Remote nature has never been as appealing a holiday destination, as it is in the current pandemic circumstances, when we try to keep the distance even when we take a break from work. As such, the UNESCO-inscribed beech forests are now experiencing increased visitor pressure. However, very often there are forests nearby the inscribed ones, demonstrating similar or same characteristics and are better equiped to handle visitors. However, visitors often refuse to go there as they do not have the UNESCO brand. So I decided to see for myself how one of those alternatives work. Enjoying the solitude and greeness, I have embarked on a three day hiking adventure by foraying into the deepest Slovenian forests in Kočevski Rog.
Kočevski Rog is a karst plateau in the Slovenian Dinaric Alps, with the highest elevation of 1099 m. The area is almost entirely forested with some of the densest and most vital carnivore populations and often troublesome history, that is not well known nor visited. Within these forests virgin forest Rajhenavski Rog and a number of other forest reserves persevere, which also include important remnants of primeval Illyric beech forests, just like the UNESCO-inscribed Virgin Forest Krokar represents in the same region.
The Roška Trail is a long-distance, 64 km long trail that takes you from Kočevje into the depths of the forest to uncover some of its secrets. The trail is well and clearly marked and divided into three stages each about 20 something kilometres long. Given the remoteness of the region, the large bear population and uncomfortable recent history, it is not well traversed and there will be few if any people encountered during the hike at all.
The trail led me from Kočevje, the main urban centre in the region, past the villages and meadows that are exceedingly encroached in forests towards the unbroken forests of Kočevski Rog, where beech and fir still reign. The path progresses through different forests, demonstrating consequences of past management with spruce plantations and altered tree composition. Before long, a curious sight occurs, fruit trees and grape vines intermixed in the forest and meadows, devoid of most human activity or constructions, right in the middle of the forest.