GUIDING TO CHANGE

All You Need To Know About Adventure Tours And How To Avoid Getting Your Day Ruined By a Shitty Agency

Every trick of the trade that i learned in my career as an outdoor adventure sports guide

SITUATION:

Slovenia and Soča valley are breaking records every year! Every summer there are more people coming in search of pristine nature and thrilling adventures in Triglav National Park. The place is getting crowded and many opportunists are trying to make a quick buck from the summer season and take advantage of the trusty and naive tourist.
When I first became a guide, more than a decade ago, this was not the case. But things changed fast and the eleventh hour of adventure travel in Slovenia hit the bell!

Something had to be done about it, so I took things into my own hands. Yep, you heard that right!
I decided to share all the truth with you so that you can avoid the traps of adventure tourism. In this short report you should find everything to secure yourself a "happy ending" of your holidays in Slovenia.
I will tell you what are some of the problems and then I will give you the solutions. It is pretty straight forward so you should remember everything already after the first read-thorugh.
This is for you, my dear adventure traveler. Follow these tips to have an unforgettable experience in Slovenia!

here we go!

tHE WEATHER AND THE OPENING OF THE SEASON

Oficially the opening of the “adventure season” in Soča valley is on 15th of March and it closes on 31st of October. Everyone starts advertising then and yelling “SEASON OPEN” like it is the moose hunting season in Canada!

problem?

The weather here is way too cold to do anything else but ski. Skiing season can last all the way to the end of May! And even if it is a warm spring, you would definately want to avoid April since it can rain for a whole month straight!

solution

Depending on what you want to do, you would be well-off coming in May, especially for the water activities. A good idea is to check the amount of snow on Kanin and Mangart mountain and also Triglav, since these all feed the Soča river. If there is a lot of snow, then come in June, if not, then May.
How can you know that? Just call me and I will tell you. =)

P.s.: just reading what is the snow cover on a mountain is not enough, because our mountains are porous and have underground lakes where melted snow accumulates. This means you need to know what was the whole winter like to be able to assess what water level will Soča river have during the season.

HIGH vs. LOW SEASON

Most definately DO NOT come over in July or August. That is the time for families and people who enjoy crowds and high prices. Those basically go through the roof since Bovec is a small countryside town but as popular as Venice in Italy.

problem?

It is crazy! There is NOT ENOUGH parking lots, not enough agencies that provide guided tours, not enough shops, not enough restaurants or ATMs. People wait in lines reaching out to the streets to get a table for dinner and the ATMs run dry! (This can be a problem, because we still do a lot of business with cash only.) Furthermore, the gas stations are rare and far apart and there are no EV charging stations.

solution

Visit Slovenia in May and June or early September to get the best experience. Avoid 15th of August at all costs!

RESERVATIONS & PRICES

This brings us to the next problem: you need a reservation for everything when the high season hits Bovec!

I know that most of you want to travel in a spontaneous way, but if you cannot travel sooner than July or August, then make sure you have a reservation before entering Soča vlley. And better still – make it at least a week in advance!

On the up side there are many companies offering low season prices if you book early on. I do too! =)

MAKING YOUR RESERVATION

Before you book any guided activity do a thorough research about it and make sure they answer all of your questions. Demand that they inform you about any changes regarding the trip.

It is not rare for them to change the starting locations to fit their schedule better. You did not pay for that!

DISCOUNTS

Any company that is willing to give you more that 15-20% discount is not worth your time. They can afford giving out discounts because they don’t pay their guides enough because they are inexperienced students.

PRO TIP:
try to get to know your guide before the trip and secure one for yourself that is older than 30 years. Also – arrive early at the location! You will be treated better.

AGENCIES

There are many things you can do to explore Slovenia on your own, but once it comes to water or adventure sports it is much better and safer! to have an experienced guide by your side.

As soon as you need a guide, you need an agency – and not all are created equal.

As I mentioned before, some are old and big and have lost touch and forgot why they do what they do. Money seems to be their only drive. This holds true for any outdoor agency that has been around for more than a decade.

problem?

As I said before, there are a lot of companies that are open only for a few summer months. They get the high-season adventure-rush and pack their stuff immediately after that to return back home to: Slovakia, Hungary, Czech republic and Italy.

I do not need to tell you that those are NOT the best companies.

Slightly better are some older Slovenian companies, but their problem is that they are too old and too big. They have zero personal approach. Also, they employ inexperienced students or guides from South America, because there is a huge lack of experienced guides in Slovenia.

solution

You will get more than your money’s worth from the small local (Bovec) companies and family owned companies, where the owner is the guide himself.

Just in case you are wondering:
I, myself, am a guide as well as an instructor, teaching other guides. I have more than a decade of experince and I only work with other guides that I either trust or have trained them.
My expertise are in rafting, kayaking, caving, canyoning and above all, white water rescue techniques. I am also a first responder so you are safe with me. =)

P.s.: I have three kids – I can take care of yours too. =P


AVOID
any agency that employs students as guides. They just want to look cool and will do stupid shit to prove they are the best.

AVOID
any agency that uses old, beat up gear. They only care about the money.

AVOID
any agency that has more than two raft
s. Otherwise you risk being treated like sheep or like chickens on the conveyor belt. Do not be shocked if – in the chaos before the trip – you are somehow left behind and do not get your money back.

AVOID
any agency where you see the staff is nervous. They have too much work and will not give you the attention you deserve.

GUIDES

As I have just said, try to book with a local company which employs local guides, because:

  • we know the region better
  • we know the weather better
  • we guide for pleasure and for the soul, not just for the money
  • we are connected and we inform each other about changes on the river and mountain
  • we are older and less drunk! ... or high.

BEST PLACES FOR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

Alright, it is pretty simple – you only have the Nort-West region of Slovenia (Triglav National Park) where you can get the perfect nature rush through your veins. The leading three towns are:

  • Bled, which gets disgustingly crowded due to that fairy-tale island on the lake with a little church at the top
  • then there is Bohinj lake area, which is a bit more raw and wild than Bled
  • and finally Bovec the capital of Alpine adventure sports! Anything is possible in Bovec: from caving to sky-diving and all in between. Bovec also has the most mountains in Slovenia and the legendary Soča river.

ACTIVITIES THAT I RECOMMEND

Honestly, every step you make in the great outdoors of the Triglav National Park is amazing and worthwile. May that be MTB biking, fly-fishing, hiking and climbing or simply chilling near Soča river. You will recharge yourself with the abundance of negative ions floating around in the crisp mountain air.

However, there are some spots that are impossible to reach without a guide and some proper gear. I am talking about rafting or kayaking, caving and above all, canyoning.

SPECIFICALLY ABOUT: rafting

Rafting is the thing everybody who stop in Bovec do and because it is easy to sell everybody offers it. But beware! – there are only one or two agencies that I would recommend and only about 5 guides that I would trust. Call me before you book rafting!


DO NOT
go rafting in the middle of July or August.
The river is extremly low which makes the trip boring as hell! Ofcourse if you ask the agency, they will say it is medium low but good to go“. Skip it or at least demand that no more than 6 customers are in the boat.

DO NOT
go rafting if you have small children
and they put a big fat lady in the raft with you. Say that you are concerned about the safety of your child. Fat kills!

DO NOT
go rafting on Soča if the starting location is
Srpenica 1. They just want to cut your trip shorter because – money?? Enter at Boka waterfall.

SPECIFICALLY ABOUT: kayaking

Kayaking is also very popular but most agencies only do kayak trips, meaning they guide you from A to B. This trips can be very frustrating if you cannot maintain balance and keep capsizing and swimming all the time. Try to find those that actually teach kayak courses or simply call me before you book your trip!

DO NOT
go on a kayak trip if you have no previous experience.
Ask for a “sit-on-top” kayak, which is much easier to handle and a lot more fun for beginners.

DO NOT go kayaking in a group of more than six customers per guide.

SPECIFICALLY ABOUT: canyoning

Canyoning should not be mistaken for canoeing where you paddle a canoe. Canyoning takes place in the canyons and steep creeks where you jump, slide and rappel over the waterfalls. Definately call me to learn more about canyoning!

DO NOT
go canyoning with a company that does not provide you with professional canyoning shoes
, preferably Adidas terrex.

DO NOT
go canyoning if the guide does not have a canyoning license.

DO NOT go canyoning in a group of more than six to eight people.
You will do more waiting at top of the waterfalls than actually canyoning.

DO NOT
go canyoning in Bled or any of the smaller canyons
in the high season. Those canyons get crazy crowded and even if you are in a small group it will not help. You will suffer. 

BONUS!

FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION

FOOD

There should always be time for some good food after an active day and you will find plenty of it in Slovenia!

However, I must warn you to bring your own soy milk when visiting Bovec area, because we do not know what “vegan” means. In fact, we barely understand “vegetarian”. … Just so that you will not be disappointed.

Recommendations? Too many to list! But I will tell you about one dish that takes the cake. It is called BUŠKI or KOBARIŠKI KRAFI. You must not miss those. It is a dessert and it is even vegan friendly!

For all the normal folks? Definately try Soča trout. That’s it!

IF YOU HAVE THE BUDGET ...

Serious budget I mean …
Then what you need to know is that, in Kobarid town, there lives the-world’s-best-cheff-of-2017. Her name is Ana Roš and I do not need to say anything more.

IF NOT ...

Then go straight to the little hamlet of Log pod Mangartom and enter the only restaurant there. You will find Ana Roš’s apprentice – Tomaž – making some serious magic out of local ingredients. His masterpieces are on par with Ana’s.

Of course you will need a reservation for both of them.

ACCOMMODATION

Just this: do not come to Soča valley in the high season with no reservation for your stay because you will find none free. The place is packed!

Alright, this is it!
Call me if you need to know anything else.

Otherwise ...

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