“Ready? Paddle paddle paddle!”
I rowed as hard as I could and suddenly I was catapulted into the air and tumbling into the cold emerald water of Sava Dolinka river. Minutes later, I emerged from the water and found myself getting pushed along by the current of the rapids. With a few quick strokes, I was soon up on the pebbled shore, exchanging high-fives with our fellow rafters.
Our cheeky guide, Luka, had flipped our raft on purpose. I asked why, and he simply answered, “For the fun of it!”
That happens to be the motto of Fun Rafting, an adventure tour operator in Bled, Slovenia. Run by experienced rafting guide Aljoša , the company always goes the extra mile to ensure a fun experience. Aljoša started the company almost ten years ago to lead rafting trips and canyoning excursions around the Lake Bled region of Northern Slovenia. Today, Fun Rafting has expanded to include other fun and wacky experiences such as paragliding, zorbing, skydiving, mountain biking, rock climbing, amongst many. Having grown up in Bled, this area has always been a playground for Aljoša, who’s always enjoyed outdoor activities as a child.
“Bled is a perfect place for outdoor-lovers. Look around you. There is nature all over, just steps away from town.” Indeed, Bled is surrounded by towering mountains, gorges, countless raging rivers, and acres of pine forests. It’s also the gateway to Triglav National Park, one of the last wildernesses of the region. Launch sites for rafting, paragliding and canyoning trip are all just a few minutes’ drive from town and easily accessible by trains too.
Fun on the Rapids
Back on the raft, we were drifting through beautiful alpine scenery, with the spearmint water gushing beneath us. Beautiful cypress trees pierced the landscape, with giant moss-covered boulders strewn around the streams. We were rafting through Class II-III rapids on Sava Dolinka, even though the conditions were generally more tamed than those we’ve experienced elsewhere.
“The rapids in Sava Dolinka don’t usually get too strong as they’re controlled by the hydroelectric plant,” explained Luka, “these rafting trips are not challenging but they’re fun!” With that, he grabbed the back of a fellow rafter and pushed him straight into the chilly water. We all jumped into the water one after another, taking the opportunity to cool off from the heat. It was over 38 degrees Celsius in Bled and even though the water was at a cold 12 degrees, we were happy to frolic in the fresh water.
Once we reached a bridge, our troop of rafters all made a pit-stop by the river bank. Some went body-surfing (basically gliding along with the current) while others attempted the eight-meter jump from the bridge. Alberto joined the line of teenagers who took turns to plunge into the water from above and made quite a big splash while leaping feet-first into the river.
Leaping and Sliding off Canyons
Later that afternoon, we were back in the water again – this time, in the Jereka Canyon on the outskirts of Bled. The 195-meter deep canyon winds its way around the Upper Bohinj Valley, starting its journey at the picturesque village of Češnjica. It’s set in the beautiful backcountry of Slovenia, surrounded by green prairies and alpine huts.
We started the trip with a hike up to the start of the stream, before clambering over giant boulders to where the water flowed. Our guides, Mario and Borut, gave us brief safety instructions and guidelines and soon sent us sliding off the boulder one after another. Splashing into the shallow waters, we continued the trek leaping off boulders and maneuvering through craggy edges and caves. Eventually we reached a waterfall that cascaded down a height of around 5m or more. Borut whipped out his ropes and taught us how to rappel down the falls while Mario helped belay us from the bottom. We didn’t have any problems rappelling but I did find myself shuddering with each leap.
We’ve tried canyoning twice in Spain before and found this to be quite different to what we’d experienced previously. While the water level was lower this time, the rock formations and overall river terrain made it more exciting and challenging with each leap we took. It also tested us on all levels: getting us to rappel off waterfalls, leap off cliffs, and slide off boulders. The leaps were not more than five meters but the narrow pools and shallow water made me worry about our safety.
I was nervous at times but Alberto made sure to help keep my nerves down, the guides unfortunately weren’t quite as patient with me. There were times when I didn’t leap in the correct position or slide down with the appropriate technique – and I wished I had been given more time or specific guidance. With over 15 years of experience in canyoning, Borut was definitely skilled, knowledgeable and passionate about his job. Mario was calm and watchful, always looking out to make sure we were safe. Perhaps it was because we weren’t quite as physically competent as the other couple in our group, I felt the guides could have paid more attention to details.
All in all, we had a great, if not challenging, experience canyoning through Jereka and would definitely come to conquer my fears once again. Bled definitely proved to be an excellent adventure spot for outdoor lovers with its hidden canyons and endless greenery. While our time was short here, we managed to try out four different sports in just one day. Without a doubt, we’ll be back someday with braver hearts.
The combination of rafting and canyoning in one day costs €71 and the activities take over eight hours. Separately, rafting costs €30 while canyoning costs €50. Transfers are included. The trip can be booked online at FunRafting.com.
Disclaimer: Our trip was made possible by Fun Rafting, but all opinions expressed are our own.