“We’re going to hit the rock!” yelled our eldest daughter Izzy, as we were rafting down the Soča river in Slovenia. As our guide kept shouting “keep paddling forwards” a fleeting moment of panic was replaced with the realisation that was exactly what he intended!
We all paddled harder in anticipation, and before we had time to think (or do a risk assessment!) we bounced into the rock, lifting the raft upwards and jolting us into the cold Soča water. What a hit – smiles and squeals of delight all round.
Create Family Memories Rafting in Slovenia
Teenagers are often absorbed in a virtual world, and it can be difficult to compete with a screen. However, rafting is a great activity to re-connect the family to the natural world and to each other. Jumping into icy water (don’t be fooled by the inviting turquoise colour of the Soča river) is life affirming, and looking out for each other and working as a team to navigate the rocks creates a shared family experience. Especially when it involves saving me as I unexpectedly tumbled out of the raft into the fast-flowing water!
When to Go Rafting down the Soča River?
We had been hoping to go rafting in Slovenia for some time. In the summertime, the Soča river is usually low so the rapids are fairly gentle. If you are slightly nervous about rafting, as I was, this is therefore the time to go. If you fancy a more adrenaline-fuelled rafting adventure go in early spring, when the Soča river is at its highest. You are more likely to get the full “white-water” experience – although the river is closed if the water is too high.
Adrenaline Adventure in Slovenia
The Soča river was fairly calm when we went, perfect for our first family rafting trip. But it was still fast enough to have a lot of fun riding the rapids and steering between rocks…
For a bit more excitement, our guide Jakob upturned the inflatable raft to make a slide. Not your conventional slide though… We were encouraged to fling ourselves headfirst into the bracing water. And as if that hadn’t caused our heart rates to increase, we tried jumping and flipping in the air.
There was huge amounts of laughter, and this was a great opportunity to test our limits. Later, we stopped at a 7-metre high rock and the real adrenaline junkies could jump off the top. Not for the fainthearted!
Spectacular Scenery of the Triglav National Park
As well as the rapids, you can enjoy real moments of tranquillity as you paddle down the river. The Soča river and surrounding Julian Alps are considered to be some of the most beautiful natural gems within the Triglav National Park.
The scenery is stunning, and this part of the Soča valley was used to film scenes in the film Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2007). The first film, The Chronicles of Narnia, was filmed in New Zealand and the producers were looking for a similar landscape to shoot the second film. And that’s when they found the Soča valley in Slovenia! Andrew Adamson, director of the movie, said “The beauty of this place overwhelmed me, as a director and a tourist. It is gorgeous and the Soča river is the perfect place for filming a fairytale.”
Keeping Everyone Happy on Holiday in Slovenia
We all loved rafting down the Soča river, from the slightly nervous (me) to the teens, who were seeking more of an adrenaline experience. Often on holiday, finding an activity that everyone is enthusiastic about is a challenge in itself. Rafting was a perfect choice and one which the teens would happily exchange a screen for again!
Practical Information for Rafting down the Soča River
The main centres for rafting on the Soča river are in the towns of Bovec and Kobarid. There are plenty of providers in each area. From Lake Bohinj, allow 2.5 hours in the car to get there.
We booked our family Soča rafting adventure with Jakob at Bovec Canyoning, who had been recommended to us by a friend. We booked via email and Jakob was flexible about dates and easy to communicate with. He speaks perfect English, which is important when you have to quickly follow instructions.
What to Expect on the Rafting Trip
We met at Jakob’s base in Čezsoča to pick up equipment – wetsuits, shoes, life jackets, helmets. Jakob then drove us to the starting point about 10 minutes away. After getting the raft into the Soča river, we had a safety briefing and then tested the bracing water for the first time. The equipment was all new, and we were incredibly grateful to have long sleeved wetsuit tops in the water. We saw that in other groups people had their arms exposed – it does make a difference when the water is that cold.
The first part of the trip is on calm water, perfect for testing our ability to follow instructions. You can also enjoy floating down the Soča river and can get used to the cold water. The second part of the rafting trip is more dynamic with rapids, rocks and jumping opportunities.
After about 2 hours rafting down the Soča river, we finished at Trnovo. We carried the raft back up to the minibus, changed and were driven back Čezsoča.
We felt very safe during our family rafting adventure. Jakob clearly knows the Soča river well and has a lot of technical knowledge about rafting. The whole experience was captured on Jakob’s GoPro, which meant we could immerse ourselves in the rafting experience without worrying about taking our own shots. The videos were emailed afterwards to us and this was included in the price. The cost was €45 per person. Allow around 3.5 hours for the whole trip.
*All costs and details accurate summer 2020