Touring BEAR TRAIL BIKEPACKING
The programme is intended for all enthusiastic wildlife observers, photographers and bikers who would like to experience the magic of unspoilt nature and the power and appeal of the Kočevje forests and their inhabitants first hand, by biking and camping in nature. Although the programme is more than just about observing animals, since it requires the participants to cycle almost 100 km in total, it allows enough time for activities where one can learn many interesting facts that will place the beasts and other wildlife in a wider context, all with the help of experienced guides and hunters, and by watching bears from a hunting observatory adapted for photo observation.
More than half of Slovenia is covered in forests that provide a living environment to many animal species. Only a few European countries can boast the fact that three large beasts live in their territories, namely the brown bear, grey wolf and lynx. Lynx’s superior hunting skills, which should secure his survival, have ironically led it to the verge of extinction in most of the western and central Europe. However, a living lynx is extremely valuable for maintaining the balance in forest ecosystems, especially if it rules the wilderness together with the wolf and the bear. The beech and fir trees of the Dinaric area, which also belong to the extensive Kočevje forests, provide these animals with sufficient food and room for survival. Slovenia boasts 400–500 brown bears, which ranks it among countries with the highest bear population in the world. Most of these bears are found in the Kočevsko forests.
In Kočevje, the level of forestation is even higher than in the rest of Slovenia, as more than 80% of its surface is covered in forest. There, one can find many remains of virgin forest, where nothing but nature has ruled for millennia without any human interventions. Kočevsko actively preserves this valuable heritage, especially by establishing forest reserves, which permanently protect the virgin forest remains, i.e. the examples of rare tree-related structures and habitats found in deep karst hollows, sinkholes and caves, and along walls or karst streams. The reserves serve as a type of ecological cells for animal species that need old-growth forests for their existence. Responsible and sustainable forest management became a tradition in the area, since as early as 1892, the then owners began to exclude the Rajhenavski Rog forest from any kind of economic use. Therefore, it is no coincidence that Kočevsko is also the cradle of responsible coexistence of humans and wild animals, in particular beasts, and that this area is one of the few in Europe, where the following three large beasts can still be found in the natural environment: the brown bear, the grey wolf and lynx.
A sustainable approach, even in tourism development, has minimal impact on the environment, especially on the wilderness. Too much human contact with wild animals can cause many adverse consequences for wildlife, which is why it is even more important to provide controlled and properly guided watching of these animals. With the help of experienced guides, your animal watching will be friendly to nature and its inhabitants, while at the same time you will learn many interesting facts and gain information that will place beasts and other wildlife in a wider context.
The bike trail through the Kočevje forests is a relative novelty that provides, within a three-day time frame, an insight into the landscape diversity, an excellent and not too demanding biking on gravel road and low-traffic asphalted roads (more than half), as well as the opportunity to spot bears and visit the natural and other sights. Camping in nature and the food give the adventure a special charm of meeting the locals and experiencing their hospitality.
The biking route is mostly fixed, while the accommodation and other activities are adapted to specific group, season and weather.
Bear photo credit Marjan Artnak
In season, any tour can be organised on any date for a minimum of 2 people. Please contact us for any inquiries.
In guided tours, food for the trip is included in the price and provided by the guide, while groups without a guide are expected to supply food by themselves.