Slovenia Walking

Tag: Seven Lakes Valley

A 12 Day Walking Tour in the Julian Alps of Slovenia

Triglav, Slovenia's highest mountain
Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain

In the autumn of 2009 David and I completed one of the most exciting and exhilarating walking trips we have ever done, a grand walking tour in the Julian Alps. Since our first visit to Slovenia in 2001 we had always dreamed of climbing Triglav and incorporating this challenge into a circular walk and sleeping in the mountain huts in the Julian Alps. It was a walk that we will remember and cherish all our lives.

Zasavska Koča na Prehodavcih
Zasavska Koča na Prehodavcih

Slovenians are proud of their hiking prowess and the mountain huts enable those who love the “Great Outdoors” to stay for days or weeks amidst the high peaks. Huts is a bad translation of koča or dom as these buildings provide clean accommodation, including bedding, warmth and good basic food. There is always a warm welcome and, even with only a few words of Slovenian, it is easy to communicate. The huts are run by various walking clubs and usually there are 2 or 3 people in charge who spend the summer months cheerfully catering to the needs of the hungry, weary walker. Generally there is never more than 5 hours walking between the huts.

With many routes to choose from and a choice of accommodation we found it easy to plan a tour that allowed us to start and finish from the same place and, what was truly magical, we could see where we had come from and where we were heading many times on the journey. As everything you are going to need has to be carried on your back, careful preparation is essential. 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 water is very limited, so don’t expect a shower! A torch is recommended for use in the dormitories at night, but you will have one in your pack anyway. Carry a spare set of clothes to wear in the evening and enough cash in your pocket to pay for your bed and meals and you are set to go.

Day One

Knafelc waymark
Knafelc waymark

Our holiday started with a pleasant walk from Ribčev Laz, passing by Lake Bohinj, to Stara Fužina, from where we climbed up the well way-marked but steep path to Planina Uskovnica. A quick bite of lunch, sitting in the warm sunshine beside the pretty chapel there, was followed by a long traversing walk, mainly through trees, around the head of the Voje Valley where we met the main path from Rudno Polje to Triglav. We were clear of the trees and we would not walk in them again for the next week. Having made our height for the day it was then an easy traverse around to our first hut, Vodnikov Dom at 1817m.

Unusually, no one in the hut seemed to speak any English, but with our very basic Slovenian we had soon secured a room for the night and had a refreshing cup of tea in our hands. Supper was vegetable soup and bread and more tea, soon followed by an early night and falling to sleep to the sound of cow-bells drifting up from Velo polje just below.

Day One stats – 6 1/2hrs walking, approx 1400m of ascent.

Day Two

On the way to Dom Valentina Staniča pod Triglavom
On the way to Dom Valentina Staniča pod Triglavom

Breakfast was two fried eggs, a slice of bread and a cup of tea (just over 5Eur each) which was to become oue morning ritual. Today’s walk to reach Dom Valentino Staniča pod Triglavom, named after the man who first accurately measured the height of Triglav, was only a three hour hike and a further 500m climb. Setting off we could see Dom Planika high above us but Triglav behind, was shrouded in mist. From Konjsko sedlo we traversed below the cliffs of Ržki podi and around Rž to descend slightly to the hut. What a wonderful position this hut commands, surrounded by high peaks yet accessible from the Kot and Vrata valleys and fine views across to the Karavanke on the Austrian border. After lunch we dumped our rucksacks and explored the nearby peak of Visoka Vrbanova špica (2408m). Later on in the evening, chatting with our host we discovered that we would be unable to stay at Triglavski Dom at Kredarica or Dom Planika on Saturday because they were fully booked. We would have to stay here another two nights.

Day Two stats – 4hrs walking, approx 600m of ascent.

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Mountain huts in Slovenia

Vodnikov Dom
Vodnikov Dom

There are over 170 mountain huts in Slovenia, including huts (dom or koča), shelters and bivouacs , 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.

Zasavska Koča na Prehodavcih
Zasavska Koča na Prehodavcih

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.  Each listing has an email address, website and telephone number.

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.

Dormitory in Dom Planika
Dormitory in Dom Planika

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 2019 prices were as follows –

  • Grade 1, room with 2 beds – 27€
  • Grade 1, room with 3-6 beds – 25.50€
  • Grade 1, dormitory with 7-12 beds – 23€
  • Grade 1, dormitory with 12+ beds – 21€
  • Grade 2, room with 2 beds – 22€
  • Grade 2, room with 3-6 beds – 20€
  • Grade 2, dormitory with 7-12 beds – 18€
  • Grade 2, dormitory with 12+ beds – 16€

Money saving tip. We managed to save a lot by joining the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) – 30-50% discounts are available. Full details can be found here.

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.

Dom Valentina Staniča pod Triglavom
Dom Valentina Staniča pod Triglavom

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 2019 prices from Grade 1 huts –

  • Stew with meat – 6.5€
  • 0.25 litre of tea – 1.80€
  • 1.5 litre bottled water – 4.4€

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 (sometimes a 1€/person fee if sitting at a table) but you cannot cook.

Triglavski Dom at Kredarica
Triglavski Dom at Kredarica

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 washing 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), much of which is in English.

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!

Dom Zorka Jelincica hut on the summit of Črna prst
Dom Zorka Jelincica hut on the summit of Črna prst

About the Triglav National Park of Slovenia

The Triglav National Park is the only national park in Slovenia and is named after the country’s highest peak, Triglav (2864m).

Triglav, Slovenia's highest mountain
Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain

The park is one of the oldest in Europe and it originally covered the Triglav Lakes Valley (aka the Seven Lakes Valley) area only. In 1981 its present day borders were defined and it now covers most of the Slovenian Julian Alps, nearly 84.000 hectares.

The primary aim of the national park is . . .

“. . . the protection of nature, conservation of outstanding nature and culture, protection of endemic, rare and threatened plant and animal species, natural ecosystems and elements of inanimate nature, as well as the conservation and maintenance of the cultural landscape”.

Triglav National Park map
Triglav National Park map

The management of the park is the responsibility of the Triglav National Park Public Institution, based in Bled. There is a lot more information on their website.

Less than 2500 people live in the park but many more people visit each year and the park tries to balance the needs of its inhabitants and those of its visitors, whilst at the same time protecting the natural environment. The strictest regulations are in the mountain areas but in the valleys more relaxed protection is in place in order to help those people who live and work in the park.

For the visitor there are some simple “Do’s and Don’ts”, which are mainly common sense.

Triglav National Park rules
Triglav National Park rules
  • Do not pick plants/flower or disturb birds and animals
  • Do not start or cause fires
  • Take your litter home
  • Wild camping is not allowed – this applies throughout Slovenia
  • Do not damage alpine huts, signs,visitors’ book or altitude stamps
  • Keep dogs under control
  • Take care not to cause rock falls
  • Keep gates closed
  • Keep on tracks and paths
  • Heed warning signs
  • Make no unnecessary noise
  • Greet other walkers – “Dober Dan” and a smile are sufficient!

In our guidebook to Slovenia there are 41 walks, 16 of which, at least in part, are within the Park. Click here to see our walks in the Triglav National Park.

Julian Alps, Triglav National Park
Julian Alps

21. Walk to the Triglav Lakes Valley

Walk 21 – the ascent of Komarča to Črna jezero and the Triglav Lakes Valley, from a Walking Guide to Slovenia.

Triglav Lakes Valley
Triglav Lakes Valley

Viewed from any distance the cliffs of Komarča look impassable, but there is a path, a steep one, that leads to Črna jezero and the foot of the Triglav Lakes Valley (sometimes called the “Seven Lakes Valley”).

Start/Finish – Slap Savica car park

Distance – 3.8km/2.3mile

Height gain – approx 650m

Time – 2h50min

Grade – Strenuous; a short but exceptionally tough ascent on a steep and sometimes exposed path. Cables protect the route in places and, at one point, metal pegs provide the holds.

Recommended map(s) – are the 1:50 000 Triglavski Narodni Park or the Julijske Alpe vzhodni del (eastern) maps, published by PZS.  There are also the 1:25 000 Bohinjsko jezero and Triglav maps, again by PZS.

Equipment – Walking shoes, walking sticks. See our clothing and walking equipment page for more recommendations.

Refreshments on route – A bar at the Slap Savica car-park, but none on route.

Updates to the 2019, 5th EditionThere are no updates.

Public transport – The Slap Savica car park can be reached by bus from mid-June until the end of Septmber.  Alternatively, catch a bus to Ukance (Bohinj Zlatorog) and follow the signed path to the Slap Savica car-park and the start of the walk.

Car parking in Bohinj – there is a parking charge at all car-parks beside or near Lake Bohinj. For more details see, our Bohinj information page.

Nearest Town/VillageBohinjska Bistrica. In the town and nearby villages, including Ribčev Laz there is a wide range of hotels, apartments, guesthouses and rooms plus there are a couple of camping sites – Camp Danica at Bohinjska Bistrica is our favourite. The town also has a good range of shops too.

Črna jezero
Črna jezero

Please leave a comment below, or contact us, if you have some up to date information that you think might be useful or any suggestions to improve Slovenia-walking.