The Slovenia Times

Pohorje: Welcome to the Jungle



Pohorje is the name of a vast mountainous area between Dravograd in the west, Maribor in the east and Zrece in the south, whose altitude never exceeds 1500 metres. During winter, it is known as one of Slovenia's best ski resorts; it also has one of the longest illuminated ski runs in Europe. Pohorje is too small to be a typical mountain range and has too many ravines and peaks to be called a plateau. What makes it similar to plateaus such as Pokljuka or Jelovica in the west, is the number of roads and paths that traverse it and make it one of the most easily accessible wilderness areas in Slovenia, be it by car or on foot or any other means of transportation, such as on horseback or via a hot air balloon. Pohorje also harbours the only 'official' jungle in Slovenia, stretching along the Lobnica creek. However, we've got a long way to go before we reach the Lobnica... If we focus on the access to Pohorje for the moment, the Maribor side of the massif could not be easier. It is almost too easy! A bus from the centre to the city's western suburbs will drop you at the door of the luxurious Habakuk Hotel, which is a short stroll from a cable car that can take you up to the top throughout the year, even with your bicycle if you feel so inclined. It is therefore no surprise that the traditional World Cup skiing event held every January draws a huge number of spectators who simply use the public transport system to get to the finishing area. Travelling by car, the climb towards Pohorje is best tackled from Hoce (a few kilometres south of Maribor) or Bistrica ob Dravi (10 km west of the city centre). Both roads will lead to the Bellevue Hotel, which is some 1000 metres above sea level and a stone's throw away from the cable car's upper station. The area is also known as Bolfenk and we'll use it as a starting point for our little outing. On its own, a cable car ride to the hotel just to have lunch and enjoy the "belle vue" is a good enough reason for a trip to Pohorje. But it would be a shame not to make the most of the other excursions on offer. Not far from the hotel you'll find the start of a nature trail that leads you through the forest and on towards an observation tower. On the way towards Areh in the west, and not far from the road, you can watch the water cascading over the Fram waterfall (Framski slap). It's just one of three major waterfalls in Pohorje - you'll find the others, the Sumik waterfalls (Veliki in Mali Sumik), on the Lobnica river, which is further up the road that connects Bolfenk and Areh. It is the most popular and the most visited site in the area but those with even a modicum of hiking ability who want to see truly unspoilt nature should not miss venturing on to the aforementioned jungle. Beat your own path Our tips (but not trips) end here and we'll leave you to explore at your leisure. No matter whether you are hiking, biking, riding or undertaking some other activity, places like Bolfenk, Areh, Sumik, the many mountain huts, the 17th century church in Areh or the adjacent chapel and nearby spa are all recommend. However, the best way to really capture the true spirit of Pohorje is by letting your sense of adventure take over and exploring the myriad of natural delights on offer, assuming of course that you are a lover of the great outdoors. If you are, you can't go wrong and hopefully you'll soon be recommending other places to visit as well. The only other suggestion we have is that you make sure that you can find your way back! Detailed maps are available at most local tourist information centres but if you encounter a Kod & Kam shop (they specialize in maps and guides) you should ask about their excellent 1:25.000 scale map. Those who return from an outing on Pohorje by cable car might also like to consider indulging themselves in the Habakuk Hotel's thermal spa before heading home. For those who prefer an adrenaline rush to serenity, then the area around the bottom station of the cable car is home to an adrenaline park (high ropes course). The park offers a wide range of activities under controlled conditions, at heights ranging between 8 and 14 metres, but these activities, which include a giant swing, a high beam and a climbing wall among others, are not suitable for children under 10 years of age. Paintball and tobogganing along a 5-km-long steel track, where the toboggans can reach speeds of up to 50 km/h, are also very popular as is mountain biking down the nearby hill course. A special mountain park is expected to open shortly, maybe as early as in July, and will be a welcome addition to the vast array of attractions already on offer. For more specific information on the activities available in Pohorje check out the website.


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