Located in the Triglav National Park, the river Soca is the most popular summer destination for tourists in Slovenia. The centre of the park is the fabulous holiday village of Bovec. The town, along with the river, offers many leisure activities (such as hiking, canyoning, kayaking, SUP, etc.), but the most popular of all is rafting.
There are three main reasons for the popularity of rafting. One is that it is the cheapest program, which can cost almost half as much as the other sports. The minimum age is also the lowest, as it is possible with small children from 6. Lastly, it’s worth being aware that there are tours several times a day, making rafting the most frequent program in the area.
You can go rafting on several sections of the river (with various difficulty levels), so those who want some family or extreme sports will also find the one that suits them best.
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But let's also look at the essential details ...
Soca rafting map - Bovec
Soca flows from north to south, and the part located in the Triglav National Park is called the Soca Valley. The valley has 3 major cities, and the most popular is Bovec. The other two are Tolmin and Kobarid.
As the northernmost town in the valley is Bovec, it is the longest downhill rafting on the river. There are 15 official entry points on the river that are allowed by the tourist board.
(You can also raft from Kobarid or Tolmin. In that case, you can either travel less on Soca or follow the example of the local tour guides who would drive up to Bovec and start the tour from there.)
Family-friendly, beginner rafting
The difficulty division of the river is divided into scales I to VI, where the Roman one is the easiest section.
The average rafting tour on the river is suitable for families and beginners / who don't have any previous experience. They can paddle on the II-III parts of the Soca. Anyone can do these parts without any prior experience, but confident swimming skills are essential!
It also is possible to exit the river before section IV near Trnovo.
It is also worth knowing that depending on the water level, the difficulty of the river can increase. On a given day, the tour guides will know the current details of the water level and decide on the "exit". That’s why the actual length of the tour can always vary a bit.
Exit: where you can join the river, you can also disembark, which means that you can leave the river more than 10 points. Therefore, either when booking the tour or before the tour, is it worth asking where the entry is and where the exit is?
When can you do rafting in Bovec?
The season for rafting and other water sports are determined by the Slovenian Tourist Board. This means you can’t jump into the rafts all year long.
The season begins in mid-March and lasts until the end of October. The main season is from July 1 to August 31. During the season you can be on the water from 9 am to 6 pm.
Those who do not have the right license and permit can only go rafting with a professional, qualified, and Slovenian state-recognized guide!
Kayaking, rafting, canyoning are all subject to a license, which the tour guide buys at the beginning of the season, so we don't have to pay for it.
Rafting is truly a family-friendly program, as you can find tours from the age of 6 - or 105 cm. These beginner-friendly, or family rafting tours start daily. A tour with smaller children has an average 7 km length, which is roughly 1.5 hours on the river.
From the age of 8 - 10, we have even more options, and we can try out all the beginner and family rafting.
Heavier, IV strength tours are more suitable from the age of 14 - 16.
During the season, an easy, beginner, and kid-friendly tour costs around 50 - 60 euros per person. There are some places that give kids a 10 - 20% discount, but that’s not typical.
Advanced, longer rides are slightly more expensive. These range from 70 - 100 euros, depending on how long is the tour.
It is worth booking rafting tours a few days or even a week in advance! During the summer season, it is not uncommon for a larger group of 6 to 8 people to book a whole raft.
Do I have to pay in advance?
Yes, most local providers will ask for a down payment or the full amount in advance. The reason for this is to cover their own costs.
At first, this may sound strange, but if you think about it, it makes sense, as they also have to pay for the bus, petrol, tour guide, license, etc ...
A standard raft has an average of 8 to 10 seats where the driver sits in the back and steers the raft. There is also a smaller mini raft version that can only carry two or three people.
If you would like to raft with your partner only, you can only go into the shallow, drift-poor parts of the river. This is for safety reasons. In this case, the tour guide follows us with another mini raft and so we can go along the river together.
If you want to go out to the wilder waters, you need to sit in the same raft with the guide.
Mini rafts are not as popular as the usual ones.
First, it’s worth knowing that an average rafting tour isn’t just about rowing endlessly without stopping for a moment. You will stop along the coast at least 1-2 times. Depending on the team, you will have 10 to 20 minutes stops each time. The tour guide will choose the stops carefully. S/he will pick the places which are ideal for swimming, or there are nearby rocks where you can jump from, etc.
So when you see that the program is 2 hours, it means that this is the time spent on the water, which includes the rests and breaks as well.
A more difficult, long rafting tour, for example, is the Zmuklica - Trnovo line; is 17 km long and you will spend 3 hours on the river. (This also includes a section of difficulty of IV and starts north of Bovec.)
How not fall out from the raft?
One of the most typical fears about rafting is that we're going to fall out ...
Since we have the oar in both hands, it feels uncomfortable at first that we can’t grab anything with our hands. The solution is that we will have to hold ourselves with our feet by hooking them into the ropes inside the raft.
We’ll get used to this "weird pose" after a while. Therefore, it is customary to get on the river at a point where there is essential “nothing” exciting in the first few kilometers. Just practice and get to know the raft.