Europeâ€™s Hidden Gem by Brian Gies
Brian Gies, Heather Hickmann, and Paul and Laura Imperia heading out for a day in the Slovenian Alps. Photo: Paul Imperia PAGE 98
everal years ago I received an animated call from a friend who had just returned from Slovenia. He went on and on about the beauty of the place, the fishing and repeatedly compared it to one of my favorite places in the world, New Zealand. At the time I suspected Slovenia was somewhere in Europe but had no real idea and I was incredulous that any place could be fairly compared to New Zealand. After our conversation I consulted a map and did a few searches to learn more about the country. After mulling over countless images, the deal appeared to be closing. I knew I was going, I just didnâ€™t know when. To say I was surprised by my findings was an understatement. Slovenia had spectacular peaks, verdant valleys covered in wildflowers, shockingly beautiful rivers, and impressive fish including big rainbows, browns and huge marble trout. After getting recommendations from friends and clients I decided I would make a couples multi-sport trip focusing on
SLOVENIA: EUROPE’S HIDDEN GEM hiking and fishing. As it turned out the trip was a smashing success and I have actually found myself unabashedly describing it as the New Zealand of Europe. Bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, Slovenia is the undiscovered gem of Southeastern Europe. Although it is small in stature the country is blessed with a wealth of scenic beauty and natural diversity highlighted by the spectacular Julian Alps, an abundance of crystal clear rivers, brilliant lakes, rolling verdant hills, open plains and a picturesque coastline along the Adriatic Sea. Moreover its capital city, Ljubljana, is easily reachable from a number of major airports in Europe. As with many places its people bring it all together. They are kind, diligent, hearty and refreshingly proud of their homeland. In a word they could also be described as tidy. This is evident just about everywhere you look, from their city streets, to their hand cut hayfields, well-kept gardens, and immaculately stacked wood piles standing ready for their next winter. They are also very adept at languages with many people speaking German, Italian and English as well as their native language. Although Slovenia has a long and fascinating history the outstanding natural environment is the biggest draw to the country. Of all the various activities available, day hiking is at the forefront for Slovenians as well as for the majority of visiting tourists. Fly fishing also has deep roots in the country and anglers from around the globe regard it as the best trout fishing in Europe. This is due to the country’s abundance clear rich rivers, preservation ethic and progressive forest management practices. The vast majority of their fishing entails wading small crystal clear streams and sight fishing to rainbows, browns, and the famed marble trout. Their trout come in all different shapes and sizes and the local guides take
just as much pleasure stalking 12-inch rainbows on hidden mountain creeks as they do in hunting trophy rainbows and browns that will rival trophy fish caught in New Zealand or Patagonia. With hiking and fishing serving as the cornerstone of our offerings, Fly Water Travel has worked with local tour agencies and fishing guides to put together two wonderful itineraries enabling our guests to tour, hike and fish this wonderful country. All tours are complete with inner country transfers, accommodations in local pensions, meals, guided fly fishing and self-guided hiking. Travelers are met upon arrival by a member of the outfitter’s staff who will provide them with maps and logistics for self-guided hiking as well as plenty of useful details about the specific regions they will visit. We will also customize each trip enabling guests to hike and fish as much as they like. Both of our base itineraries are designed for those that enjoy being active in the mountains as well as taking in the local culture. One 12 day trip is completely centered around the mountains combining fly fishing and hiking in the Slovenian Alps. After a brief stop in the charming capital city of Ljubljana this hiking and fishing tour takes you strait to the foothills of the Slovenian Alps. There you will stay in four postcard perfect towns. After the first two days of hiking in Kranjska Gora, the tour moves through Bled, Bohinj, and Bovec. From these wonderful towns you will have the option of fishing the Soca, Idrijca, Sava Bohinjka as well as many of their tributaries or enjoying self-guided hiking in the foothills of the Julian Alps. The second 12 day trip takes you through the vast majority of the mountain towns but trades a few days of hiking and fly fishing for touring major sights in central southern Slovenia, the beautiful coastal town of Piran and a daylong sailing trip to Venice, Italy. Rate: 12 day/11 night trip with 3 of days guided fishing: €2,950-3,150.
Slovenia: Europe's Hidden Gem by Brian Gies