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SOČA VALLEY – Along the emerald path

As one transcends the winding road up from Tolmin or descends the southside of Vršič mountain pass, they become mesmerised by ashes of turquoise appearing at their side. Steal a glance or two more and you realise it is an enchanting river, none other than the Soča. Along its banks, in its catchment area, several towns and numerous villages have lain since the Slavic tribes settled here in the 6th century, the ancestors of modern-day Slovenes, their luck untold. It is a beautiful valley, in the true sense of the word. Towering rocky mountains of Triglav National Park, lush green forest and that crystalline water on pure white stones. Breathtaking.

For those who can appreciate natural beauty, or enjoy it through outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, whitewater rafting or paragliding, it’s perfection. Its significance in modern history undoubtedly draws visitors too, the world wars having seen key front lines on this territory. The stories of war and the area’s heritage are told through excellent indoor and outdoor museums, mountain trails and historical remains such as the medieval Kluže fortress, all linked by the Walk of Peace.

Culturally speaking, the self-reliant Soča valley o ers stone and sand art, wax and wool products, folkloric song and dance, and the cuisine, oh the cuisine. From Tolmin and Bovec cheese to the native Soča trout, unique ‘čompe’ Bovec potatoes and sweet sweet Kobarid ‘štruklji’, there’s plenty to discover.

THE SOČA RIVER: The Soča river, all 136km of it, is an almost untouched piece of nature waiting to be discovered. At its source in Trenta the pure clear alpine water springs from a dark karst crevice, then flows rapidly towards the Adriatic sea, along the way featuring such natural beauties as deep gorges and graceful waterfalls. The bright turquoise colour of the Soča deserves a paragraph itself. Utterly awesome just about begins to describe the thoughts that come to mind when gazing upon its splendour. The best time of year to experience its full impact is spring when freshly melted alpine snow seeps into its tributaries. Apparently, the green-blue colour is retained even as far as Friuli, northern Italy – a testament to its pure alpine origins. All manner of water sports and river-based activities begin to thrive on and around the Soča come springtime: kayaking, rafting, hydrospeed and flyfishing for the famous Soča trout. The mystique of the Soča is still held dear by the locals who live on its banks, representing an almost spiritual presence, undoubtedly a symbol of natural perfection.

TRENTA MUSEUM AND TRIGLAV NATIONAL PARK INFORMATION CENTER
The important point of reference for those hungry for information about Triglav National Park. As the full name of the Trenta lodge suggests, this place presents the natural idiosyncrasies of the Julian Alps as well as quaint ethnological and cultural heritage of the Trenta and Soča valleys. Set over several floors, the permanent exhibition, first of all, covers the environment, geology and hydrology of Triglav National Park. The Trenta Valley ethnological collection is to be found on the third floor, showcasing the history, domestic culture and including a reconstructed typical local house, not to mention Alpine dairy farm and sheep pasture. Despite its seemingly inaccessible location (deep in the Trenta valley at Na Logu), the museum has full disabled access (wheelchair access, toilets, lift). As with many rural attractions in Slovenia, special guided tours are possible if arranged prior to arrival. Info: +386 (0)5 388 93 30, dom-tnp.trenta@tnp.gov.si, www.tnp.si.

THE WALK OF PEACE: The most important sights connected with the first world war in the Soča valley have been joined together on this trail since 2007. Divided into ve sections of varying di culty, it begins at Log Pod Mangartom and ends at an outdoor museum on Mengore hill near Most na Soči, spanning a total of over 80km. Needless to say, there are possibilities to sleep at settlements along the way, including at the section start/end points and at a mountain hut on Kuhinja. Hikes to other nearby mountains are easy to access, and indeed the Walk of Peace itself utilises mainly existing mountain and tourist paths, itself being extra-marked. Info: Gregorčečeva 8, Kobarid, +386 (0)5 389 01 67, +386 (0)31 586 296, info@potmiru.si, www.potmiru.si.

THE SOČA TRAIL: This marked hiking trail starts way up at the source of the said river down toward Bovec, winding with the emerald river and featuring several rope bridges, perfect for getting those ‘’is this picture from photoshop?’’ shots. Sights along the trail, which connects secluded spots via older footpaths, include the Alpine Botanical Garden Julijana, Trenta Museum, Great Soča Gorge. It makes for quite a full tour of the region and one which is very attractive to everyone except those averse to any kind of walking.

WATER SPORTS ON THE SOČA: Rafting, kayaking, hydrospeed, what better ways to experience the grandeur of the river Soča? On the waters themselves you can enjoy (and endure) a great little adventure, with a team of friends in a raft, a group of them in kayaks or gliding through the turquoise liquid crystal with little more than a wetsuit. Quali ed guides make sure the experience is safe, yet there should be no less sense of awe as you rush across rapids, oat through dark green pools, pass huge rocks and cheer your arrival at the fishing point (Trnovo ob Soči). A customary, actually obligatory dip in one of the brisk river’s pools follows the experience. Upwards of twenty agencies in Bovec o er whitewater adventures on the Soča.

FLY FISHING ON THE SOČA: For angling enthusiasts, the river Soča should be some kind of Mecca, fly fishermen mandated to visit its waters at least once in their lifetime. A haven for trout, the only kind of fishing allowed here is that of the fly. Be them dry, wet, nymph or streamer, you may put your files only on barbless hooks (just singles), but any kind of line and leader is fine. Those are not the only strict rules for fishing on the Soča, so one would be well advised to do their research in advance and have the required permits. Then get out there and catch yourself some dinner! Info: www. flyfishing.si

MOST NA SOČI: Known as Sveta Lucija (or St Lucy) until an abrupt government-enforced name change in 1955, the now more literally named Most na Soči (Bridge on the Soča) occupies one of the most picturesque slices of land anywhere in Slovenia, with the homes of its some 236 inhabitants perched on a rocky promontory jutting out into a reservoir at the confluence of the Soča and Idrijca rivers. The serene turquoise waters of the artificial lake are as popular with fisherman as they are with those seeking other water-based adventures, while the dozen or so guesthouses in the village make it a convenient base for exploring further afield in the Soča Valley. In addition to the countless natural sights, the area is teeming in rich archaeological finds dating back between the Bronze Age and Roman times. Contact the Most na Soči Tourist Association (www.soca-info.si) for more information.

 

What’s on – Annual Events:

Sport and Music festivals: Hiking festival – Discover the beauties of nature and monuments of the past under the guidance of experienced guides. From 15th September to 1st October 2017. Soča Outdoor Festival (30th June – 2nd July 2017), Podbrdo Trail Running Festival – GM4O (16th till 18th June 2017), Trans Julius (22nd till 25th June 2017), Metaldays (23th to 29th July 2017), Punk Rock Holiday (8th – 11th August 2017), MotörCity (24.-27.08.2017 ), Overjam international Reggae festival (16th to 19th of August 2017), Halamoye Dance Festival (14th – 16th July 2017 ), Creative camp Sajeta (3th to 9th July 2017), Rock Festival Gora Rocka (26th June – 2nd July 2017 )Culinary Festivals: JESTIVAL – Food & Art festival – The Gastro – Art fusion shall be prepared by our renowned local chefs and artists (30th September 2017).  Ethnological events: The Drežnica Carnival – where the unmarried boys participate, is one of the more known Carnivals in Slovenia (This unique custom can be seen on Shrove Saturday in Drežnica and a week prior to that in Drežniške Ravne).

To find out other unique places in Slovenia, check out our THE SLOVENIA BOOK – AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO THE BEST OF SLOVENIA

Written by: Yuri Barron, Will Dunn, John Bills, James Cosier, Edited by Jana Studen

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