Squeamish? No, we're not squeamish at all as we look up 180 degrees at the vertical climb towards the top of Velika Planina.
Our guide and friend Irena says that this is one of the world's longest and highest unsupported cable cars. Although still a tad apprehensive, you cannot help but be amazed at the stunning views of the surrounding Alps and the valley below.
How this thing stays up is beyond me but that is neither here or there as we reach the summit ready and excited to explore Velika Planina.
Could this be yet another (wait for it...) hidden gem of Slovenia? It is definitely that and a whole lot more.
Once at the top everyone is suffering from "look at me I'm on top of the world" syndrome such is the view from the top.
But the real appeal of Velika Planina has yet to be discovered.
From the cable car we transfer to a 2 seater chairlift that will take you either half way or all the way to the summit proper. It's a fun ride where you can dangle your legs freely and peruse the green pastures below set above a rocky interior.
On top of the world at Velika Planina!
At the top we proceed to a rocky perch where we can survey the obligitory iron disc showing the name and direction of all the surrounding Alpine peaks and their heights.
The majestic Alps surround us!
From here we descend into what can only be described as a scene from Lord of the Rings and it seems a somewhat surreal sight to see the famous shepherds village set amongst the greenest of green pastures.
A series of shepherds huts are dispersed across a long gully each with its own wooden fence. A handful of tourists are moving from hut to hut peaking inside and taking lots of photos. The cows lie majestically and ocassionaly move to graze and find a new resting position.
This is simply amazing!
Now Irena is an expert on all things Velika and Planina and informs us that shepherds from 13 different villages manage their respective herd and hut during the warmer months where they attend to the cows and make traditional shepherds cheese called Trnič and sour milk. The shape of the cheese will be of interest so be sure to ask Irena! We join others at one hut to sample their wares for a small fee and to drink in the crisp mountain air.
Sample the local traditional Shepherds cheese and sour milk!
Although this may look like an adhoc shepherds 'ghetto', nothing could be further from the truth. A president is elected annually and it is their job to make sure that every shepherd has a schedule of tasks to be completed during their term on the summit. It is great that they continue this tradition so that future generations can marvel at this exact sight.
The shepherds are mainly retired locals who have the time to engage in such activities over summer. More often than not the routine becomes a family affair and children and grandchildren are enlisted to help out and spend a few days on Velika Planina.
Each shepherd has about 8-10 cows on average, making a total of around 280-300. They are still roaming about aimlessly in small groups as visitors get as close as they can to take selfies.
The cows seem dosile but always be careful!
What a shame it is to learn that these are not the original huts but re-creations. There is an intriguing story behind this as well. We won't divulge details as you can ask Irena yourself to explain the whole fascinating story.
Oval and Square shepherds houses scattered around Velika Planina
The original huts were oval but are now square in shape for practicality. There is also a tiny church/chapel sitting on its lonesome which also has an interesting history.
We are here on a perfect September day, sunny with passing cloud and no wind.
Reflections on a great day
Irena tells us that the weather is notorious for changing quickly without warning which is common anywhere in the Alps. A group of tourists insisted on seeing Velika Planina on a very poor day and became stuck on the summit as the winds and rain meant that the cable car was inoperable. The only way down is the long road that snakes along on the opposite side of the mountain.
But there are no sudden weather changes today. We've had an awesome day lounging with our bovine friends and enjoying something that is toally unique to our eyes.
There are many hiking paths around the summit so you can easily spend the whole day up here. At the halfway chairlift point there is also a small kiosk for refreshments.
Is this a must-see whilst in Slovenia? You bet your shepherds pie it is.
Velika Planina is about 1.5 hours north of Ljubljana. Kamnik is the major town up here and you can get to Kamnik by bus or train. If you have your own car that's even better and roads are good all the way to the cable car station for Velika Planina.
Irena Grmek is a very talented and experienced tourist guide and is your number one choice for tours of Kamnik, Velika Planina and the Kamniška Bistrica valley.
Book her for your upcoming trip to Velika Planina and mention Sloveniaforyou.
CLICK HERE TO VISIT HER WEBSITE AND TO BOOK
Meet Irena at the Kamnik Tourist Information centre to pick up some brochures and purchase local souvenirs as well!
CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE KAMNIK TIC SITE