To give you a rough idea of just how diverse this place is, here are some stats. Tucked away at the southern end of Ljubljana and expanding to the first foothills of the mountains in the south, the Ljubljana Marshes cover 163 square kilometers or about one percent of the country and as such qualify as Slovenia’s largest wetland. They’re also well-known for their booming wildlife. They house over 100 species of birds, some of them considered endangered worldwide, while as much as half of Slovenian bird population pick this place to hatch. This wetland is also home to 89 species of butterflies, 48 species of dragonflies, 70 percent of all species of frogs found in Slovenia, and countless other animals. My favorite? Deer. As it turns out, winter is the best season for watching these majestic animals strutting around in their completely natural and untamed habitat.
A walk on the wild side in the Ljubljana Marshes
Up among the bush, just a few kilometers south of Ljubljana, binoculars in one hand and a camera in the other, I’m mesmerized by a beautiful sight; a herd of roe deer munching their way through rusty-colored plains. I’d planned spending a few hours exploring the Ljubljana Marshes, wetlands greatly diverse in wildlife, and ended doing a 17-km circle and returning there over the next few days. To say the least, the Ljubljana Marshes themselves were a treat and are easily my favorite place for a relaxing adventure near the capital.
To tell you the truth, my love for the marshes goes way back. In my early twenties, I finally decided to give rollerblades another fair chance, but it wasn’t until I discovered long empty roads crossing the vast plains of the Ljubljana Marshes to fall totally and completely enamored of both the sport and the place. Hours of rollerblading in pristine nature were eventually replaced by cycling, jogging, walking, and game-watching. Seeing Africa and experiencing its safaris a few years later only strengthened this connection and drew me back to the marshes to fill in the big hole the black continent had left in my heart.
The place has relaxed vibes; maybe because of the herds of deer rushing on their way past you; maybe because of a rabbit fleeing from a bush when coming too close; or maybe because of a flock of birds resting on a tall tree chirping in the setting sun.
Although its attractiveness extends throughout the year, the best time for deer spotting is during the cold months when food is scarce and grass too short to offer a hideout. As fate would have it, my kids had caught a nasty bug for the weekend, and once help arrived, my husband and I were given a few hours to ourselves. We opted for some laid-back time in the Ljubljana Marshes on our kick scooters.
We parked our car at the beginning of a gravel road in a village called Črna Vas (also connected to the city center by bus No. 19B; more information on city buses), and slowly headed towards another village on the southern rim of the marshes called Brest. With an exception of a few other guys for the first few kilometers, it was pretty much just us, deer and birds of any color and size. We had a blast. At one point, my husband was holding the camera and taking (boring) landscape pictures while behind his back a big herd of deer was making a run from one hideout to another. After laughing my lungs out about his natural talent of pointing the camera to the exact opposite direction of interesting, I took over the camera, but as soon as I snapped the first photo of my husband and the escaping little white tails in the distance, he started laughing as another big herd crossed the fields a few ten meters behind my back. The result? Lots of laughs and even more useless pictures.
My training app tells me we did 17.24 km in 3 h 25 min at an average speed of 5 km/h and almost no elevation gain (or loss).
The most preserved parts of the Ljubljana Marshes are protected as nature reserves and natural monuments.
When in Črna vas, this small Church of St. Michael, built by a renowned Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik, is a must. Built between 1937 and 1940, it’s one of Plečnik’s most original creations; a sort of combination between Greek temples and traditional churches of Slovenian Karst.
Anyway, I hope your trip to the Ljubljana Marshes turns out as amazing as it has for me.