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Triglav National Park/Slovenia

Introducing Triglav National Park

Triglav National Park (Triglavski Narodni Park), abbreviated TNP everywhere in Slovenia, with an area of 83,800 hectares (just over 4% of Slovenian territory), is one of the largest national reserves in Europe. It is a pristine, visually spectacular world of rocky mountains – the centrepiece of which is Mt Triglav (2864m), the country's highest peak – as well as river gorges, ravines, canyons, caves, rivers, streams, forests and Alpine meadows.

Although Slovenia counts three large regional parks and 44 much smaller country (or 'landscape') parks, this is the country's only gazetted national park, and it includes almost all of the Alps lying within Slovenia. The idea of a park was first mooted in 1908 and realised in 1924, when 1600 hectares of the Triglav Lakes Valley were put under temporary protection.

The area was renamed Triglav National Park in 1961 and expanded 20 years later to include most of the eastern Julian Alps. Today the park stretches from Kranjska Gora in the north to Tolmin in the south and from the Italian border in the west almost to Bled in the east. The bulk of the park lies in Gorenjska, but once you've crossed the awesome Vršič Pass – at 1611m, Slovenia's highest – and begun the descent into the Soča Valley, you've entered Primorska.

It is a popular weekend destination for all manner of activity, from hiking and mountain biking to fishing and rafting. And there are approaches from Bohinj, Kranjska Gora and, in Primorska, Trenta – to name just a few gateways.

Marked trails in the park lead to countless peaks and summits besides Mt Triglav. Favourite climbs include Mangart (2679m) on the Italian border (the 12km road that descends to the Predel Pass is the highest road in Slovenia), the needlepoint of Jalovec (2645m) in the north, and the sharp ridge of Razor (2601m) southeast of Vršič.

Triglav National Park is not only about climbing mountains. There are easy hikes through beautiful valleys, forests and meadows, too. Two excellent maps for this purpose are the PZS 1:50,000-scale Triglavski Narodni Park (Triglav National Park; €8.50) and Freytag & Berndt's 1:50, 000 Julische Alpen for €9.