Slovenia, be seein’ ya

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    Mihael Arcan

    The Soča Valley in north-west Slovenia. The valley is nestled amongst the Julian Alps, and our main attraction was the Soča, a chilly Alpine river that runs blue-green and clean enough to drink. English-lad Jack and Galway-lad Luke Whelan (formerly of NUIG Kayak Club) from Bovec Rafting Team were our guides for the week.

    The Soča Valley also has heaps to do off the water. There are gorgeous waterfalls, ziplining down the mountains, horse-riding, hiking, mountain biking, a cable car up the mountains, and sky-diving and paragliding if you’re feeling more adventurous. There were even a few wingsuit fanatics hanging around the valley looking to catch some sweet altitude.

    Paddling the crystal-clear water of the Soča is hard to beat. The novices in the group had a lot of fun learning to follow a line down a rapid and what boofing is (watch Karl’s video above for some top-quality boofs). We all came back practically experts at swimming rapids.

    For the experienced paddlers, the more challenging Otona section was the hands-down winner of the week. (Finishing the section paddling under picturesque Napoleon Bridge was pretty nice too.)

    We ended every paddling session with a pick-me-up shot of blueberry schnapps. And the razzler-dazzlers (known by some as radlers) went down a treat while watching the sunset over the mountains. A GKC club tradition in the making?

    On our last day, we got the cable car up the Kanin Mountains to frolic in some snow (and clear the hangovers) before heading for home.

    The Soča has the meanest eddies, so we got tonnes of practice of trying to catch them. Rocks get names like “Magnetic Rock” for a good reason. Even siphons aren’t that scary (when you’re safe in a raft…). There’s a shockin’ steep walk to the Otona get-in. Having local guides was essential for making the best use of our time on the water. We spent around 3 hours a day on the water and had time left over to explore the area. Using a company also saved lots of hassle in terms of shuttles. For that time of year, shorty cags and long-john wetsuits were plenty warm. The dry gear just gathered dust for the week. When you’re renting boats, bring your own hip pads.

    “An Airbnb with 2 toilets was essential.” – Anton Walsh.

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