Wild life watching FOLLOWING THE BEAR FOOTPRINTS

Duration

3 days

Suitable for

Families with older children, couples, individuals, small groups

Season

April to October

Physical difficulty

Medium

The possibility of meeting

Bear, wolf, lynx, forest birds, owl, water birds

Slovenia is one of the few European countries where three large carnivore species can be spotted in their natural habitat, i.e. the brown bear, grey wolf and Eurasian lynx. The brown bear population here currently stands at 400 to 500 individuals, which makes Slovenia a country with one of the highest brown bear population density in the world. Most animals reside in Kočevski Rog, a densely forested karstified plateau extending over the Kočevje highlands. The karst landscape featuring abysses as well as eroded limestone pitted with sinkholes is covered mostly with beech and fir trees. There are six primeval forests preserved in Kočevje, with the total area of 220 hectares. The primeval or virgin forest is a forest that has attained great age without any disturbance by humans, which means no trees have been cut or sawn down.

Forests of this type have a significant meaning when it comes to teaching people about nature. We developed this unique programme in collaboration with the Life DinAlp Bear project and the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, according to sustainable tourism standards and with the smallest possible impact on the environment, especially the wildlife. A large part of the programme is dedicated to learning about the life of wild animals and understanding their natural environments as well as the correct and controlled visits made to habitats. We assure you that you will see real bear footprints along the trail, and much more.

The adventurous program is designed for the lovers of nature, hiking, photography and adventure. The route runs along the secluded paths of the Kočevje forests, which are home to bears and other wild animals and offer views of the mystic nature that the group can soak in with all their senses. The hiking trail offers many opportunities to take photos and observe animal life. In the evening, hunter-guided bear watching can be organised from the lookout tower.

Accommodation is provided in forest hut without electricity or running water, which is situated in the midst of a forest, far from the civilization. This adds special charm to the adventure. Each day begins with a traditional “forest” breakfast and ends with dinner prepared on a charcoal grill. There is even a bread-baking workshop held during the tour.

Highlights: Lake Kočevje, Željnske jame caves, Pugled–Žiben forest reserve, Roška žaga sawmill, Rog forest reserve, Rajhenavski Rog virgin forest, Queen of Rog fir tree, Prelesnikova koliševka forest reserve, predators and other wild animals observed in their natural habitat, forest huts, traditional grilled food, bread-baking workshop.

The programme includes all meals and non-alcoholic beverages.

Photo credit: Marjan Artnak

Gallery

Itinerary

DAY 01

A look into ancient history through nature

The adventure begins at Lake Kočevje, a man-made lake of superior water quality. After a brief presentation of the three-day hike and equipment check, the group heads towards the first destination, the Željnske jame caves. The 1600 metres long horizontal cave system of the Rudnik brook has several entrances. The walls are only a few metres thick, which explains the shallow shape of the caves. What used to be a single cave was later split into three parts by numerous landslides. The best-known cave in the system is the Gipsy cave. Over 1400 ancient objects were found in this cave, attesting to the fact that humans lived here 20,000 years ago, during the Ice Age.

The path further leads on to the Pugled–Žiben forest reserve, where the group can see a landscape that people had cultivated for 400 years and then abandoned during the turmoil of World War II. The day ends with a sleepover in a forest hut (no electricity and running water, basic toilets facilities, shared bedroom) after a snack followed by a traditional charcoal-prepared feast of fish, potatoes and meat.


DAY 02

The true virgin forest and the old lady giant

On the second day, the group climbs the highest spot of the tour, Mt Rog (1,099 m), which features a lookout tower at the top. The next stop is the large, now abandoned Roška žaga sawmill, which was in operation during a brief industrialization period of the area, as it used to be the largest and most modern sawmill in Slovenia long before the WWI.

The highlight of the day is Rajhenavski Rog, a primeval or virgin forest. As early as 1892, the forest became the first natural area in Slovenia to receive official protection when 51 hectares of virgin forest were sectioned off and named after the settlement of Rajhenav. The area, which features mostly beech and silver fir trees, serves as a habitat for many wild animals, especially birds. One can almost feel the connection with prehistoric times here, as the tranquillity of centennial giants tend to invoke inner peace.

There is one highlight of all highlights to be seen here, namely a European silver fir tree (Abies alba) called Kraljica Roga (Queen of Rog). Measured at a height of 1.30 metres, the girth of the tree stands at 5 metres, while the entire tree is around 51.50 metres high. The Queen of Rog germinated around 1500, give or take 30 years.

The day concludes with traditional dinner at the tourist farm (multiple bed rooms, shared bathroom).


DAY 03

Another look into the past

There is a special feature on the last day’s itinerary, namely the Prelesnikova koliševka forest reserve, a typical, 70 metres deep hollow cave in the Ušive jame area near Rajhenav. Because of its inaccessibility and more importantly, due to its cold climate, the representative vegetation of cold periods in Earth’s history is still preserved here. The plant species can be observed by altitude zones, from those that grow better in warm climates being spotted at the top, to those better adapted to cold temperatures seen at the bottom.

Spruce trees with narrow, long treetops, which is typical of trees growing high in the mountains or in the far north, can be found here. It is said that bears used to live in the cave that was once called Medvedji Brlog (Bear’s den), but this is highly unlikely due to the unfriendly climate. Nevertheless, chances of spotting wild animals here are great. For this reason, and even more importantly to prevent the impact of visitors on the flora, Prelesnikova koliševka is better viewed from higher grounds.

The adventure ends by Lake Kočevje, where participants can enjoy the rest of the day or even stay longer to watch the many bird species or enjoy sports activities.


Dates

  • 22 - 24 June, 2019 GUIDED
  • 20 - 22 July, 2019 GUIDED

Note: In season, any tour can be organised on any date for a group of a minimum of 2 people. Please contact us for any inquiries.

 

Price for the guided FOLLOWING THE BEAR FOOTSTEPS tour includes:

  • 2-night accommodation; 1st night in a forest hut, 2nd night on a tourist farm
  • 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners, all meals with a typical local touch
  • Non-alcoholic beverages with all meals
  • Highly qualified and experienced guide for the duration of the trip
  • Rates are per person

Would you like to customise this tour? Would you like a different starting or arriving point, or a break day before, after or during the tour? Send us an e-mail: info@visit-goodplace.com

Optional

Additional night in Kočevje 35 €

 

 

Price for FOLLOWING THE BEAR FOOTPRINTS excludes

Price for the FOLLOWING THE BEAR FOOTSTEPS tour excludes: Travel and activity insurance, personal safety and hiking equipment, any other items not mentioned as included

Logistics

LOGISTICS

The programme “Following the bear footsteps” starts and ends in the town of Kočevje, which is located in the southern part of Slovenia.

FLIGHT CONNECTIONS There are 3 international airports (Ljubljana, Zagreb and Trieste) within a maximum distance of a 2.5-hour drive from Kočevje. Transfers can be arranged from any of these airports and from Ljubljana. Please contact us if you would like us to provide one for you.

Further information

Maximum number of participants: 8

Before the tour, the guide provides important information the participants need to know before starting the journey.

Before the beginning of each day’s tour, the guide provides detailed information about the daily programme.

The participants receive complete, detailed information about the programme fourteen days before their arrival.

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