Soca Valley, Slovenia August 2019
Whitewater Kayak Expedition
We undertook this trip after completing online research and having the location recommended to us by friends and kayakers. We wanted to explore the area, decide on whether or not it could be a suitable place to run future trips with groups as well as having the ability to host a range of abilities.
Overall the Soca Valley area of Slovenia completely surpassed all of our expectations and will 100% be featured in our future expeditions to introduce kayakers and non-kayakers alike to this absolute gem of a location.
The Soča Valley region (Posočje) stretches over 942 km2 from Triglav National Park to Nova Gorica, this includes the outdoor activity hotspots of Bovec and Kobarid. This area is popular with adventure seekers of all kinds including; Whitewater Kayakers & Rafters, Hikers, Paraglider enthusiasts and Mountain Bikers. Threading through the Valley is the magically aquamarine Soča River. Although most people come here for the summer sports and skiing, there are plenty of historical sights and locations, particularly relating to WWI, when millions of troops fought on the mountainous battlefront here; between the wars, the Soča Valley fell under Italian jurisdiction. Another big drawcard is the food – Kobarid is the epicentre of the region's growing culinary reputation. You can expect fresh food everyday to be served at local restaurants coming from the local markets.
We stayed in Drežnica, which is a short drive from Kobarid in the heart of the Soča Valley. We stayed in a family run BnB which was a great choice. Private bedroom and Bathroom with breakfast and access to a kitchen all day for around $30per night.
Whitewater Sections of the Soča Valley
We started our kayaking with a relaxing and scenic paddle. Putting in at Zaga and paddling for around 3.5km taking in the incredible scenery. This was a great way to introduce ourselves to the kayaks we would be using as well as taking some shots of the spectacular views. We exited the river at the Srpenica 1, the put in we would be using for the next few days.
We spent the next two days paddling the Srpenica 1 and Srpenica 2 sections. This is a II-III Grade section with plenty of technical rapids that allow training scenarios to be created. We focused on crossing multiple eddy lines and choosing tight lines between boulders to fine tune our technique before heading on to more difficult, steeper and quicker rapids.
After 3 straight days of 5-6 hours on the river we decided to take the morning off to relax before heading on to the Otona section. You definitely have to earn this section, the walk down with your kayak and kit is around 500m down the canyon on some quite steep and narrow pathways. Diving into the water to cool off is a nice treat before getting ready to put in. This was a step up in difficultly, speed and also another incredible opportunity to take in the spectacular views that the Valley has to offer. Officially this section is a III-VI Rated section but there is only one feature that is rated at VI that includes a sieve although with some cross current control it's easy to avoid and drop into a grade IV feature instead.
The Otona section has some great features that are both challenging and fun. It's a great training ground and gives you the opportunity to enter and exit the flow navigating through the different eddies, around the huge boulders and BOOFS. This section runs for about 4KM before taking out at Kamp Koren (One of the best Camp Sites around) , right before the take out there is a 14 gate Slalom course that is a nice way to finish the section and play around before pulling up on the rocks and climbing out.
Travelling around Soča Valley, Put ins and Take Outs
We travelled to all of the put ins and take outs by car with the kayaks on the roof, we would drop the kayaks off before taking the car down to the take out and hitch-hiking back. The Kayaking and Rafting Community in the area are extremely friendly and are made up of an international crowd ranging from South Americans, North Americans & Europeans. English is spoken by everyone as well as a huge range of other languages.
It's typical to see other groups on the river frequently, a fair river etiquette is usually observed and overall it's a great social as well as paddling experience.
Getting to Soča Valley
The way we travelled to Slovenia and the probably the most popular way. Is to fly into Venice, this is an International Airport that hosts direct flights from Multiple Cities in Canada, USA and most of Europe (Including: Toronto, Montreal, Atlanta, New York & Manchester). It's then only a 2-3 hour drive from Venice to the Soča Valley area and the drive itself is a pleasant drive through the countryside.
There are plenty of options for schools/instructors to team up with whilst you're there and dependent on your language of choice and skill level.
We went with Andrew Bonney of ABC Kayaking. A UK based operation with extensive European knowledge developed from an immense wealth of experience paddling rivers across UK, France, Austria, Slovenia and many more.
He created an environment where we were able to develop our skills, confidence and knowledge of whitewater kayaking all whilst maintaining control of everyone's safety and wellbeing.
Additional Information and Upcoming Trips
If you have any questions or would like to get in touch about upcoming trips. Please get in touch.
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