The Slovenia Times

Julius's Jewel



The Slovenian part of the Julian Alps extends from the Austrian border in the North to Tolmin in the South and from the Italian border in the West to Bled in the East. Scientists divide them according to their scientific criteria but for tourist purposes it is probably better to divide them into the parts covered by individual Local Tourist Boards, located in Tolmin, Kobarid, Bovec, Bohinj and Kranjska Gora (see separate text). Similar to Slovenia as a whole, the Julian Alps offer a variety of features in a relatively small area, about 1000 square kilometres. In contrast to some other parts of the Alps, the Julian Alps provide all average hikers with the opportunity to get a feel for high mountains. Depending on your skills, you can choose among peaks between 2000 and 2864 metres high. Pokljuka, just above Bled, one of three major plateaux (besides nearby Jelovica and Mezakla), is a very popular destination for family day trips. From there, you can go hiking or simply enjoy the atmosphere. It is also popular with berry (mostly blueberries and raspberries) and mushroom pickers. Pokljuka is an excellent starting point for an ascent of the highest peaks of the Julian Alps, including Triglav. The close and easily-accessible Visevnik (elevation 2050 metres) is excellent to start with, as the 2000-metre mark is often regarded as the demarcation line between hikers and serious mountaineers. The most well-known peaks besides Triglav are Skrlatica (2740 m), Mangart (2679m), Jalovec (2645m), Razor (2601m) and Krn (2244m). The latter is of special interest because of the high difference in altitude between the base in Kobarid (234 m) and the peak. However, the peaks are far from the only attraction. If you don't feel like climbing too high, the Seven Lakes valley (between 1320 and 2000 metres) above Bohinj might be a good choice. Economically speaking, lakes are probably the most important part of the Julian Alps as Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are among the top tourist attractions for foreign and domestic tourists. The Savica waterfall, not far from Bohinj, and the Pericnik waterfall are also great destinations. If you cannot walk to the heart of the Julian Alps for whatever reason, there are at least two other options. One is to take a cable car from Bohinj to Vogel or from Bovec to Kanin, and the other possibility is to take a car or a bus to Vrsic (1611 m, Slovenia's highest mountain pass). Vrsic is also another possible starting point for mountaineering. Last but not least, the Julian Alps can be seen from a light aircraft. Make yourself at home Whether heading for a peak or not, an extensive network of mountain huts and shelters will make your life at higher altitudes much easier. There are 45 huts and 8 shelters or bivouacs in the Julian Alps. They provide food and basic accommodation for very reasonable prices. For the most crowded places it is good to make a reservation in advance. You can contact some of them via e-mail or mobile phone. For a comprehensive list and details, visit the Alpine Association of Slovenia's homepage ( The page is in Slovene only but you should be able to navigate if you click "Po regijah" (by regions) on the left-hand side, pick your region and a hut (koca, in Slovene). There is an abundance of possible activities in the Julian Alps and there is no off-season, instead only the activities change. You can do them individually or through an agency. Besides the established ones, such as hiking, biking or horseback riding, there are other activities, some of them fairly new, that might deserve consideration. Among them are kayaking, rafting, canyoning, ATV riding, zorbing (rolling down an incline in a transparent sphere) and others. Just name an activity and people will tell you where to find it. The Julian Alps are remarkably criss-crossed by valleys. Again, compared to most valleys in other parts of the Alps, they are much narrower and shorter, which gives them quite a different character. Only the main Sava Valley (between the Italian border and Kranj) resembles the big Alpine valleys in other parts of Europe. If there is a touch of the explorer in you then the little valleys and gorges (the Slovene language has several words to describe valleys of different sizes) might be well suited to your taste. At least three valleys deserve to be mentioned. The Vrata, Kot and Krma valleys are not populated but they provide access to the centre of the Julian Alps. Speaking of criss-crossing, the same goes for roads and trails. Many of them were constructed during the first and second world wars for military purposes. With all its beauty, it made sense to protect most of the Julian Alps as a national park. The process of protecting the area started in 1924. In 1961, the protected area was extended and given its current name - the Triglav National Park (TNP). It was given its current status and form in 1981. Distinguished Men Two men are closely connected with the Julian Alps. The first one is Julius Kugy (1858 - 1944), a devoted fan of the Julian Alps, especially its flora. With some help from local guides, he climbed many peaks for the first time and climbed others via new routes. For this reason, he is often referred to as the man who discovered the Julian Alps. He was of Slovenian origin but his fluent German and Slovene often helped to bridge the gaps between the two (rather conflicting) nations in those sensitive times. In Trenta, next to the road to Vrsic, the Alpine Association of Slovenia erected a monument in his honour. Jakob Aljaz (1845 - 1927) became famous for buying Kredarica (a base just under Triglav) and the top of Triglav from German authorities in order to make them Slovenian territory. He built a shelter on top of Triglav, which is named after him. He also initiated the building of several other huts and composed a famous song "Oj, Triglav moj dom" (Oh, Triglav, my home). Aljaz's monument stands near Mojstrana. The latest addition to the list of famous people connected with the Julian Alps is Prince Albert of Monaco, but for other reasons. When he was given a helicopter ride over the Julian Alps during his recent visit to Slovenia, it provoked protests from Slovene environmental groups because flights in Triglav National Park are only permitted in cases of emergency, rescue operations and regular TNP activities.


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