August 16, 2018
The Soča is arguably the most beautiful river in Slovenia, and one that draws visitors from around the world to enjoy the many delights it offers, as outlined below, and in alphabetical order. Whatever you decide to do, any town you’ll be staying in – Bovec, Tolmin, Kobarid – will have the infrastructure to offer any help you need in terms of booking a tour, equipment or guide (such as the wonderful Katija Rogelj, who helped write this and was interviewed earlier this year on her work in this area).
If you’re looking for something more general, then check out our earlier story, Bovec in General, while if you want to paraglide over the whole area, then take a look at our interview with a man who’s been doing that for more than 30 years here.
1. CanyoningCanyoning, as the name suggests, is the adventure sport of walking or swimming along a river and exploring its canyons, often sliding down the water-smoothed rocks or jumping off ledges and into the pools below. There are obvious dangers to this if you don’t know the area, or the current conditions of the pools in terms of water depth, rocks and debris, but these can be avoided by hiring a guide or going on an organised trip, where you’ll be sure to visit to best spots on the river for this activity. You can learn more about canyoning at Kata Adventures here.
Not everyone wants to get wet, and it’s fair to say that the River Soča is rather cold, so some prefer to watch it flow on dry land. One way to do this, and explore more of the area, faster, is to take a bike, or rent one in Bovec, and follow the various roads and trails on two wheels. There are well-signed routes for every taste, from the laid back to extreme, and maps at local tourist offices. Just be sure to take a swimsuit in case you need to cool off.
Rivers means fish, and the Soča and it’s many tributaries offer near endless possibilities for fly fishing, with marble trout, grayling and rainbow trout being the most prized catches of the day. Note, however that you can’t just fish anywhere, and that it’s forbidden outside the two areas controlled by the Zavod za ribištvo Slovenije (Fisheries Research Institute of Slovenia) and Ribiška družina Tolmin (Angling Club of Tolmin). You can buy a fishing license from a tourist office, or online here, and full details of the areas where fishing is permitted, the open seasons, and the species to expect can be found here. The local rout (postrvi) is also on the menu at many restaurants, as are other specialties like potatoes (čompe) often served with cottage cheese (skuta), as well as something called krafi, which are like dumplings that are often filled with pear or apple. If you'd like to learn more about fly-fishing in Slovenia, then you can read our interview with Robert Redding of Water Man Adventures here.
While for many the name Soča conjures up images of the copper blue river and various adventure sports, for others it’s indelibly linked with the First World War, and the 12 Battles of the Isonzo that raged in the hills and valleys from 1915 to 1917, killing over half a million people, including around 30,000 ethnic Slovenes. The area has numerous monuments to the dead, and many sites related to the war that can be visited. A good place to start is the Walk of Peace (Pot Miru), which follows the Izonzo Front, and the related website, with details of the walks, guided tours, and sights, can be found here. Readers interested in this aspect of Soča’s history are also advised to pick up a copy of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, which includes an account of the Battle of Caporetto that took place near Kobarid.
Soča and its tributaries offer a range of options for kayakers, from calm stretches suitable for beginners to rapids that should only be attempted by experienced river folk, and there are plenty of companies in Bovec that can arrange a trip for you, and supply all of the equipment, as well as a guide. Wherever you choose to put your boat in the river be sure to respect the water and err on the side of caution if given the chance, as there are some very difficult stretches. Also bear in mind that the vast majority of kayaking accidents take place when alcohol has been consumed, so best save that for the end of the day. You can learn more about kayaking at Kata Adventures here.
If you don’t feel up to white water kayaking, then a safer way to get some of the same thrills is to go rafting with a guide who knows how to read the river and can ensure you see the wild beauty of the Soča without the risk. You can learn more about rafting at Kata Adventures here.
Snorkelling isn’t just for the ocean, and the crystal clear waters of the Soča mean there’s much to see below the surface of the river. You can learn more about snorkelling at Kata Adventures here.
Stand-up paddle boarding, or supping, is an increasingly common sight on the waters of Slovenia, whether sea, lake or river, and so it’s no surprise you can try this relatively new sport on the River Soča.
Perhaps the cheapest and easiest way to enjoy the river is just to take a swimsuit and relax in the water, with many quiet spots that are suitable for swimming, including, as shown in the first video below, for small children, while the second shows something more exciting.
If rafting seems too thrilling, and swimming too much of a chore, then what better way to chill than by sitting in or on an inflatable tube and drifting down the river, going at the speed of the water? You can learn more about tubing at Kata Adventures here.
The blue waters and green surroundings make the Soča an ideal spot to photograph, making it easy to fill up your Facebook, Instagram or friends’ email accounts with shots like those shown below (with lots more found here).
You can learn more about the Soča at various places online, but perhaps the best place to start is the official tourist website.