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It may be that the Triglav complex owes its magic in part to its relatively small scale, making the uninitiated think that he is seeing every secret unveiled at once: a mere delusion; but in a topography so intricate and difficult, in such a veritable maze, it is a delight to lose oneself, to escape, to be free. ... Triglav rules over a dreamworld, sundered from time, full of unbelievable hidden nooks, of unsuspected passages, of sudden visions of cliffs which cannot be real. Surely there is no other mountain land like this.

Tom G. Longstaff
President of the Alpine Club, London

Triglav National Park (Triglavski Narodni Park) is Slovenia's pride and joy. Centered around the focal point of Mt. Triglav (2864m), the "Three-Headed" mountain found on everything Slovenian ranging from the national flag to Laibach's LP Krst pod Triglavom (Baptism on Triglav), the park covers nearly all of the Slovenian section of the Julian Alps, a total of nearly 85,000 hectares.

The lakes of Bled and Bohinj, on the edge of the park, are major tourist attractions in themselves. Bled's scenery is almost impossibly romantic, with a little white church on an island in the center of an emerald green mountain lake, Bled Castle perched high above and the peaks of the Julian Alps all around -- and it is consequently often packed with honeymooning couples and the like. (But don't despair -- Hostel Bledec, on the edge of town, regularly polls in as one of Europe's best youth hostels.) Lake Bohinj, some 30 kilometers to the southwest, is more off the beaten track but still has the full complement of medieval churches and awe-inspiring scenery.

The real gems of Triglav, however, are hidden deeper in the park. The easiest trip from Bled is to visit the spectacular Vintgar Gorge, only 4.5 km away, which features a wooden footbridge path (dating to 1893) running for 1600 meters along the Radovna River, terminating at the Šum waterfall. From Bohinj the place to see is the 60-meter Savica Waterfall, the site of Laibach's baptism at the foot of Mt. Triglav; this is the beginning point of several routes to the summit. For those traveling by car (or with shoe leather to burn), the crossing from Kranjska Gora to Bovec via the delightfully named Vršič Pass has some awe-inspiring scenery. If you're feeling even lazier, try the two-hour train trip from Jesenice via Bled to Nova Gorica. (Warning: Bled Jezero station is on the wrong side of the lake, and it's a bit of hike to town!)

But the thing to do in Triglav National Park is, of course, to climb the mountain itself. However, while those 2864 meters may not sound all that fearsome, Triglav is a real mountain and is generally judged to be a tougher climb than, say, the nearly 4000-meter Mt. Fuji. As on all mountains, the weather can be viciously changeable, with temperatures alternating between +30 and -10 deg C even in midsummer. The routes to the top are open only between June and October, and hiring a guide (or joining a guided group) is, while not legally mandated, very advisable due to at times labyrinthine route. Most climbers spend two nights on the route, although fitness nuts have been known to complete it in a single day. Just remember to watch out for Zlatorog, the golden-horned chamois of the mountain!


How to Climb Triglav, Planinska založba, 1991
Lonely Planet Slovenia, 1st edition, 1995