Bovec basin was a glacially-formed lake during the last Ice Age. There are several spectacular gorges found in the area along various streams which resulted from a rapid – in geologic terms – subsidence of the Bovec basin. Here, just east of Bovec and the hamlet of Kal-Koritnica off the road to Vršic Pass is the 150 meter long gorge of Kršovec. The gorge narrows in some spots to only 1.5 meters wide in some places with a suspension bridge strategically placed enabling you to watch the tumbling waters below. To get to the bridge from the road, park at the roadside exhibit for the Golubar material lift a kilometer or so east from Kal-Koritnica. Go eastwards a short distance to a trail dropping down to the gorges. If you cross the south bank of the Soca and hike up to gravel road paralleling the river, then turn east for 50 meters or so and you will find the Izvir Zmuklica bubbling out of rocks alongside the road. The little stream flows across the road and quickly into the river beyond.
With only one hairpin to go on the south side of Vršic Pass - between 49 and 50 - there is a turnoff for Koca pri izviru soca. A short drive brings you to a small parking lot - come early in the day if you can - by the mountain hut. The walk up to the source of the šoca is about 20 minutes with the last stretch being over aided sections complete with iron pegs and cables with some exposure. Later in the day the aided section of the trail may slow you down as people unused to such paths tend to slow up considerably as they fingers make death grasps onto the iron aids. If it is wet, it is not a great idea to clamber up here. The water level at the source determines what you will see. I was here during a low period late in the summer. The water came out of rocks set in a deep ravine. The ravine was dry further up until you came to the cave from which the water was emanating. Here was a pool of the deepest turquoise
There is a memorial to the US 10th Mountain Division in the main square here in Bovec which remembers a post-WWII ski competition up on the slopes of the nearby Mangart. Having skied on the slopes in Colorado where the 10th Mountain Division had started from, it was fascinating to find myself where those men had ended their European tours while occupying the upper reaches of the Soèa and that they were fondly remembered by the locals here.
A pleasant walk through the western part of the Bovec basin will take you past this little waterfall just downstream from the little stream’s – Glijuna – source. Like many streams in the area, the Glijuna pops out as a ready-made stream. The pool at the base of the waterfall is perfect for sitting and contemplating. Turquoise waters serve as a home for foot-long trout. The walk is about 45 miles west of Bovec.
This is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the whole country. The water comes out of the limestone rocks of the Kanin massif and bubbles forth just above the waterfall. The waterfall drops some 106 meters and, of course, is more spectacular in late spring or after a course of heavy rain. There are two paths which you can take for a closer look than the road provides. The main path takes off from the bridge up the cliffs rising above the south bank. This is a rather steep trail that will have you sweating up to a viewpoint in about 40 minutes of climbing. There is a small car park by the Hotel Bok about 50 meters south of the bridge from which you can venture out. A smaller car park exists on the north side of the bridge. The trail here will get you all the way to the spring above the falls but this is a trail rated as “very difficult” which is Slovene means ‘good luck’.
As you turn towards Vršiè Pass coming out of Bovec, a military cemetery is found on your right-hand side. Grave markers are only present for a quarter of the graves. Italian soldiers were removed after the war to the ossuary in nearby Kobarid. Many graves are unmarked and even those noted with a gravestone have no name.
The views from atop the Mala Movjstroka are really special. The "easy" way up is from Vršiè Pass up the south east ridge, but between the wars this route was not an option for Slovenes as that ridge lay within Italy. In order to still get those views, Slovene mountaineers established this protected route up the north side of the mountain. You gain the start by marching up a massive scree field lying at the bottom of the north face. Then you put on your helmet and get out your self-belay gear for this hard and very expose route. See you at the top. I am going the other way!
Wow! For once a Slovene trail with no iron pegs - maybe there was one? - or cables or with a route that doesn't go straight up. The first thirty minutes don't count as you move up from Vršiè Pass - 3 euro to park or use the summer bus up from Kranjska Gora - and you gain the Vratica pass at 1799 meters. From this small pass, take the path to the right dropping down slightly onto a pretty forested balcony with you immediate goal, the little peak of Slemenovica špikova straight ahead. On the west side of the balcony, follow an unmarked but obvious trail rising up to the right. In true Slovene fashion, the trail gains you elevation now, but it is only a short section reaching into the pretty meadows of Sleme in no time whatsoever. Keep going until you reach the top of the little peak and the views open up in all directions. Way below is the Tamar Valley, Jalovec raising its mighty head at one end and the ski jumps of Planica are at the other. Look behind you and the grand north wall of the Mojvstroka towers. Northwards, mountains rise far away in southern Austria. The trail has been described as maybe one of the best in Slovenia - it certainly gives you maximum bang for your efforts. Weekends might not be the best time if you are looking for some solitude.
From the top of Mala Mojvstroka you have a wonderful view. The Špik-Škrlatica-Prisank massif is close at hand to the east; Triglav dominates the southeast, then Kanajavec; the Trenta veers deeply away to the south; Krn is on the horizon next; Bavški Grintavec is closer at hand on the southwest. You can just make out Jalovec hiding behind the nearby Veliki Mojvstoka while Mangart towers just west of the Ponca-Venian ridge making up the west wall of the Tamar valley. To the north and west are the Dolomites, the Gross Glöckner and innumerable ridges in southern Austria. Far below is Slemenovica špikova, the little peak I had enjoyed in the morning. As you sit here admiring the view people come up from the north side as they have successfully clambered up the difficult Hanzova Pot which is a protected route leading up the north face of Mojvstroka from Sleme below.
To get up here the normal way, you start from Vršiè Pass - 3 euro to park - and clamber up a steep path to gain an obvious notch on the Grebenec - the ridge coming off the east side of Mojvstroka. Then you scamper up the Grebenec through loose scree - trekking poles are very helpful both in up and down directions. The way takes about two hours gaining some 742 meters of elevation. You will not be alone up there.
Though it was early in the spring, we went to visit the Juliana Alpine Botanical Gardens in the Trenta Valley which is near to Bovec. This garden is situated near the majestic and fabulous mount Tiglav and along the river Soca. The garden is not very large but it is a very special place, that I immeadiately felt strongly. The many different flowers and plants were only coming up after the winter. I still think that is was well worth the visit.
The founder of this garden was called Albert Bois de Chesne, he was born in 1871 of a Huguenot family in Trieste. His local teacher at school helped him to become enthousiastic about botany and the rest is history. Albert build his garden near the Soca river, at an altitude of 800m on te slope of Mt Kukla. The work began in 1926, a long time ago which means that the garden is now well matured. The majority of the plants in the Garden were brought form the easten and western julian Alps, the Friuli hills, The Karst meadow, and the prealpine world.... anyway I do hope you visit and enjoy this wonderful peaceful Garden.
There are a few companies in Bovec offering cycle hire, all at about the same price.
I went to Outdoor Freaks (http://www.outdoorfreaks.si/?lang=en) and hired a very good Cult bike (made in Slovenia). I paid 20 Euro for entire day which included helmet and lock.
Some of the cycle tracks were difficult, to the point that I thought I'd taken a wrong turn and ended up on a footpath. However, there are plenty of routes albeit mostly hilly!
Watch out if you're used to English bikes, the brakes are the opposite way round!
Get yourself a decent map (available in the visitors centre and online) and your walking gear on then head out on some of the many walks around the valley.
A particular favourite took in two forts (Herman and Kluze), 100m tunnel, Sv Lenart church and an old well.
I started by walking through woodland towards Herman, you're free to explore the ruins including the galleries which are reached by descending a ladder in to the darkness (bring a torch!)
From there, the well marked path heads to a lit 100m tunnel through to Kluze. Around the back of the fort is its old well.
The path is then signposted to Bovec, via the church of Sv Lenart
Perched high above Bovec, Kanin is Slovenia's only high altitude (i.e. over 2000m) ski centre and boasts the country's longest "winter" season, actually running all the way from November until well into spring and the May national holidays. Previously a medium sized resort with 15km of ski runs, this year Kanin is joined with a new lift to the Sella Nevea ski centre across the border in Italy, to make it Slovenia's only transnational resort. With a good range of slopes it will appeal to everyone from complete beginners to advanced skiers and boarders. If that's not enough for you, guests with a six-day Kanin pass can also ski in a third country for two days, at the Arnoldstein centre in Austria. There are off piste opportunities at Kanin, but we wouldn't recommend this without an experienced guide.
The imposing peaks of the mountain range overlook Bovec and the truly magnificent Soèa Valley, with its famous emerald river. The Soèa Valley was even featured in a Hollywood blockbuster, The Chronicles or Narnia. The panorama from Kanin extends all the way from the eastern Julian alps to Trieste, the mouth of the Soèa River and the Adriatic sea, the proximity of which ensures a tangible mix between crisp alpine air and Mediterranean-like warm breezes. In the spring this great combination really blossoms, when you can you can ski in the morning, then sunbathe on the snow-beach, or trek in the warm lush valley in the afternoon. It even makes skiing in a t-shirt a real possibility!
Summertime attracts hikers, climbers, paragliders and mountain bikers - the latter flocking to the 4.5km long and 600m high Kanin MTB park. There are also deep shafts for cavers, the biggest of which, Vrtoglavica Jama, has the longest vertical drop in the world (603m). Kanin is reached by way of a massive cable car, ascending from 436m to 2,200m above sea level it's an adventure in itself, as you can witness the vast change in flora and fauna in just a few minutes - it has to be seen to be believed.
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Kluže Fortress stands at the top of a narrow canyon between the slopes of Rombon and Izgora, which is shaped by the Koritnica River north of Bovec. It was erected as a control post at the crossing of the river. The time of origin of the older fortress at this site is not known, but a wooden building stood there already in the second half of the 15th century to defend the Friuli Plain and the Venetian Republic against the Turks.
On the road between Kobarid and Tolmin, at the settlement Idrsko, turn towards the village Livek (5 km). At the crossroads in the centre of the village turn left, towards Kuk or Livške Ravne (4 km). From here, further gross three kilometers of asphalt road lead to the outdoor museum. The museum information board is located at a small parking site. From the parking site the path ascends to the cleaned and restored positions of the Italian army and then up to the top of Mt. Na Gradu (1115 m), where the state border with Italy runs.