75 days and counting….

As we returned from our Norway trip last year talk turned to the destination of our paddling adventure in 2010. It didn’t take long before a decision was made, Nepal. Martyn, due to other commitments, would not be able to join us this year so it would just be Jethro and myself.

Many, many discussions were had between the two of us about time of year, which rivers to paddle etc., and these were resolved relatively quickly. The one question which took us the longest to decide upon an answer to was which airline is most likely to allow us to take our own kayaks with us, without it costing us a small fortune. Discussions were had with a selection of airlines before we finally settled on Kingsfisher Airlines. According to Kingfisher on Twitter:

There will be no excess baggage waiver for the items Kayak and Paddle will be included in yr FBA.

On Monday 2nd August we finally got our flights booked and the countdown can now officially begin – 75 days and counting 🙂

Dobrodošli v Sloveniji

Welcome to Slovenia

Welcome to Slovenia

On Saturday 26th June at 0315 my alarm clock went off. Why was it going off this early on a Saturday of all days? Because I had a flight to catch. I was heading off for a week of paddling near Bovec, Slovenia. However, me being me, the journey to get there was far from the easiest…. drive to Luton, fly to Geneva, hire a car and then drive the 800 km to Bovec! We were meeting Steve and Anneleen, who both reside in Geneva, and travelling across with them to join a group from uni for the week. The drive across was long but uneventful, following an interesting start to the drive as we left Steve’s house in Geneva, drove across a pavement and then into a bus lane. With a police car sat behind us, we then decided to turn right at a ‘No Right Turn’ junction!

As we arrived at Kajak Kamp Toni on the banks of the River Soča, the rest of the group were doing their best impressions of ‘brits abroad’ at a local pizzeria!

The beautiful Soca valley

The beautiful Soča valley

As we caught our first glimpses of the river the following morning we were amazed at its beauty. The river is a crystal-clear blue colour surrounded by tree-covered mountains. Our first stretch of the river was from Velika Korita down to Sotočja at the confluence with the Koritnica, back at the campsite.

Adam styling one of the rapids

Adam styling one of the rapids

Steve enjoying the gorge

Steve enjoying the gorge

Sunday afternoon was England’s final game in the 2010 FIFA World Cup which the majority of the group went to the pub to watch. As I really don’t have any interest in football I went paddling again. This time Nick G and I headed up to Kluže to paddle the Koritnica back down to the confluence with the Soča at the campsite.

Monday saw us paddling from Srpenica 1 to the end of Trovna 2 (Slalom Course). Followed by Otona to Napoleonov Most. The trek down from the layby at Otona to the river proved quite challenging for most. It is a steep, gravelly path down that takes about 15 mins. Add in the heat and we were quite exhausted by the time we reached the river!

Me catching a nice rock grind

Me catching a nice rock grind

Tuesday: Bunkerji to Sotočja. Following this we nipped across the border into Italy to spend the afternoon relaxing on the beaches of a lake.

Enjoying the Italian lake

Enjoying the Italian lake

Wednesday : Jethro and myself decided that we would venture into Syphon Canyon to start with before meeting the rest of the group at the end of the gorge to paddle down the remainder of the river to Start of Napoloenov Most. Jethro and I were particularly pleased with the decision to paddle this final section as it would mean that we would not have to carry our boats up the long, steep trek back to the road! Before entering the canyon we did the slalom site as a warm up. Syphon canyon is a beautiful section of river, but as the name suggests it is full of syphons, where water finds its way between gaps in the rocks that larger objects (including people and boats) would not fit through. As a consequence we had to get out at every horizon line and rapid in order to inspect. The canyon is only a two kilometre paddle which took us three and a half hours to complete. Paul (Muppet) very kindly volunteered to trek down the bank alongside the canyon to act as cameraman and additional safety cover. Without Paul it would have taken Jethro and myself even longer. Meeting up with the remainder of the group we all enjoyed a relaxing paddle downstream.

Me in Syphon Canyon

Me in Syphon Canyon

Jethro on the final rapid of Syphon Canyon

Jethro on the final rapid of Syphon Canyon

Thursday: Paul was determined to paddle as much as possible on our final day. He was joined by Adam and together they headed up to Bunkerji and we met them as they paddled past the campsite at Sotočja. Some of the group got off at Čezsoča and drove downstream to Srpenica 1 and got back on. The rest of the group, myself included, continued downstream from Čezsoča paddled all the way down to end of Trnova 2 (Slalom course). This meant that, in the five days of paddling I had in Slovenia I had managed to paddle all of the main sections.

We decided to treat ourselves on our last night in Slovenia as a group and headed out for a traditional Slovenian meal at a restaurant in Bovec.

Friday morning saw the group splitting up and heading our separate ways – Steve, Anneleen, Amy and I headed back to Geneva whilst everyone else headed of to Ljubiana to party late on into the night.

This was my first time in Slovenia. At the start of the trip I set off not really sure what to expect. Very soon after arriving it was clear to me that I really liked the place. The scenery was stunning and the paddling was first class. If you are looking for a sunny location for an intermediate trip I cannot recommend Slovenia highly enough.

More pictures are available at http://photos.andywicks.com/SloveniaJune2010

Further information about paddling in Slovenia can be found on UK Rivers Guidebook