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A guidebook for trekking the Slovene High Level Route across Slovenia. The 500km hike from Maribor, near the Austrian border, to Ankaran on the Adriatic coast, is described as a series of 3 to 6 day treks. The route runs through the regions of Pohorje, the Julian Alps and Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the Karavanke, and the limestone Karst country.
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To mountain walkers, Slovenia is best known for the Julian Alps, but it has a lot more than that to offer, and the Slovene High-Level Route crosses some of the most varied and interesting landscapes to be found anywhere in Europe.
Slovenia is about the size of Wales, or half the size of Switzerland, and although only about 11 per cent of the land area is covered by high mountains, 90 per cent is higher than 300m above sea level, and the Slovenes proudly count themselves an Alpine nation.
The Slovene High Level route runs from Maribor, close by the Austrian border in the north-east of Slovenia, to Ankaran on the Adriatic coast in the south-west, covering 500km of outstanding mountain and upland hiking and trekking.
The route described in this guidebook is divided into 12 stages of three to six days each, and the start and finish of each stage can be reached by public transport, meaning you don’t have to backtrack. The stages are of different standards of difficulty – some are accessible any reasonably fit walker, while others require mountaineering experience.
We are grateful to a reader who sent us these updates.
- The 2011 edition of the "stamp" record book includes new stamps in Skocjanske jame (held in the souvenir shop) and Artvize. It is conceivable that new stamp points have been added to the routes covered in stages 1-10.
- Apparently the Socerb stamp is no longer held in Sveta jama, but the restaurant at Socerb castle holds two: one inside (when restaurant is open) and one inside a box or a cavity outside, near or under the stairs.
- Stage 12, Day 2. The path out of the village of Petrinje (see page 230) is quite tricky and I believe it merits some extra guidance in the book: The well defined grassy track bears right almost immediately after leaving the village, away from the tarmac road that runs in parallel; but one needs to follow the very faint grassy track straight ahead that runs parallel to the tarmac road. No waymarks are visible. The track briefly veers away from the tarmac road, only to rejoin it a short while later (running parallel) before it disappears into the maquis.
I found the path through the maquis better defined than the guide suggests..
- Stage 12, Day 2: The rough field just before arriving at Sveta jama (p231 middle) is ringfenced with lines, one of which could be electric, with no obvious way of entering; it was impossible not to climb over the lines and walk through the field, only to have to climb over the lines to exit field on the other side. The waymarks on rocks and trees are inside the field!
- Stage 12, Day 3: Section on guard dogs making passage through archway intimidating (p237) probably redundant, as official waymarks now bring you around the property, effectively following the "workaround" suggested in the guide.
- Stage 12, Day 3: Further down page 237, "Just after leaving the village, take a minor road on the left with a no-entry sign for cars". In fact that left turning is soon after entering the village of Hrvatini, as the sign on the tarmac road upon which you're walking suggests.
- Stage 12, Day 3: The last bus from Ankaran to Koper leaves at 16:07, which is something I was not happy about. I think it's worth warning readers that public transport out of Ankaran stops in the afternoon.
With thanks to Carol Piercy and Colin Burge who stayed with Roy and Justi at their B&B whilst trekking through the Julian alps and on to the coast and provided the following information:
page 163 – wouldn’t count on either of these water sources late in year – saw sign for first one and never did see the second. Saw white headed vultures near Krn, not eagles.
Page 165 – the path is now routed around Planina Dobrenjscica. We could see the hut a long way off and were looking forward to it, but a bit before the hut, the path is VERY clearly marked up to the left beside a dry stream bed. The path is very rough and climbs up just to the right of the stream bed (facing uphill). It then does a 90 degree turn to the right – there is a cable handrail – so do NOT be tempted to go up the stream bed because it looks easier – it doesn’t go in the right direction!!! We did go on to the cabin and the lovely looking picnic table but it is now a hunter’s cabin, was occupied and there was a rather high power looking rifle hanging at the doorway so we did not stick around. Don’t count on that water source either! After the right hand turn, the path traverses the slope to meet up with the old trail and climbs up the slope.
Page 166 – rocks were dry, definitely not dripping with water. About 5 minutes below the shepherd buildings on Planina na Kalu there was a pipe dripping water, even in September. Also lots of very yummy raspberries !!!!! And a plethora of wild flowers, even this late in the season. Planina Razor has cold running water and flush toilets and spaghetti bolognaise with a lettuce SALAD. Not sure which was more exciting!
The wild flowers for the entire section from Trzic to here were amazing. We were not expecting so many in September – they must be incredible in the early summer!
If descending at Vogel, stay on the main trail to Sija – either the crest trail or the one which runs along the northern side (personally, I’d take the one NOT on the ridge, but then I didn’t like the look of the steps on the climb up to the ridge!). Don’t take the trail that signs you to Orlava Glava (the top of the chairlift) as it goes down too far and then you have an extremely tedious climb up a steep ski run (yuck!). On our return back up to the trail, we took the gondola and chairlift, and then the trail which goes straight up to Sija, which was much nicer, turning left to Crna Prst just before the peak.
We had a very windy, cloud swirling day along the ridge to Crna Prst but luckily did not get blown off, and had good intermittent views although Triglav remained shrouded in mystery. From here to Porezen, via the koca at Petrovo brdo for a very good lunch, departing to cries of “goodbye Canada”.
Page 172 – “Within 10m a sign on a tree says “Porezen” – actually it is now just a bullseye however, it is obviously the main path which goes to the left at the fork in the grassy path, so not hard to find now.
Tourist office in Ribcev Lav has two computers you can use.
The koca at Porezen is really nice. Lots of rooms and a long balcony on the second floor and picnic tables out front to take in the view. It was sunny and was our first view of Triglav from the south – could also see almost to Stol. They have a really good horizon signboard in front of the koca naming all the peaks.
Page 175- bottom – route leading to Porezen. Turn left and climb steeply up through the woods on a narrow path, through a gate then along the righthand side of an electric fence, another gate, then the path goes between two fences for a ways. You suddenly arrive at some old military buidings, which are behind the fence and are obviously now sheep folds, then it’s about 10 minutes to the koca.
Leaving Porezen, we went to Ermanocu in one day. The long downhill gully to Dolenji is dreadful, as you note in the book! Likewise the climb up from Dolenji up the “steep, sunken, leaf covered path” – nice way of describing a vertical ditch you two – you get full marks for that one! It was nice up on top though, going through the forest. Bolnica Franja is open, and is most definitely worth the visit – it was fascinating. There is a cantina on the main road where the side road goes up to the hospital entry. We had lunch there – nothing fancy, but certainly adequate.
Next day got us to Idrija. A lot of small logging activity during the forested sections, which has made a bit of a mess of the trail in some spots, but it’s still easy to follow. We got onto the wrong trail after Ledine. There is a “zimmer, chambres, room, soba” just past Ledine, with a restaurant by the way. Just by it is a marked trail – bullseye, no number 1 but often there isn’t – signposted Idrija, so we took that. We should have paid more attention to your directions because it started out fine, then disintegrated into a fairly horrible, steep, uphill climb, then along a wooded ridge, then DOWN to Idrija. It’s all very well signposted, but definitely was not your route, which sounds much better! There’s been some changes around the south end of Ledine so it was hard to know where we were vis a vis your route. Also we had no map for this section. There are no maps available for the onward route after Petrovo Brdo in Ribcek, any of the kocas …. We had a bicycle route map for a while (free at one of the kocas) but it had run out by Ledine.
Anyway, spent three nights in Idrija – fascinating place. Stayed at an apartment just past the tourist office, a signposted green house on the right – Apartma Pod Gradom – 2 bdrm, 30 euros for the two of us per night, www.pod-gradom.sloveniaholidays.com 003-865-3771-732. Excellent.
The library in Idrija are happy to let you access the internet on their computers. The tourist office had a map which got us to Col – KartoGrafija 1:50,000 Idrijsko in Cerkljansko. It covers from just north of Porezen actually.
Uneventful walk up to Vojsko, very nice though. More small logging operations along the way. The gostilna you mention is no longer in existence but there is another called Grosel, which the tourist office in Idrija booked for us. Grosel is to the right past the church so it must be in the same area (or the same place under a different name!).
From here went over Mali Golak, each with our own personal 500 favorite hiking companions (flies) who luckily disappeared after 10 minutes’ rain! It wasn’t the weekend, so Koca pod Golaki was closed, as was Antona Bavcerja na Cavnu. We’d booked an apartment in Predmeja (thanks to Idrija tourist office) so detoured off the #1 and took the path from Koca pod Golaki to Predmeja. This is an immediate left turn as soon as you come out onto the dirt roads from the Koca (no sign), then follow the signs which lead you off the road and down to Predmeja. Apartment Zonta is at the top of Predmeja and is also an “Autocamp” so it’s a camping possibility as well.
There was a koca at the top of Predmeja – Planinska koca Edmunda Cibeja – no idea if they had rooms or not – it was closed but had a water tap and picnic tables. 386-41-617-866 386-536-49-300.
Sinji Vrh was fully booked with a german group (we think this was the hanggliding group we saw later) and Col is rather uninspiring (although it luckily still has an ATM and grocery store) so we camped that night at the Javornik Koca, which was closed, but luckily set on gravel because it started to rain torrentially about an hour before we got there and the gravel meant the ground was drained – our “tent” had no floor.
Note on page 202 – the descent to Col has changed
From the summit of Kovk, take a left track across the grassy field which descends to an opening in the woods. Shortly after this it is signed with our friendly markes, and makes a long, gentle, straight, easy descent to a gravel road. Go down, then onto another track at the bend (signed). Continue through a clearing, under power lines and meet a tarmac road which leads right to Col.
The escarpment was fabulous!!!!
Next morning at Javornik it quit raining long enough to cook our “Shanghai noodles” for breakfast, then rained off and on all morning and poured in the afternoon as we trudged through soaked cow pastures and up endless dark forests with more logging. Saw a red fox!!!! Stayed at Abram Tourist Farm where they found us an electric heater so we could try to dry our belongings. There was a wedding there the next day so people were arriving all evening, which was fun. We’d booked this one from Idrija as well – the tourist office in Idrija was so helpful! The poor bear is still there.
Page 209 – Bar in Podkraj was closed for renovations, no shop, no water. We missed a turn somewhere on the descent to Podkraj and ended up about 3 km PAST Podkraj and turned right to return to it – there were no markings so luckily we found a house that was inhabited and the lady there helped us with our directions.
Rain and mist all morning up to Koca at Nanos – we came out of the woods into the clearing with all the picnic tables and couldn’t even see the koca in the mist! Had tea, descended to Razdrto where the Mercator no longer exists. There is, however, a camping at the wellness center and a small bar which has reheated pizzas and pre-packaged chocolate croissants, which we were very happy to gobble down! We would have stayed but it was still really wet, although not still raining so we continued on to Senezoce – a lovely, easy walk (it quit raining as well!!!!) – and Gostisce Stari Grad. Couldn’t find the small store (it was late Saturday) but the gas station just before the goslilna has a small convenience store so we could stock up on the Fruitabelas! Stari Grad even had some old newspapers we could stuff in our boots to get them dry!
Weather cleared up a bit the next day and we hiked to Skocje Caves. The trail is not well marked as you approach the airport so just head towards the buildings, as it goes between the runway and the airport building. There seem to be two places to stay this late in the season – the gostilna up at the top, and a lemon coloured building at the far end of town which has apartments and rooms. There is also nowhere to eat on Mondays, except at the restaurant at the caves, where the kitchen closes at 4 or 4.30, depending on how they feel – but the beer still flows and there are submarine-type sandwiches. The shuttle bus does run to Divaca however, so we went into the Mercator there. In retrospect, we should have stayed in an apartment and bought food to cook, but we didn’t know that at the time. There is another restaurant and another place to stay in the village, but they were both closed by the middle of September.
Three nights at the caves. The rain quit, the sun came out, and the caves and surrounding area are pretty spectacular! Thanks to the recent rain, there was water in the river – apparently a week earlier there was very little! Can get online at the library in Divaca.
Next day had a wonderful lunch at the gostilna in Markovscina – yea!!!! Then on to Slavnik (closed) where we experienced the bora but managed to find a sheltered spot to pitch the tent.
Then to Osp. The routing has changed at the bottom of page 228. There is now a new path that leads you to a road and a new underpass of the railway. It is well marked and goes a very short way to the left before going under the RR, then you go along the road to the right and hence into Presnica. Petrinje gets full marks for the “best rest stop on the route”. It’s new, has a roof, benches, water fountain, welcome sign …. I’ll attach a photo!
The very faint path running alongside the road etc is now very well marked (bottom page 230). The path from here goes BETWEEN stone walls as you mention, not along a single stone wall which comes a bit earlier! The path from here is very evident at all times now.
…. Before taking a tarmac lane on the left. This is a road and is marked with yellow paint on the tarmac, plus a red/white stripe on the stop sign post.
The appallingly overgrown trail is now a good trail. The turn, however, is not marked except for yellow paint on the road, but there is an immediate waymark on a tree.
…. Follow the waymark, not the arrow – the arrow says to turn left in 30 metres, to the broad track and the left hand turn.
… come to a broad, gravel tack and turn left – just keep going on this, there are few waymarks. After about 15 min walking, pass beneath power lines and almost immediately veer left (as opposed to turn), staying on the same dirt road you are on and keeping straight on to a sign post, which leads you to a tarmac road. Turn right onto the tarmac road and follow it as it bends …… etc. This area has obviously been much changed since you were there. There is no crossing of rough fields or overgrown paths. We never would have found Sveta jama without your directions as there is no sign for it heading in this direction. However, should one miss it and continue along the tarmac road, you will come to a sign at the castle end of the track to the chapel.
Socerb castle was closed for a wedding, but by not being able to understand the waiter telling us that in Italian (ahem!), we did walk in and see the courtyard! The drinking fountain shortly after that is still there.
The campsite at Osp also has 2 cabins now and you can buy wine from a vintner on the main street, who will fill your water bottle with his finest. This also gives you a chance to see inside his operation, all gleaming stainless steel.
Next day to Ankaran. The stamp and book at Tinjan is on the stone wall to the left of the church steps.
Bottom of page 236, …. Right onto a side-road for about 50 m. Just before the T junction there is a shady stone picnic table and a water fountain.
Page 237 – the guard dogs. Path is routed to the left just before the property so it is detoured – no sign of the guard dogs.
Ankaran – the camp ground here is quite wonderful and we stayed three nights. There is now a sign for the Slovenska Planinska Pot in the park between Korta’s and the main road. We actually found it before we found Korta’s, which now has a sign high on the building which says “Bar Number One” or something like that – but it’s still called Korta’s and has the ground level sign.
Landscape and Geology
Climate and Weather
Wildlife and Flowers
When to Go
Travelling within Slovenia
Food and Drink
Money and Shopping
Health and Hazards
Using this Guidebook
Stage 1 Maribor to Slovenj Gradec
Stage 2 Slovenj Gradec to Solcava
Stage 3 Solcava to Zgornje Jezersko
Stage 4 Zgornje Jezersko to Tržic
Stage 5 Tržic to Mojstrana
Stage 6 Mojstrana to Vršic
Stage 7 Vršic to Trenta
Stage 8 Trenta to Petrovo Brdo
Stage 9 Petrovo Brdo to Idrija
Stage 10 Idrija to Col
Stage 11 Col to Matavun
Stage 12 Matavun to Ankaran
Appendix 1 Bibliography
Appendix 2 The Slovene Language
Appendix 3 Transport to and Facilities at the Stage Start Points
Appendix 4 Hut Telephone Numbers
Appendix 5 Route Summary Table