Kočevsko is a landscape in the south-eastern part of Slovenia, for which the border cannot be precisely determined and is well-known for its exceptional natural features and rich cultural heritage. Except for the town of Kočevje and other smaller towns and villages, the area is mostly covered in forests and is among the best-preserved natural parts of Slovenia and Central Europe. The real treasure of the Kočevska region are the hidden old-growth forests, known for its large diversity of species, as well as for being the home of recognizable beasts, like wolves, bears and lynxes.
During the Second World War, after the emigration of the people who resided in the region called Kočevarji, the emptied area was used as a zone for planning Slovenian resistance movement. In many places, the most famous one being Baza 20, the military and political leadership of resistance took place, and numerous partisan hospitals, workshops and other institutions were hidden there. After the end of the war, a tragic event took place, when more than 7500 Slovenian home guards and civilians were killed. Today, a symbolic place of the memory of the slaughtered is the graveyard Jama pod Krenom.
Due to the great importance of animal species and forest habitat types, Kočevsko has been defined as a part of the area Natura 2000. We shouldn’t forget that in the parts of the old-growth forests, like the Rajhenavski Rog, Prelesnikova koliševka, Strmec and the Krakovski primeval forest, the forests are mostly serving for research and protection of species, which is why massive visits are not desirable. Besides bears and wolves, other important animals in the forests are also beehives, owls and various species of bugs and bats.
Although large numbers of visitors in the old-growth forests are not desirable and recommended, there are more visited and safe areas of Kočevsko, where you can spend your time in nature. You can go cycling or hiking along a large number of marked cycling and hiking trails, suitable for short or longer, even several days long hikes. One of the cleanest lakes in Slovenia, Lake Kočevje is also located near the town of Kočevje, a perfect destination for walking or cooling off in the hot summer days.
Nowadays, Kočevsko is becoming more and more attractive for hiking and recreation with its rich natural and cultural heritage, educating and inspiring its visitors. And if you are brave enough and decide to go exploring the hidden old-growth forests, you can even experience the unique sight of a live bear in its natural habitat.
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