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Winter in Slovenia can feel very long, especially when the snow lasts for several months. Then, in springtime, nature suddenly comes alive. When the temperature rises, deciduous trees become green again. Forest flowers emerge, to use the brief interval of light between the end of the winter and the closure of the canopy of trees. Especially to see these early spring flowers in their natural habitat, we organise this spring flower tour.
In some meadows, you see thousands of violet and white crocus, which make an incredible display. In other places, there are equally many snowdrops and yellow primroses. In the forest, large white Christmas roses open up, and when there are many together, it looks like a scene from a fairytale.
In between, we find other, rarer species. These include the delicately striped Crocus variegatus from the dry karst region and the intense purple Helleborus atrorubens from eastern Slovenia. These colourful flowers attract native Carniolan honeybees, bumblebees and the earliest butterflies. One flower, however, doesn’t stand out at all. European wild ginger, Asarum europeaum, has brownish flowers which it presses close to the ground, where they are hidden between leaves. Here, these remarkable flowers attract tiny ants, which pollinate them.
Then, only one or two weeks later, it is all over. The early flowers wane, trees sprout leaves and the grass starts to grow. One by one, other plants start flowering, but if we want to see the early spring flowers, we have to wait for another year.
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 make the first stopover to see the first spring flowers! (the program is tailored to afternoon arrivals)
At the start of the tour, we are welcomed in a local exhibition, dedicated to the Slovenian Karst region and the particular valley where we stay this week: the Cerknica Valley and the Intermittent Lake Cerknica! Here, rivers and streams flow under the ground. In early spring, when the snow melts, the underground water level rises and many springs burst to life. In a few days time, a large part of the valley is flooded. In this way, Lake Cerknica is formed, which can have a surface area of 28 square kilometres!
Soon after our “introduction in the museum” we go out to see the lake itself, and, especially, the many flowers which we can find in the surrounding forests and traditional orchards! Many of the spring flowers are familiar as garden favourites, but here, they grow in the wild: white crocus, snowdrops and Christmas rose. They flower early in the season, which means that they are rarely seen by foreign visitors. Local people, however, welcome them as eagerly awaited signs of spring!
Imagine mountain meadows in early spring. The grass is still brown and lies flat because last winter’s snow has only recently melted. Through the grass, millions of small flowers emerge: wild Crocus, which form a tapestry of white and violet which reaches as far as you can see! Today’s view is, without doubt, one of the highlights of our spring flower tour. As an added bonus, we hike along a steep cliff with stunning views over the surrounding landscape …
Towards the Slovenian coast, Grape Hyacinths appear. There are two species here, Muscary botryoides and M. neglecta. Both have slightly differing flowering seasons 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.
Our spring flower tour is as much about the surprising Karst Landscape as it is about the early spring flowers which we find here. Today we get to know the underground world when we visit one of the over 13.500 caves, for which Slovenia is rightfully famous. There are no flowers in the darkness, but we find an underground river, a lake and bones of the long-extinct cave bear.
In the afternoon, we follow the water from the underground rivers when it appears above ground in karstic springs. Here, is the domain of snowdrops and delicate blue Alpine squills in the great Dinaric Forest.
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 nature 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.
As a midday break, we enjoy a visit to one of the most beautiful Slovenian castles, where we will also have our lunch. Then, 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!
The price of our custom tours is 1.195 € per person.
This price includes 7 nights accommodation, all 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 95 € per person.
Optional additions: transfer from other arrival points like Venice airport.
We prefer small groups of, ideally, 5 to 8 participants. The minimum number of participants for this tour is 3. When more than 8 people apply, we may organise a second tour with a similar program one week later.
Your guides will be Paul or Jana, who are licensed local guides and naturalists, living in southern Slovenia. They speak English, Slovenian and Dutch.
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.
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. During the tour, we will walk slowly and stop many times. In a few places. the 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!
Waterproof hiking shoes
Waterproof outdoor clothes
Refillable water bottle