There are over 170 mountain huts (dom or koča), shelters and bivouacs in Slovenia, operated by 94 mountain clubs, under the umbrella organisation of the Planinske zveze Slovenije (PZS) or Alpine Association of Slovenia. Whilst the shelters and bivouacs have no provisions, the mountain huts cater for all needs of the walker and mountaineer, a roof over their heads, a bed, drink and food (a dom is usually larger than a koča with more beds). Some of the huts are found in the valleys at road-heads and on the slower slopes but there are many at higher altitudes in the mountains. Rarely are huts more than five hours apart which means some fantastic high-level routes are possible. It is worth pointing out here that wild camping is not permitted in Slovenia. We spent 12 days in the Julian Alps in September of 2009 – there is an account of our hut-to-hut walk in Slovenia here.
Some huts are open all year but the higher ones generally open in early June and close near the end of September. In July and August the huts will be busy and we advise booking ahead. In June and September it is quieter but we still recommend booking your Saturday night beds. It may sound obvious but check that your chosen hut is open before you set off! Although closed in winter some huts have “winter rooms” where you will find a bed and blankets. Here is a list of all the huts in Slovenia.
Huts are graded into three categories. The actual classification is a bit complicated but generally Grade 1 are at high altitude, Grade 2 huts are lower and more easily accessible and Grade 3 are lowland valley huts.
Accommodation at the huts can be in simple rooms or, more cheaply, in a dormitory. The beds were always comfortable with clean sheets and enough blankets. We found that the extra expense of a room was rewarded by having some personal space and a good nights sleep! Take some earplugs if you think you might be sleeping in a dormitory – its guaranteed that at least one person will be snoring!
Prices for overnight accommodation are set by the PZS and are based on the hut grade. The 2009 prices were as follows –
- Grade 1, room with 1-4 beds – 27Eur
- Grade 1, room with 5+ beds – 20Eur
- Grade 1, dormitory bed – 18Eur
- Grade 2, room with 1-4 beds – 20Eur
- Grade 2, room with 5+ beds – 16Eur
- Grade 2, dormitory bed – 12Eur
Money saving tip. We managed to save a lot by joining the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and obtaining an Alpine Club Reciprocal Rights Card (make sure that you choose to become an Aspirant member of the Alpine Club). This card, when presented at registration at the hut entitles you to half price accommodation. Whether the card is worth paying for depends on how many nights you plan to stay in the huts – the card costs £40 (2009) for each person and then there is your club membership to consider.
Recommended kit on a hut-to-hut walk. In addition to the usual necessary walking equipment only a little extra is needed in order to stay in the huts. Just the basics are needed in the washing department as explained below. A spare set of clothes to wear in the evening and a torch is advisable for use in the dormitories at night, but you will have one in your pack anyway.
Hut food is basic but wholesome, mostly thick soups, eggs, ham and sausage and delicious home made bread. Our favourite evening meal was ričet a delicious, spicy barley porridge, available with or without meat (brez mesa), and bread. For dessert it was a difficult choice between apple strudel and pancakes with jam! In the busier times the menu is more varied, the choice becoming more limited nearer the end of the season. There is always plenty of beer, spirits and bottled water to be purchased but we found that the most refreshing beverage is čaj, (aka “a nice cup of tea”). We had noticed that the flavour is slightly different at every hut and we were told it was because it is made from the petals of the wild flowers gathered at each location. Chocolate and biscuits are usually available too.
As many of the huts can only be serviced by helicopter, food is relatively expensive but prices for stews, tea and water are set by the PZS. For other beverages and meals the huts are free to set their own prices. To help you budget here are some example 2009 prices from Grade 1 huts –
- A breakfast of two fried eggs, one slice of bread and a cup of tea was 5.30Eur
- A cup of tea was 1.80Eur
- An evening meal of ričet (without meat) and one slice of bread was 5.40Eur; desserts varied between 1.70 and 3Eur.
Food in Grade 2 huts is approximately 20% less. It may not be cheap but when you consider how the huts have to be supplied we think the prices are very reasonable.
Eating your own food in the huts is allowed but you cannot cook.
Do also remember that all money transactions will be in cash, so take plenty of Euros.
We found the huts to be warm and comfortable. There will be somewhere to dry your clothes and a pair of slippers is provided. Washing facilities vary! Do not expect a shower (although we are told that some do exist, we have yet to find one), at best you may have a communal sink with cold water for hand/face wahing and teeth cleaning. Toilet facilities are sometimes basic but usually clean.
The above information is based on our experiences and the PZS website (link above). Unfortunately, the PZS do not provide an English translation but we use the Google Translator found on the Google Toolbar which can be used in IE or Firefox. It is not perfect but you can get the gist!
Many of the walks in our book could easily be extended by using the huts for an overnight stay. For instance, with Walk 21 to the Triglav Lakes Valley, spending the night at Koča pri Triglavskih Jezerih means that you could explore further up the valley or perhaps climb a nearby peak. As another example, Walk 19 could be made a lot easier with an overnight stay at Dom Zorka Jelinčica on Črna prst. Get out your maps, the possibilities are endless really!
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