After countless visits of the Northwestern region of Slovenia, you’d think we’d seen it all. But the biggest treasure was yet to be discovered: the most beautiful and highest lying road in Slovenia, leading to the Mangart Pass. It takes you precariously close to the edge, offers views that make you take a step back, literally and inspires you with all the untamed nature around you.
The stunning toll road built in 1938 makes its way slowly up to 2,072 meters above the sea level. It twists, with several hairpin turns, complex switchbacks and passes through a few unlit tunnels. Exciting enough but add to the mix two eager kids in the back seat and you have yourself an adventure. One that keeps you on your toes; on the one side a precipice, on the other two girls fighting over who can sing the only five words of the chorus they know. But at least they never asked are we there yet. Somehow our kids never do. And I don’t know if I should take that as a good sign or a bad omen.
The beauty hides in the details
Before having kids, I was the best traveling parent ever. I knew exactly how my kids would behave, how excited they would be about every trip and converse about every detail they’ve noticed. Now, I have abandoned my preconceived grand notions and I play it by the ear. But there is one thing, I don’t want to give up on and that’s making my kids notice. See the world, not just imposing sights, but little things, like flowers, cows, sheep grazing, stones that look like something…And for that to happen, I have to see it too.
Well, this road helps you out in the big way, there are tunnels that look like giant’s eyes, there are sheep and there are fields overflown with flowers almost straight out of a fairytale. Riding along you are always on the brink, so you get a front seat to the most incredible sights of pure nature, with nothing but the road to remind you of people and civilization. It takes a while to get to the top, but trust me, you are not thinking about it, not, even with the kids in the back. We were all so engrossed with the views in front of us.
The Mangart Pass is part of the Julian Alps, on the border between Italy and Slovenia. Mangart is the name of the mountain range, with the highest peak Veliki Mangart (Big Mount Mangart), 2,679 m, the third highest peak in Slovenia.
Once you reach the top of the pass and if you have kids along, like we did, you won’t start with a hike like the rest. But you can still take a leisurely walk and explore your surroundings. The second we got out of the car, we, OK, hubby spotted a herd of Alpine ibex navigating a steep mountain looming imposingly in front of us. With its brown color almost matching the color of the ground, it was hard to show them to the kids. Stela finally spotted them, while I think Tesa only said she saw them, to get me off her back.
Let them enjoy it
In a few seconds everywhere you turn you are one step away from the edge. The edge of very high cliffs and while standing on the ledge offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and all the way to Italy’s beautiful Fusine lakes, I just wasn’t relaxed enough to really soak it all in. Not with two kids running around.
I was holding their hands a bit too tightly and thinking about all the ways this could go seriously wrong. So once quick glance to all sides and then I rushed them off to a meadow below, where they could run around to their hearts’ content. Hubby was busy taking all the photos and once he was done, he took care of the kids while I took the moment to see the world from a different perspective. The one that makes you and your problems seem so tiny and insignificant. But, I realized that the kids weren’t the problem, it’s me who is so afraid of the heights, I couldn’t really make myself look down from the verge.
However enjoying nature with two kids is easy, because to them everything is new and exciting. Or they let me quickly persuade them. I don’t know. Teaching them to not pick flowers even though the meadows were bursting with them, was another thing. But we mastered it, because they took full advantage of all the things that were allowed; rolling on their backs down the small hills, running around, lying on the grass… They really do awaken your careless, free side, one that let’s go.
A few meters below, in the small patch of plane you can find a mountain cabin. We only meant to take a short break here before returning back down but we ended up staying for lunch. I don’t know if it’s the air in the mountains’ that makes me hungry the minute we reach the altitude higher than my home town. Perhaps the pretense of exercise, we did walk a few meters, gives me a perfect excuse to indulge in some great food. Either way some of my best meals were consumed in such huts. This one too didn’t disappoint with the excellent minestrone soup. Not even pizza later in the day tasted better. Except to the kids. Their vote would definitely be for pizza.
Anyway this was definitely a road to remember and judging by my hubby’s enthusiasm, one we will have to take every time we visit this region. I am not complaining, I’ll just work on my issues with height, because the views up there should really be savored.
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