Here we are in Europe! As we began to write this post we were literally driving through the Austrian Alps, making our way from Bovec (northern mountainous region of Slovenia) to Ljubljana (capital of Slovenia). In order to get from here to there we actually traveled through both Italy and Austria. When we did the initial trip up to Bovec just 3 days ago, we were met with snow and snow plows, but the trip back brought sunny skies and clear roads. Thank god.
Day 1 of our trip is a bit of a blur now. We arrived in Venice and took a Go Opti 1 shuttle to Ljubljana where Špela picked us up with her bright blue car. It was already afternoon, so we spent the rest of the day picking up things from the market for our packrafting trip, which would start the next day.
To be honest, by this point we were slightly regretting the decision we had made to pile on an activity so soon after arrival. Oh… And it was COLD. We packed with warmer weather in mind but instead found ourselves reaching for our jackets and long pants. We even considered cancelling the pack rating trip because the forecast looked even more grim for the coming days in the mountains. After talking to our guide by phone, we made the decision to forge on, come what may.
Špela graciously let us borrow her car for the trip and, after a quick refresh on stick shift, we were off!
The drive proved to be attention grabbing, both because of the views and because the snow on the road made for a bit of a surprise. We arrived in Bovec safe and sound, thanks to James’ calm demeanor on the road and Sheila finding just the right radio station.
We met our guide at 10 AM at a local bar/coffee shop. She showed us the map of the river, which section we would be paddling, and told us she had gotten us thicker neoprene and two extra jackets. This was very good news!
Our first day on the river was pretty chilly but we learned a lot about how to packraft including: the swift stroke; the stability stroke; how to ferry across the river; and how to maneuver in and out of eddies. In general, we found ourselves having a great time despite the chill and our white and purple fingers. Our Kokopelli packrafts proved to be pretty awesome 2 - Sheila used a Kokopelli Nirvana and James used a Kokopelli Rogue; both were excellent. 🚣♀️ 🚣♂️
Though our bodies got progressively more tired over the three paddling days, the weather got nicer. This is probably the best case scenario, as by day three we could rest a few moments and just bask in the sunshine and take in the views. We are both so grateful that we ended up deciding to packraft; not allowing the weather to deter us was a great decision!
Hiking the Boka Waterfall
After the first day of packrafting, we were still exhausted from the trip, so we didn’t venture out of Camp Liza. After the second day, we were feeling a bit more ambitious and decided to go on a hike. After a quick lunch (overnight oats obviously) we headed out to hike to Boka Waterfall.
We surmised rather quickly that the Slovenian standards for hiking were slightly different from their counterparts in the States; where we are normally used to getting through hikes much quicker than the estimated time, we found ourselves right on pace with the projected time; and the description of the hike proved surprisingly nonchalant in comparison to the steeply uphill and rocky route that we followed! Despite this, the views were exceptional and our internal hiking compasses are now better calibrated for the trip to come. This just goes to show that sometimes you really should just go chasing waterfalls.
That evening our packrafting guide, Annika, invited us over to her apartment for dinner. She made us an assortment of vegetables and local cheeses. It was so special to be welcomed into her home and to be cooked for. We are typically the ones that like to host and cook, so this is different and also something we’ll have to get a bit used to 😛
Our final packrafting day was the best weather yet! We paddled for a couple of hours, said our goodbyes to Annika and our little cabin, then we headed back to pickup Špela in Ljubljana.
Now we’re with her up in the mountains in northwest Slovenia. Hoping to do some hiking… and also maybe a little R&R.
Yours in travel,
Sheila & James
Go Opti runs great airport transfers throughout Europe. Sheila used this last time she visited Slovenia and flew into Zagreb and again this trip when James and Sheila flew into Venice. Would recommend!↩ back to post!
James wrote a blog post for Kokopelli about our experience packrafting the Soča!↩ back to post!