Well, for starters, let's be honest. You can’t really visit virgin forest. Because we do not enter it as we want to keep these pieces of unspoiled nature completely intact. But you can walk along its edge on official hiking paths. And trust us, you will transfixed.
But first things first. What is a virgin forest anyway? It is a forest that has existed and developed with little or no human influence since their beginning. So it is a forest where no human has ever set foot and where a chainsaw has never sung. In the virgin forest, the flora and fauna are left to their own devices - the circle of life here revolves in the same way as it did thousands of years ago.
You may not find this special, but such protected areas of the forest are extremely rare. In Slovenia we have 14 virgin forest remains, covering 540 ha. For comparison - the total area of all Slovenian forests is 1,180,281 ha! And in the vast majority of them, foresters are actively doing their job - rejuvenating, cleaning, reforesting. Except in the virgin forest.
Kočevsko - a land of (virgin) forests
Kočevsko is a land of forests. As much as 91% of the area is covered by forests and around half of the preserved areas of virgin forest remains are located here. Welcome to pristine, untouched nature. The most recognizable virgin forests in the Kočevje region are Rajhenavski Rog and Krokar. The Rajhenavski Rog virgin forest covers a good 51 hectares in the heart of Kočevski Rog, and consists of a beech-fir forest. Every year, numerous hikers walk along its edge, taking part in the hike “Bear’s Footsteps”, which follows the Roška footpath, a 64 km long circular route, which presents a challenge to even the bravest adventurers.
The law of nature rules in the virgin forests. This is also the case in the most famous Krokar virgin forest, which covers more than 75 hectares and is located east of Kočevska Reka. Beech forest is a nature reserve and is part of Natura 2000. Since 2018 it has been, together with the Snežnik-Ždrocle forest reserve, inscribed on the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List, which shows its exceptional importance. The Krokar virgin forest can be admired from the Borovec Nature Trail, a 7 km long circular trail that takes you from the village of Borovec to the Krempa saddle, the southernmost daffodil habitat in this part of Europe (we recommend a visit in late spring), past Krokar and back to the starting point. Since the route is not too difficult, it is a great idea for a trip for families with children.
Unusual Prelesnik Collapse Valley
Another protected natural landmark is something very special. This nearly 70-meter-deep abyss with precipice walls was formed by the collapse of the ceiling above an underground cave. Because it is so closed, a special microclimate has developed in it, reminiscent of much more northern places. In the altitude levels plant species follow each other, from the warm ones at the top to the cold-tolerant ones at the bottom. Spruces with a narrow, long canopy grow here, which is characteristic of trees high in the mountains or far to the north. Because we want to keep it protected, we can only walk around the edge of this collapsed valley and we do not enter it.
Kočevsko therefore offers a bunch of interesting natural sights that are worth seeing. The forest has a calming and relaxing effect on people, but it also overcomes them. Centuries-old giants tell stories, even though they are silent.