White-Water Rafting in Slovenia
Updated: Nov 24, 2019
After a great day hitting the hiking trails on the slopes surrounding Bovec, we wanted a different way of experiencing the area’s stunning mountainous scenery. Prior to the trip we’d done our research and identified the town as the capital of Triglav’s adventure sports scene, so where better to hit the water and do some rafting?
There’s numerous rafting companies within Bovec so you shouldn’t have any issue booking an excursion out onto the river, and it appeared that at this time of season they all use the same stretch and carry out relatively similar activities whilst on the water. After booking our trip with Aktivni via Hostel Soca Rocks, it was up early doors for a 09:15am pick-up in the car park. Ste (one of my best mates since the age of three) and myself were in a group of six, with Lázló and Anna from Hungary and a friendly German couple, as well as Nicholas, our charismatic and welcoming instructor from Argentina. After being taken to the Aktivni headquarters to have our kit assigned (and Ste having a sobering realisation that he was “the big lad” of the group being the only one given an XL wetsuit!), we were transported to the Soca River ready to get out onto the rapids. I’m told that at this time of year it takes roughly 90 minutes to get through this stretch of the river, but that in spring when the levels are higher you can go a lot further along for up to four hours!
GoPro’s at the ready, various commands explained and safety points discussed; we set off on what was a crisp, beautiful morning along the Soca River that set the tone for the next 90-minutes; glimmering emerald waters winding through forests and valleys at the feet of looming hills and mountains. I’m not exaggerating when I say Triglav plays host to some magical scenery and in it’s own unique way, this was definitely on a par with white water rafting through the Balinese jungle. Nicholas then said he needed someone to jump in (unknowingly to us, we’d all be doing it to acclimatise to the water). Amidst confusion and a lot of uncertainty, I don’t know what happened but I suddenly stood up and took the lead, hurling myself overboard and into the crystal clear waters! An ice-cold, yet refreshing sensation consumed me as I plunged into the river, quickly followed by a specific expletive regarding the temperature. After getting back into the raft, it actually turns out I’d been the clever one, as the remaining hesitant members had to lower themselves into the water when we went through a shallower patch - much harder than chucking yourself in wholeheartedly! This also led to some great banter throughout the trip, when Anna muttered some choice Hungarian words subsequently adopted as a group motto!
Acclimatisation done, instructions understood - right, now into the good stuff. We started moving our way down the first set of rapids, deploying various team commands moving forward, backwards, left and right. Occasionally, we had to crouch inside the raft as we drove through jutting rocky outposts before being plunged straight back into action. It all made for some exhilaratingly good fun and as we approached what Nicholas advised to be the most technical part of the course to navigate, adrenaline was running high. Pumped and ready, we drove down through the flowing water as our raft turned backwards down the rapids, everyone pulling together to turn it round when suddenly, Lázló completely lost his balance and tumbled overboard! Thankfully we had navigated the most challenging part of the stretch as Anna, Ste and myself quickly moved to drag him rather unceremoniously back into the raft via his vest straps. It was one of those moments where once concern had resided after being given the thumbs up, it was a source of amusement for the rest of the trip! Ste even managed to get some fantastic footage of the incident via his GoPro (see the trailer at the bottom of the page) much to howls of laughter from the group on the minibus back!
Of course, rafting was the core focus of the excursion but Nicholas also had two further activities lined up for the group as we progressed downstream. We hit a quieter patch of water, providing us the time to gently cruise along guided by the flow of the Soca River, admiring the tranquility of the tree’s lining the riverbanks and the gentle sound of rushing water. We pulled into a small cove where Nicholas flipped the raft onto the rocks to form a slide, with Ste leading the way clambering up the rocks to be the first to have a go. The next thing that happened was priceless. Ste, still smarting from being assigned an XL wetsuit, launched himself into the air to slide on his front down the slide. He didn’t go anywhere. Completely stuck. He’d beached himself on the slide! Cue howls of laughter from the rest of the group as he got back up and executed right second time around. Absolutely fantastic. We took turns flinging ourselves down the slide into the water below; it was brilliant - just like being a kid again. Nicholas then challenged us to jump onto the raft and flip off into the water. Are you serious? Do you know I have the agility of a fridge freezer!? Needless to say, I bottled it (not for the last time you’ll soon see) but Ste rescued some respect for the English representation in the group. The second stop was approximately three-quarters down the river; a 10-metre rock from which people can jump into the deep waters below. No chance, I’m scared of heights! Lazlo and our other colleague also politely declined; leaving it to the girls and Ste to save face for the team. It looked high to be fair; respect to the three of them for doing it. My reputation firmly in tatters, I was definitely not going to be berating anyone for any hesitancy when making the jump!
After negotiating the final set of rapids, the end of the trip offered a tranquil, quiet section of river bordered by magnificent hills resplendent with lush, green forest extending down to the riverbanks. It was at this point I felt a real gratitude for having been fortunate enough to visit Bovec and take in this wonderful environment. It’d been a fantastic experience and I’d thoroughly enjoyed the rafting; at this time of year it was never going to be plunging, white knuckle stuff due to the river levels, but I’d still highly recommend it nonetheless.