It almost feels a little chemical blue. As if someone diluted the river with way too many throat lozenges, or maybe poured out a few cubic meters of washer fluid. Everything is so blue and indescribably beautiful. We are in Soča valley in Slovenia – probably Europe's least known wonder.
The Soča River begins its journey in Triglav National Park in western Slovenia. From here it digs its way through nature and meanders all the way down to Italy and the Adriatic Sea. 137 kilometers of beauty, although I personally think the stretch closest to Triglav is the most beautiful. Most people who come here do so to kayak, fish or hike. We are here to hike. No long hikes with overnight stays, but an enjoyable day trip.
It is said that there are 20 suspension bridges for walkers across the river. Those kind of scary, swaying bridges with creaking wooden planks and rusty screws. The ones my family loves, but I hate. But what do you not do with views like these? Even I could not resist the pressure of nature. I probably crossed three bridges. The family? They crossed at least seven, just because they could. Probably also to tease me a little.
By the city Soca we turn off and follow the tributary Lepenjika, one of the alpine rivers that feed the Soča River with its crystal clear water. I am not sure if we are still in the Soča Valley or if this might be rather Lepenadalen? Regardless, the same water flows in Soča as in Lepena. Good enough for me.
Along the river runs a well-trodden footpath, which takes us over rocks, bridges and beaches. It is pure pleasure to discover nature like this. I can only think of two places in the world where I have seen a similar river landscape. At the Blue Pools track in Mount Aspiring in New Zealand and in Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada.
We jump and go. Over log and stone. Over bridge and beach. One of my feet suddenly becomes very cold. Me who thought I was walking on a beach with small stones. I do not. The water is so clear that I don't see that the stones are actually just below the surface of the water. Talk about misjudgment. In any case, I can report that the water is definitely not swimmable. It's really freezing cold.
We jump into the car and drive further into Lepenadalen. Somewhere where the road ends, there should be a footpath. The road narrows. Not a car as far as the eye can see. A sign for a restaurant catches our eye. Can it really be open? Here? Isn't there a human nearby?
We turn off to Pristava Lepena and follows their white Lipizzaner sign to the hotel area. There are a few cars in the parking lot, but there is plenty of room to maneuver. There is a large and empty outdoor terrace. We sit down. Now we are actually not completely alone anymore. Some who appear to be staying at the hotel are hanging out in a seating area. Good, so the place is open. Behind the restaurant building there are not only small cottages for rent, but also a paddock with several beautiful, white Lipizzaner horses. The horses known from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, but which actually originate from Slovenia. A rather unusual breed, with just under 3000 horses worldwide.
It may happen that we looked a little too much at the horses and a little too little at the menu, so without thinking too much we simply ordered coffee and monkey strudel. A combo that can never go wrong.
Pristava Lepena turns out to be both a restaurant, a bed & breakfast and a place for horse riding. You can go here if you want an active holiday with lots of nature and good food. A pretty appealing combination if you ask me.
We hardly have time to get our coffee before we make a new friend. The house tax. Suddenly a cloud of fur comes running towards us. The cat is suddenly everywhere. On the chair, behind my back, under the table and stroking my legs. You have to look for the husband of a sociopathic cat. It must have known that monkey strudel is served with cream, because I can't see anything else on the table that it would want.
We pay and walk towards the car. The domestic cat follows at my heels. We finally have to chase it away to get it to leave our car. Nice little cat. What a paradise you live in. I'm trying to find the place on Google maps to mark it as a favorite, but Pristava Lepena is not on the map. A place that Google maps does not know. Are there such places? It actually feels a bit like this whole area is a bit off the map. Not forgotten, but rather undiscovered. A real little nugget, quite simply. We turn left and continue into the valley.
How do I get to Soča Valley (and Lepena Valley)?
The part of the Soča Valley that we mainly visited is located in the Triglav National Park, between Thirty and Bovec. The area is 7,5 miles from Bled and 12 miles from Ljubljana. In winter, the national park is covered with snow, the season is counted from April to October. We visited the area at the end of October.
Map (opens in Google maps)
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Have you been here? What did you think of the destination?
Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.