What's New On This Page?
> February 28th, 2005 - Due to pictures coming, inserted a new chapter: 'The Big Caves of Slovenian Karst'
> February 12th, 2005 - Initial setup of the page.
The name Snežnik means 'The Snow Peak' and is pronounced 'Snezhnik'.
Ancient Romans named it Mons Albius (The White Mountain).
Sneznik can be called 'The Third Pole of Slovenian Mountains'. Standing far on the south it doesn't belong to Alps any more. It is a part of the long Dinaric chain, stretching along the whole Balcan penninsula. Its altitude ensures that it is seen from everywhere in Slovenia and from a big part of the neighbouring Croatia, and of course also a broad panorama from its summit. While this is its short mountaineering characteristic, the true nature of this incredible mountain is far richer.
What characterises Sneznik most are its endless forests. Nowadays more than 50% of Slovenia is covered with forests, but really broad and connected areas are on Sneznik massif and around Kocevje town. In both areas there are still many places where man has not step his foot on. This is the area where wild animals can still live in unspoiled nature. It is for example estimated that today some 300 brown bears live in Slovenia (they say some 100 more came temporarily from south during war activities in 1990's). And many of them are in Sneznik forrests.
Being a mountaineering enthusiast a guided trip through Sneznik forrests gives you a complete different experience. Endless woods, beautiful meadows, wild karst canyons, places, where it's better not to enter because of wild animals, on the southern and western part open grassy slopes with a complete different flora and, finally, the panoramic peak, rising a few hundred meters above forrests. On such a trip you soon understand how is it possible that some people can spend a whole life exploring and enjoying these forrests.
Sneznik massif has a dense network of forrest roads. It's no use to show them all on the map. While hiking through woods is one story, a real mountaineering experience is limited only on the highest parts of the mountain. Marked paths ascend to the summit from all sides. A nice option would also be biking through these vast forrests. But altitude differences are quite big. In winter from Sneznik ski tours can be done. The very summit has nice but unfortunately short slopes for real skiing, but also through forrests in winter distance can be made much better with skis than without them. All outdoor activities are supported by a mountain hut on the very summit and a tourist centre on Sviscaki, some 2 hours away.
Geography and Other Places To SeeOn the north, Sneznik massif is connected with the similar, forrested shoulder, called Javorniki. The western and southwestern border of the region are the valleys of Pivka and Reka river. Towards south the Slovenian area of Sneznik continues with similar hills, belonging to the Croatian massif, called Gorski Kotar (a very interesting summit there is Risnjak, 1528m). On the eastern side the boreders of the massif are in karst valleys of Cabranka, Obrh and the like.
In general there are three different types of mountain landscape: the broad forrested plateaus and hills, the bare (grassy and rocky) cone of the summit and the broad grassy slopes and hills on the western and south-western side of the massif. The latter are called Gure an Milanja and are also a nice hiking and cycling area.
In the broad surroundings there are some other interesting places:
The biggest and most famous karst caves of Slovenija: Postojnska jama (jama=cave), Skocjanske jame and others. Close to the highway. World famous places!
Cerknisko jezero (lake). North of Sneznik there's a broad karst field which is unique in Europe. In spring it's filled with water, being so the largest lake of Slovenia. But during the year underground outflows manage to drain water away and in late summer and autumn the whole area becomes a dry field.
Even more north-west of Cerknisko jezero there's a nice karst valley with a creek, called Rakov Skocjan. The most famous landmark there is a big natural bridge.
Sneznic castle. North of Sneznik massif, where a good road enters them. Also a nice parc nearby.
Savannah-like grassy slopes of Milanja and Gure.
The summit of Sneznik.
Zdrocle. South-east of the summiz of Sneznik there's a region in the forrest, where karst phaenomena are at most expressed.
Cerknisko Jezero and Rakov SkocjanIt's not Sneznik mountain itself, but also not far away. For those who love observing karst phaenomena, here are a few pictures.
The Big Caves of Slovenian KarstCreating this chapter, I had to resolve a dilemma, because this is not any more Sneznik mountain itself. But it is its neighbourhood. And, we all love nature, don't we?
On Slovenian (and a bit also on the neighbouring Italian) karst there are thousands of caves, some of them of gigantic dimensions and many of them of astonishing beauty. The most famous are arranged for touristic visits, as for example: Postojnska jama (jama=cave), Skocjanske jame (the UNESCO heritage), Vilenica, Krizna jama, Pivka jama, Dimnice etc. Besides ordinary visits it is possible to arrange also guided tours, which can be an astonishing experience - from hours of walking through the unspoiled underground to hours of underground travelling by boats - all in presence of the most beatuful possible cave decoration.
The broader area of Sneznik massif
From the surrounding valleys and planes many roads are entering the massif of Sneznik. But for public use only some are really useful. From the south-west a good road goes up from Ilirska Bistrica. The town can be reached from Postojna (where you exit the highway from Ljubljana to the coast) via Pivka. From Croatia the town can be reached by the road from Rijeka.
The other major point of departure is the castle of Sneznik, on the northern side of the massif. It can be reached from the highway via Cerknica and Loz.
Red TapeNo limitations.
When To ClimbSneznik can be climbed any time of the season. In winter the road from Ilirska Bistrica to Sviscaki is regularly cleaned because of a small sport centre there. If there is a lot of snow the broad forrest area is very hard to cross, even with skis. Also orientation in forrests can be a major problem (not only in winter).
Huts and Camping
There's no need for camping places, because in these forrests you can set up a tent everywhere - if you dare. On the very summit of Sneznik there's a mountain hut - Drago Karolin hut, tel.: +386 (0)50 615 356.
Two experiences: 1. The SummitWe were several times on the summit, but allways did the short approach from Sviscaki. The primary goal was panorama and in two cases to do a ski tour. From Sviscaki you follow the marked path through the forrest. It ascends only slowly and you do quite a distance. In winter if it would happen that you're the first to go after heavy snowing, orientation might be a problem despite the marked path. After 1h 30min you reach out of woods and only the summit cone is in front of you. After crossing the slope of the NW shoulder you go up to the hut and the summit directly.
The panorama from Sneznik is very broad. On the north and north-west you can see Alps ranges stretching. Of course Julian Alps and Kamnik Alps are the most clearly seen. Towards the west the hilly Slovenian Kras (karst) can be seen and more towards south-west the hills of northern Istra stretching all the way towards Ucka. Left of Ucka, already in the south direction the Kvarner bay is shining. Of it islands Cres is especially nicely seen. Towards the south-east Dinaric mountains are continuing. First Gorski Kotar with Risnjak, far in distance Velebit. The whole eastern horizon is the hilly rest of Slovenia.
Second experience - ZdrocleThis is a funny name, isn't it? South-east of the summit there's an area in the forrest, where karst phaenomena are very expressed. Deep valleys with vertical limestone walls, holes, labirynths of rock formations, all in the forrest, so that the orientation is even harder. They also say that hunters don't like visiters there.
One day a good expert for Sneznik took us on a day trip through its woods. After visiting a few nice places we parked the car on a narrow forrest road and started to walk by a hardly recognisable path. But it continued persistently and after some 20 minutes we reached a nice meadow with a water source. In the mud around it, clear, fresh footprints of a bear were seen. Well, also before of this we weren't relaxed much. Suddenly our friend said he was feeling bad. A difficult night or whatever, he decided to take a sleep and proposed us to continue without him. Easy to find, he said, but in next one hour and more we were trying to remember each tree out there. Beyond a saddle in the forrest we continued by a shoulder and after reaching the edge of the first karst valley we proceeded right around it. Turning right, turning left, avoiding cliffs, seeing in imagination wild animals everywhere. Finally we climbed over some rugged cliffs and found ourselves in the middle of a wild world of rugged walls and chasms. Beautiful! We carefully tracked the route back. The friend showed up from the other side of the meadow. He told us, that after laying down, when everything quieted down, all sorts of animals appeared. But no bears, of corse.
You might ask why am I mentioning those bears all the time. Well, here on Balkan, they are not allways friendly. And - if you think a bit - they are stronger than you, faster, climb better, swim better, all in all, you much depend of their good mood.
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