Forest Bathing in Kočevski rog With Kids

Visiting Kočevski rog with kids has been on top of my to do list for years. But Slovenia is full of amazing places, it was never this region’s turn. Until now. The weather forecast forced us to look into the Southeastern parts of the country. I jumped with joy when I discovered this could be the time to visit Kočevje. We share our tips on visiting and enjoying the deep lush forests this place is known for.

Kočevski rog with Kids

Kočevski rog with Kids

When I started planning our Saturday trip, I started off with knowing close to nothing about this region. Embarrassing. Yes, you are correct.

  What I did know about Kočevje is the fact that it’s famous for its forest.

Only to find out that Kočevje region represents the best preserved forest habitat in Europe and one of it’s largest.

Wandering through the deep lush hundred year old woods on a nice Fall day, sounded like the perfect thing to do with kids.

But how do we make it happen? Where do we go? I bit my nails, confused, while trying to find information on-line. It was scarce, especially if you are looking for info in English.

I could tell this region doesn’t see the number of tourists the capital Ljubljana does.  It came as no surprise, that when I confessed to my friends about never setting foot in the Kočevje region in the southern Slovenia, I was followed with: “Me neither.” But after our visit, I have realized it is more a blessing than a curse. We had all the peace and quiet for ourselves.

And because these parts were always remote, they were scarcely populated and very solitary. Thanks to the absence of people and farming; we now have a vast wilderness for wildlife to live undisturbed.

How to get to Kočevski rog?

I’ll tell you how we did it. We drove to the town of Kočevje and our first stop was the town square. Armed with cups of coffee we unfolded our map of the Roška pešpot – Rog Trail. We tried Rog Sawmill on Google Maps, since the map mentions this place as a great starting point for exploring parts of the vast wilderness.

We wanted to just see a small part, but Google Maps was of no particular help. It actually helped us get on the trail and instead of walking it, we drove a part of the trail. Beware, if you think of doing the same – its all macadam and some parts might be tricky, but beautiful.

I was actually thinking how cool it would be to take the time and one day not cheat, walk around these part.

There is a better, still macadam road to get you to Rog Sawmill, or you can explore the trail starting from the Kočevje Lake. If you understand Slovene, this page will help you plan: www.kocevje.si/turizem/.

How to explore Kočevski rog?

There are more different nature learning and hiking trails and following one is the best way to explore the region. They show you the most important sites, such as the: ruins of old villages, forest reserves, tree giants, kart caves…

Roška trail is marked with the symbol of a bear’s paw and it is 60 kilometers long. You are supposed to walk it for 72 hours to be precise, but it leads you through the best of Rog.

What to visit?

Here are a few places, all along the Roška trail:

Rajhenav virgin forest: approximately 50 ha of an untouched forest. A place where giant beech and fir trees grow, fall, die freely. Beware that this is also home for many species of animals. You could very well encounter wolves, bears, and lynx. And you are only allowed to look at the very borders of it, only scientists have the right to explore it.

Baza 20:  during the WWII, the forest was an important hideaway for the Slovenian resistance movement. They built facilities, which included a hospital and command centers in the forest. Today it houses a museum you can visit to learn more about this dark period of Slovenian history.

The forest also hides more sinister sites: too many mass graves. We didn’t stop to visit them.

Queen of Rog fir tree: 51 meters tall, this is said to be the most magnificent fir tree in Slovenia and you’d think we’d notice it, as we drove by on our way to Rajhenav virgin forest. We didn’t.

The Rog Sawmill: once a huge complex of buildings, today a great starting point for exploring Rog or hiking.

What to do?

Kočevski rog is the best place to try a bit of what the Japanese call forest bathing – shinrin-yoku, “immersing in the forest atmosphere.” It is about leisurely visiting a forest for health benefits.

Studies have shown that it can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lower blood pressure and boost your immune system.

The goal is not to have a goal, actually. Just go in to the woods and walk slowly, breath, smell the air, touch the trunks of the trees, observe the sights before you, be at peace, hear the leaves moving with the wind. Unplug.

And guess what, kids love it. Ours were relaxed, happy, playful and at ease. There was no rush, no traffic, nothing to mind… just nature surrounding us and offering a place to play…

 

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