Vrsic Pass Slovenia
From the wonderful Kranjska Gora and Lake Jasna we’re heading to the Vrsic Pass and a highlight of our time in Slovenia.
This stunning route, takes us from Lake Jasna to the 1611m high Vrisic Pass, which is actually the highest mountain road in the East Julian Alps. Connecting Kranjska Gora with Bovec, the seasonal route is usually open between May and October.
Otherwise known as the Russian Road, for reasons I’ll come to later, this fabulous mountain pass, has no few than 50 hairpin bends and views that leave you wanting more.
Russian Chapel – Vrsic Pass Slovenia
Starting the climb away from the valley brings the first glimpse of those dramatic mountains, and they look mighty impressive. Before long, the first hairpin bends send us on an upward spiral, where unusually, sections of cobble stone pavings separate the sealed sections.
Surrounding us are trees, bringing a feel of being in a Canadian state rather than Slovenia. Simply imagining the wildlife under these weighty branches and how pretty it must look on a snowy Winter’s day, brings the senses alive.
Then through a clearing in the trees we spot the most beautiful wooden building. It’s a Russian Orthodox chapel, marking the spot where over 300 Russian prisoner of war died in an avalanche in March 1916.
Luckily, there’s a parking area for visitors. Complete with toilets, which is useful, and it’s easy enough to pull over and take a look.
As you’d expect, the setting is nothing more than idyllic. However, the reason for the chapel’s construction bare a reminder of the true price paid on these mountains.
Spring flowers and mountain streams
Walking up stone steps between trees towards the incredibly pretty wooden chapel, brings a feeling of calm. At this time of year, the first week of May, the spring flowers are filling the landscape with colour.
The sound of mountain streams, slowly trickling the last of the melting snow is peaceful. Surrounding us, more flowers bloom alongside.
Approaching the chapel is beautiful, and although it’s not open to the public, you can wonder around its tiny exterior. Peeking through the keyhole to the entrance door catches a glimpse of the simple, yet perfect interior.
All the while, fine views in this beautiful setting amongst the fir trees, bring such a deep feeling of gratitude for our own, easy way of life today.
Vrsic Pass in Slovenia a tragic history
The Vrsic Pass holds a brutal and tragic tale of war, now hard to imagine in the glory of the picturesque landscapes around us.
However, during WWl, the construction of the road was commissioned by Germany and Austria-Hungary, using labour by Russian prisoners of war.
Hence the reason why the road is referred to as the Russian road. All simply due to the people who built it, and many who lost their lives in the process.
High Mountains and that meadow
Back on the road, the hairpins surround the mountain. Each bring a new perspective and mighty views.
At this time of year, the mountains still have snow, so the impressive reaction to their dominance is ever more real. The road is dramatic, yet not hair-raising enough to feel nervous, unlike some I can think of elsewhere in Europe.
By the time we reach a grassy plateau, we’re ready to stretch the legs, enjoy the mountain views and grab a coffee.
Here, there’s benches to plonk while we take in the views. Also, information boards provide details of the surroundings.
Ahead of us is a strange phenomenon. It’s a hole in the mountain peak, almost an open section where the sky glistens through the rock face.
This scenic, rolling meadow area is the kind of place you could sit, look and contemplate life all day.
The Summit – Vrsic Pass Slovenia
A little further on, we stop again. This time, it’s the summit of the Vrsic Pass and it seems most visitors to Slovenia are joining us.
Not only is it busy for the first week of May, but there’s snow still not he ground too. Stepping out of the campervan, we can’t help step through the melting snow.
Here, there’s a souvenir stall and an off-piste skier, gliding down the last remnants of snow on the mountain.
There’s also fine views, spanning the landscape for miles around. Obviously, with no shortage of photo opportunities to be had.
For us, we take a break for another coffee back at the campervan, because today is the coronation of Kind Charles. So, we want to catch some live footage from Westminster Abbey, all from the Summit of the Vrsic Pass.
Source of the Soca River
Once the crown is placed on the new King Charles and Queen Camilla, we head off down the Vrsic Pass. It’s worth pointing out that the road seems to go on forever, winding along through endless tree-lined scenery.
Then, towards the end of the Vrsic Pass is another place worthy of a stop. This is the source of the Soca River and at first we miss the turning.
After, finding a place to turn around, we head back to the narrow access road. It turns out there’s plenty of proper parking either side of the road.
Next comes a short 15-minute walk along an up-hill path beside a river, which goes well, until we reach a more precarious section involving wire rope and a rocky high ledge.
At this point it’s a one-way traffic type of situation, with only enough space for one person to make their way along the wire at a time. If you can get passed the ledges, then you’d end up at a cave-like formation beyond.
However, we decide to just look from afar, because there’s people walking towards us and not enough space on the ledge to accommodate a gathering.
There’s also people coming from behind, and we’re now about to be caught in the middle. So, we turn back while there’s still room to move both feet.
Although, we do manage to see the water gushing up from the underground lake, which is the source of the Soca River.
So, we leave the dead-end ledge and retreat off the rocks, leaving the source of the Soca behind.
Winding back down the Vrsic Pass towards Bovec brings and end to this iconic mountain road. Just before Bovec, which is the main town in the Soca Valley, we encounter a sign for an unusual water formation.
Pulling over into the roadside parking, we cross a river bridge and enter a wooded path. Here, there’s a narrow chasm where turquoise waters gush through. As the water rushes through the rock, a channel has been carved over time, forming a long chasm.
Not only is the water the bluest of blue, but the way it rushes through the channel of rock is quite dramatic.
It’s only a short walk of a few minutes from the road, so after viewing the bright blue water, it’s back to the campervan. Then, it’s time to hit the road again, although not for long.
Our next stop awaits, in the town of Bovec and Camping Polovnik. We haven’t booked, but there’s plenty of space for the night.
Choosing a pitch with fine views of the mountains at €25 without electric, we settle in for the night.
It’s a lovely little site, with immaculate amenities and within walking distance to some super walks.
So, that’s what we’re doing next time, when we step out along the Soca River. This beautiful trail leads beside the most gorgeous coloured water ever.