A long overdue initiative linking up the disparate settlements of Bohinj, Bled and Pokljuka will now enable locals and tourists to access the often difficult to reach, farther flung areas in and around the Triglav National Park’s(TNP) territory.

Those staying in the Bohinj region can at times feel isolated, the hitherto lack of an integrated transport system often leaving hikers with a long, comparatively prosaic walk just to access the starting points of their intended day or multi-day routes. With its albeit modest range of tourist facilities – tourist office, post office, supermarket – Ribcev Laz is the obvious and seemingly most convenient location for those staying any length of time around Bohinj’s lakeside and, the TNP’s central core. Despite being the site of the vast majority of the area’s accommodation stock(that is still open) it does leave tourists with a long hike to the Ukanc end of the lake, the starting point of the more demanding but rewarding routes the area has to offer. On several occasions, in the absence of a suitably timed bus I have walked the admittedly pleasant lakeside(but roadside) path(or alternatively the forest track signposted Zlatorog) between Ribcev Laz’s climbing wall and Vogel cableway bottom station, a route that takes rusty early morning walkers a good hour. As part of a circuit walk of Lake Bohinj this is just a tempting aperitif to the infinitely preferable northern side, an almost primeval antidote to the increased reliance on private mechanized transportation now sadly becoming universally prevalent. On a warm or hot day, even an early start on this walk to the cable-car or further on to Savica Waterfall can tire a walker of average ability before he/she has reached their desired starting point. A case in point is the Triglav Lakes hike, a route allowing the possibility of a multi-day hut to hut hike or for the fittest, a day route accessed close to the Savica Waterfall and taking in the advantageously positioned Dom na Komni and Bogatinim mountain huts. Without public transportation, just arriving at the starting point for this rewarding trek becomes a long drawn out and, potentially tiring process.

It is therefore with such scenarios in mind that the municipalities of Bled and Bohinj have in conjunction with the TNP and bus-operator Alpetour launched a hop on hop off bus initially slated to operate at the weekends only, to connect Bled and many of Bohinj’s villages with the delights of Rudno Polje, Koprivnik and Pokljuka, the starting points of many scenic and challenging walks. Offering the chance for tourists to use public transport on both or just one leg of their journeys provides greater flexibility and presents a get out clause for those caught by inclement weather. Whilst not presenting an area-wide panacea I welcome this excellent initiative, one that gives tourists a wider choice of walking that their bases in Bohinj and in particular Bled currently allows. The metrics gauging the success(or otherwise) of this scheme will be closely scrutinized, to not only potentially pave the way for a service expansion during the present year but also for future summer seasons. Forming a two-pronged mission statement of opening up a wider area to hikers and reducing the region’s unacceptably high carbon footprint, the first, tentative steps of replacing a dependence on car journeys with a thoughtful, albeit embryonic stratagem centred upon reliable public-transport is undoubtedly a step in the right direction for the Bohinj area. How it seeks to develop this promising start into a blueprint for the region’s future will be keenly awaited by local and international observers alike. Bohinj has for too long lived, despite its tangible reliance on tourism, with a reputation of being marketed as a region not too keen on receiving tourists; that is at least the impression ‘promoted’ that in effect has seen the area publicized far less than the sum of its parts. A fresh, bold approach that anchors at its very heart the importance of ecological protection in harmony with respectful tourism can see the area flourish and finally step out of the shadow too often cast by those who claim, often pejoratively, that Slovenia is what the Tyrol was, 20-30 years ago. The hop on hop off bus may seem like a modest initiative but placed as part of a broader future strategy, is a very good start to assist in hauling Slovenian tourism into the 21st century.

Further reading on this matter can be found at:

Dobro Jutro Slovenia: Bled, Bohinj and Pokljuka linked by new bus initiative