Slovenia

After paddling a few rivers en-route we arrived at Camping Kovač near Bovec where Sue, Di & Higgo, who had flown out & hired a car, had already settled.  As usual, team “Phil’s Girls” (Phil, Cath, Penny, Sara) arrived before team “Suave Silver Van” (Moik, Clur, Helen, Alison, Dinny).  It was the middle of the night so Higgo came to find us & we put our tents up on a nice secluded plateau they’d found which, as we discovered the next morning, had a great view of the turquoise Soča!  It was also well positioned, in Vodenca, at the confluence of the Soča with the Koritnica, a tributary.  All the campsites in the area are supposed to be very good & ours was no exception with each plot having its own fire pit, BBQ & sheltered drying rail with plenty of hangers & space for all our wet kit.  There was even a nice al fresco shower!

Photo by Sue

Eager to paddle, we headed to the tourist information in Bovec to buy river permits – only 7.50 for a week & the money goes towards maintaining the car parks, information boards & footpaths at the river access points.  There are fines for paddling without permits or for paddling in restricted areas.  The police seemed fairly vigilant on such things, perhaps as there is so little crime for them to tackle, & as well as having permits checked Sue, Di & Higgo got stopped for a seatbelt check. (It’s illegal to drive without lights on too.)

We were given river maps at the tourist office but we relied more on the useful info we’d found on ukrgb, which included gradings & descriptions.

We paddled the Soča in four sections, one each day, & had a day without paddling too.  Our week went something like this…

Monday

Vodenca to Srpenica – starting at the campsite this section was a relaxing warm up being mostly grade 2.  With nothing too intimidating, we could enjoy the wave trains, surf some waves & try some rock splats/spins.

Tuesday

Uppermost get-on to Vodenca – with more grade 3, & some 4, this section was quite varied & had plenty to keep us entertained.  There was a technical section near the top with big boulders creating pool drops with plenty of obvious eddies.  It then flattened out for a while before the river flushed through a narrow chateau-Q-style gorge for about 200 metres.   

After paddling Cath, Penny & I decided to walk up to the Boka waterfall, a 100m fall from a massive spring in the mountainside.  However, after walking up a steep gravelly path until it was nearly dark & still not even seeing the waterfall (which is clearly visible from the road!), we decided we’d better head back for tea.  Next time we’ll take the path from the left of the bridge where you get a good view of the waterfall the whole way instead of the one that leads to above the source (“Izvir” in Slovenian), arghh! 

Wednesday

Koritnica – a major tributary, mostly grade 3(?), that joins the Soča at our campsite, this river starts with a very narrow (but flat water) gorge before the rapids really begin. The river was narrower than the Soča, with less boulders & less eddies. 

Srpenica to Trnovo – the volume of water in this section (grade 3/4) seemed quite a lot more than the earlier sections but while it was more powerful, & there were rafts to watch out for, the size of the river meant lines were fairly wide with plenty of room to dodge stoppers & boulders.  The section ended with a slalom course – lots of pool drops & stoppers amongst big boulders in quite pushy water (grade 4), which would lead into the notorious siphon canyon if you missed the get-out.

In Trnovo, near the get-out, is a very good paddling shop called Alpin Action, which is definitely worth a look.  We saw two other paddling shops in the area, La Ola in Bovec & Prijon in Cezsoca, but Alpin Action had a much bigger range.

Thursday

We started by scouting siphon canyon – sure enough, there were plenty of scary siphons so after lunch near the memorial reef at the end, everyone decided against paddling.

Team Suave Silver Van set off for the war museum so we headed into Bovec to consider our options over ice cream (with red bull flavour coming out top) & coffee.  We decided to enquire about canyoning: 

Phil: “where do they go canyoning?”

Tourist info: shows Phil on map telling him “it’s really good”

Phil: “Oh good because we’re going now on our own, we don’t want to pay & go with a guide”

Tourist info: “No no, it is very dangerous”

So off we went to the Susec Gorge, where we bought canyoning permits & set off up a little track.  The first few waterfalls were very tall & possibly for abseiling down if you had the right kit, but a bit further up was about fifteen falls perfect for sliding down or jumping off.  The first slide forced each of us straight under an undercut but some of the others were ideal for trying headfirst or in twos & threes.  Fantastic!!!

Photo by Penny

After the excitement of canyoning we took our last opportunity to visit the source of the Soča, a karst spring gushing from a bright turquoise subterranean lake through a crack in the mountainside & falling to the riverbed – well worth a visit!  The “Soča Trail” follows the river for 20km to the source, with many sights along it.  It was getting late so we drove as high up as possible & only had to walk the last 15 minutes up to the source along a picturesque trail including little wooden bridges crossing the river full of giant boulders, rapids & waterfalls ending with a via ferrata-like approach to the source at the top (could be tricky on a busy day).

Friday

Lower, after siphon canyon to Kobarid – there was a long walk in for this section down a steep forest footpath for about 500 metres.  It started off much the same as the ”..to Trnovo” section & stayed fun & interesting for several km before flattening out to grade 1/2 for a few km before the get out.

The Soča is the perfect place to improve your paddling because of the clarity of the water & all it’s features & the ease of inspecting from footpaths running alongside many of the rapids.  There are also harder sections that we didn’t paddle including “Siphon Canyon” & the Ucja.  There was lots of walking, cycling & sightseeing to be enjoyed too all in a very unspoilt area.  We did most/all of the shuttles on bikes, either along the road or on the mountain bike trail running alongside the Soča.  But if you only had one vehicle & no bikes, I think the rafting companies will help with shuttles for a small cost.

Thanks for a great week everyone!

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2 Responses

  1. Hey Guys!

    Here in the Soca valley, in Bovec we open a new kayak shop!
    It names Socarider. It would be great, if you come again to the valley, check our shop as well.
    We have kayaks for renting (we have a new brand kayak) or testing or buying, we have paddles , spraydeks, t-shirts and a few other things. We offer tours, kayakschool, and we will organise expedition tours not just in slovenia!
    Check our webpage, and see you if you come to the valleyy!
    bye
    petra

  2. Did You saw great Fiat abarth pictures? Now it is free website Abarth.

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