I often get asked the same question when I mention that I am leading a wildlife photography tour to Slovenia: “Why are you going to Slovenia? What can you see there?”
My reply simply comes as “Bears.” It is a superb place to photograph bears and is home to the highest density of breeding Ural owls in Europe. This year, I led a group of eight people, as we went in search of the Dinaric Alps’ natural delights. I think everyone who visits this part of Slovenia is spellbound by the forest-covered mountains, wildflower meadows and traditional villages.
This is a country that embraces its traditions and cherishes its natural history. There are white storks nesting on rooftops, bears, Ural owls and beech marten in the forests, while the fields are filled with corncrake and the valleys echo with the sound of cuckoos calling.
All of the hides have been designed with photographer in mind, but the bears have to be cooperative too. On some of the hide sessions the bears turn up almost right away, at other times you might have to be a lot more patient. However long you have to wait, when a bear appears your heart begins to beat a little quicker and a smile is hard to suppress. With at least five sessions in the hides, groups have a chance to capture a range of images in different settings.
This is surely one of Europe’s top wildlife encounters in one of its most beautiful landscapes. I for one will never tire of seeing these charismatic mammals, so full of character and curiosity. Slovenia offers a fantastic alternative to a photography trip in Finland. The beech forests and karst landscape provide a very different scene for the photographer. The real difference here is that you return to the comfort of our guest house each evening and can enjoy the beautiful surrounds of the Dinaric Alps.