I spent as much time as possible researching the web, to make sure that it would be an experience that I wasn’t prepared to miss.
Arrangements were made for GoOpti to collect us www.GoOpti.com and take us to the Mlakar Guesthouse in the Green Karst area of Slovenia. The van was comfortable and it was nice to get some rest on our journey.
The Mlakar Guesthouse has a good reputation for clean and pleasant accommodation, great food and a well-stocked bar. Although we thoroughly enjoyed these aspects it was Miha Mlakar’s (the owner) bear observation programs that we were here for.
Proprietor Miha spent time briefing and answering questions from a very eager group of journalists. I felt very confident that his main interest was not disturbing the bears and ruining their natural environment.
Zdravko (known as the hunter) drove us about ten kilometres up the mountain,stopped and got out when he could continue no further. We followed and walked the last 1.5 kilometres pointing out paw tracks and bear poo excitedly until we reached the bear watching hut. It was on stilts and the size of a UK shed.
The hunter put fruit, nuts and grains around the area within site of the small windows while we took up our seats and got ready to wait.
Bears are wild animals and there’s no guarantee that one will put in anappearance, but I had no doubt, my animal instinct felt very alive and could sense that a bear was on his way.
After only ten minutes in the hide, I saw the unmistakable bulk of a large brown bear heading across the mountain toward the furthest away pile of food. He casually looks around, growls gently and begins to eat. Our cameras snapped away quietly as the bear stretches his massive body, snorts and plays between courses, moving ungracefully from one pile of food to another.
Within 45 minutes he’s so close to us we watch his tongue sticking out as he munches on the vegetarian meal that the hunter left out for him.
Rather than call it a day as we expected, the bear goes around the entire area having left a small amount of food at each location to finish off. It’s at this point that I cough and the bear looks straight at me. Our hearts beat faster at the thought of him running away, but he just sniffs the air and carries on eating, playing and cleaning his fur.
It was now very obvious that he knew where we were.
After ninety minutes and numerous courses he comes within ten metres of us, poos with his butt facing us, sniffs the air and runs off into the forest. We didn’t see him again.
The Green Karst
The Green Karst got its name from the ancient green forests that cover the karst underground. The area is a giant forest and the valleys and mountains provide shelter to various animals that you won’t come across in the UK.
The largest animal in the forest is the mighty brown bear. He is not tame and will never be tamed. He may be intimidating in size, but he is shy and prefers to stay in the safe shelter of the forest.
At times the bear and human paths cross, but no human has been killed since the 1990s. Keep safe and take a tour with the guides at Mlakar Guesthouse. They have the experience and you do not.
Mlakar Guesthouse, Markovec 15, 1386 Stari trg pri Ložu, Slovenia