First, to have one thing clear – Bled is not the most famous place for rafting in Slovenia. This title would go to the Soča River that is situated just on the other side of the Julian Alps. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t great options for rafting in Bled! In fact, working on the river as a river guide, many times I heard people say: “Wow, rafting in Bled was the highlight of our trip to Slovenia!" Considering this, rafting in Bled definitely shouldn’t be underestimated.
Commercial whitewater rafting trips in Bled started as early as in the late 80′. Bled was always attracted to tourists and travellers and since the surrounding rivers offer fun adventures it was just a matter of time when somebody will start offering river trips. Currently there are 5 different rafting companies organising rafting trips in Bled area, all of them mainly doing the same stretch of the Sava Dolinka River.
Around Bled you can find two beautiful alpine rivers. These are sister rivers, the Sava Dolinka and the Sava Bohinjka River.
The Sava Dolinka originates in the far northwestern corner of Slovenia. Zelenci springs, as the spring of this river is called, is an incredibly beautiful place. It is famous for it’s shallow two meters deep lake with crystal clear water that reflects in different shades of green. The water is so clear that you can see to the bottom of the lake where you can spot these “little muddy volcanoes". Those are the springs of the Sava Dolinka River. The water comes from the near peaks of the Julian Alps and because of the porous lime stone the water flows underground. At Zelenci it encounters a solid rock it can not pass and so the Sava Dolinka River is born. Of course rafting trips happen a bit downstream from Zelenci, but it can be a really good idea to visit this place for a half day trip. English explorer and naturalist Sir Humphry Davy in 19th century wrote of the Sava Dolinka River: “The valley of the Sava, with it’s cataracts and lakes, particularly struck me. I have seen nothing so beautiful in Europe."
By the time the Sava Dolinka reaches Bled it turns from a little creek to a river and this is where the fun part is, the part that is good for rafting. The rafting section starts just a bit northeast from Bled and runs approximately 10 kilometres downstream towards the city of Radovljica. Rafting on the Sava Dolinka is an easy class II-III (easy to intermediate) river trip thus a very safe option that is appropriate for almost everyone. It is great for families since kids only need to be at least 3 years old to be able to participate. There is no special limitations for joining this trip so it is ideal for bigger groups which include different people. Rapids are fun but not to continuous so there is enough time to play some rafting games and enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way. The scenery is definitely one of a kind! The upper part of the section is pristine and quite remote. By this time there is still no road nor railway leading through it. The area is called B’rje (it means wetlands) and it is protected as a natural monument due to the numerous animal and plant species that live here. Brown, rainbow and brook trouts, graylings and huchens (also called Danube salmons) call these waters home. Many times we are able to spot grey herons with their long necks and see how they spread their wide wings and fly away (as they are very timid) to land on the upper branches of the high pine trees.
Throughout the trip you can enjoy the song of various birds, among them song thrushes, common chiffchaffs and titmouses. To top it all off, rafters are rewarded with beautiful views of the peak of the 2.236 m (7.335 ft) high Stol mountain. If you would like to know more about the natural values of the Sava Dolinka River, you can read it here. The river changes it’s colour throughout the year so it normally varies in shades of blue in spring time and starts turning greener as the summer kicks in. Speaking about summer… waters of the Sava Dolinka are a perfect refreshment for those hot summer days! The temperature of the river in the summer is around 10-12° Celsius (50-53° Fahrenheit). The trip is not too long – it takes approximately 1,5 hour on the river. Of course, time spent on the river depends from the water level. Alpine rivers in the Julian Alps are fed by snowmelt and rain. This way those rivers usually have continuously higher flow in spring time and keep dropping as the summer is reaching it’s peak, being the lowest in second part of August. A hydro-dam on the Sava Dolinka, which can be found a bit upstream from where the rafting section starts, provides daily releases of water thus normally assuring enough water for rafting trips to happen even in the driest of the summer days. Towards the end of the 10 km Bled Rafting trip the Sava Dolinka meets it’s sister river, the Sava Bohinjka River.
So where does the Sava Bohinjka come from? If you thought that Zelenci spring was cool, you might consider the Bohinj Lake, that is the source of the Sava Bohinjka, even cooler. Lake Bohinj is the biggest permanent* lake in Slovenia that is 4,2 km long and 1 km wide at it’s widest part. By it’s source it is a glacial lake, same as Lake Bled. It is fed by subterranean sources and little alpine streams of which the largest is called the Savica stream. This one is famous for its picturesque waterfall, the Savica waterfall. At it’s eastern end a river is exiting the lake and this is the Sava Bohinjka River. If you will be exploring Slovenia, I definitely suggest you a trip to the Bohinj Lake, where besides swimming in the lake and hiking up to the Savica waterfall you can take a cable car up the Vogel ski resort, check out the Mostnica gorge or choose from one of the many hiking trips to the nearby peaks.
*Lake Cerknica is an intermittent lake that can be larger than Lake Bohinj during flood seasons but it can disappear completely during dry seasons.
From Lake Bohinj, the Sava Bohinjka runs approximately 41 km before it reaches the Dolinka River at the confluence. The upper part of this river is a relaxed but beautiful whitewater class I-II river trip (this means super easy and slow), normally with really low water levels. This section is good for first time kayakers as an introduction trip. We do not offer trips on this section but if you are interested in that there are outfitters in Bohinj that organise kayak and duckie (mini raft) tours down this section.
Making it’s way towards Bled theSava Bohinjka River passes through a gorge. The gorge section is the interesting part since it is the only commercial whitewater class II-IV (easy to advanced) section in Bled area. This 7 km long rafting section is inarguably the best rafting Bled has to offer, with the right water levels probably the best one in whole Slovenia. This trip is a perfect combination of excitement and exploring. Before hitting the “infamous Czech rock" part that is considered the class IV part you will get used to all of the commands on some easier class II-III rapids. Most of the trip happens in a deep gorge with steep terrain that is densely grown with pine and beech trees.
Compared to the Dolinka River, Bohinjka is clearer, more transparent. It shows us it’s beauty in different shades of green, depending on the depth and the sunlight. Flora and fauna found in and around this river is quite similar to the one described earlier for the Dolinka River (with a bit less ecological richness compared to the B’rje part of the Dolinka River).
Even if the Bohinjka River is a bit more demanding, there is no previous rafting experience needed to join this trip. For participants it is only important that they are at least 15 years old and able to swim. Guides guiding on this river are our best guides with years of experience. Before putting in they will give you a proper safety talk and training to get you ready for the rapids. This way rafting will be safer and more enjoyable.
Due to lower water levels during summer months, unfortunately the Sava Bohinjka River is normally runnable just in spring months, from April to beginning of June. Snowmelt provides the necessary flows for rafting down this river, so the amount of snow in the mountains greatly influences the Sava Bohinjka rafting season. On some rear occasions, if the rain hits hard for couple of days, the river can be runnable in summer as well.
On the right, the Bohinjka River showing off it’s wide palette of green colour.
The confluence, the beginning of the Sava River. On the left side of the picture we have the Sava Dolinka and on the right side we have the Sava Bohinjka River, merging together and becoming the Sava River. Both headwater rivers flow for approximately 40 km from their respective sources to the point where they join waters and become the longest Slovenian river. Sava’s river basin includes more than half of Slovenia’s territory and runs for about 200 km before it leaves Slovenia and enters Croatia, later on forms the border that Croatia has with Bosnia and Hercegovina and eventually ends up in Belgrade, Serbia where it merges with Danube. With 950 km it is one of the longest rivers in Europe and the greatest tributary of the Danube by volume of water.
Rafts on the picture are part of our Bled Rafting trip. The confluence is a beautiful point where we like to pause and just enjoy the moment. It is quite amazing as you can see two different rivers mixing together and feel the difference in water temperature. You get to feel like a real explorer as you witness the start of almost a 1000 km journey of the Sava River.
As mentioned above, Sava flows to the Danube. And Danube flows to the Black Sea. So all the water that we raft on eventually ends up in the Black Sea. So if you raft with us, you can tell your friends that you rafted on the river that flows to the Black Sea. It will sound more exotic :D
The Sava River is considered the main northern limit of the Balkan Peninsula and the southern edge of the Pannonian Plain.
Sava Dolinka rafting trip, which we offer as Bled Rafting, finishes just a bit below the confluence, at the Lancovo bridge. So, on this trip we also raft a bit of the Sava River. From Lancovo on there is another section, let’s just call it the Sava. The take out for this section is at Posavec bridge, approximately 10 km downstream from Lancovo. On the way, there are two other points where you can teak out earlier if you please; first one at Fuksova brv and second one at the bridge in Globoko. It is an easy section with whitewater class I-II rapids, including one class III rapid when flows are higher. Most of the section is pretty remote with some beautiful views. We do not regularly do trips on this section, but there are companies that organise kayak and raft trips here. Of course, on demand we can organise a trip for you down this section. For a full day family adventure a complete trip that includes the Sava Dolinka and Sava sections can be a nice option. Maybe add a river lunch in between and some stand up paddling at one of the many pools on the lower part? Why not? Contact us and we can help you create you customised rafting trip.
You would like to go rafting in Slovenia but you are not sure if you would do it in Bled or on the Soča River? Here I will compare both options to help you choose the right one for you. We will be looking for the right answer through a couple of questions.
Is rafting on Soča more extreme than rafting in Bled?
Classic rafting section on the Soča River is classified as whitewater class II-IV (easy to advanced), Sava Dolinka rafting is II-III (easy to intermediate) and Sava Bohinjka rafting is classified as II-IV (easy to advanced) river trip. Just to have it clear, class II-IV for example, means that there are rapids class II, III and class IV on this section. After classification, we also need to consider the water level. In general you can put it like this – the higher the river, the bigger the rapids. As mentioned before, alpine rivers are the highest in spring and drop as summer kicks in. In spring time rafting on Soča and Sava Bohinjka both make up for a good and adventurous rafting trip. In summer time the Bohinjka is not runnable due to low water level so the only rafting option in Bled would be the Dolinka River. But also on the Soča the water level drops so you would be in for a much more easy going raft trip than in spring time. Comparing Dolinka and Soča in summer time – Soča definitely stays more technical but you won’t get much more splashed than on the Dolinka River.
What about if we compare the beauty of these rivers?
Soča River is known world wide for it’s beauty, and it is not for nothing. So here, the answer is not difficult – Soča River is the prettiest among all three rivers. But the beauty of the Bohinjka and Dolinka definitely shouldn’t be underestimated. Like described earlier in the post, both rivers are super rich with beautiful views and biodiversity.
What about the access to these rivers?
Soča valley is situated in the far north western corner of Slovenia and is a bit remote. If you decide to go there it will definitely be at least a full day trip. But if you do so, my suggestion would be that you stay there at least for a night – it is worth it. Bled on the other hand is way easier to reach since it is situated just a half an hour drive by car from Ljubljana, the capitol.
I hope that answers to these questions will help you decide which rafting trip in Slovenia is more appropriate for you or your group considering wishes, physical fitness and your itinerary.
When rafting with us you will get all the necessary equipment. This includes rafting shoes, wet suit, personal flotation device (life jacket) and a helmet. In case of cold weather we will provide you an extra whitewater jacket to protect you from cold.
You only need to bring:
– a towel to dry with after the trip and
– swim shorts to wear under the wet suit.
Optionally you can bringa water bottle. You can take it with you and put it at the bottom of the raft. In summer we suggest you to use sun screen.
During the trip all your dry clothes and other items will be safely stored in our vehicles and transported to the take out so you will be able to reach them as we take off the river.
" Guys, it is a perfect day for rafting. Do you know why? Every day is a perfect day for rafting!"
The above is definitely true. Either it is a hot day or a rainy day, rafting is always a good option. On hot days it provides the best refreshment in town, on rainy days… well, what else rather than a water activity would you do on a rainy day, you get wet anyway.
But if we talk about best season in year to do it…
Every year we start our trips in the end of March or beginning of April and finish the season in the end of October.
Spring months are good because of the higher flows but it can still be quite chilly on the river. Not a problem, the excitement will keep you warm.
Summers in Slovenia can get as warm as 30-35° Celsius (86-95° Fahrenheit). When days are hot like this, rafting down a 12° Celsius (53° Fahrenheit) river is probably the most clever decision of your vacation.
Rafting in autumn can be cold or warm, rainy or dry, super high water level or super low water level… hard to say. But one thing is for sure, it is gonna be less crowded and nevertheless beautiful.