You should not be surprised, (but you probably will be!) to know that Green Slovenia has the largest amount of fresh natural water per sq KM than any other country in Europe.. so where do all the beautiful rivers come from?
And please note we never do stuff in any order, so the Spring that you might choose to go visit may well be the middle one or the last one we showcase here.. they are ALL fabulous!
Rivers have to pop up from somewhere and wouldn't it be lovely if you could visit the the magical place where a river actually starts.. Well, in Green Slovenia you can do this again and again and again.. there are lots of special places that you can hike or climb to or even park near, where rivers start their stunning journeys!
IZVIR = SOURCE of a RIVER..
The word in Slovene for the "source", or "spring" of a new river is "Izvir" so now you know this word, please be on "Brown" alert in case you spot it on a BROWN road sign all over this Green and pleasant country and if you do see one, then you can go hunting for the very starting point of a brand new river!
Most visitors to Slovenia will come from much larger countries, so even if you did know where the source of a river was at home, it would probably be quite a long trip for you to find it, but here in little old Slovenia there are springs popping out of the ground everywhere! And as Slovenia is so small its even possible to go to the start of some rivers and then follow it all day right to it's end.. wow what a day!
How about following a river's entire journey from Start to Finish? Now that would be an AMAZING bit of Green Tourism!
Imagine you could go find the very start of a river and see how a little stream of water can become a wide waterflow and you could accompany it on it's journey!
What about the environmental message kids would get from seeing how nature creates a new river and how that river goes on to give life and sustinance to so many other life forms along it's path!.. just an idea!
the river Krka springs..
A great example of exactly how to have one of these amazing Green experiences is to rock up at the Krka river springs, which can be found about an hour from the Lodge in central Slovenia, (below Ljubljana to the east). There is a little village by the same name as Krka and outside in the countryside you can find where the river springs into life at two seperate locations!
One is by a cave as the crystal clear water bubbles out, up and over rocks to form the river and then not so far away there is a steep rock wall where the river dribbles out of the stones like a dam leaking and the water slides off to join the main flow.
This is one of the those rivers where you can follow the bottle green water right to its end at Brezice, on Slovenia's Eastern border as it crashes into the larger Sava river and heads off into Croatia..
Along the beautiful bottle green Krka river you will find 2 stunning castles, (Otocek and Zuzemberk) two especially amazing islands (Kostanjevice and Otocek) and Slovenia's largest art gallery, (close to Kostanjevice) housed in a giant ex monastery along the way.
Oh yes and the old town of Novo Mesto, (New town) where you can get a mighty fine cup of tea on the bridge over this river..
the Soca springs..
It is a very special feeling indeed to see a river popping up out of the ground or bubbling up through rocks and the Soca Spring is perhaps one of the most amazing river sources to visit at the very start of the most famous and beautiful Slovenian river, the Soca.
This river bursts up out of a rock, high in the Alps like a waterfall and the colour of the water is the same at the start as the rest of this aqua turquoise wonder of nature..
You start off at a little pub just off the first main hairpin bend of the Vrsic Pass road.. The path is clearly marked and you walk next to the river thundering past as you head to the rocks.. if the river is dry, don't worry there will still be water in the spring!
There is a bit of a short climb and a bit of scrambling up some rocks to get there, but you can use the steel ropes for support, so no big deal. It is not scary at all, more breath taking with the short climb and the views down the mountain where the water flows off into the Upper Soca valley..if you keep an eye on the kids they could make it too.
And wow.. the feeling, the view from up top when you get here is well worth it all and the spring is like a perfect stone well with water pumping up..
If you add this magic to your feeling of accomplishment at climing up and down the rocks to find it.. then you have a very special Green combination indeed!
the source of the Sava river..
The longest river in Slovenia is the mighty Sava and it flows almost 1,000km all the way across old Yugoslavia to Belgrade and the Danube.
They have done a really good job here to help you find it and see the new river.. there is a mini nature park with boardwalks and a viewing tower where you can walk right up to the mini lake where the river bubbles up from the ground!
Go to Zelenci, near Kranska Gora, to see the first drops of crystal clear fresh water pulsing out of the marshes, with the stunning Julian Alps in the background.
Another great way to come here would be to jump onto the designated cycle path that leads from the old industrial town of Jesenice all the way up the river across railway bridges and along some very beautiful waterside tracks.
This would be another fantastic river to follow from the springs, but for a very different environmental message.. the river is sooooo beautiful as it flows out of the Alps and then BANG it reaches the old steel town of Jesenice and suddenly the colour and beauty is ravaged as you can see how industry has exploited nature over time.
Of course, there is a strong argument that people need steel and jobs.. so we are not making a judgement here, but it would not be fair if we just told you about how wonderful all the water is here in Green Slovenia.. (and a huge majority of the water is wonderful).. if we didn't also mention places where you can see what man has done to it over the years..
Here on the Sava river it is so stark to see the incredible creative beauty of nature and what it can become..
the 7 springs of the Vipava river..
Of course, you dont need to make visiting a river source your entire raison d'adventure for your day trip either.. There is plenty to see and do in the stunning little old town of Vipava, which nestles into the side of the mountain ridge towering over Slovenia's biggest secret place, (in our humble opinion).. the Vipava Wine Valley, (20 mins from the Lodge and over the other side of Nanos).
The old town is well worth a visit on it's own, it has several really good restaurants, a quaint little Italian style square, the obligatory crumbled Slovenian castle perched on top off a dominating hill with fantastic views and a little town centre cafe serving the best ice cream in Green Slovenia!
If that was not enough reason to come here, then check this out.. Vipava has not just one, two or three, but SEVEN new river springs flowing out of the mountain rock, through the town and into the Vipava river that flows through the centre of ths amazing valley.. indeed the Vipava river is another one of Slovenia's least visited secret rivers!
There is no better way to enjoy finding these 7 springs than buying an ice cream in that lovely cafe we mentioned and wandering around the pretty back streets with little old houses and lovely old fashioned street lights discovering source after source and the beautiful natural green lake where some of the new rivers flow into.
Three of these sources would be difficult to find if you didn't know that you can walk right to the end of the lovely little mini park alongside the restaurant and big green pond with the massive trees.. Go to the very end of this park which hugs the steep mountain behind Vipava and at the little stone wall is where you can see the last 3 sources, (one to the left coming out of a cave and two more to the right)!.. but all of them flowing into that lovely natural green mini lake and then off to the beautiful Vipava river.
the source of the Huberl river..
And just a bit further down the valley in the unpronounceabubble neighbouring town of Ajdovscina, (we call it Adjective!) another river bursts out high up the same mountain and flows downhill, creating a very secret swimming place and then lower down in the old town goes past a Roman fortress.
We didnt even know about this spring, it was found by a lovely guest family from the Netherlands, who went elec biking in the Vipava valley and asked a local person where was a good place to swim!
So we also have an army of Lodge guests out there having adventures in Green Slovenia and sometimes they find a place that even we don't know about..
In fact these guys didnt actually find the spring of the Huberl river.. they came back in the evening and told us all about a secret path that led to a very beautiful river flowing down the mountain side and a very secret place with a mini lagoon where you can swim! Yep, these are the wonderful kinda guests we get here folks!
We had also heard there were some Roman ruins in the centre, so it was on our extended list to see, but this swimming oasis was the tip that made us go there sooner and wow, not only did we think the ruins were amazing, but the river was totally stunning too.. and guess what we also found the spring AND a lovely local restaurant tucked away to the side of the springs!
You can drive up the mountain road or follow the fab nature path up the river to find the source of the Huberlj, gushing out of the rocks from a waterfall..it is a stunning place to be and you will see local people coming up here to walk, exercise and enjoy the water, mountain and forest..
There is a small water works up here also, so you won't get a good photo of this source, but you can get plenty of pictures at the oasis further down river..
This springs is also where you can find a path up the steep mountain side to another wonder of nature.. the OKNO, (stone window), which is a 7m high natural stone window at the top of the 1,000m high cliff with fabulous views down to Adjective and the Green Vipava valley!
the Ribnica springs..
We found this river source by chance as we were visiting the pretty little town of Ribnica with it's medieval castle, tower of torture and Napolean bridge..
It was only cos we asked at the local TIC (tourist info centre) if there was an Izvir, (river source) in the vicinity (as we had seen a few written on the map), that the lovely ladies in the TIC gave us another map and told us we could walk to go see the source of the Ribnica river that flowed so magnificently under the bridge we had admired!
So off we toddled and we always take what we are told here with a pinch of salt.. Slovenians are born hiking and scrambling up mountains, so a simple walk for them may be a jungley adventure for other mere mortals of the world!
The few days of rain led to us abandoning attempts to find the path from the little town and this turned out to be a great choice as we drove to the top of the springs along a forest road instead and found the top of the path had been completely flooded, so we wouldn't have made it!
This is typical of the niggles and little frustrations that we can manage and put up with as we live here, but we tell you about ALL these things as you guys have a limited time on holiday, so there is no time to waste!
In good weather the path up into the forest would be a fantastic secret tip and ends at a boardwalk that leads directly to the stunningly beautiful natural green water leaking out of the hill side flanked by thick green forest.
When you stand here, most probably completely alone at this source, it is a moment to rejoice in nature and just think how lucky you are to be in the middle of a forest seeing yet another river start it's journey.
As you drive back out through the town, the water flowing under the 4 arched bridge may have new meaning and significance to you..
the Kadice springs..
Not far down the road from Ribnica on the way back to the Lodge towards Cerknica is one of the most secret springs you can find!
You need to drive up a curvy one track village road and park in the one car parking space, avoid the barking dog, greet the lovely lady who owns the house where you can go into the back garden, tipping your cap to the bear warning sign, crossing the wooden bridge and following the sign to the Izvir Kadice Springs..
This is Green Slovenia at it's very best.. hiking up a thin forest track next to a river, not knowing for sure if you will be eaten by a bear and then finding a new river cascading down a waterfall!
the source of the Savinka river..
Well, we have been to Celje old town & castle with the sunset and we gazed down admiringly from high up in the castle tower on the Savinka river..
We also hiked in the stunning Logar valley (Logarska Dolina) up in a mountaineous corner of Green Slovenia and climbed the wooden steps up to the Eagle's nest cafe to admire Slovenia's second highest waterfall, the Rinka.
We also enjoyed the beauty of the man made Mozirski Gaj Garden park, stuffed with flowers and displays, alongside a beautiful river.. we checked the name of the river on the map and it was only then that we made a shocking discovery!!
This is why we are babbling on about all these different places so far from each other, but connected by .. you guessed it.. the Savinja river!
You could have knocked us over with a daisy when we double checked the map and saw that the source of this long river is actually that same Rinka waterfall in the Logar valley!
What about that then.. and do check out our blog on the Rinka, cos we were so luckily there by chance when a huge waterflow came totally expected from the top of the waterfall.. check out what happened next at Rinka..
the source of the Kamnik Bistica river..
So the Rinka waterfall is a stunning start to a river, but if we were really pushed we might have to conclude that there is yet another spot that is even more beautiful for a Slovenian river to start and that is 20 minutes outside Kamnik, less than 10 mins up river from where the Velika Planina cable car goes.
You could easily make the mistake to just stand by the bridge and admire the little lake with a tiny island for sun bathing in the middle when you get to the end of the road at Kamnik Bistrica and park up next to the restaurant.
Luckily we searched a bit more and followed the water to where it bursts from every angle out the mountain side.There is a another little Hobbit bridge to go over and then you can explore and hop from rock to rock to chase this water.
The Karst rock has been completely covered with a green jungle that reminded us more of Cambodia or Thailand.. but this is Green Slovenia and with the mist evaporating off the surface of this freezing cold, but pure crystal clear lake, we had found our little bit of Slovenian jungle paradise!
It was a really tough choice to decide which photo would be our lead photo for this unique River Springs section, but it should tell you enough that we chose the Kamnik Bistrica Springs..
the sources of the Grosuplje Disappearing lake..
And finally, we were also shocked by the scale and power of the water sources that fill one of Slovenia's magical disappearing lakes at Grosuplje, just 20 mins south of Ljubljana and 50 mins from the Lodge..
When nature decides to turn the taps on for such a lake, the force of water is irresistable and we found a few places that you might like to see as part of your visit to the Grosuplje disappearing lake. One is but a trickle that comes from a secret shrine to St Mary, another gushes out from the side of a hill in the forest and creates an island where the water hurries into a giant field that will become the lake for over half of the year!
You really should see the cave in the middle of this field where they had to build massive protective gates higher than 10 metres to stop whole trees being washed in from the river, such is the incredible power of Green nature here!
So it took us a few years living here to actually realise and make the connection how many unique river sources there were in Green Slovenia.. so we have been actively hunting them down whenever we spotted those brown signs for Izvir! This is such another unique green Slovenian feature that we especially decided to draw your attention to them in our River Springs section.. but you won't be surprised to know that there are many many more river springs to find here!
It is perfectly possible and within your choice to still have Green adventures in Europe and Slovenia is the place to do it.. but only if you want to, day after day after day.. now you can visit Green Slovenia!
Yep, there are lots more.. we have our own list of springs to find, one of them is the Tolmika springs near Tolmin Gorge that we saw a sign & trail to when we visited the amazing Javorca church.. but we just didn't have enought time that day to do the extra hike.. watch this space.. in the meantine, we sincerely hope you get to see some of the amazing springs already listed here on your Green Slovenian adventures..