MEET THE PEOPLE: Johannes Bergfors, Founder of Meeting Mountains
The motivation behind his Soča Valley based experience agency is spreading knowledge and love for the natural world!
What is the story behind your decision to move to Slovenia?
Before moving to Slovenia from Sweden I had a fast paced lifestyle – I was travelling the world teaching an extreme sport, cooking fine dining food as well as making movies and taking photos professionally. But I noticed I was losing touch with the natural world and wanted to get closer to it.
Slovenia obviously has a lot of stunning nature and a lifestyle where low consumption and gardening is encouraged, so it seemed like a perfect place to learn.
Where in Slovenia do you live, and what’s it like there?
I live in Bovec in the Soča Valley. Snow clad peaks surround a green valley with a stunning azure blue river running through it. It’s an alpine Eden. Bovec is arguably the centre of outdoor activity in Slovenia. Hiking, biking, climbing, paragliding and white water activities are very easily accessible.
Still, it’s not full of spa hotels and neon signs. It has a charm, is full of flowers and waterfalls. The locals live in harmony with nature, grow their own vegetables and hold animals. Food is mostly made from local produce and is a mix between traditional Slovenian, Italian and Austrian cuisine. The Soča Valley is beautiful and restful for the soul.
What are some of the challenges you faced when you arrived? Is there anything you still find difficult?
As I mentioned, I moved here to learn more about the natural and my Slovenian friends are teaching me to forage plants, grow a garden and understand the local weather.
I’m from Sweden but travelled a bunch, so I suppose that it’s sometimes been challenging to find people that want to socialise the same was as I’m used to – having lots of friends over for dinners, listening to music and joking about ourselves and our weird expectations of life.
When did you get so excited about the mountains and the outdoor adventures in general?
I’ve always looked at forests and mountains with admiration, but when I learned how to dress and equip myself properly I felt empowered to actually enter these beautiful places. My friends Ode Siivonen and Joze Biro (www.guide360.pro) are mountain guides and they helped me a lot.
I really enjoy being present in strong weather conditions – especially thunder and lightning. It affects all my senses at the same time and its a great natural rush.
What can people expect when they sign up for a tour with Meeting Mountains, do you arrange accommodation as well, how they can find you?
The core mission of Meeting Mountains is to help others reconnect with the natural world – like I did. I do this in three ways. The first is to plan their vacation including beautiful experiences, cuisine, activities, accommodation and travel advice.
The second is to consult travellers that want to speak to a local about Do’s and Don’ts about what to do and how stuff works. The third way is to directly bring guests on hiking tours where I lead them to stunning locations, all while teaching them the basics of trekking and a bit of local flora & fauna.
Besides our Meeting Mountains webpage you can also find us on Instagram as meeting.mountains!
Are your hiking tours also suitable for beginners, what level of hiking experience is necessary?
Yes, outdoor hungry beginners are our primary target! At first contact we discuss the weather and the fitness level. We then make a plan with the right goal setting that feels good.
What parts of Slovenia have you already visited, what were the highlights, what surprises you the most here comparing back home?
I’ve been around most of Slovenia, and I always look for unique locations where time seems to stand still, where there’s traditional architecture, great energy and genuine experiences with hosts that are passionate about what they do.
I haven’t stopped appreciating things like sheep crossing the road with their shepherd, colourful flowers in public areas and a poop smelling tractor rolling through the centre of Bovec.
Any other favorite things to do in Slovenia (besides hiking and visiting mountains)?
Gardening, climbing, paragliding and visiting artisans who craft beautiful food and handcrafts!
Would you like to add anything else about Meeting Mountains, your moving to Slovenia or Slovenia as a country in general?
Much of our world is moving at a very high pace. Some things are true to our nature but are being forgotten. Slovenia is an incredible location where traditions are honoured and the synergy with nature is part of every day life and I’m grateful to be here to participate.
My aspiration is to share this with as many as possible – for the sake of our own health and for our home planet.
You can also follow Meeting Mountains on Facebook!