Though the Logar Valley is considered one of the most popular valleys in Slovenia, it is not so difficult to avoid the crowds. And experience this hidden corner of Slovenia on its own. We decided to make a day trip and explore the heights above Logar Valley. The trip to tourist farm Matk and beyond ended up including so much more then we expected!
Text and photos: Sonja Bezjak
Saying goodbye to the crowds
We drove past the Logar Valley and continued the path towards Pavlič Pass (Pauličevo sedlo), one of the mountain passes from Slovenia to Austria. Rare signposts on meandering paths were inviting us to make a turn to this or that mountain farm … But our path led us steeply uphill to Matk – one of the highest-lying farms in Slovenia.
The drive under the heavy pine branches, which were covering the view to far down towards ravine and the valley, was preparing us for a break of a different kind. It was a farewell from the daily crowds, shops, organized programs for exercise or relaxation, to where our thoughts were still escaping from time to time…
But after the last bend the magical views of the Alpine peaks opened: Krofička, Ojstrica, Škarje, Babe, Planjava, Kamnik Saddle and on the other side Raduha and Olševa. This spectacular view made our thoughts stop and stay still. Here and now.
Matk – a nature friendly farm
Underneath these peaks, at the height of 1165 meters, the lines of the roof from the Farm Matk could be seen. Their estate is spread over a meadow in the middle of dense spruce and larch forests. Soon we learn that here in the mountain air, where nature spares no man, the Matk masters are present since way back in 1461. The old name has survived to the present day.
The Matk tourist farm lies at an altitude of 1,165. It is overlooking the renowned Matkov kot, one of the most secluded glacial valleys in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps
For more than a decade Farm Matk has been as a certified organic farm. In the vicinity of the farm you will find many pleasant walking places. In addition, the area is perfect for mountain lovers and visitors who are attracted to the traditional farming.
Young masters, Klemen and Janja, who opened the door to their warm home, told us that up here nothing much has changed for centuries.
Which is not surprising, because here below high Alpine peaks the Matk masters farm organically as it was done centuries ago.
Awareness of the long tradition of family farming is “fixed” in the mentality here. They treat the land, livestock and the woods with the respect, knowing that they will be handing the estate over intact to future generations.
From farm to craft tourism
Klemen and Janja took over the farm from Klemen’s parents; besides the maintenance of the traditional rural crafts they also started with the tourism. The renovated farmhouse reflects nature, it smells of fresh larch wood, which is what almost all the furniture is made of.
For warmth during the long cold winter days, which go on from October through to May, a large green brick stove, around which newcomers love to sit down (and stay long), takes care.
This is a real luxury for an urban soul, which is usually exposed to the fast-paced city life, its trends and pressures of being the most fashionable, the most beautiful, always the best and successful … However, one thing is certain. The thoughts up here take us away from all the modern life preoccupations.
On Matkov the whole family takes care so that the cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens are in the stable. On the property there is also a beehive. As it is common for Solčavsko, they like to make sure that genuine local food is produced here, which is also served to travelers.
For each meal, the table boasts with local specialties, among which homemade “savinjski želodec” (dried meat product produced on the farm by traditional process dating back more than a hundred years), wholesome cottage cheese, butter, fresh milk, fresh homemade strawberry jam, cranberry jam cannot be overlooked; and the local mountain honey doesn’t go a miss either.
Potočka zijalka Cave
Taking The Solčava Panoramic Path, we drink a very special, so-called “acidified water” – natural spring water, rich in iron.
From there on we followed the signs that led us past Potočka Zijalka Cave, a very important paleontological and archaeological site famous by famous finds from the Stone Age, to the church of St. Spirit, from where the winding path opens up towards Koroška (Carinthia).
Along the way many mountain farms were inviting us to come for a snack or take with us to the valley some of their delicacies. Cheeses, butter, teas, wholesome cottage cheese, meats … all with a flavor of a high mountain.
But curiosity was leading us further and lower; we were on our way to Solčava, the smallest Slovenian municipality, which counts of only 800 inhabitants. In the small museum in the lower ground of the Center Rinka, Solčava is briefly presented in all its vividness.
Wood, fragrant and beautiful. Forestry is at home here already for centuries. Farmers have been trained in cutting down the trees, transporting timber and sawing. People are coming here from far away for wood, for roofing, windows and doors.
Sheep and goats. Since a long time rare meadows and pastures were tended by sheep. With its sharp nose and soft wool, the so called Jezersko-Solčava Sheep is a real rarity. Today, again more and more farms are returning to the production of wool. A few years ago, the yarn women were relocating to Finland, where they were learning how to felt wool. In the museum some of their tapestries are on display.
Nature. Unspoiled nature invites the respectful visitors to join the rare birds and insects, who have found their peace in silence and remoteness.
In the local bar next to the Church of Our Lady of the Snows, we listened to the locals, who were talking about their worries and joys. Living among the peaks requires perseverance and stubbornness, but also devotion and reverence. Among them there are still tales circulating about giants who have been moving rocks and the water men who were taking away the brides or cheeky old women …
But even more recent history haven’t been forgotten, when during World War II German soldiers burnt down Solčava and a number of farms that were cooperating with the partisan resistance in order to protect its people and language.
For the curious ones Solčavsko is the right place, as well as for the lovers of natural beauty and cuisine. However, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that even though the valley builds on its past, it is gazing towards the future. To Ljubno, which is located about 10 kilometers from Solčava, the House Raduha is inviting us. The restaurant with traditional grandmother’s recipes satisfies even the most spoiled. About their lodges on the tree or a room under a hayrack we could write a new reportage…
Some more highlights of our beautiful trip in pictures: