Immerse Yourself in Slovenia’s Landscapes of Adventure with these 13 Images

Visitors to Slovenia will find landscapes that inspire every kind of athlete and offer them experiences they won’t find anywhere else. From skiing in the Alps, hiking along rocky ridges, kayaking along wild rivers, biking through dense forests, or rock climbing karst limestone cliffs.

Words by Corey Rich

PHOTOGRAPH BY COREY RICH

Fully alpine

In the heart of the Julian Alps is Vogel, one of Slovenia’s highest ski resorts. In Vogel, where much of the sculpted terrain is above the tree line, visitors are fully immersed in an alpine environment. This explains why Vogel is such a popular destination not only among dedicated skiers and snowboarders such as Matevž Lukić and Marina Pribošič Kajdiž (shown here, left to right), but also for summer tourists who can take advantage of the resort’s mountain-scaling lifts to experience stunning panoramic views of Slovenia’s tallest peak, Mount Triglav, located in Triglav National Park, and Lake Bohinj, the country’s largest natural lake.

Photograph by Corey Rich

Dawn patrol

It’s not a full day in the mountains without an alpine start. Ski mountaineers use skins and special touring bindings to ski uphill, both for the sake of enjoying some lung-busting exercise, as well as to access off-piste terrain. Going into the backcountry is not without risk, but the rewards are fewer crowds, memorable sunrises, and unsurpassed views of the Alps. Matevž Lukić, a skier from the nearby town of Bled, stands atop Vogel before sunrise not long after leaving his warm bed back home.

Photograph by Corey Rich

Mountain heritage

Slovenia is such a rich playground for adventure, so it’s only suiting that most Slovenians want to spend as much time as possible enjoying their country’s natural outdoor resources. Marina Pribošič Kajdiž grew up fully immersed in this historic mountain culture, and to this day she spends most of the year living outside. In winter, she works as a snowboarding guide, while in summer, she runs trips downriver on her stand-up paddle board. Marina’s sister, Urška Pribošič, just competed in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in the snowboarding’s Big Air and Slopestyle events.

Photograph by Corey Rich

Limestone castles

The mountains of northwest Slovenia are limestone. These ranges began as calcium deposits at the bottom of the ocean before being uplifted through tectonic collisions to stand today as the mighty massifs that surround Slovenia. Just trekking beneath these sweeping, craggy escarpments leaves hikers in awe at their immense scale. Fortunately, thanks to Slovenia’s network of well-marked trails and high roads leading to trailheads, it’s easier to access these backcountry environments than you might think.

Photograph by Corey Rich

Through the woods

Petra and Luka Stražar are a married couple from Javorniški Rovt in the Karavanke Alps, Slovenia’s longest mountain range and part of the Southern Limestone Alps. The two often spend their free time rock climbing, but on rest days from the rock, they take advantage of some of the more than 10,000 kilometres of marked trails that traverse Slovenia.

Photograph by Corey Rich

Finding flow

The Savinja River is completely wild: its flow isn’t regulated by dams. Catching the seasonal window of high-flow rates, which guarantees a fun and exciting kayak run, can be tricky. Temperatures need to warm enough to melt the requisite mountain snowpack and glaciers that feed the river and generate whitewater rapids― and fast-paced paddling. That window usually peaks around June, when local kayakers Luka Reberšak (front) and Sara Seprenyi take advantage of an opportunity to run the rapids.

Photograph by Corey Rich

Hidden beauty

The Soča River, known for big rapids and technical paddling, is perhaps Slovenia’s best known whitewater kayaking destination. However, many local kayakers seek more than just big, fast river rapids, they often seek solitude and wilderness by accessing trails and bridges to reach lesser known rapids. The Savinja River, for example, is called a “hidden beauty” by Sára Seprenyi, a Hungarian kayaker who moved to Ljubljana to chase peak flow experiences throughout Slovenia. “You can find all kinds of water levels in this country, and all of these rivers are crystal clear,” she says. “I guess that’s why most of us kayakers moved here.”

Photograph by Corey Rich

On track

Three mountain ranges—the Pohorje, the Karavanke, and the Kamnik-Savinja Alps—come together in Koroška, an epicenter for mountain biking and other adventures. There are over a thousand kilometres of marked bike trails across grassy plains and through lush, mossy forests. “All-mountain” bikes that perform well on both uphill and downhill are the best choice for these tours, which can include a single 12-kilometre flow trail―Europe’s longest―at the Peca Mountain Bike Park. Tjaša Gorenc and Jani Hercog enjoy a smooth descent through the flora.

Photograph by Corey Rich

Heading underground

Slovenia is one of the most densely forested countries in Europe, with around 60 percent of its landscape hosting primarily beech trees alongside fir, spruce, maple, and oak. But the biking in Koroška doesn’t just include lush forests, mountain bikers visit Mount Peca for the unique opportunity to strap headlamps onto their helmets and bike underground to explore an old lead and zinc mining tunnel on a five-kilometre ride below the surface.

Photograph by Corey Rich

Airy Karst

The Karst Plateau is an extraordinary and mysterious landscape -where many of Slovenia’s more than 8,000 caves can be found, with new ones discovered every year. Rock climbers may be just as interested in the geology as cavers, however, they tend to prefer less claustrophobic settings. Surrounding the historic hamlet of Osp, one of the oldest villages in Slovenia, the karst reveals itself along the hillside in the form of soaring cliffs and steep caves that provide many challenges for experienced rock climbers. Here, Luka Stražar rappels on a dynamic rope running through a quickdraw that is clipped to a safety bolt in the rock.

Photograph by Corey Rich

Old school

The rock climbing in the Osp region—which includes three distinct crags: Osp, Mišja Peč, and Črni Kal—represents some of the most historic and important sport climbing opportunities in Europe. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, some of the hardest routes in the world at the time were established on these karst cliffs. But for many, including Luka Stražar—shown here on the Maudit route, with a difficulty rating of 7a and located at the Babna sector of the Osp crag—climbing is about more than just difficulty. “Thanks to its pristine nature and the well-developed outdoor culture, Slovenia is a great place for climbing and adventure,” he says.

Photograph by Corey Rich

Being present

The Karst Plateau doesn’t just deliver incredible caving and rock climbing opportunities: The porous rocky landscape is also known for producing lush refosco grapes that are used to make a distinct, full-bodied red wine called teran. After a full day of climbing, you may choose to reward your achievements with a glass of wine, or you may prefer, instead, to simply stay still and be present, immersing yourself in the quiet beauty of the landscape.

Photograph by Corey Rich

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