Lake Bohinj in the Julian Alps in Slovenia is less well known than Lake Bled but has as much to offer the visitor plus the added bonus of peace and quiet.
Lake Bohinj sits in the North West of Slovenia, not far from the Italian and Austrian Borders. It resides on the edge of the Triglav National Park, part of the Julian Alps and is approximately 30km from Lake Bled, it’s much better known counterpart.
Slovenia, part of the former Yugoslavia, has ‘belonged’ to a number of countries before gaining independence almost twenty years ago.
Bohinj covers the area around the lake itself, taking in the villages of Bohinj Bistrica, Rubicev Laz, Savica, Srednja Vas, Stara Fuzina, Ukanc and Zlatorog, to name but a few. Zlatorog means ‘goldhorn’ and is named for the goat-antelope white chamois, which is said to have golden horns. Of the other villages, Bohinj Bistrica is the largest and the ‘shopping centre’ for the area.
Due to its location in the north of Slovenia, the Bohinj area is very alpine in appearance, both physically and in the architecture.
The lake itself is of glacial origins, situated approximately 525m above sea level and is up to 45m deep in some areas. At 4100m long and 1200m wide, it holds some 100 million m³ of water and is therefore considerably larger than Lake Bled and being in a national park, there are very strict rules stating that any boats on the lake must be manually powered or have an electric motor. This ban on engines helps to keep pollution down and help preserve the supreme natural beauty of the area.
Given its glacial heritage and the fact that the water is continually replenished three times a year by a river on either end, the river Savica inflowing and the Jezernica out-flowing. The water is as clear as glass because of them. As a result of this clarity, there is a large variety of flora and fauna within and around the lake, including 65 varieties of algae, 5 types of fish, 8 kinds of molluscs, duck, kingfisher, grebe and water goose.
One of the larger mountains leading directly onto the lake is Vogel, some 1535m tall and boasting the steepest cable car in Europe. This car, or gondola as they are referred to, ascends 1000m in 4 minutes to a hotel where you can view the whole valley and beyond. This gondola runs throughout the year, as Vogel is a popular skiing destination and ski lifts take you further up the mountain.
Tourism is the main source of income for the area and physical activities in particular are promoted around Bohinj. It is possible to hire bikes, canoes, kayaks, rowing boats and boat trips, as well as paraglide, walk/hike, ski and swim around the lake. Walking is especially popular in this area and there are a variety of different terrains from forest to mountainous, from flat to rugged which suit all ability levels.
Unlike Bled, Bohinj is quieter and far less commercial and attracts a very wide range of age-groups and fills a variety of needs, from adventure/activity holidays to anniversaries and honeymoons, to family holidays.
Like the rest of Slovenia, the people of Lake Bohinj speak Slovenian, Italian, German (in many cases), and very good English.
Bohinj (God’s country in the native tongue) is a beautiful part of Slovenia and has lots to offer the visitor whether you’re going for some well deserved rest and relaxation or for something more adventurous.
Images all @ Brian MacLennan 2011