Slovenia’s Kozjak Waterfall and Soča River Gorge – Images and Traveler’s Notebook

This is Slovenia’s Soča River, with its unique emerald hues, one of the country’s most loved natural attractions.

And below is the Veliki Kozjak Waterfall, or Slap Kozjak, widely regarded as one of Slovenia’s most beautiful falls. I have no reason to doubt either characterization.

Bathers enjoying the cool waters below the Kozjak Waterfall, or Slap Kozjak
Bathers enjoying the cool waters below the Kozjak Waterfall, or Slap Kozjak

Located a pleasant 30-minute walk from the Kobarid-Drežnica road that’s just a kilometer from the edge of Kobarid in the Soča River valley, reaching the falls requires an easy hike that’s most pleasant on a hot summer’s day when the Kozjak stream that hugs the path through a lush green forest acts as the most sublime natural air conditioning I’ve ever experienced.

That makes it popular, too, so expect to share the path with others looking to escape the heat. But don’t let that turn you off.

The 15-meter high Veliki (big) Kozjak is at the terminus of a series of six cascades formed by its eponymous stream –sometimes a brook, at others a small river— that springs from the 2142m-high Mt. Krnčica that eventually feeds the Soča river from the east.

It all plunges into this fairly large and almost entirely covered cavern-like space which features this turquoise-blue pool which in turn birthed my only regret of the day: that I didn’t bring or wear swimming shorts. Those who did couldn’t stop raving about how clean, crisp and cold the water was.

The Kozjak Waterfall
The Kozjak Waterfall

As mentioned, it’s an easy walk, and could be done alone if you’re pressed for time, but a better idea is to couple it with the Kobarid Historical Trail, a four-hour loop to and from Kobarid, a picturesque town of about 1500 that is a Mecca of sorts for World War I history buffs. The city gave its name –Caporetto in Italian– to the 1917 Battle of Caporetto which Ernest Hemingway documented in A Farewell to Arms. There’s a very good museum that’s well worth visiting.

If you don’t have four hours for the entire trail, there are several shorter and more immediate options to bundle with the Kozjak Waterfall hike, including trails along the Soča River, paths to World War I gun placements and observation posts high above the river, and taking in a 52-meter long footbridge over the impressive Soča River Gorge.

The Soča River Gorge near Kobarid
The Soča River Gorge facing north

 

The Soča (Isonzo in Italian) has long been my favorite river in Slovenia. Known for its emerald green hues, it lent its name to the 12 battles of the Isonzo Front –the Battle of Caporetto was the last– where cumulative casualties were enormous; about 300,000 from the Italian side and 200,000 for Austria-Hungary, making it one of the bloodiest theaters the world has ever seen. It’s cold, about 12C (53F) year round. And yes, I took a dip. I can’t wait to do it again.

A few more images of the river are below.

Soca River near Kobarid Slovenia 7
The Soča River Gorge facing south

 

Soca River near Kobarid Slovenia 6
The Soča River Gorge from a 52m long footbridge

 

Soca River near Kobarid Slovenia 4
The Soča River at midday along the Soča Trail

 

Soca River near Kobarid Slovenia 3

Soca River near Kobarid Slovenia 2
The Soča River’s typical emerald hues

 

Kobarid Historical Trail map
Kobarid Historical Trail map

 

Slovenia's Kozjak Waterfall and Soca River Gorge from Piran Cafe
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Getting there: From Kobarid head east, following signs for Slap Kozjak and Napoleon’s Bridge. There’s a parking lot on the right about 100 meters past the bridge; bring change to pay your parking fee. The path begins across the street next to the entrance for Kamp Koren.

Maps: Pick up a free Kobarid Historical Trail brochure from any of the are Tourist Info Offices; available is several languages, it has plenty of useful information and is the only map you’ll need.

 

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  1. ladieswholunchreviews says

    Gorgeous pictures, Bob. What gives the water that beautiful green color, do you know?

    1. Bob R says

      It’s from the reflection of micro-crystals of Calcite and calcium carbonate deposits in the river bed. It’s believed to be a very rare example of a river that maintains this color throughout its length. It’s inspired lots of poets. 🙂

      1. ladieswholunchreviews says

        I thought it must be some mundane reason like minerals, but it’s truly beautiful!

      2. ladieswholunchreviews says

        I thought it must be some mundane reason like mineral 🙂

  2. Pal says

    An absolutely stunning place. Haven’t heard much of it in the past, but you convinced me, it’s time to go. There are similar looking places in Transylvania, but that colour of the water is nowhere to see.

    1. Bob R says

      It’s a gorgeous area. Just a couple hours west of Ljubljana but an entirely different world. You really should swing by one day. 🙂

  3. Mick Canning says

    Looks absolutely wonderful, Bob!

  4. bisimodupe1975 says

    Breath taking views of Soca River…nice shots!!

    1. Bob R says

      It’s a beautiful river. Really looking forward to my next visit in a couple of months.

  5. Brad Nixon says

    Excellent photos and commentary, as always. Thanks for the context on what happened there nearly 100 years ago. I wasn’t familiar with the other place names, but Caporetto certainly stands out in the history of WWI. It must have been hellish fighting in the country. Glad to have a knowledgeable guide to the beauty of the place as it is now.

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