A Soča Adventure: Experiential Travel Retreat with AdZENtures Yoga
Attending an AdZENtures Experiential Yoga Retreat in Bovec, Slovenia
Bovec is a small mountain town of about 1,500 residents located in the Soča Valley of northwestern Slovenia. I first stumbled upon this hidden little paradise in 2017 whilst on a road trip and dreamed of returning ever since.
Nestled in a green valley flourishing with wildflowers and surrounded by the Julian Alps, Bovec is perfectly situated to explore the stunning nature which seemingly never ends. With tall mountain peaks, emerald-coloured forests, pure glacial lakes, countless waterfalls, and the turquoise Soča River, Bovec never ceases to amaze its surroundings.
Surprisingly, this area was also host to one of WW1’s bloodiest frontlines – the gruesome Isonzo Front (1915-1917), where the Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies fought along a 93km long war zone high in the mountains where 1.7 million soldiers died.
Today, this remote area of Slovenia – far off the beaten path for most tourists, is sought out by nature lovers, backpackers and adrenaline junkies for its extreme and rugged natural beauty. And that’s why I was thrilled when I was recently invited to come along on an AdZENtures yoga retreat in Bovec, for a week of revitalising yoga, outdoor adventures, local cuisine, and cultural experiences.
Lindsey, the owner, looks at travel in the same terms of sharing local experiences, immersing yourself in the culture, being active, and staying healthy. As travelmvmt is all about getting a local perspective on the destinations you travel to, health and self-fulfilment, this was a great opportunity to work with a small business that was closely aligned with the type of travel I’m trying to encourage in the world.
If you want to explore a hidden part of Europe and have an immersive experience while you’re in the area (no matter what your yogi skill level), then this article is for you. In this post we’ll review my experiences in the area, the retreat, and give you some ideas and inspiration to visit the area!
Day 1 – Arrival in Bovec
The journey began when I met up with Lindsey in Venice, who picked me up and drove us over the border into neighbouring Slovenia.
Upon arriving, I was given the keys to an amazing home in Bovec. With a stylish interior, lots of light, a sensational mountain view from my window, and a kitchen stocked full of tasty and healthy food, this this really made my return to Bovec an intimate one. It felt like I was arriving at a friend’s home.
I had my own bathroom, room with Wi-Fi, and on my bed I found some greeting gifts from Lindsey, including a t-shirt made from the most comfortable fabric! This was a nice welcoming touch.
Soon after checking in, I joined Lindsey for the first yoga session set at the base of the valley surrounded by a curtain of Alpine mountains.
Lindsey has a special skill for being able to relax you and push you at the same time. She also has a great focus on teaching the most fundamental skill ever – breathing. Throughout each exercise, we were given reminders on how to contract and relax the right areas of our bodies, all whilst maintaining the correct, deep, rhythmical breath which has so many physical and mental health benefits.
After yoga, we went for a cheeky pint (or three) at Thirsty River Brewing, a local craft-brewery opened by Chad, an American expat, and his wife Anna, a Bovec local. The beers were mouth-watering. The brewery is a popular gathering place, and I met lots of locals as well of adrenaline sports enthusiasts there, especially skydivers and kayakers.
This means being aware of our carbon footprint, reducing waste, and conserving plants, water, wildlife and respecting local cultures.
Day 2 – Mountain top yoga & hanging out with skydivers
The next morning we took a gondola to the top of Mt. Kanin, a 2,499 meter high mountain on the Italian–Slovenian border. Here, we did our first yoga class of the day. The views were amazing.
Afterwards, Lindsey invited me to hang out with some skydivers and watch them do an “in-hop” to a secluded patch of land in the forest. It was my first time being up close and personal in the landing zone, so I had a field day with my camera capturing all sorts of shots and videos of this crazy crew swooping over trees and around bushes and somehow landing safely below.
For dinner, we went to a small, mum-and-pop looking restaurant in a nearby town for some local cuisine. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that this was one of the restaurants owned in fact by one of the world’s top female chefs, Ana Roš. The food was very tasty!
Day 3 – Chill out
I was invited to join some yoga classes and other activities today but I took the day and ended up walking around the town, performing my own home workout, eating some delicious foods and catching up on my journal entries.
It is after all, as our Yoga teacher said, a holiday where you decide how much you participate. As someone who works from their computer and lives a location independent lifestyle, I loved (and needed) that sense of freedom.
Day 4 – Yoga on a secret beach, summer adventures in Italy & a gourmet dinner
In true local style, Lindsey, who has been a local here for 5 years, took us to a hidden-away beach on the Soča River where we practised a wholesome yoga class. With sounds of the river trickling along, a view of the mountains, and the gentle massage of pebbles beneath our yoga mats, it was quite possibly the most fulfilling yoga session I’ve ever had.
The great thing about these classes is that they were very inclusive and had a whole spectrum of people attending, ranging from locals, backpackers, chefs, doctors, adrenaline junkies, seniors, and even a 4 year old!
Afterwards, we made our way to Lake Predil, just over the border in Italy. The water was cool, clean and the view was fantastic.
We had a picnic lunch, played some card games, beach volleyball, and then did another yoga class afterwards by the lake. It was such an epic way to spend a summer day.
But the day was not finished yet! We made the most of our day and headed to Malga Montasio, an organic farm high up in the Italian alps where they produce tantalizing cheeses. We shared a meat and cheese platter, along with a jug of red house wine – delicious.
Day 5 – Hiking, wildflowers and incredible views
We started the day with some yoga in the beautiful valley with a 360 degree view of the mountains surrounding us. The meadows next to us were equally spectacular and bursting with white, purple and yellow wildflowers. It was a dream of mine since I was a child to lie down in flower fields like these, so I finally made that wish come true in Slovenia!
As was the usual structure, with our days, we had a nice meal after yoga and then headed to our next activity. This time it was a hike at Slemenova Špica, which was a fairly simple hike (also suitable for children) but had incredible views of the Slovenian mountains throughout the entire trip.
We concluded the hike with a traditional Slovenian meal and later in the afternoon, enjoyed some craft beers in Bovec.
At night, we had the pleasure of enjoying another feast cooked up by a chef couple (Luke and Chloe) that was staying in the house with us on the retreat. They were lovely and it was incredibly generous of them to offer to cook for us, especially when it was Luke’s birthday!
Day 6 – Sunrise yoga at Mt. Mangart & a Soča River Cookout
What a way to start the day! We woke up early and drove to Mt. Mangart for sunrise. Mangart is 2,679 meters high and the third-highest peak in Slovenia, after Triglav and Škrlatica.
Waking up with the world felt amazing. As we took deep breaths in and out and moved throughout our yoga poses, the sky began to slowly light up with a soft, violet-orange glow. It pierced its way through the heavy, fairy-floss clouds trapped in the valleys below, and highlighted the mountains around us. Doing sunrise yoga with a view like this was sensational way to start the day.
What is eco-friendly travel?
In the evening, we had a cook out on a peaceful beach by the river. We enjoyed freshly caught Soča trout cooked on a campfire for dinner, along with some organic wine, local craft beers and a lot of good company. It was a great way to end the retreat and hang out with the crew from the retreat, and meet some more locals.
Day 7 – Skydiving & Kayaking
The yoga retreat had officially ended and I decided to take advantage of the extreme sports in the area and go skydiving and kayaking. Two firsts for me in one day!
Many skydivers had told me that Bovec was the best place they had ever skydived, and now speaking from experience, I can attest to this. Besides some pre-jump anxiety, I loved every second of it as soon as we jumped out of the plane. It was a clear day, so I had some fantastic birds-eye views of the Alps and all the cute little villages nestled in the area.
Pumping with adrenaline, I decided to go Kayaking after, but on a more scenic, calm route. It was the perfect way to decompress whilst getting a workout on some rapids. Seeing Soča Valley from the river’s perspective was total eye-candy. The turquoise river (which is so clean you can drink from it – and I did), set below an abundantly green chain of mountains, left me breathless as I paddled and soaked it all in.
It was hard to think of any negatives about the retreat or the area. My experience was overwhelmingly positive and I’d love to return and do another retreat one day.
Staying in a charming town, meeting locals, making friends, trying local cuisine, and indulging in the natural beauty made for a truly immersive travel experience. Having Lindsey show us around the area, and give us a local’s perspective of it, made it even better, as it felt like I was really getting to know the place I was in. Moreover, the daily yoga practise was the cherry on top to compliment this experiential retreat, and doing it outdoors in the surrounding valley made for the most breathtaking studio.
For more information about AdZENtures and to book a yoga retreat, click here.