• After arriving into Ljubljana we transfer to our guesthouse. This evening we enjoy a traditional Slovenian dinner before an overview from our experts of what to expect in the coming days, as well as hide etiquette. 
    • Accommodation: Mlakar Guest House, 5-nights on full board basis.
    • An early start this morning sees us exploring the forest area near the guesthouse to view and photograph Ural owls. The Dinaric Alps are home to up to 500 pairs of Ural owls with some areas having the highest density population in the world.
    • After lunch we transfer by 4 wheel drive to one of the specially designed photography hides in the forests of the Notranjska region. The brown bear population in this region is thought to number over 400, which are part of the wider Dinaric population. We stay in the hide to observe the bears until darkness falls at around 9pm when we return to the guesthouse for dinner. Our afternoons/evenings for the next few days will follow a similar pattern.
    • This morning we visit the Rakov Škocjan – a wonderfully wild karst valley. Two natural bridges frame each end of the valley which is rich with karst topography phenomena.
    • We also visit Lake Cerknica – one of the largest intermittent lakes in Europe. The lake is a designated Wetland of International Importance for the preservation of endangered birds and its incredible biodiversity, home to 276 bird species, 45 mammal species, 125 butterfly species and 15 amphibians species. 
    • After our morning excursion we will return to the guesthouse for lunch before a second afternoon spent in one of the hides to continue with our brown bear photography experience.
    • Our morning is spent exploring the unique network of the Križna jama cave. The tunnels and passages of the cave are filled with water and we travel through on foot and by inflatable boat. Starting with large halls, we enter a tunnel to sail over our first lake of the network, before continuing further into the cave following low ceiling water tunnels before we reach our second lake. Each of the lakes can be up to six metres deep and cover a fascinating array of ground stalactites and stalagmites. 
    • Late this morning we return to the guesthouse for lunch and a third afternoon spent in one of the various brown bear hides.
    • Today we spend the day focusing on the main highlight of the trip, with two visits to the forest hides to observe and photograph the brown bears. We will start the day with an early morning visit to one of the hides before returning to the guesthouse for some leisure time and lunch before returning to the forest for an afternoon spent in a hide.
    • After an early breakfast we will transfer by road to Ljubljana for our return flight to the UK.

Please note: Wildlife is extremely wary around people and patience is an absolute must – you will spend up to five hours at a time in the hides. When in the hides there will be no access to toilet facilities. A full briefing on hide conduct will be given on your first night of the tour. Due to the various landscapes we visit - which can at times be rocky and uneven underfoot with some hides being accessible by ladder only - a reasonable level of fitness is required for this tour. The exact order of the itinerary may change depending on local conditions.

All prices are per person and include:

  • Services of the naturalist leader
  • Flights
  • Transfers
  • Accommodation
  • All meals
  • Guided activities & use of photography hides
  • Photography tuition from Bret Charman

Accommodation

We stay in a traditional guesthouse which offers comfortable en suite rooms. The guesthouse is positioned on the edge of the forest allowing easy access to the photography hides.

Meals

All meals are included.

Our meals will be taken at the guesthouse which offers  traditional Slovenian dishes along with Notranjska region specialities. Drinks are also included whilst dining at the guesthouse. 

Mammals

Our main focus of the trip is to view and photograph the brown bears of the region, however we should be able to view other mammals including pine martins and black squirrels in areas such as Lake Cerknica which is home to 45 mammal species.

  • European brown bear
  • Red fox
  • Black squirrel
  • Pine marten

Birds

The surrounding forests of our guesthouse are especially known for their large Ural owl populations which, aside from the brown bears, will be one of the main species highlights of our time in Slovenia. At Lake Cerknica - due to its incredibly rich biodiversity - around 276 different species of birds can be viewed including the rare rose finch.

  • Ural owl
  • Scarlet rose finch
  • Red footed falcon
  • Hawfinch 

Butterflies

Due to the karst topography of the landscape, this area supports rich grasslands for wild flowers and butterflies. At Lake Cerknica nearly a third of all European butterfly species can be found.

  • Twin-spot fritillary
  • Assmann’s fritillary
  • Large chequered skipper
  • Safflower skipper

Scenery

The majority of our time will be spent in the forest region of Notranjska, a spruce forest with moss covered rocks, pine trees and junipers. When we are not in the forest hides observing the brown bears, we will discover more of the area visiting karst valleys, intermittent lakes, and exploring the cave system at Križna jama.

Photography

Photography is the main focus of this tour and Bret Charman will be on hand to share his knowledge.

The hides we visit during the evenings to observe brown bears have been specially designed for photographers, taking into consideration the direction of light and background conditions.

We recommend using 100–400mm f/2.8 lenses along with recommended equipment including a bean bag, ball head and convertors.

Walking

For this tour we recommend you have a reasonable level of fitness due to uneven terrain which we will cover on foot. Whilst the hides are all located within five to 30 kilometres of the guesthouse, transfers by 4 wheel drive will be followed by walks of up to 800 metress, sometimes over rocky ground with steep inclines. Some of the hides are only accessible by a short ladder climb.

Our visit to Križna jama cave will require the ability to enter and exit a dinghy style of boat. Inside, the cave and tunnel areas of the cave may have low ceilings and be wet underfoot (protective clothing and boots will be provided).

Flights

Price includes return scheduled flights London - Ljubljana – London. 

Ground transport

Ground transportation will be by minibus or 4 wheel drive vehicle, with driver.

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In particular, please note: It is a condition of joining our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks. We strongly recommend having insurance in place from the point of booking confirmation, with adequate cancellation protection to cover your deposit.

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