Saturday 3 October 2015

Lake Bohinj and Mount Vogel

Slovenia, 29th September – 2nd October

From Lake Bled it was on to the nearby Lake Bohinj next. This lake is much less developed and touristy than Bled due to its setting in the Triglav National Park. Any tourism from sports to gastronomy has to be focussed on being natural and sustainable, to be in keeping with the environment. I found an extract from one of our info brochures amusing; “Don’t go to Bohinj if you are looking for big hotels, budget restaurants, smoke-filled snack bars, swimming amidst shrieking hordes…a rubbish-strewn lake shore, deafening music booming out from every bar, markets selling junk to tourists…Bohinj is not a shopping centre in a desolate landscape of illegal rubbish dumps”. We really enjoyed our time here, in our opinion it’s a prettier area to Bled and we prefer it.

Before leaving Camping Bled we did all our tanks in preparation for our plan to spend time off campsites for a while. After a detour to the nearest Lidl at Lesce we called into the tourist information office at Bohinjska Bistrica for a map of the area and info leaflets on the way to Lake Bohinj.

The Mount Vogel cable car was described as a must by Steph so we headed there. The cable car travels almost a kilometre in height up to 1535m. In winter it is used to get up to Slovenia’s ski resort and the rest of the year for hiking. It gets to the top surprisingly quickly and once you are there there are fantastic views of Lake Bohinj and over the Julian Alps mountain ranges, including Mount Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia at 2864m which the national park is named after. It is worth the trip up just for the views and this is indeed what most people went up for. There is also a nice café at the top with panoramic windows at one side.

Above: View towards cable car station and ski hotel
Below: Zadnji Vogel mountain pastures
After getting our tickets (€13.50 ea. return) we literally just missed the cable car, the walkway to it started lifting as we got to the ticket barrier.  With half an hour to wait until the next one we headed back to the van to eat our packed lunch. At the top it was very cold, particularly near the edge where the wind was blowing, we were glad that we’d packed our woolly hats and gloves. We only had a few hours until the last cable car back at 6pm so set off on a short trail to the Zadnji Vogel mountain pastures. Here animals are brought to graze from the beginning of summer and you can buy locally produced cheese and sour milk. Out of season it was very quiet, we didn’t see anyone else about while we were walking. As we still had time when we got back, we did part of the educational trail and then sat in the café with hot drinks until the next cable car. I liked the idea of climbing Mount Vogel which would require most of a day which we were planning to go back to do today but the weather didn’t allow which was a shame (more on that later).

After the cable car back down we drove back to Bohinjska Bistrica, the main town in the vicinity of the lake. We’d seen signs earlier to camper parking which we had a look at but the camper stop area itself (€15/day) was closed, presumably due to being out of season. We decided to park for the night in the parking area just outside where there were two other vans when we got there (GPS: 46.27543 13.95902). It’s next to the railway line where a car train stops that transports vehicles through the Julian Alps on open carriages, to avoid the long trip around by road. There’s a service point with grey and black water disposal and a water tap, however this was switched off when we visited, probably because the parking area was closed. There was some noise occasionally in the night from the trains but it wasn’t bad at all, we actually went back here again last night.

In the morning some cars started parking up near us and we saw them board the train around 9am. We set off back to Bohinj and looked at each of the car parks as we passed for somewhere to park for the day to have a walk around the lake. They were all €2.20/h for a camper though which would’ve added up to around €13, so we decided to make a third journey that morning along the length of the lake back to the campsite we’d seen so that we’d have parking for the day, somewhere to stay the night and parking the next morning too for only a few more Euros. Camp Zlatorog is in a brilliant location directly on the shore of the western end of the lake at Ukanc (GPS: 46.27902 13.83686, €21 inc WiFi, +€3.50 electric), it’s the nicest location non-coastal campsite we’ve been to so far. We got parked up on one of the prime pitches by the water’s edge and set off on our walk.

View of Bohinj from our pitch at Camp Zlatorog
Church of St. John the Baptist - The most photographed
church in Slovenia
We took a hiking trail into the woods on the southern side of the lake (the other option is a path along the roadside) which had lots of small wooden bridges over streams/rivers and a couple of narrow parts of the path with rope handles to hold onto. At the other end of the lake at Ribcev Laz, we stopped to have our sandwiches at a pleasant spot on a bench by the water’s edge before continuing. We walked up to the start of the Mostnica Gorge, but at 5.5km (or 5 or 5.9km as various signs said!) and 2 hours each way it was too long to fit in so we headed back to the lake and did the other half of the circuit along the north side. Parts of the route were alongside the lake and parts went into woods. It was a pleasant walk overall of about 12 km in total.

Back at the campsite the guy working there asked if we wanted electric it would be for free as it was very quiet at this point with only a handful of vans on the site. I got us connected up and had a chat to the chap for a bit, he was very friendly and helpful. He told me how it was an extended opening period now that his boss had asked him to stay on for after the rest of the staff had left in early September. Him and the rest of the staff work the summer season on the campsite then the winter season at the ski hotel on top of the mountain next to the Vogel cable car station.

We’ve still not got used to the colder weather we’ve been having for the last week, at 16°C inside the van that night we put the heating on for the first time and with it being a chillier in the morning Jo cranked it up to 5 when she got up. We made use of the proper hot showers while we had chance as we shouldn’t be on a site for a while now this time! I tracked down the chap from the staff to ask if we could stay parked there longer than the usual checkout so we could go off to do some walking, he said no problem, stay until anytime that day and to leave the van where it was on the pitch.

We walked to the entrance of Savica Slap (waterfall) which took 50mins from the campsite, mostly along a stoney path through woodland. The Savica River is one of the main tributaries to Lake Bohinj, and the waterfall rarely stops flowing. It consists of two separate waterfalls, the larger of which is 78m in height. There is a €2.50 entry fee for the waterfall and a climb of around 550 steps to the waterfall viewpoint. It’s quite good to look at but the walk up isn’t very interesting, it only takes about 20 mins though so isn’t too demanding. I don’t think it would be very worthwhile if you were to drive to it and pay for parking too on top of the entry cost.

Afterwards at the campsite we made use of our time with WiFi and hookup to do some internet jobs before we left at 5-ish and went back to our previous spot near the camper stop at Bohinjska Bistrica. This morning we’d planned to do some hiking up Mount Vogel but we awoke to a dull very cloudy day with the tops of the mountains not being visible, so it wouldn’t have been suitable. We considered going to do the walk up Mostnica Gorge and staying another day, but a look at the weather forecast showed cloud and rain for the next few days. With this we decided we’d get on our way to Italy and leave it for another time. We will definitely come back to Bohinj as it’s such a nice spot with lots of great hiking opportunities, and very quiet and peaceful, during the time we visited at least.

Next we’ll be back in Northern Italy.

- Matt

1 comment :

  1. beautiful scenery again, i imagine it is much better visiting low season xx