Lennart Hoengenaert

Scientist, climber and traveler.
Living in: Ghent, Belgium
  • Day14

    The Vipava wine valley

    July 30 in Slovenia

    Today is our last day in Slovenia. We decided to end our two-week journey by visiting the Vipava wine valley. Because of the mild climate, the valley has the perfect weather conditions for wine production. We went for a short afternoon hike through one of the many vineyards. A bit later that day we brought a visit to Petrics local winery where we could do some wine tasting. I expected a long and detailed explanation about the wine production process but instead we had short introduction followed by immediate tasting. We tried a variety of six different wines, or actually seven, since we were already offered a glass of white wine when we had to wait a little bit. Luckily we also got some food and water for in-between.

    The most interesting wine we could try was a so called 'orange wine'. It is made from white grapes and macerated just long enough so that the skin of the grapes remains in contact with the juice to transfer tannins and to give rise to the color. If you would blind taste this wine you would definitely guess it's a red.

    After our tasting experience we went for ice cream on the town's square and looked back on another successful afternoon.

    Slovenia has been nice to us.
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  • Day13

    Piran

    July 29 in Slovenia

    Piran is a small town along the Adriatic Sea. It is actually one of just three cities that are located along the short Slovenian coastline. When looking to the right we saw Italy, to the left there was Croatia. The city itself is quite old and has a lot of medieval influences. The houses are nicely decorated and beautifully colored, especially the ones on the famous Tartini square.

    We walked a bit through the old city center to get a better impression of this Venetian-like city. Because the town is so small we saw the main attractions in a couple of hours. After that we decided to relax a bit and went for a refreshing swim in the sea.

    That evening we witnessed a beautiful sunset with magnificent colors. It's a very peaceful experience in such lovely town. Later we went for dinner in a small Italian restaurant along the seaside. It was truly an amazing afternoon!
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  • Day12

    Škocjan caves

    July 28 in Slovenia

    Our first stop in the Southern part of Slovenia were the Škocjan caves. Together with the slightly bigger Postonja cave they form one of the bigger and most significant karst caves in the world. Therefore, the Škocjan cave was declared an UNESCO world heritage site. The visit to the caves was organized as a guided tour and we were surprised by the amount of people waiting at the ticket office to start an underground trip. Luckily we were quickly divided over multiple groups, each with their own guide.

    Inside the cave we were not allowed to take any pictures (one of the main reasons is that the flash scares the animals which that are living in the cave - bats, beetles,...). Anyway, we were both amazed by the beauty and grandeur of the underground world. We walked through huge halls with massive stalactites, stalagmites and impressive columns. Some of these structures grow only 1 cm each 100 years. It’s quite difficult realizing how old these structures are and how much time must have passed before the water solubilized these huge halls. It’s a completely different timescale.

    We continued deeper into the cave and crossed a 50m high bridge over a steep canyon where there river still flows. It felt like you were in a scene of a movie (like walking in the mines of Moria in Lord Of The Rings).

    More towards the end of the trip we saw a couple of bats flying around and we could see where the river came back above ground.

    It was an impressive trip!
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  • Day11

    Ljubljana

    July 27 in Slovenia

    After spending a bit more than a week in nature it was time for a small city trip. Ljubljana is located in the center of the country and was perfectly on our way towards the coast and the wine valleys that we are planning to visit later on our trip. Ljubljana is actually a pretty small city to be a capital. In the outer areas you clearly see some communistic influences, while these are completely missing in the richer old town. The city is colorful with a nice and crowded local market on one of the squares along the river. A big castle is overlooking the city from higher up the hill. During summertime the castle closes earlier to prepare for its nighttime activities. Every evening you can enter the courtyard of the castle to watch a movie under the stars. It’s a really nice concept with some top rated films. Because the weather was nice and the concept seemed like fun we decided to join for the movie Get Out. It’s a extremely thrilling film which was perfect for the scenario that we were in. It was a fantastic experience.Read more

  • Day10

    Logarska Dolina

    July 26 in Slovenia

    From Bled we drove to Logarska Dolina. It’s one of three valleys in the North of the country and much less touristic compared to other areas in Slovenia. To reach the valley we had to cross several mountain passes heading into Austria before going back down to in Slovenia. The Logarska Dolina valley is part of a national park and looks very green with long meadows flanked by steep mountains. Most people who live in the valley work in forestry and live on a farm with some cattle. Because this seemed like a nice experience we decide to make our stay on the farm. On the farm there were two horses, a pair of goats, some chickens and one very fat pig. That afternoon we used the bikes to cycle to the Rinka waterfall at the end of the valley. I expected an easy trip because the valley seemed completely flat. However, we were only 200m away from the farm and then the road continued for another 4kms uphill. We were happy when we arrived at the end of the road and could start a short (uphill) hike. The waterfall is one of the higher ones in Slovenia with a free fall of approximately 90m.

    In the evening we went for local food in an neighboring restaurant. On the menu there was mushroom soup followed by pork with gnocchi.

    The next day was Ilse’s birthday. We started with a splendid breakfast where we could try fresh goat milk. It was delicious!
    We finally had some time to relax and to play some badminton. In the late afternoon we left for our next stop, Ljubljana.
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  • Day9

    Bled

    July 25 in Slovenia

    The lake of Bled is probably the best known touristic attraction in Slovenia. Although there are plenty of hotels surrounding the lake it remains beautiful and peaceful. The color of the water, the central island with a church and a big castle on the hill overlooking the lake make it an idillic place.
    The temperature reached over 30 degrees so one evening we decide to go for a swim in the lake. Compared to the Soča river the water was surprisingly warm.

    The next morning we visited the Vintgar gorge just outside the city of Bled. In advance I saw many beautiful pictures of the gorge and my expectations were high. When we arrived there I was a bit disappointed by the amount of tourists visiting the gorge. It felt almost like a theme park.
    A wooden path takes you down into the 1600m long canyon. The views are beautiful, but the smell of 4 different perfumes together with an occasional push of passing visitors made the experience a bit less nice. Anyhow, it remains a beautiful gorge but it’s not as unique as I imagined.

    On our way back we passed the ticket office and we were surprised to see a huge cue of people waiting to get inside. The line was almost 100m long! We praised ourselves lucky that we visited the gorge in the morning.
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  • Day8

    The next few days were predicted to be better weather so we decided to make a two-day hike in the Triglav National park. Our plan was to hike in the famous valley of the seven lakes. But instead of going up all the way to the top of mount Triglav, which is often touristic and would require more time, we planned some small modifications.
    The hike started with a steep trail in dark and muddy forest. On our first day we hiked for approximately 5 hours uphill through changing landscapes. From the muddy forest in which we started we went out of the trees and passed a lake with a mountain hut. Later, we passed lower vegetation and finally we had a last steep climb between the rocks in the mountains. From there we had a great view on the valley and we could see our hut where we were going to spend the night. The hut is surrounded between three lakes making it a very beautiful place to stay! After a big and early dinner (5pm) we decided to head out for an evening walk to another lake located a bit higher in the mountains. On our way there we were lucky to see several alpine marmots and pair of ibexes. Two hours later we were back at the hut. With a nice apfelstrudel, a warm cup of tea and almost 7 hours of hiking in the legs we were ready to go to bed.

    The next morning we woke up early and had a good breakfast. The sun was shining and the lakes along the hut were extremely beautiful. At nine we started our descent along another route to our last lake. We went pretty fast and had lunch in already two thirds of our trip. Somewhere in the afternoon we arrived at our starting point where we had left the car. We were happy about everything we saw and the almost 3000 vertical meters we climbed the last two days.
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  • Day6

    Lake Bohinj

    July 22 in Slovenia

    From Tolmin we drove through the mountains to Bohinj. It is a small village neighboring the Triglav National Park and at the foot of a big lake. When we arrived in the early afternoon it was raining and the clouds were very low in the sky making it difficult to see the extend of the lake. In the meantime it became clear that Bohinj is gaining quite some touristic attention. Luckily no big busses and hotels yet, but compared to the other places we visited it is definitely a more popular place.

    The big clouds disappeared towards the evening and as such we decided to drive around the lake and go for a hike to the Savica waterfall.
    It was definitely worth it! Beautiful clouds floating on top of the lake made some very pretty pictures. Also the scenery with the mountains was very beautiful. A bit further we hiked up in the forest to the waterfall. Because of the bad weather we were almost alone there and so we could enjoy the beautiful place. On our way back we stopped again along the lake and saw the sky turn orange and red. Very beautiful and peaceful.
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  • Day5

    Kobarid and Tolmin

    July 21 in Slovenia

    After a stormy night on the campsite we were lucky to dry our stuff in the morning sun. Today we were heading for Kobarid.

    Once we arrived by car we went for a 40 minute hike to the Slab Kozjak waterfall. The trail takes you up the cliffs and follows the emerald green Kozjak river. A bit later we entered a deep, green and humid canyon and continued to follow the path towards a platform in front of the waterfall. Its a unique and beautiful waterfall since it’s completely hidden between impressive high rocks. It looks like you’re almost in a cave. Just before leaving we were lucky to see a team of canyoneers rapelling down the waterfall.

    That afternoon we also visited the history museum of Kobarid. During the first world war the control over the Soča river was of extreme importance. An interesting tour through the museum learned us about warfare in the mountains in extreme winter conditions.

    The same evening we headed for Tolmin where we would visit the gorges the next day. When we arrived in the city (during another thunderstorm) we noticed that the normally 3000 inhabitants big village was flooded by 12000 metal heads who were arriving for their annual festival. As a result all rooms were booked and it was hard to find a place to spend the night. Luckily we got the last room of the only hotel in the city. It was nice to sleep again in a soft bed after a couple of days in the rain.

    On Sunday we headed for the Tolmin gorges, located just inside the National Park. For the first time we had to pay a small entrance fee, but it was definitely worth it. The park consists of deep canyons with huge cliffs and a beautiful river flowing through it. The trail takes us in the canyon, close to the river, to a hot water spring and ultimately ends on top of the cliffs far above the river.

    After our visit we were on our way to our next stop Bohinj Lake.
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  • Day3

    Soča river adventures

    July 19 in Slovenia

    The Soča river is one of the most famous rivers in Slovenia. It thanks its beauty to its blueish green water which is flowing fast through the deep canyons. Due to its nature as a wild mountain river it is famous for kayaking, rafting and canyoning.

    From the Vrisič pass we made our way to the small city of Soča where we found a beautiful campsite in the middle of the valley. Surrounded by the mountains and underneath some fruit trees we found ourselves a good place for the next few days.

    After exploring the area and admiring the beauty of the Soča river (and going for a quick and ice cold swim) we decide to go for some adventure. Bovec is the epicenter of wild water sports and we decided to book kayaking trip and to go for canyoning. In the early morning we met up for a small trip to the Fratarica canyon. It’s one of the most beautiful canyons in Slovenia with a moderate difficulty. With our wetsuit, harness and helmet on we were ready to go! We were lucky just to be with the two of us together with our private guide. Going down such an beautiful canyon is an amazing feeling. You slide down in blue pools or jump from small waterfalls. Our biggest vertical drop was probably a 50m waterfall where we had to rappel down. It’s a fantastic feeling and together with it you get a stunning view!
    Unfortunately our afternoon kayaking trip was a bit less spectacular. We hit the water shortly after a huge thunderstorm with a guide who was a bit overenthusiastic. It was again just the two of us but we were on an easy part of the river. The trip was nice, but not really challenging. We made it easily with some basic peddling.

    Later on we further explored the area and visited the Slap Virje waterfall (an inside tip from our canyoning guide). It’s a double waterfall with two beautiful green pools. A refreshing jump in the water was more than welcome. That evening we also went for a small hike from our campground to the Lepena valley where we found the another beautiful waterfall well hidden in the forest.
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