica, and we may observe great egret, black stork, raven, and even white-tailed eagle.

We follow the stream along meadows and through forests all the way up to the main springs of Lake Cerknica. On the way, we can see colourful flowers, some of which may well look familiar. Here we find wild relatives of the garden gladiolus and primroses, and in early spring the forest edge is full of snowdrop! A relative of these snowdrops, the summer snowflake, is a rare bulb which grows only on the wettest places in the lakebed, often straight in the water. Depending on the season, this is a good place to find wild orchid species as well.

Beech and silver fir dominate the forest, and at some places, we find large stands of spruce as well. We observe the after-effects of the ice-storm which in a single weekend changed this forest forever. For several days, it rained while it was freezing and so much ice accumulated that branches and entire trees broke everywhere. Although many trees are now recovering, there are few without visible damage. It is still hard to imagine the impact of this weather event on the forest ecosystem as a whole.

Many springs are hidden in the forest edge. In summer most water comes out from somewhat deeper places from where the stream takes it to the other end of the valley. At other times much more water appears, and it spews down from stone slopes several meters above the streambed. Somewhere near the springs ravens are at home and they occasionally circle above us.

The final part of our walk takes us again along lovely meadows. We are a bit closer to the village Gorenje Jezero, and some fruit trees are planted here. It should come as no surprise that we may encounter the birds of extensive farmland with orchards here: yellowhammer, wryneck, fieldfare, and hoopoe.

Highlights
  • The highlights of this trip are:
  • We are at one of the less visited parts of Lake Cerknica. This is an excellent area for birdwatching with a chance to see and/or hear great egret, lesser egret, black stork, white-tailed eagle, yellow wagtail, whinchat, reed bunting, corncrake, raven, wryneck, yellowhammer, fieldfare, and hoopoe.
  • In the quiet forest edge, large mammals often come to drink at the spring. While it is unlikely that we see them, we may find tracks of roe deer, red deer, bear, wolf, badger, and fox.
  • The meadows are full of flowers and depending on the season we can see gladiolus, wild orchids, snow bells and the rare summer snowflake.
  • We reach the largest karst springs of the Lake Cerknica, where sometimes unbelievable amounts of water spew from the slopes.
  • In late spring, vast swarms of mayflies appear for their courtship flight above the stream and springs. Later in the year, we can find their larvae, which live underwater.
  • On the way, we encounter many butterfly species which may include rare forest-edge species like a white admiral and purple emperor.
Itinerary

On this trip, we are partially following cart tracks through meadows. In the morning these meadows tend to be wet from morning dew, therefore we suggest to plan this trip for an afternoon. Approximate schedule is: 

15:00 Meeting at the parking at the bridge over Stržen, between villages Gorenje Jezero and Laze 

15:00 – 17:00     Walk downstream towards the springs

17:00 – 17:30     A short break at romantic springs

17:30 – 19:00     Walk back over meadows and through orchards towards the village Gorenje Jezero

around 19:00     End of the trip