The Soča river

The emerald vein of the Soča valley

It has begun. Spring fired a starting shot, and the birds chirped in concert, announcing the start of the Bovec whitewater season. The Soča river woke up from a winter beauty sleep, creaking across the valley, showing off its turquoise shades. Full of water, it’s ready to carry numerous rafts, kayaks, and brave swimmers down its rapids from mid March till the end of October. Hikers, cyclists, and enthusiastic photographers also gather along the river banks. But before we jump right into its cold waters, let’s introduce ourselves. After all, every river has a story to tell.

soča river from the air looks like an emerald vein

The emerald vein of the Soča valley. Photo: Soča Fly

Where it all began – the source of the Soča river

There it is – Soča, the most beautiful river in Slovenia. This river does not stand ignorance. Crystal clear and colorful, it pops out from the surroundings – no wonder it ended up on tourist billboards, photographs, products, inspired songs, and stories. But it’s not all about the looks! Soča has an eloquent character sharpened by bloody testimonies of WWI. Its story begins in the heart of the Triglav National Park, where the cold glacial waters of Jalovec, Šit, Travnik, and Mojstrovke unite underground and break through the narrow karst gorge in the form of the Soča river.

ferrata path to the soča source

Hiking trail to the Soča river source. Photo: Petra Repič

the colour of the water at the soča source

The Soča river source. Photo: Petra Repič

Full of youthful enthusiasm, the river slides down the rocky stairs and fights its way through tight valleys, creating dramatic gorges. When the valley finally opens up, the river takes a big breath and wanders through the Bovec basin. Yet, this is only the beginning of her 138-kilometer odyssey. Calm and gentle at times, she suddenly turns witty and furious, flaunting the rapids, swirling and crashing against the rocks. It revives, freezes, calms, inspires – depending on its mood. This time we will stay in Soča’s upper part, where the rapids are most lively. No surprise Bovec became the birthplace of all kinds of water adventures, which bloom in the summer season. But first, let’s dive below the surface.

the soča river after the source

At the source. Photo: Petra Repič

the soča river in the gorge

Through the gorge. Photo: Petra Repič

A view of the Soča river from the fish perspective

Where there is a river, there are fish, and where there are fish, anglers cannot be far away. Soča is rich in oxygen and, therefore, full of the noblest trout. It is home to grayling, brown trout, crossbreeds between marble and brown trout, and rainbow trout. The original, rare, and its most honorable inhabitant is the marble trout, which has a turbulent history. Due to human recklessness and the settlement of alien species, the endemic fish almost disappeared from the Soča river. Fortunately, the local fishermen discovered the last colony of purebred marble trout deep in the ponds of the Zadlaščica river. By breeding, they gradually returned the species back to its kingdom.

releasing the marble trout into the river

Marble trout. Photo: Soča Fly

The marble trout is now protected and enjoys the respect it deserves. Each year, anglers from all over the world come to Soča valley to admire the queen. They discover the most hidden banks of the Soča river, where they stand waist-high in the river, patiently waiting for any sign of fish. Complete focus. The moment is broken by a barely audible jolt of elastic fishing thread. Someone grabs, someone resists, and someone pulls.

Fly fishing is the only permitted form of fishing on the Soča river, where the “catch and release” principle prevails. Some of the caught trout land on the plates of nearby restaurants, yet most are released back into the river. In a splash of a second, they disappear back to where they belong.

kayakers descending down the soča river on an easy section

Soča river near Bovec. Photo: Žiga Dolinšek

Kayak or rafting – that is the question

While the fish are doing fish things, a group of visitors is squeezing into neoprene on the pebble beach along the Soča river. Bovec is the mecca of water sports, the tradition of kayaking and rafting on Soča has a long record. The river has formed picturesque polygons, even those of the most challenging categories, on which world-famous kayakers are tested.

Kayaking is one of the best ways to explore and experience the river. Imagine feeling alive, following the river’s wild rhythm, and being one with nature.

New to the scene? No need to worry. For your first encounter with the Soča river, we recommend a “sit on top” kayak – an uncovered kayak, which is more stable and easier to guide. With a fun local guide, you will paddle into a new adventure.

a very happy sit-on-top kayaker

Sit on top kayak. Photo: Žiga Dolinšek

the mountains arround the soča river

Kayak. Photo: Žiga Dolinšek

Want some company? Sit on an inflatable raft with your best buddies and ride down the valley. The section from the Boka waterfall down to the village of Trnovo ob Soči is especially attractive. Overgrown with lush vegetation and pointed peaks, it offers just the right combination of calm areas and rapids to speed up the pulse. When the water level is lower in summer, the descent down the Soča river is an excellent adventure suitable for families. When the snow melts and the rain does its part in the spring, adrenaline junkies come into play. In the end, autumn enchants everyone with its warm colors.

rafters posing for a picture

Rafting on the Soča river. Photo: Žiga Dolinšek

Exploring the banks of the emerald Soča river

While Earth keeps turning and the seasons change, the water temperature rarely exceeds 12 degrees. Prefer to stay dry? You can also admire the river and its beautiful riverbeds on foot along the picturesque Soča Trail or by bike along the Juliana Bike bike trail. If you change your mind and jump into the river, after all, we guarantee you a feeling of refreshment that outweighs all doses of caffeine.

our dog learning about the soča trail

Our Ori on the Soča trail. Photo: Petra Repič

We stop here while the river flows on. Soča continues towards Kobarid, Tolmin and Nova Gorica, where it calms down and crosses the border to Italy. There it changes its name to Isonzo and hits the coast – where, in the form of a beautiful delta, it meets the Adriatic Sea. Here you have it – a story told by one of the most beautiful rivers, a storyteller who never runs out of material.

If you want to experience the Soča river in an authentic way, we are waiting for you at the Outdoor Galaxy with a paddle in one hand and a fishing rod in the other.

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