A hidden treasure in the heart of nature

Published by Martha S — 5 years ago

If you are looking for a perfect place to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon, and if you love the outdoors, I know the picture perfect place for you, called Tolminska Korita. You will find Tolminska korita listed in guidebooks under 'the Tolmin gorges', and they are quite famous around here. I went there a few months ago with my family, so I decided to write a little bit about it while my memories are still more or less fresh.

I actually cannot believe that there is such an amazing place so close to my hometown (it is situated only about half an hour away from where my parents live), and I have only been there once before. I think that people do not value the things that are close to us, as much as we should. Instead, we just take everything for granted. Believe me, when walking through those canyons and amazing rock formations, I felt like a tourist, even despite the fact that I was so close to my home.

You can also check this place on Trip Advisor, where this attraction has received very good reviews. Well, no wonder why the reviews are so good – this place is really amazing.

How to get there?

The Tolminska korita (I will use the Slovenian name in this entry) are situated very close to the city of Tolmin, which you can find in western part of a beautiful, but small country, called Slovenia. In fact, Tolminska korita are a walking distance away from the Tolmin city centre, although, in my opinion, it takes about an hour each way to reach the starting point that leads to the gorge, so you might already be tired of walking when you reach the starting point. If you decide to walk there, I would advise you to set off early in the morning when the sun is not that strong yet, especially if you are going there in summer. There is sadly almost no shadow on the way there.

The directions are the same for driving, so here it goes: from whichever direction you are coming from, you will encounter a crossroad with traffic lights in the middle of the city of Tolmin. You definitely cannot miss it, because those traffic lights are the only ones in town. Yes, Tolmin really is that small. So, at those traffic lights, you have to turn left. This way leads to Zatolmin. When you are driving through Tolmin after you have turned left, be careful, because there are several ridiculous speed limits (like ten kilometres per hour), because there are two schools and a kindergarten there, so pay attention.

When you reach the end of Tolmin, the road will start going slightly uphill, and in about a kilometre, you will reach a small village, called Zatolmin. There is nothing special to see there. In fact, the only interesting place is a restaurant in the middle of town, but its golden times have already passed by. If you decide that you would like to eat there, they might tell you to come another day because you did not make a reservation, even if the restaurant is empty. So it is really not worth to lose your nerves over it.

After the restaurant, there is a small crossroad, where you have to turn right. There is also a sign that will point you in the right direction. After that crossroad, the road will become very narrow, and it is very difficult to encounter another car, and there is little or no chance to back away. When we went there, we encountered a minibus and we had to go reverse all the way back to the roundabout.

But it is all worth it when you see the beauty of the Tolminska korita. After about three kilometers, you will reach a parking lot and this is where you can park your car free of charge. There is also a small restaurant on the other side of the road, but I am not sure whether they serve dishes or not. On the front side of the building, it is written 'Restaurant Korita', but I have not seen anyone eating there. If you think you might be hungry, your best and safest bet is to eat in Tolmin before you go to Tolminska korita.

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After a parking lot, there is a small hut where you purchase the tickets. Yes, there is a small entrance fee, which is used to maintain the trail. It costs two Euros per person, and you also get a map of the gorges when you buy the ticket. If you want, you can also donate some money after paying an entrance fee.

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The best time to visit Tolminska Korita

In general, the trail through Tolminska Korita is accessible throughout all year, but some winters deliver a lot of snow, so the place can become totally inaccessible. For me, the most beautiful times to visit this breathtaking place, are spring, late summer and autumn.

In terms of the best time of the day, I would suggest you to go there either early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the crowds. The hut that sells tickets, is opened daily from eight o' clock in the morning to 18. 00 in the afternoon, and it is forbidden to go there outside the opening times.

But by the term 'avoiding the crowds' I do not mean that there is so many people that you are not even able to walk around. No, what happens, is that you will encounter smaller groups of people on your way, and if there is too much groups there at one time, it is more harmful for the nature there, nothing else. Actually, I am surprised that not so many people are visiting this place.

How long is the trail?

This is a circular trail and you can choose if you want to do in in the clockwise or the counterclockwise direction. The clockwise direction is much easier, because there is not much walking uphill, but the downside is that the stairs downwards can be slippery, especially after the rain. So if you are not in a very good body condition, you should definitely choose the clockwise direction.

But it does not really matter which way you choose, because each one of them lasts about an hour and a half of a really slow walking. However, if you have to rest while climbing up the stairs, the total time needed to hike the trail, would be about two hours. There are plenty of benches all along the trail, so you do not have to sit on the cold ground.

What can you see there?

Tolminska korita are a part of Slovenian geological trail (Slovenska geološka pot). Indeed, during the trail, you can see some interesting geological formations, and each one of them is described on site in the following languages: English, Italian, German and Slovenian.

This place is, besides being a part of Slovenian geological trail, also a part of Triglavski narodni park (Triglav national park) and it is known to be its lowest point. In the park, you have to follow some of the rules to keep it clean and maintained and also to protect the environment, such as you have to keep the dogs on a leash, you should not throw the trash there, and you also should not pick any flowers or animals because they might be an endangered species. Simple as that.

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As I have mentioned earlier in this entry, the trail starts after the hut where you buy entrance tickets. Since me and my family took the counter clockwise direction, I will describe that one in the entry.

At the beginning, the trail through Tolminska Korita will take you through the forest, and you can enjoy the shadow.

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After a few hundred meters, you will already be able to see the river Tolminka on your right. The further you will go, the better the views will be. But even at the very beginning of the trail, the views are spectacular, and you will probably think that it just cannot get any better. But please be patient and wait until you see the gorges!

When you reach the end of the forest, the path will start going slightly downwards. There are a few stairs in between to make walking down easier, but be careful of the tree roots that are hidden under the leaves. If you fall, you might as well stop only down in the water. And it is quite cold– even on hot summer months, its temperature does not exceed nine degrees!

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At the bottom of this short descent, there is a bridge, where you will cross the river. From there, you will be awarded with fascinating views both on your left and your right side. It will also make a good picture if you stand on the bridge and someone else takes a photo of you, standing a few meters away. The background on the photo will definitely amaze everybody that will see it.

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As you can see here, this bridge now has a metallic bottom. But they only made this a few years ago, more precisely, when they started to collect the entrance fee for the gorges. Before that, the bridge was wooden and dangerous, and after one heavy rainfall, the water level rised so much that it took the bridge away. That part of Tolminska korita was then closed for visitors for over a year, but you were still able to see the remaining part from the other side.

From the bridge, you can also see another bridge, which is situated about sixty meters above the gorge and from here, it seems to connect one rock with another. This place is called Hudičev most, or the Devil's bridge. The best part is, that you will cross it at the end of this trail! I will also write more about it when we reach it on our virtual tour through Tolminska korita.

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After the bridge, the trail starts going through the gorge. The walls are fairly high, on average fifty meters. And when walking down there, you will realize how small you actually are, compared to this majestic nature. You will also see the river Tolminka with its greenish colour, which forms a lot of swirls, and you will be surprised how loud the river actually is down there.

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But it is one of the best soundtracks that you will ever hear, possibly even better than the waves, crashing into the shore! Also, when admiring the view, I was thinking how long it took the river to form this awesome gorges. Indeed, when visiting natural parks, you can really start thinking about life and existence in general.

On the way through the gorges, you will also have to walk through the caves. And this is possibly the most dangerous part. Why? Because there are no lightsinside and it is very slippery. Luckily, I have a flashlight on my phone so I was able to survive the way through without falling, but I am not sure why they do not put a couple of lights inside those caves. Some people might say that this would mean destroying the nature, but hey, they carved the stairs through those caves. If that is not destroying, what is it then?

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In the middle of the cold Tolminka river, there is a thermal spring. Yes, you read that right. A thermal spring, which temperature is about twenty degrees! Unfortunately, you cannot go down there to try it, but there is a picture that shows the exact location of the thermal spring. Interesting location for a spring to come out, if you ask me.

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After the thermal spring, there is another cave with a viewpoint of the gorge at the end, and this is the end of the road. Now, you have to walk back to the first bridge. But do not cross it, there is a hidden path on its left side, which will allow you to continue the trail. After you turn left, there will be another intersection. The road that turns right, will take you to Zatolmin, and the one that turns left, will take you towards the end of the trail.

But if you like some thrill, do not turn left yet! There is a wooden bridge on the right, like one of those you see in action movies. If you walk on it faster, it will bounce up and down, left and right. It really is a thrilling experience, although I was almost expecting that it will break in half after a few jumps on it.

Once you have fulfilled your adrenaline expectations, you can finally continue the trail. And now, here comes the hardest part. To reach the next point of the gorge, you have to climb as much as two hundred steep stairs, and if you are not in a very good body condition, this could take some time. But luckily, there are some benches on the way up so you can rest. And enjoy the view, of course.

Once you reach the top, there will be another intersection. And this is where the most beautiful part of the Tolminska Korita is situated, and at the same time, it also hides another attraction. The gorges are really deep here, and this time, the trail goes at the top of them. Oh, I forgot to mention – if you are scared of heights, this trail is definitely not for you. Even I got a bit dizzy, but I do not suffer from altitude sickness. But it feels awesome.

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When you listen to the sound of the river Tolminka from up here, it seems really far away. Well, when you look down, you will see that it actually is almost fifty meters away from you. Here, the gorge walls are covered in green vegetation, and in summer months, it is sometimes hard to see the river because of all the vegetation.

Soon, you will reach another attraction that I have briefly mentioned before. Well, actually those are two attractions in one. First one of them is called Medvedova glava, which could be translated as 'The bear's head'. This is actually a big rock, trapped between the walls of a gorge, and it is said to look like the head of a bear. But you have to really have a good imagination to see it.

What do you think, does it look like a head of a bear or not? If you ask me, it looks more than a mouse.

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If you take a closer look at this picture, you will see the other attraction just behind the head of a bear. As you can see, there are a few small waterfalls, called 'Skakalce', which can be translated as 'the jumping'. The waterfalls got this name because the water seems to be jumping over the rock formations. The scenery is indeed very beautiful and when we were there, I saw five photographers with professional equipment, taking pictures of this place.

When continuing the trail, you will pass a few caves on your right side. They seem just the right size for a human to go inside, and the interior looks very tempting, but I have recently seen the movie 'The Descent', so I did not dare to take a look in one of them. It is known that a large colony of bats lives in those caves, so I am guessing that this must be a whole cave system.

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After those caves, there is another set of stairs, waiting for you. But this time, there is 'only' seventy – nine of them. And they are not as steep as the previous ones were. But still, when walking through Tolminska Korita, I started to wish that I would exercise more, so I would not have to stop each few meters of the trail.

When you reach the top, you will see a main road, passing by. If you would like to see another attraction, you have to turn right. Just follow the main road for about two hundred meters, until you reach a set of stairs on your right, carved into the rock. The road itself continues to the small town Čadrg, but it does not have a single attraction, just a few houses, and it takes two hours to walk there, so it really is not worth going.

What is especially interesting for us here, is situated after those stairs, carved into a rock. There is an enormous cave system, which is over a kilometre long, and it is named Dantejeva jama (Dante's cave).

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If you are thinking that this place got its name after Dante Alighieri, you are totally correct! It is said (and also documented), that Dante Alighieri has once visited the region of Tolmin, and also this cave. He said that he got the inspiration to write the famous 'Inferno' after he saw this cave! When you will see it, you will definitely know why! There is a huge hole at the beginning, descending into darkness. You can even walk a few hundred meters inside. But please, do not do this if you get scared easily. For example, there are always a few bats flying around, and if you scream, you might scare the sleeping ones too.

Be careful if you decide to go inside, because the path is very slippery. If you would like to see the whole cave system, you need to go there with an official guide and the right caving equipment. It is said that this cave system is very difficult and there were a few cases of reported missing persons who went to the caves on their own and probably got lost in there. But I saw a few pictures from the interior of the cave and I have to say that you can see some really spectacular limestone formations in there. Well, for me, those couple of hundred meters at the beginning of the cave were more than enough, because I get scared very easily.

If you think you have seen enough of the cave, you can continue the trail through Tolminska korita. At this point, you are already almost at the end, but the most interesting part of the trail is yet to come!

When walking back downwards, you might hear a loud sound, that will remind you of thunder. When I heard it, I looked at the sky immediately, because I thought it will start to rain, but there was not a single cloud. Then, my father started laughing at me, and he told me that this is the sound that the car makes, when it drives over the Hudičev most (the Devil's bridge). It almost seems like the devil is angry because the car is crossing its bridge.

I am sure that, when looking at the Hudičev most, you did not imagine it is possible to cross it by car. It is indeed possible, but the bridge is very narrow and you have to be very brave to cross it.

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Some time ago, the local tourist organization wanted to make the Hudičev most a bungee jumping spot. But after analyzing the conditions carefully, they figured out that this would be too dangerous. Also, who would like to jump off a bridge with not – so – encouraging name, with only a bungee rope, strapped around the ankles? No, Thanks.

Earlier in this entry, I have promised that I will tell you a little bit more about this bridge. First of all, why is it named the Devil's bridge? It almost seems like calling for an accident to happen, doesn't it? But I was researching a bit and found out several bridges with the same name, and there was an explanation that in the past, when people were building such bridges, they named it after the devil if they connected two riverbanks at a very dangerous place. And this explanation totally makes sense – what is more dangerous than building a bridge at the top of a tall gorge?

There is another, unofficial explanation, which you can also read on a sign just before you cross the bridge. It says that the people of the small town Čadrg (I have mentioned it before – you can get there if you continue walking past the Dantejeva jama), wanted to connect the town with the civilisation – Tolmin. So they decided to build a bridge. But after the bridge was finished, the devil himself showed up and told them that they have to sacrifice a soul so he can let them officially open and use the bridge. And guess what did they sacrifice? A cat! All I could think when I read that, was that those people were such bastards! But nevertheless, this is a nice story.

But the last explanation is the most logical of them all. This bridge was once a 'popular' suicide spot – there is a report that fifteen people took their lives here. Well, maybe the devil from the legend finally got its sacrificed souls…

After the bridge, you will walk through a tunnel, carved in a rock. It was recently renovated, because before the renovation, the rocks were falling from the ceiling, and a few persons (and cars) got injured or damaged.

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After that tunnel, the trail ends at the hut that sells ticket, and you will reach it in about five minutes. If you are walking there in late summer, you might see some forest strawberries on your right, which are very tasty, but mostly the other tourists eat all of them.

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What to bring with you?

This trail is not very difficult, but there are some things that I would strongly advise you to bring with you:

  • First of all, and definitely the most important, is plenty of water to drink. Believe me, you will get very thirsty after climbing those stairs! Also, having an energy bar or two, might seem like a good idea.
  • Secondly, good shoes. Please, do not go there in flip flops or high heels. You might laugh at this, but I have seen people walking there barefoot and wearing flip flops in their hands. The road is slippery at some points, there are tree roots, and the last thing you want is to fall or twist your ankle. Or both.
  • In addition, a flash light is a good idea too. If you remember, I mentioned that there is no light in some caves, through which you will pass on the way. In case you have a smartphone, you can use the camera flash to see the way. But I would not advise you to just try your luck and try to get through without a source of light.
  • When passing through the first part of the gorges, you will be walking fairly close to the water, and the air temperature will be chilly even on a hot summer day. So consider bringing a sweater.
  • Even though the trail mostly goes through shadowy parts, you should still use some sunscreen, because shadow is not everywhere, and if you walk there in the afternoon, the sun is pretty strong.
  • Last but not least, a good camera. Even if you are not a professional photographer, you will definitely manage to get some cool shots here. I do regret that I only brought my phone to Tolminska Korita, because I could get awesome pictures, but nevertheless, I got some nice ones even with my phone.

For the end…

Slovenia is known for its amazing natural wonders, and a lot of them are concentrated in the western part of the country. The Tolminska Korita is definitely on of the most majestic attractions of them all and luckily, mass tourism is not very popular there yet.

The trail is very well marked, and at each intersection, there are signs, pointing you to the right direction. You really cannot get lost here. There is only one thing I did not like on this trail – a lot of butterflies and other insects (big spiders included). I know some people do not mind butterflies, but I am afraid of them (and I have no idea why), and imagine walking on a slippery terrain and seeing a spider in front of you – you could easily get scared and fall. But we can not do anything against it, because this is their natural environment, and it is totally right to leave them alone.

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