Slovenia is one of the top countries in Europe for sighting of Brown Bears along with Finland. So much so that bears from Slovenia have been relocated to neighbouring countries like Austria, Italy and France.
Some More Brown Bears Statistics
It is said that in the 18th century Brown Bears used to be very common in Slovenia. Since then habitat destruction, increasing agriculture, regular huntings have had a toll on the number of Brown Bears. So much so that in beginning of 20th century, there were only 30-40 Brown Bears in Slovenia. Thanks to conservation efforts and restrictions on hunting, today the number is believed to be around 500-700.
My Experience with brown Bears of Slovenia
During my recent visit to Slovenia I was keen to see Brown Bears and a little online search showed that they are seen near the town of Markovec, which is 1 hour drive from the capital city of Ljubljana. Here a person has made what is called Brown Bear Hides. These are small tree houses in the dense forests of Markovec.
For anyone wishing to watch a Brown Bear, the idea is to wait at one of these hides and hope for the Bears to turn up. For the one day I had, I decided to do the same and wait the full day in a hide.
The morning session started at 6am and we waited till 11am. No luck. Then at post lunch I came back for another attempt at 2pm.
Around 3pm, there was a surprise visit by a red fox, which just passed by.
We waited another hour. Around 4, there was a thundering sound from the ground and when we looked back from the hide it was brown bear cubs which were running and playing in the forest.
They decided to show up in front of our hide giving us some photo ops. They left in sometime and then a big male showed up. It surveyed the area for some time, relaxed in the rocks and finally left us at 8pm.
Interesting to note, during this season there is day light in Slovenia till 9pm. So for us the afternoon session was full of action and moments with Bear.
Best time to spot brown bears in Slovenia?
The peak months for Bear sighting as the local guide told is from May till September. In the winter months the Bears generally hibernate.
Here are some pictures I got. We will plan for Slovenian Bears along with landscapes of Bosnia and Croatia in an upcoming Balkan photography tour.