There is no denying it. We have, at last, arrived in 2023. In the hiking sense, it was real poor for Ana_Katana and me. Actually, we have barely fallen over the finish line. I was more engaged with educational aspect of the mountaineering than I was with the actual walking and hiking. Not to brag or anything, but I got the professional title of Guardian of Mountain Nature. But let’s keep it humble and up-to-date. This time we bring you a short (oh lord, we sure hope so) review and our experience of Mount Boč – a 978 metres tall mountain located near Rogaška Slatina, Slovenia. Boč is a part of a prealpine Bočian territory and with Donačka gora it makes a Landscape park, protected area in which you have to be extra careful and mindful. Oh, yes, another thing. This article is partly written by me and partly by my cousin Vida. We will try both to give you our experience of Mount Boč. Two Kezeles. Two weird visions. The terror.

The foreigner starting perspective

We have arrived in a strange land. The borders are up. Croatia is now in the Schengen area but all I got are these weird coins, prices I cannot understand or compare without basic math (never was good with counting, except for beer bottles) and utter confusion in general. Is this great big western world made for a Balkanian? I am not so sure.

This time we ventured from Varaždin to Rogaška Slatina and it took us around one hour and a half, maybe slightly more because we were trying to avoid tolls. Our four wheeled companion Živojka was persistent to put us on the highway but we did it our way… oh, geez. We picked up Vida and our mountain journey starts!

Well, not quite. We need to drive for around 6-7 minutes to arrive at Kostrivnica where we plan to leave our car and continue on foot. Vida forgot her hiking shoes so we had to drive to Rogaška Slatina and back, again. It is fine. She cannot go into the mud with her fancy, dancing shoes.

I must say, these local people in Kostrivnica and in whole of this area really like to celebrate their birthdays. There are pictures of people who had their birthdays, with number of the birthday, of course. Slovenians, as do their fellow Zagorians over the ex-border, like to party.

Obviously, this rascal doesn't have 40 years. He is probably 18 indicated by the Union beer and happiness on his face. I say rascal because near this photo we found the same beer can as shown in the picture

Yes, he is 18 and now full throttle ahead

We start our ascend on the concrete. There are a lot of weekend cottages around while we slowly leave the village and enter the forest. Distant and estranged, thoughts of Triglav appear. Katana says it out loud: “In this physical condition, we will never reach Triglav”. My body is broken from three consecutive days playing badminton. One of the fingers on my right foot is bleeding. My back hurts. I am old. Our younger companion and leader Vida is more confident and positive, as is her nature. Something that always amazes me and runs in the opposing direction of the conventional, usual Kezele genes which are reason-oriented and realistic, often grim and not so optimistic – note to myself: not so optimistic because they are afraid of being disappointed when things don’t turn out so nice as expected. Nevertheless, Vida’s mood inspires us and we push on.

After 40 minutes or so, we arrive at first mountain hut in this area - Velikonočnica

Wild Baba Yaga appears

Baba Yaga told me a great secret. I cannot tell you, it is a secret. The expression on my face will have to suffice.

Velikonočnica is actually a flower that grows on the meadows beneath the peak of mount Boč. English name for Velikonočnica is pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris). So, the story with the forests, meadows and man’s influence on the landscape and ecosystem in general goes like this: each and every cursed hippie in this world wants to plant a tree. Nevertheless, considering the higher biotic diversity, the combination of forests and meadows is better than just forests or wild patches of uncontrolled vine growth. Yes, before the time of man’s influence, here were forests and even jungle – extremely old trees making a dense forest. Yes, forests are good in general, but meadows are better for biotic diversity. Take a scythe, we have some work to do other than whining that man is destroying forests because of his uncontrollable greed and dark pillars of industry. Industry that practically enabled you to live the way you live today. We will continue this conversation.

The great and renewed mountain hut on Boč - financed from the pockets and vaults of European Union. The exterior is magnificent, as is the interior. Dreaming of drinking cold beer on this terrace, during warm spring/summer days... We will come here again!

The peak of the Boč, and the second peak marked with a TV tower and not so well hidden military base

No time to rest because our journey is not over until we reach the highest peak. No sign of dragon or treasure for now, but we got a funny sight of two mules playing. It seems that the play wasn’t so innocent because the male wanted, in the end, to make love to his unwilling partner. All males are the same, right? The signposts tell us we have 45 minutes more to the top. The hardest/steepest part is in front of us. Time for some more sweating but we will be rewarded for sure. But look at me, going to the top all alone! Before we conclude and give you some ending remarks, let’s see what Vida, a freshborn Slovenian has to say about all of this rumbling and tumbling, hootin’ and hollerin’ around.

The freshly native ending perspective

It is crazy when you think that Boč (978m) was once an island in the Pannonian Sea. Back then, we would be swimming or rowing to Boč, but today we hike! And sweat.  As soon as we started the second part of the hike we realized that we’ve left the warm and cozy mountain lodge only to exchange it for steep climb and cold wind. Why would anybody in their right mind do that?!

It is a million dollar question and some answers I came across are – to eat food in beautiful places, because of the view and because the feeling you get after the hike.  Some even say, and I have to agree, that the food becomes so much tastier after a hike. If you don’t believe me, try it. Hiking is definitely an activity that is sometimes not fun to do in the moment, it can become quite uncomfortable but it is fun in retrospect and it makes a great story.

After talking with Boris, who spent his childhood living in Zgornja Kostrivnica, right under Boč, I will say a few things about it from a natives perspective. Boč is very popular among professional and amateur hikers. People like to go up there with horses too. Local people celebrate their birthdays and different holidays at mountain huts and cottages on Boč. On our way up we saw some proof of partying, like old balloons and birthday decorations. Slovenians also love to come and watch sunsets and sunrises from Boč. The tower on the top offers a magnificent view of the sunset or sunrise, whichever you choose.

For some more and for some less sweaty ascend

Since Boč is one of the last peaks of Karavankas, one of the longest mountain ranges in Europe, it is in his nature to give us some challenging moments. On our way to the top, we were surprised by some beautiful views of the Karavankas. It was just a preview of what was waiting for us at the top. More than enough to keep us going.

Back there, we left the warmth for this coldness of the mountain. Where is the dragon's breath?!?

45 minutes later, we made it to the top. What a relief! Our noses were runny and wind was making it very hard to stay on the top. One big decision was left to make – to climb on the lookout tower or not? Our curiosity and adventurous spirit wanted to do it but our bodies and minds were a bit skeptical. Ana and I decided to leave that decision to Borna, who was quiet for a few seconds and then said “Fuck it, let’s go!”

Now we knew that it was worth it

I don't know how you made it Vida, but this is a perfect picture of a lookout tower

On the top, the view was even more stunning and it left us speechless for a moment. Or was it because we were so cold that we couldn’t move our lips properly?  We decided to do a circular route, so we went back to the lodge passing the second peak with the recognizable TV transmitter tower and military base.

Most of our way down, we were quiet. Occasionally you would hear some cursing and complaining. We had to focus on not falling and getting down in one piece. I will use this time when we are carefully descending and not talking to tell you a story about a sleeping dragon called Lintvar. Once upon a time, Lintvar fell asleep under Boč and Donačka gora. His head is laying under Donačka gora and his tail is under Boč. The legend says that the time will come when the dragon will wag its tail and Boč will be cut in half. All the water that’s inside Boč will pour out and flood the surroundings. When people are disrespectful to nature, the fairy who lives on Donačka gora bites the dragons ear and he brings a thunderstorm to the people. You really don’t want to be on the mountain when the thunderstorm comes, so please, take care of nature wherever you go. On the bright side, when people are treating nature with love and respect the fairy turns dragon’s fire into mineral water that springs up in Rogaška Slatina.

Wait a minute... I am not a dragon, right?

Look, we made it to the lodge in one piece and without angering the dragon! I think we deserve a warm lunch and a cold beer for some and mulled wine for others.

The hungry and thirsty vegetarian dragon’s book of praises and grudges

I know for certain that there exist special kind of mountaineers that walk up the steep hills only to be able to eat and drink after the hike. Are we that kind of mountaineers? Whatever the truth may be, it is a necessity to eat and drink after hard workout. Our bodies need refreshment and thank Ganesha, we are born as gourmands! At least I am, a big boy dreaming of being smaller and thiner.

The big mountain hut at Boč is renewed as we said. Huge terrace can hold a lot of people. The interior isn’t falling far behind. The hut is working during the working days of the week, as it should be. Boč is, after all, a very popular place, due to it’s easy trails and paths, popular amongst families hiking with children. Okay, okay, sorry Slovenians, you are born with hiking shoes on. We Croatians are somewhat slower. Thinking about it, I don’t know what should a Croat be considered to be born with? Maybe a football, at least that is what the rest of the world thinks.

Interesting picture/ad for Laško beer inside the mountain hut. They are making it, pouring it and drinking it for a long time

We ordered a mushroom soup which was more like a rich stew. We got homemade bread with it and for dessert we ordered apple štrudla (screw you, I ain’t translating that!). It all went really well down my throat and I think that Vida and Katana were also satisfied. The girls ordered mulled white wine and for me, of course, the original, drank properly in the country of origin, cold Laško beer.

The accomodation looks also promising but that may be tried out some other time. The only thing that kinda surprised us was the price of the ordered food and drinks. In total, we paid almost 33 euros. Boris, Vida’s boyfriend and a native Kostrivnica injun told us that he also thinks this is somewhat pricey and it may be that prices went up with the renewal of the hut (and exchange of the owners). Also, this is not so surprising considering the war and other world unfavourful circumstances.

All in all, when are YOU visiting Boč?!?

About the Author: Borna

Borna is a student of philosophy. He loves mountains, books, and video games and is in possession of a pretty awesome LEGO collection. Listens to music almost all the time but also likes the silence. You will probably find him reading a book, roaming the mountains of RL, or trying to bring home bounty in the vast swamps of Bayou.
3 Comments
  1. Adrian January 6, 2023 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    Excellent article! I’m sorry for not being with you. I would, but I had some fights against demons scheduled, so… next time!

  2. Borna January 7, 2023 at 8:05 am - Reply

    Dear Adrian, Adar – the leader of the spiritual orks,

    we have decided that 2023. will be the year of conquering Slovenia. We have seen almost all of Croatia. Now it is time for something entirely different. You can join us, of course. Please do!

  3. shokisan January 8, 2023 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Nice little adventure :) A place worth visiting.

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