Prestreljenik: A window to another world
Updated: Mar 27
The Prestreljenik Window was without doubt one of the highlights of my trip backpacking around the North-West of Slovenia, offering simply jaw-dropping views of the Italian-Slovenian Alps. The stark contrast in colour from the vivid green Kanin Forest below to the barren, desolate limestone at the top of the mountain was startling; I almost felt like we’d entered Mordor. That said, the highest reaches of Prestreljenik had their own distinct beauty about them - an almost cruel, hard wilderness devoid of life. Despite it's magnificent size at a height of 2,499m (8,195ft) above sea level, Prestreljenik does not actually claim the title of the highest peak on Kanin. This is instead reserved for Visoki Kanin, which stands 88 metres taller. Nevertheless, it’s a magical experience not to be missed
How to get there
Mount Prestreljenik is easily accessible from Bovec, one of the most popular resorts in Triglav National Park. At just five minutes drive from the centre of the village, you can take the Kanin Cable Car to the very top of the mountain where it arrives at D-Station. When we were buying our lift passes, the cashier kindly advised us that parking was free. Upon arriving at D Station and exiting the building, you should see an information sign about the Prestreljenik Window. This was how we learned about the trail there and then; we had no idea it was there so it turned out to be a complete bonus for us when we did it - probably making the experience even better as a result!
Follow the ascent up past the small cafe on the hill (keeping it to your right) for a good 100m, before the window will become visible at the top of the steep slopes to your right.
Car Park: Free
Cable Car Ticket (Return) - €20
Tired after a good 5-6 hour walk combining our hybrid trail of the Kaninska Mulatjera and Slap Virje routes, we decided that whilst we were here once, we may as well take the cable car to the very top of Mount Prestreljenik to check out the surrounding views. The journey up the mountain range afforded some outstanding sights, with the Chronicles of Narnia-like woodland slowly receding into dense bracken and alpine flowers before finally giving way to the desolate rock of the mountain. Looking back down into the valley, we could see the emerald green River Soca shimmering gently in the distance amidst lush green pastures - a complete contrast to the environment we were entering! It quickly became evident that Prestreljenik is home to a vibrant ski resort during the winter, with infrastructure such as ski lifts appearing ominously still. It all added to the sense of excitement for what we'd discover at the peak.
Just our luck that by the time we reached Station D at the very top, the glorious weather we’d had all day was now threatening to turn into thunderstorms. We were that high, we could hear the clash of clouds and thunder down in the valley below, and it appeared to be heading away from the mountain. I won’t lie, it was unnerving and it did give me second thoughts about attempting the Prestreljenik window, but I didn’t want to waste the opportunity. We decided to play it by ear, making our way up the grey, stony slopes acutely aware that there could be a storm chasing our tails.
Amidst the uncertainty and after speaking to a hiker descending the route (who said we’d find it difficult without trekking poles), it was immediately apparent that this walk wasn’t going to be easy. Many of the people descending the steep slopes to the window were slipping and sliding their way down, sending clusters of loose rock down the hillside. We had hiking gear but no poles, so following that conversation we weren’t sure if with the terrain and the severity of the incline we’d even get near the window.
Any doubts were quickly erased upon seeing a terrified little girl crying as she slowly made her way down the hillside with her mother; if that brave little soul could get up there, then we certainly could. The saying, “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” springs to mind, as Ste and myself were the only ones climbing up with everyone else coming down. Brave or foolish with the risk of an impending storm? I’d say the latter. Both of us have a fear of heights, so when it came to a section of the hiking trail where you edge along a ridge holding onto some guide ropes, it was quite a buzz. Okay, we weren’t hanging onto the cliff edge of a 300m drop, but for two inexperienced hikers it was something new and exciting.
I reached the Prestreljenik Window ahead of Ste who was struggling a bit, but immediately knew it was worth the effort when I shouted down. I was simply awe-struck by what I saw. It was a window into a new world, offering views of the stunning Italian-Slovenian Alps and their raw nature. Ahead, you could look down onto rugged mountainous landscape and the border with Italy. Parallel with the clouds on this high mountain ledge, it felt like the top of the world and a real sense of achievement that we’d managed to make it up here having had our doubts early on. The added bonus that we’d been the only ones making the climb at this time of day was that we had the location all to ourselves, enabling us to really take in the quiet serenity of this unpredictably volatile environment at the top of the mountains. We made sure we took plenty of pictures, watching our footing with care, before the rumble of thunder coming nearer and nearer continued to intensify. It was at this moment that Ste noticed the clouds beginning to roll in behind us, so we knew we’d outstayed our welcome.
With the thrill of having conquered the Prestreljenik window and the elements coming in, we slipped and slid all our way back down the stony slopes, adrenaline still in full flow. As we re-joined the path, a herd of mountain goats took little notice of the approaching weather conditions, lazily grazing at the bottom of a depression in the hillside. A baby was bleating as it made its way down the hillside with its mother to join the rest of the group; it’s amazing that these creatures can survive in these barren wastelands so high up in the mountains.
Thankfully we managed to reach Station D before the drizzling rain that was threatening a downpour turned any heavier. There's a small coffee shop in the ski area that serves hikers and alpine skiers alike all-year round; this provided some welcome respite and a hot drink after our escapades scaling the slopes. The Prestreljenik Window had been a complete bonus; a last-minute decision to go to the top of the mountain resulting in this discovery that had been completely unknown to us. Thank God we made that decision! It is yet another stunning location in this incredible national park that confirms why Slovenia is, for me, the most beautiful country I have ever had the privilege to visit.
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