The Slovenia Times

Escape from the Summer Heath with a view



It seems that some mountain resorts presently known primarily as winter ski resorts will play a new role in the near future. According to the projected climate changes - actually it's obvious that they have already arrived - these places will soon become more and more popular also during the summer. They will be a place to escape to from the heat that will make us suffer not only in hot and stifling towns and cities but also in the other lowland places.

Vogel, a well-known ski resort placed above the lake Bohinjsko Jezero, will be one of these places. People who run Vogel facilities discovered that years ago and you can ascent Vogel - which lies 1,500 meters above sea level and higher - by modern cable car even during the summer months. The lower cable car station is not far from the lakeshore, just beside the village of Ukanc at the western end of the lake. If one chooses to take that ride, it takes just five minutes to change the lowland climate for the temperatures that are much more bearable - normally they are 5 do 10 degrees Celsius lower.

I myself felt this difference in the temperature on one hot day in the beginning of July. However, since I chose the hard way it didn't take just five minutes to come up there - it took me more than an hour of hard walking from the lower to the upper cable car station. I took my walking sticks and ascended Vogel by way of Žagarjev Graben, an almost seven kilometre long ski track that leads from Vogel all the way down to the lakeshore. In winter, a relatively skilled skier descends almost a kilometre of altitude in just few minutes. If you change the direction and the season, you have to sweat and puff like an old steam engine for more than an hour.

Getting up an down

I'm afraid I can't tell you about wonderful views on the way up; the track is rather boring in the summer and at times also very steep. Nevertheless, when I had just started to walk I was lucky enough to see two rabbits, quickly escaping from the sandy and stony track into the forest, and just a few minutes later, a stone marten even crossed my way; it was the third or fourth time in my life to see on outside the zoo.

Not far from the top I had another encounter, which frightened me for a moment or two. Suddenly I heard a noise that sounded like an avalanche - the track above me was steep and my fear wasn't totally unfounded - but there were just two mountain bikers who ascended Vogel by cable car and were descending by way of Žagarjev Graben. They shouted enthusiastically when we met, but I was too slow to take a picture; by the time I was ready, they were far away.

The Vogel region is a part of Triglav National Park, where biking and other activities that may damage nature and disturb its peace are prohibited with a few exceptions; downhill mountain biking on Žagarjev Graben is one of them.

In contrast to the scenery on the way up, the upper cable car station at Ski Hotel Vogel offers an outstanding panorama, probably the most beautiful in Slovenia. In the clear weather you can see the Bohinjsko Jezero, an Alpine pearl, almost beneath your feet and the Julian Alps with Triglav, the highest Slovenian mountain (2,864 m), above it.

Boar, eagles, cows and other pets

Among other Vogel facilities there is also an old, nice mountain hut named Merjasec (merjasec is a wild boar in Slovenian) where you can try some really delicious local food and drinks. All these special treats are even more delicious after a hard walk. I wouldn't drink a glass of merjaščeva kri ('wild boar's blood'), a brandy prepared with raspberries and wood strawberries, with such a pleasure if I used a cable car. When a friendly and communicative young waitress asks if you wanted another - third - glass, you have to think twice before you automatically say yes ...

In the hut, there were also some small groups of tourists, mostly foreign, who were spending their holidays near the Bohinjsko Jezero and made a trip to the mountains by cable car. Among them there was a group of vivacious pensioners who spoke a language I couldn't quite identify. They were in a good mood and open; a few minutes later we where chatting away. There was a group of Israelis who decided to spend a few days in one of the nice old mountain huts in the Alpine village Bohinjska vas situated near the upper cable car station. Some of them planned to stay in the mountains simply enjoying fresh air and maybe make a trip by a chair lift to near Orlove Glave (Eagle' heads); others decided to visit Alpine diary-farms that still function in the surroundings during the summer months. Most of them are within two-hour walk from the Alpine village.

A lecture in mountain architecture

I started a conversation with a former geography teacher with special knowledge of and passion for Alpine diary-farms. He explained the difference between those in Switzerland, Austria, France, and Italy ... Although I had visited the mountains in all mentioned countries in the past, it seemed to me that I was somehow blind for the details this retired Israeli teacher was pointing out. He spoke fluent English using some specific German words from time to time and he even correctly pronounced planšarija, Slovenian word for an Alpine diary-farm.

He didn't look like someone who enjoys showing off with his superior knowledge; he was simply a man with a special passion. I felt a bit uncomfortable listening to a foreigner explaining the origins, tradition and particularities of Slovenian Alpine-diary farms to me, but I was nevertheless proud when he was praising Slovenian planšarija as a unique, well preserved example of the old mountain architecture.

The tradition of dairy farms around Bohinjsko Jezero has been alive for centuries. The huts on planšarije are traditionally small and simple, built from wood and stone in the lower mountains but on the higher places the huts are wooden with shingle roofs. The huts within the Alpine village of Bohinjska Vas follow that architectural tradition, although they offer more comfort.

Sometimes one needs a foreigner to point out the beauties of his own country. Vogel with its excellent views, fresh air, and countless opportunities for mountain walking just a few minutes from the lowland hustle and bustle is undoubtedly one of them.

Useful Information

Cable car: In the summer season, from June 25th to September 14th, a cable car operates every day from 7 am to 6 pm. The full price for an adult is EUR 12 for a return ticket (for students, pensioners and families, the price is lower) payable by cash and some debit and credit cards. It is also possible to bring bicycle (EUR 7), dog (EUR 5) or parachute (EUR 3). A lift chair also operates from upper station of the cable car at Ski Hotel Vogel to Orlove Glave.

Skydiving: the runaway for skydiving is about 45-minute walk from the upper cable station.


Alpine village Bohinj at Vogel

Ski Hotel Vogel

Tourist info: LTO Bohinj, Trg svobode 3a, 4264 Bohinjska Bistrica

+386 (0)4 574 75 90,


Whichever way you decide to ascent Vogel, you shouldn't forget that you are in the mountains. They are not very high, but you should not underestimate the weather conditions. The weather in the mountains can change literally in a few minutes - from the nice, sunny day into a storm with chilly wind. You have to take some additional warm clothes with you even if you make only a short trip to Vogel by cable car, let alone in the case of hiking. They would protect you from the wind or rain if they suddenly occur.

If you decide to spend some days in one of the huts that are part of an Alpine village, you should take enough warm clothes with you. Don't forget to bring the adequate footwear. Avoid drinking alcohol if you go for longer hiking; it can influence your balance and judgement. If you decide to spend active days in the beautiful mountains doing some more or less serious walking, you have to check the weather forecast beforehand and bring a map of the area with you. You should let know your friends and mountain hut staff where you plan to go. Don't forget to take some food and drink with you; walking and sweating in the mountains can quickly exhaust you and cause dehydration. You also have to protect yourself from the sun, which is especially harmful in the high mountains.


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