Toward the end of our Central European road-trip, we had 6 days to spare and no fixed itinerary. At this point in our trip we were holidaying on the Slovenian coast and felt that our fascination with this beautiful country was still strong. As it would have been a shame to leave without spending time in the alpine region of Slovenia, we plugged in some coordinates into the car’s GPS and off we headed!
Our destination was the village of Bovec, which is nestled in the Julian Alps and known for its exciting menu of adventure activities, particularly whitewater rafting and canyoning. Adventure activities aren’t exactly something you can fully explore with a 4 and 6 year old but we visited Bovec nevertheless with the plan to admire the beauty of the Alps and spend some time hiking in the greenery before heading back to our desert life in Dubai.
The definite star of the show in this region is the Soca River. It is a stunning, albeit ice-cold, river that is known locally as the ‘Emerald Beauty’. The Soca snakes its way from its source high in the Julian Alps all the way to the Adriatic Sea and it is one of the rare rivers of the world that retains a clear emerald colour along its icy length. Whitewater rafting adventurers are drawn to the river from all over the world to experience its varying grades of rapids – from its easy beginner sections right through to more difficult Grade 4/5 sections.
Before we departed from the Slovenian coast we were given the contact of someone in Bovec who managed a whitewater rafting company. We were told this company might be able to arrange a short and safe raft ride suitable for a family with young kids. The company we were referred to is called Sport Mix and they are based in the centre of Bovec. Sport Mix assured us that we would only be taking us along a short calm stretch of the Soca River to provide a taste of the whitewater rafting experience. So despite the photos on the wall showing gravity defying paddling down rocky cascades, we donned our helmets and wetsuits and jumped into the rafting pontoons to experience the hype.
As it turned out, this activity was one of the highlights of our trip! Our guide was called Bari and he was passionate about the sport and extra vigilant about safety, particularly as there were children in his care. Although we were to be guided along a very tame section of the Soca, we were still given a full briefing on safety with all the proper rafting commands and paddle manoeuvres beforehand. We also travelled in a flotilla of two boats, adding to the safety. Most of the section of the Soca we experienced was indeed pretty calm but there were moments when the current and speed at which we were going raised the heart rate a bit. Fortunately, we felt we were in capable hands as Bari really knew the river well and was very technically knowledgeable. Whitewater rafting is often considered to be a sport for adrenaline junkies, but we were pleasantly surprised that it was something our entire family could enjoy together.
The kids in our group were made to feel like active partners in the experience and were even invited to paddle along certain sections of the river. Where the current was weak, they were also given the opportunity to play in the water and use a water slide made from the inverted rafts propped up against the boulders along the river’s edge. Although our kids are used to the warm temperature of the Persian Gulf, the water play was a highlight and they were quite astounded that they could enjoy it even at such a cold temperature!
Our experience in Bovec made the last few days of our 6-week road trip quite memorable and very fun! We will definitely be back to repeat this.