Thinking what to do this weekend? The hiking lovers should definitely visit a herdsmen settlement on Velika Planina (Big Mountain) before the shepherds move their livestock to the lower grounds for the winter.
Velika Planina is a magical plateau in the Kamniško-Savinjske Alpe not far from Kamnik. It is one of the largest herdsmen’s settlements in Europe, comprising some 140 huts.
To get to the plateau, you can take a cable car located in Kamniška Bistrica valley. This is the fourth longest unsupported cable car ride in the world and offers amazing views of the surrounding mountain peaks and valleys. More patient hikers and those scared of heights can reach the plateau by foot via a number of popular mountain routes. Those include: Kranjski rak which takes around two and a half hours; Kraljev hrib in Kamniška Bistrica Valley which takes around three hours; and Stahovica (via Sv. Primož) which takes just under four hours.
Once you’re at 1,418m where the cable car stops, to reach the top you can take a chairlift or walk up. The slow-moving chairlift will give you a birds’ eye view of the slopes and mountain caps. Once at the top, it will take you another 30-45 minutes to walk to the settlement, passing beautiful karst landscape on the way.
The plateau has one of the last surviving high mountain herdsmen villages in Europe. The landscape is full of karst phenomena, with sinkholes and collapsed dolines, intercepted by intertwining hiking routes.
Once there, walk around the cows, take photos with shepherds dressed in traditional clothes, and stop in one of the huts to taste the local homemade delicacies: sour milk and žganci (buckwheat). If available, you should definitely try the local cheese Trnič, one of Velika Planina specialties. In the past, the shepherds used to give the cheese to the girls they were trying to charm. The girls saw it as a romantic gift and if a girl liked the shepherd, she would keep the cheese, if not, she would accept it and eat it.
These days, the villagers use their charming skills to woo the visitors and not only with local delicacies. One hut also has a band that plays traditional Slovenian music, with many tourists joining in the fun. If you find it hard to let go and a day visit is not enough, you can sleep over in one of the huts to catch the most amazing sunrise in silence interrupted only by the sound of passing herds.
Where is Velika Planina? See below: