Slovenia: Nature Walk in Vintgar Gorge

Travel Date : 29th June 2013

Location:  Municipality of Gorje, four kilometers northwest of Bled, Slovenia

Previous Post (How We Came Here): Adventurous Road-Trip From Germany to Croatia.

[ A Road-Trip Stop ]

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Street of Slovenia towards Lake Bled

Knowing that our road trip from Germany to Plitvice National Park in Croatia would be a long one, we had planned to make a stop half-way and Vintgar Gorge had been selected as a wonderful choice as it is easily one of the most popular and scenic natural destinations in the country. We love nature and after doing a few weekend in cities, we were craving for natural places.

Despite having a GPS to guide us, it took us quite a while to actually find the place as it actually led us to Lake Bled. However, since we had already arrived there, we thought of taking a short stroll in the area. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate any vacant parking lot so changed our minds and started looking for Vintgar Gorge again.

{Beautiful Lake Bled – Would be nice to spend a day here}

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Knowing we couldn’t rely on the GPS further, we backtracked while looking for signs and spotted one leading to the Gorge. We then came across a car park and decided to stop there to seek confirmation of our direction, since we were not coming across any more signs thereafter. We approached two bikers there but had a difficult time trying to communicate with them, since they were not well versed in English. In the end, we only managed to understand some of the directions they gave, before continuing on our journey after thanking them.

Tip:  It helps to know the place name in the country’s language. Vintgar Gorge is known as Soteska Vintgar’ or ‘Blejski Vintgar’ because the road signs were in Slovene and not English. We didn’t know that initially and thus had a tough time finding the correct road signs. The locals also did not understand us as they know it by ‘Soteska’ and not ‘Gorge’.

We soon started climbing uphill on narrow roads among some houses in a quiet vicinity. Along the way, we did see one or two signs leading to the gorge but it was until we saw a large sign beside a supermarket pointing to ‘Vintgar Gorge’ that assured us we were indeed on the right way and were close to our destination.

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[ Finally…Reached ]

When we were finally there, we were pleased to find friendly volunteers ushering us to vacant parking lots. Parking was free and our car was sheltered from the sun, thanks to the tall trees in the area.

As we walked along a soil path towards the entrance to the gorge, we were already impressed by the rapid flowing stream just beside the path. The natural setting was also certainly like an oasis in the desert for us after our long journey in a car. Although the sun was brightly shining, the air felt cool.

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The ticket counter was just a small hut, but with a friendly staff to answer our queries on what to expect. One of them even suggested the path we should take for the most scenic experience. Unfortunately, we couldn’t follow his recommended route at the end due to time constraint and the significant amount of stairs climbing required as we needed to save our time and energy for the rest of our weekend trip.

The walking trail was a mixture of natural paths and trails made of wooden planks. The paths were flat so the walk was relaxing and with ease.

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We were thrilled to see the beauty of the natural formation of rocks and cliffs on both sides, coupled with the swift-flowing streams between them. Although Vintgar Gorge is not as large a scale as that of Taiwan’s Taroko Gorge, it is still a very beautiful place where we could be very close to the streams which made us felt very much immersed in the beauty of the gorge.

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Clear Waters

Dar was enjoying his walk too, especially when walking across wooden bridges and on the wooden planks. On parts of the path where there was no fence, we would hold onto Dar so that he would not slip off the sides. There were also plenty of photo opportunities with the scenic views and minimal crowd. We even ventured down the off-beaten path to get closer to the streams and for better photographic angles, of course remembering that safety is still our top priority.

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We couldn’t say the same for some others though, such as a young Caucasian lady who went as far as onto a fallen tree in the middle of the rapidly flowing stream! We were really worried for her safety as she struggled precariously towards the trunk just to get a good shot, and probably also to show off in front of her group of friends.

Other beautiful scenic shots of Vintgar Gorge:

We soon reached a small waterfall, made from a man-made dam. Dar was pretty excited upon seeing it as he is fond of waterfalls.

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Soon, we arrived at the end of the Vintgar Gorge where a small hut stood, selling entry tickets (for visitors who enter the gorge from that end), souvenirs and ice cream. We were tempted to patronise the stall but noticing that there was still a path leading to another waterfall which was much bigger, we decided to visit it first before returning here later.

At the back of the hut was an abandoned funicular, probably used to carry goods up and down the slope in the past. Dar was very interested in it and kept asking why it was not working, which to that, we could only say that it was abandoned for a long time and was no longer in working condition.

We then climbed down the stairs and came across an old bridge. From the bridge, we could hear the sounds from the waterfall, though we couldn’t get a good view of it yet. The bridge itself was in a poor condition, with decayed wooden planks and holes on it. We had to watch our footing closely (especially Dar’s!) to make sure we crossed over to the other side without falling or tripping over.

Very soon, we arrived in front of the Šum waterfall after taking a short mud path and enjoyed the beautiful view of it.

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There were some people enjoying themselves at the sides in the water but we didn’t have that luxury of time. Therefore, we admired the scenery for a while and took some photos before heading back to the hut.

We sat down on the benches in front of the hut and cooled ourselves down with servings of ice cream. That certainly perked us up with our needed rest after a relatively long walk. We also checked out the souvenirs on sale and bought a shot glass with Vintgar Gorge imprinted on it.

With that, we took the same path back to our car and began our journey towards Croatia.

Time We Took To Walk From Start to End: 1.5 hrs (slowly walking, taking in the sights)
Time We Took To Walk Back From End: 30-45 mins (quicker pace as we had already taken all the pictures)
Tip:

  • Bring a light jacket as it was cool in the early morning even though the sun was shining brightly.
  • Light snacks and plenty of water to provide some energy while walking (we ate chocolate bars). No food sold there.
  • Head to the toilet before the walk as there are no rest stops. Once you are walking, it’s one-way all the way until the huge waterfall and ice-cream hut.

[ Info About ]

(source: http://www.bled.si/en/what-to-see/natural-sights/the-vintgar-gorge)

This ravine in the immediate vicinity of Gorje, approximately 4 km north-west of Bled, was discovered by Jakob Žumer, the Major of Gorje, and the cartographer and photographer Benedikt Lergetporer in 1891. The natural form of the gorge was impassable, but was soon arranged and opened for public due to the tourist development of Bled which took place already in those days. Due to its natural beauty, Vintgar was classified among the more important tourist sights in Slovenia and the number of visitors increases every year.

The 1.6 km long Vintgar gorge carves its way through the vertical rocks of the Hom and Bort hills and is graced by the Radovna with its waterfalls, pools and rapids. The educational trail leads you over wooden bridges and Žumr’s galleries, and ends with a bridge overlooking the mighty 26 m high Šum waterfall.

The Vintgar gorge also includes two man-made sights. The single-arch stone bridge of the Bohinj railway, constructed in 1906, which crosses the gorge 33.5 m above the trail, and the dam from which the water is routed to the small Vintgar hydroelectric power plant under the Šum waterfall.

For More information on the beauty of Slovenia, visit the official website

Next Post: Croatia: Plitvice Lakes National Park