Disappearing Lake Appears!
We were very lucky this autumn to hang out for an afternoon at the nearby Planina Disappearing Lake at exactly the time when the water was gushing in, filling an 8km by 2km valley from multiple springs, rivers and sinkholes and catch one of Green Slovenia's biggest disappearing lakes in the act of appearing!!
Maybe you heard the joke (or maybe it is a true story), where the tourist rocks up at Windsor castle, near London.. while jumbo jets roar overhead, landing and taking off from Heathrow and he says.. "Gee, neat castle, but why did they build it so close to the airport"!!
Well it feels a little bit like that for us here in Green Slovenia if we see an online comment from a keyboard travel expert after visiting one of our numerous and unique disappearing lakes.. (be prepared to grind your teeth a bit here).. the pearl of wisdom would go something like this.. "Went to the disappearing lake, it was empty" or even worse, "there was no water".. aaagggghhhhhh!
WELL OF COURSE it was EMPTY! Guess what this disappearing lake had gone and done in the middle of summer.. disappeared!! And if you ever rock up at Lake Bled and it is empty then please call Batman or the Fire Brigade, but DO NOT be surprised in the slightest if you turn up to a disappearing lake in the summer and it is "empty".. it is supposed to be!
And you will probably visit Green Slovenia in the middle of summer like everyone else, so this will be the same for you.. (sometimes.. very rarely.. a few of the disappearing lakes can fill in the summer with very heavy rainfall, but only for a few days)!
(There is no rule that says you are only allowed to visit the most beautiful country in Europe in July and August, by the way, but that is for another blog)..
DO NOT PANIC.. All is most certainly not lost.. Cos the real point of it all that our tourist reviewer friend completely missed out on is that the lake IS still there and it IS uberstunning at any time of the year & full of Green adventures.. if you only know what to look out for!!
The unique magic and mystery of Green Slovenia's multiple disappearing lakes is that they appear in the autumn and then disappear in the summer, but there is ALWAYS something to see & do at any time of year..
Just cos the water has disappeared, it doesn't mean for one micro second that you should not go explore a disappearing lake in the summer!
BUT the TWO most rare, desirable and magical things to see and do at a Slovenian Disappearing lake are surely to witness the lake "appearing" or "disappearing"..
You cannot choose when to do this.. that is up to Mother Nature!
And wow, when the water does come, it doesn't just trickle into and out of these lakes.. it absolutely pours in, flooding up with spectacular Biblical force or getting sucked out in phenomenal quantities when a lake empties.. and in a very short period of time too..
Some of the piccies we captured on this little blogette will show the massive volume and power of the water moving and the huge volumes which will very quickly make a lake appear or disappear!
Well, we were lucky enough to witness the huge Planina disappearing lake filling up on a sunny afternoon in early November, so we took lots of photos indeed..
You might not be as lucky to be here for the couple of days when a lake does fill, but at least these photos can help you to understand more about what to look for when you do go visit a disappearing lake, whatever season you visit!
It is absolutely not your fault you didn't know how special these disappearing lakes are and what you can do to explore them.. These magical lakes are just some of the hundreds of Green secrets hidden away here in Slovenia that we feel it is our mission to tell you all about in clear, simple English.. cos we are worried nobody else will!
You can find dozens more Secret Green Places to enjoy in Green Slovenia in our huge SECRET PLACES TO VISIT SECTION..
We hope that after reading this blog and checking out the photos you will be in a much better position to go explore any disappearing lake..
So probably the first important thing to know is Slovenian disappearing lakes do not fill slowly or directly from the skies..
Due to the very special rocky Karst leaky limestone underworld here in Green Slovenia, ALL disappearing lakes tend to fill extremely quickly and dramatically.. rising up from the massive network of underground rivers, sinkholes and caves.. very, very fast indeed and with huge volumes of water!
Of course, summer is fantastic here on the Sunny side of the Alps, but if you can come in spring and autumn, we consistently tip these as the very best times to be here in Green paradise.. And you just might get to see a disappearing lake appearing or disappearing too!
Let's give our keyboard travel reviewer at least some credit for managing to scroll down on his phone and find something called a "disappearing lake" to visit.. He probably blindly followed gurglemaps to find his particular lake, but then his experience was limited to being disappointed with an "empty" lake in the summer!
We don't want this to happen to you!
He totally missed out on the number one activity to do on a "dry" disappearing lake.. to search for and locate the unique place (source) or places where the water floods in or up from to create the lake.. you can do this ANYTIME during the year whether there is water or not..
There are multiple different sources for these magical lakes too.. Maybe you are looking for a cave, a huge sinkhole..
Maybe you need to hike out to the middle of the lake (massive meadow) to find the lowest point and discover a bunch of Karst rocks, looking a bit like a giant basket of stone eggs, where the water dramatically seeps up when the time comes.. Standing here in the centre of a "dry" disappearing lake, you can easily imagine the 10 metres of water that would be above you for 7 months of the year!
So the first key mystery for you to answer is.. where is(are) the Karst Spring(s) located that fill this ubermassive field I am standing in?
No disappearing lake is formed exactly the same way as another and they come in all shapes and sizes.. You can find pretty much ALL types of the Karst Springs or "Sources" that fill them around here too, not so far from the Lodge!
For example, the biggest Disappearing lake in Europe, Lake Cerknica, is just a 25 min drive from the Lodge, or the 17 Disappearing Lakes of Pivka, 15 mins from the Lodge or the subject of this Blog, the Planina Disappearing lake, just 12 mins from the Lodge!
ALL of these paradise lakes are reachable by E Bike too for a sensational Green daytrip adventure!
Usually in the spring, when the time comes, the water exits each lake dramatically, sometimes even violently as it is sucked away into the Karst underworld..
But each magical space left behind has the ingredients for a Green paradise to develop over the summer.. a thriving and unique microclimate, supporting different animals, butterflies, birds, insects and flowers.. some unique to that particular lake or mini region and given a home by a massive green fertile expanse covered by water for over half a year, then miraculously drained to thrive in the summer sunshine..
Sometimes you can easily make out the shape & extent of the lake standing at ground level without the water, or if it is too massive, at least go find the dry shoreline where the water reaches, marked clearly by a circumference of brown grass or reeds to show where the lake expanded to last winter..
Sometimes you can hike up a Dinaric mountain overlooking a lake, (Slovenia has 4 Alps, the Dinarics are close to the Lodge and the tiddliest) to get a cracking view of the lake's form.
But this particular blog is not about what you can get up to in the summer, we have plenty of stuff about that elsewhere on this website for you to read about..
This article is a joyous celebration of one of the wonders of European and Karst nature, cos as we said, we were incredibly lucky to go visit and witness the nearby Planina Disappearing Lake in transition.. yes folks, the incredible process of it filling up.. or appearing..
Yep, just like a magician's trick, the Planina lake was turning from a disappearing lake, (or to the untrained eye, a bunch of gigantic fields and paradise tracks in a long valley) into one of the biggest lakes in Slovenia, in just the click of a finger or the flash of a dragon's tail..
So we make no apologies at all for how many photos we took of this rare event to show you.. indeed we should apologise at how many piccies we had to leave out from this Blog!
We hope to explain a bit and show you some of the many Planina Lake Karst springs, water features and sources working in full action mode ALL AT THE SAME TIME so you can see how this particular disappearing lake fills up so rapidly!
The Planina lake is so big there are multiple springs and sources filling it up and all at once, so we had a wonderful afternoon of mad dashes around the lake to get photos of some of the different sources we know and get photos for you.. now that is a Green adventure!
There are so many photos here in the text and below to show you how the lake is filling and how these sources work in tandem to create the new lake, so please do flick through the rest of the piccies below to get the full picture..
The million dollar question for YOU to answer in summer or winter or whenever you are here is "where did Mother Nature bring all this water from so quickly and in such volume to make this particular lake"?
So grab your oar, put your life jacket on and let's go explore and paddle out onto the Planina Disappearing lake "appearing"!
the Planina Disappearing Lake Appears..
Most people around the world now have heard of the uberstunning beauty of the alpine Lake Bled and this might even be your main reason to be interested in visiting Green Slovenia..
Well folks, we have got news for you.. just down the road from Bled is an even more beautiful lake called Bohinj.. Maybe you have been lucky enough to visit one or both already, so you know we are not exaggerating?
Even very few Lodge visitors have heard of the amazing Karst Disappearing lakes when they arrive.. some guests might have just about heard of the biggest one, the Cerknica lake, which can reach 40km sq and is easily the largest lake in Green Slovenia in the winter and the biggest disappearing lake in Europe too!
But pretty much NOBODY has heard about the Planina Disappearing lake and wait for this.. it is also absolutely massive, bigger than lakes Bohinj AND Bled put together.. so put that in your cappucino and drink it!
The lake is about 8km long and 1-2km wide.. this is not just a few farmers fields with a few ducks bobbing around we are talking about here, it is an entire valley!
Over the ten years we have been lucky enough to live in Green Paradise we have made multiple visits to explore Planina Disappearing Lake at all times of year and this is why we know a lot of the best bits to explore the lake from..
Indeed it was only this summer we found a fantastic wooden viewing tower on a hill above the village of Laze with great vistas of pretty much the entire lake area.. We would definetly NOT have found this tower if we were not exploring on E Bikes or by bike!
It is just a 12 min drive or 30 min bike ride from the Lodge to the Planina lake and travelling this direction is also a fantastic green short cut to avoid the motorway going multiple directions including Ljubljana, Idrija, Cerknica and the uberwonderful Secret Partisan Hospital in Cerkno.
It is always an incredible thrill to drive, bike or hike and explore the full lake..
But wow, ladies and gentlemen, boys & girls, it would take a lot in Green nature to top what we witnessed last weekend when we were lucky enough to see the lake filling..
Normally, scenes of a river bursting its banks, fields flooding and water rising is a totally negative and scary propositon for societies who maybe should have respected nature a little more before building their towns and cities..
BUT HERE IN GREEN SLOVENIA THIS PHENOMENON IS MEANT TO HAPPEN! IT IS A WONDERFULLY JOYOUS TIME WHEN A DISAPPEARING LAKE FILLS..
When you go to Planina lake you will also notice how the 2 main villages of Planina at the start and Laze along the middle are carefully built with centuries of knowledge on the shores of where the lake fills to.. usually!
Now we have E Bikes, we most often bike to the Planina lake, cos it makes it much easier to really explore the vast dry or submerged lake area and this is exactly how we discovered all these various sweet Karst spring spots around the lake that combine to fill it up very quickly indeed..
How do I visit the Planina Disappearing Lake?
OK, so the village of Planina is where the massive Planina cave, (the largest water cave in Slovenia AND main tap for the Planina lake) pours water out to form a new river.. the UNICA RIVER, (which is just one section of yet another fascinating Green story about the magical River of 7 Names.. well the Unica river is part of that special river too and will be the subject of another article on this website soon)!
When the time comes and the water table swells deep down in the Karst underbelly, this river doesn't just flood, it also fills the massive maze of underground passages leading to huge sinkholes across the entirety of the lake which burst up and flood the numerous fields that make up this enormous lake.
Everything ON the lake becomes PART of the lake.. so this includes numerous pretty famers tracks that disappear for the winter under the water.. Huge trees, bushes, even telegraph poles will become part of the new lake!
But there are also lots of river tributaries bursting out from smaller caves hidden in the surrounding wooded hills and bubbling sinkholes from the forest floor that flow into the Unica river too.
The volume of water is huge.. the lake fills quickly, but these pictures will show that the lake is not just a simple soup bowl filling equally.
Different sections will fill first, depending on how low they sit and how the maze of water flows to them..
The two main roads across the Planina lake are built just above the water level to usually survive over the winter, indeed the main Planina road across the lake to the ruined Haasberg castle has a little row of aquaduct tunnels built under it to let the water to flow under and not over the tarmac..
It creates a very special road to drive over in the winter cos you are actually driving across a disappearing lake.. WOW!
So if you know to look out for these little tunnel aquaducts under the road, then you can find them easily on your visit, even in the summer!
The Unica river snakes across the valley floor and floods the MIDDLE part of the lake very fast and deep, going under another new road bridge built for cars to reach LAZE village perching pretty on the other side of the lake.
This is a great road to bike, hike along, even drive as it is BANG IN THE CENTRE of the lake and only goes to LAze, so is pretty quiet, even eeriee!
We highly recommend crossing the lake here, if possible, to reach Laze cos from here you can explore the other side of the lake without a car, maybe park up and push on by bike or hike along a fantastic track that follows the shores of the lake towards the village of Jakovica where you can get some sensational views of pretty much the entire lake sitting under Planina mountain towering above.
Another great option to view the lake is to go up Planina mountain, (Gora, 924m) to really see the full lake from above! There are fantastic views from up here and we will shortly write an article on this special hill comparing the feeling of being up here to the uberstunning Velika Planina.. yes Big Mountain Meadow..
Just across the main quadruple arched stone bridge from Planina is the ruined Rennaisence Haasberg castle with a car park and this is another excellent spot to stop off at and find some sources of the lake.. several of the photos were taken here, with a secret little cave and a very special bubbing forest spring popping up out of the ground like a witches cauldron!
On this special afternoon, we are pretty sure we did not see one tourist at all, but plenty of local people who know about this big Green secret were walking, biking, lifting canoes and rafts off their cars and generally enjoying the new lake!
Another option is to park up or bike to Rapunzels' Tower to walk down to the Planina cave and see the river thundering out of the cave mouth as main source of the lake and maybe follow the powerful river a little..
We cannot tell you enough how amazing it is to go explore these and other special secret place options around the lake by bike or E Bike from the Lodge whether in spring, summer, winter or autumn.
By bike you will simply see so much more and also be able to reach so many more secret places on this lake, particularly past Laze towards the unpronounceable village at the end of the lake called Grcarevec..
There is a bike track ALL the way along the other side of the lake, well away from the cars on the main road and you can see very many large sink holes here, which also swell up to fill the lake or drain in spring!
(We couldn't resist the indulgence of adding 3 bonus photos taken in OCT, when the lake was empty, on an E Bike ride to the end of the lake.. We then looped back up through the forest to LAZE so you can see how fab the track is and how different the lake appears when dry on an albeit foggy October day!
The other 2 OCT photos are included in the other photos below)..
OK, so we added as many photos to this page as we could and there are now some others below to enjoy..
Maybe you will see the amazing Planina Disappearing lake for yourself one day, whether in summer looking for sinkholes and wandering into caves or in autumn when Mother nature is pouring water into this Green Treasure..
Indeed, we really cannot imagine a visit to Green Slovenia could be complete without a Green adventure here to this remarkable disappearing lake!