We arrived at our next destination, Soca, still pouring rain, something we had been experiencing far too much of in Val Sesia.
Blaž, owner of Positive Sport in Kobarid, a local rafting centre and outdoor equipment shop, greeted us. We were shown to our fantastic accommodation before being invited down for a beer in the local bar, which has to be said, offered some great local beers to refresh us after the long drive from Western Italy.
We woke up in the morning to be greeted by the sight of more water falling from the sky, a quick coffee to wake up with one of the local kayak and raft guides and we had our Jed’s packed and were off to the Soča river.
The river was extraordinarily high compared to the levels usually experienced at this time of year, but it still had the stunning emerald coloured waters that the soča was famous for. We paddled down less than a kilometre before surfing and playing for a while on a small wave. We continued down with some down river freestyle moves until arriving at the Siphon Gorge, and being strongly advised to portage in play boats we obliged. We got in to the van and drove to the next get in on the trip, this time we all switched to our Shiva’s.
The run certainly steepened up with some nice grade 4 boulder rapids with great waves and holes to practice our bigger volume skills, something that we had been missing in narrow creeks of Val Sesia.
The next day we had the race based at the general take-outat the camp groupd but also it was time for us to man up to words in the bar the previous night and paddle the Kozakbach waterfall on the canyoning run that we had scouted the previous day. We got up early and drove to the waterfall walk which had a lot more water going down the small tributary than usual. We got changed and gave the Positive Sport team a call who were all quite excited to see their local canyoning run be paddled by two crazy British paddlers.
After a careful scout, and game of extreme poo-sticks, Cookie was first to put on a helmet and run the drop. After a fairly clean run down I felt pretty confident for firing it up. With some helpful advice from Matt, I was ready in the pool above, I sprinted hard at the lip and tucked off the ledge. I glanced the right hand wall on my way down positioning me for a picture perfect entry and recovery from the drop. We were both fairly stoked to have taken down a first decent, keeping our adrenaline levels high from Italy and the Devils slide just a few days earier.
We then went back to the party site and started setting up the stand with a DJ booth and bar.
The boater X was as great as had been promised with big flood lights beaming out white light emphasising the sapphire blue waters. The rounds hit off fairly quickly with all team members qualifying. After some arduous rounds with a good few crashes, the final was on.
The final was definitely the highlight with all 4 boats fighting furiously for the win. In the end Matj, a Slovenian slalom paddler taking the win. Ajda Novak, a young local top slalom paddler won the women’s boater X with Niamh Cleary from Team Pyranha taking second place.
The rain was really hitting down hard but it didn’t seem to dampen or dilute sprits in the party that had everyone under the tarpaulins hung from the high ropes course into the car-park where the Pyranha bus and bar was.
After the party clear up was completed the next morning we drove to Ljubljana where we dropped off Andy Butler who was traveling to Munich via train then onto the UK, then met up with Ijda who kindly offered us a bed for the night prior to some paddling on the Tacen slalom course.
After a quick run in the morning my self and Matt tested the Shiva’s technical capabilities on the site, they performed exceedingly well allowing us to do slalom courses I would expect to be set in slalom race conditions.
We cruised back to Kobarid that evening and prepared for a scouting mission the next day. First we walked to the Verje Slap waterfall near Bovec, which on photos looked to be a good choice, Unfortunately on closer inspection it turned out all the water needed to make the drop runnable was swallowed up by a Hydro Electric system which was fairly disappointing but it was still a very impressive sight. We also went to scout the Ucja river which also looked promising from the road, however this too was an extremely long walk up a mountain for a river that wasn’t really as steep as we were hoping, but still a beautiful walk and run if the water was a little bit higher. Also the owners of the bar at the road there were extremely helpful and informative. We did however buy chips and drinks J.
That Night we began to look at waterfalls in Europe online, and up popped Croatia. It looked incredible, picturesque and perfect. We found a local rafting centre near one of the falls we wanted to run so we left Kobrid immediately from our kushtie Positive Sport apartment and were there by dawn. After scouting one section that we were told we were not allowed to paddle, we spoke with a local rafting operator who also ran kayak tours. They put us up for the night on their campsite and we went for a climb to the largest bat colony in Europe, a cave only 6 KMs away and had only ever seen my less than a handful of people, we felt very privileged indeed to be there.
The Next day we joined the rafting group on the Zrmanja River. We took a few of the local raft guides paddling, letting them demo our modest fleet of kayaks and doing some kayak school. This river is perfect for kayak school. One of Cookies top 5 rivers in the World for it he said and beautiful too. We tagged along with the Rafttek guides and did our video boating thing to help promote their trips. On arrival to the largest drop on the river, Visoki, both Matt and I were immediately stoked, as it was super clean and deep 40+ fall, exactly what we had been looking for!
Cookie won paper, rock, scissors but let me go 1st. I gladly took down the Nano getting the line I wanted off the lip and plunging deep in to the bubbles at the bottom, Matt followed in his Shiva landing nicely upright at the bottom. Matt then went running back up with the Nano on his shoulder, thirsty for more. He was in a freestyle mood and threw a huge hammer off the lip.
The run continued down with some nice class 3 rapids including the šine rapid. After we got off the river we went to the local bar, which is at the take out in Mušcovi which not only served super cold beers but also amazing burgers!
We could not believe what we had stumbled across, a gem in a most unexpected place not that far from Slovenia, the water is some of the cleanest I have ever seen. That evening we went back to the raft centre where we took some more locals paddling on the flat section above the raft run before heading off to our next destination, Lienz, Austria.