Awarded the Best Europe Tourism Project by the British Guild of Travel Writers, Slovenia’s innovative Juliana Trail has been recognized for providing a tourist-centric product designed to take the strain off traditionally popular, but at times overwhelmed areas of the Julian Alps.
Without it sounding like a tired cliche, there is more to Slovenia’s alpine northwest than scaling its vertiginous peaks, including the very highest of all, Mount Triglav. For those without the ability, confidence, or desire to head for higher ground but who still yearn to connect with such stunning mountainscapes, the Juliana Trail enables visitors to in effect circle its attendent peaks and enjoy the scenery, whilst connecting with local inhabitants who provide quality accommodation, gastronomy, and locally made crafts.
The trail should not be confused with Slovenia’s other long-distance routes which predominantly take hikers into higher, more challenging terrain that offers a greater sense of personal achievement, albeit with sore knees in the evening. The Juliana Trail does not pretend to be an introduction or otherwise to Slovenian alpine exploration, and could disappoint those who demur at what can at times involve walking along roadsides, but the whole point of the exercise has always been to give visitors at alternative perspective on the Julian Alps – one that does not lose a sense of communing with the mountains but affords a level of interaction with local people that would otherwise not be the case.
This trail is not a quid pro quo swap for example the Alpe Adria Tour or its Slovenian Mountain namesake, but offers a gentler introduction to the region than embarking on a full-scale assault on Triglav, no mean feat itself, and creates a symbiotic relationship with surroundings that are not being undermined by mass tourism, and local service providers who offer high quality, regional products to visitors that care not only about their carbon footprint, but who only wish to leave behind their walking boot equivalent.
With so much talk of combating litter, wild camping and illegal parking around Lake Bohinj and indeed throughout Europe’s alpine regions, the Juliana Trail aims to attract the type of curious, respectful, and adventurous visitors which have becoming increasingly conspicuous by their absence, although it must be said that the actions of a sizeable minority cannot be seen as representative. Nevertheless, encouraging thoughtful behaviour and the creation of ordinances to combat the worst examples of its antithesis remains very much a movable feast, an ongoing process sadly without any likely end.
It is though to projects such as the Juliana Trail that praise should rightly be directed, where an approach by Slovenia to broaden its appeal instead of dissuading tourism in such a sensitive ecological location gives visitors a different slant to life in the Alps, and encourages behaviour and inquisitiveness that can only benefit all parties.
Source material and further information:
Slovenia.info(Long-distance trails): http://www.slovenia.info/en/things-to-do/active-holidays/hiking-backpacking/long-distance-trails
British Guild of Travel Writers: https://bgtw.org/