Area of outstanding natural beauty

30th January 2010, by Chris Gill

Vogel ski area, Bohinj Slovenia     [(c) Wendy J King]

Vogel ski area, Bohinj Slovenia [(c) Wendy J King]

My Slovenian adventure came to an end on Friday, when it was time to return to the UK. But I had enjoyed two excellent nights in the beautiful Bohinj valley.

The car train brought me to Bohinj Bistrica, a small commercial resort on the very edge of the Triglav National Park and the first place you arrive at when travelling up from Bled too. It is the site for newer development and has the most amenities. I was staying at the head of the valley though, in a characterful hotel called the Zlatarog. It is at the far end of the lake – about 10km away and handy for the Vogel ski area.

On Thursday I enjoyed my last day’s skiing on this driving tour, squeezing in a half day at Vogel and a couple of hours at Kobla – the latter being just above Bohinj Bistrica. The slopes on Vogel reach a maximum height of 1800m, so I was a little concerned about the snow conditions. But I have to say that I was very impressed: good natural cover that was in better shape than I had experienced at Kranjska Gora earlier in the week, even more impressive because the resort doesn’t have snowmaking yet.

Vogel hut [W J King]

A cable car whisks you up to the ski area from the valley in just four minutes (there is a tremendous view of the lake as you gain height). I spent a couple of hours cruising around the handful of red and blue runs; the blues here are wide and gentle, so ideal for novices. The reds are at the easier end of their classification too – good intermediate terrain. While there are a couple of good quads in the central part of the ski area, there is also a marvellous relic: the single seat chair to the high point. It is actually uncrowded and gives a novel nostalgic ride to the top.

One of my favourite pistes was the longer red run that descends from the high point into a remoter valley (Zadnji Vogel). It passes through some very unusual and varied scenery, rocky with mini trees clumped on the outcrops – covered in snow it resembles a million moguls all over the hillside. It was here that I met up with a Scottish guy that I had spoken to the previous evening; he has been coming to Vogel for 25 years, rarely skiing anywhere else and not outside of Slovenia. The slow double chair back up the mountain gave us time to chat about his reasons for liking the resort so much. In summary, the lack of crowds (although it was a little busier on Thursday, there were never any queues or overcrowded pistes), the friendliness of the locals and the familiarity with a small ski area were the main reasons.

I just had time to enjoy a visit to a couple of the huts, which have more character and choice here than at any of the other ski areas I had visited. I had a very tasty wild boar stew at the Merjasec hut - which translates as the ‘Wild Boar’ too. Together with bread and a drink it all came to 12.50 euros – one of the priciest menu options. With the skies clearing to reveal some wonderful winter sunshine at last, I lingered to take some photographs before jumping in the half-hourly cable car to the valley. It was a bit of a rush to get to Kobla, but I wanted to ski there too. And what a contrast …

Little Kobla is woody, shady and gentle – not bad views either

I don’t think that I have come across an area with such quiet, wide and relatively gentle slopes. Totally unspoiled (and un-modernised), if rather more antiquated. This is a step back in time, but a pleasant one in some ways and fine for novices to practise. There are three consecutive double chairs; the third stage was closed due to thin snow cover (only 30cm or so now), so the upper runs were not accessible. But a mix of natural and artificial snow is keeping the rest in good shape. No ice at all. The shady, woody runs were virtually deserted save for a few families and school groups. This was a good way to finish my week – wind down with some fast carving. The area is limited in extent though, and after a couple of runs and a strangely lonely descent of a short red, alongside a deserted t-bar, that was enough for me.

My busy schedule meant that I just had time to get a guided tour of the plush new five-star hotel in Bohinj Bistrica. It deserves its status and is amazing for the area, quite different and very trendy and eco-friendly. More of that to come though. I spent the evening with dinner at a quaint old restaurant in the village of Stara Fuzina (on the other side of the lake) followed by drinks in another of the villages, courtesy of our Scottish friend and the tourist office director.

Next morning I had an early start, stopping at Bled for coffee at the hotel Toplice along the way to the airport. Early morning views across the lake were wonderful and a good way to finish my short trip, which has been a throughly enjoyable experience with some great skiing. Look out for a feature shortly.

Sunset on Lake Bohinj [W J King]

Wendy’s trip to Slovenia was arranged through the Bled Tourist Board, and other representatives of the Slovenian tourist organisations.
Many thanks also to my hosts in Bovec, Kranjska Gora and Bohinj – for their hospitality, great welcome and help in answering my questions.

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