For some reason, Slovenia doesn’t really seem to be on the tourism radar, and of the life of me I can’t work out why. However, at the same time… long may it continue! It must be one of Europe’s most beautiful countries, filled with towering peaks, idyllic lakes, near endless forests, traditional wildflower meadows and an incredible network of caves.
In May of this year I was given the opportunity to explore the delights of the Dinaric Alps, in Slovenia’s south. There is a wealth of wildlife that call these forested hills home, and one species in particular was the focus of my visit – the European brown bear. Slovenia is home to between 500 and 700 bears and it is the Notranjska and Kočevska regions where I spent five fantastic days, photographing the bears from purpose-built hides.
As you sit in the hide, quietly waiting, your senses begin to heighten. With a limited view in the hides, it is your hearing that seems to go into overdrive. A small crack makes you sit bolt upright, alert to some movement somewhere in the surrounding trees. Is it a bear? I can’t see anything, but it must be a bear, surely? What seems like an hour passes by (in fact it is only about a minute), when a pair of ears appear from behind a slight rise in the ground. A young bear tentatively wanders in to view, pausing every few yards, alert to my presence in the hide. As the seconds tick by the bear relaxes and starts to go about its business. This was just the first night in one of many hides in which I saw a number of wonderful bears.
I think it is safe to say that Slovenia is now one of my favourite wildlife destinations. You can’t ask for more than great sightings, wonderful food and stunning surrounds.
If you want to discover the delights of this country for yourself, be sure to join me on our NEW photographic adventure.