Nanos.. the Big Green Rock
Nanos is the last Slovenian mountain before the Mediterranean coast.. the start of the Via Dinarica hiking path across the Dinaric Alps into the Balkons and a huge geographic barrier, controlling the weather entering Slovenia from the Alps and the Mediterranean.
The peak is just 1,313m, but it is a very, very big, long lump of rock that stretches like a dinosaur tail all the way up to the Slovenian Julian Alps, with Lipizzaner Lodge, the Postojna cave and Predjama castle on one side and the Vipava wine valley, Slovenian & Italian coasts and Soca river on the other.
But for us, Nanos means home.. that same senstational first view you will get of the mountain when arriving here was one of the main reasons we chose this location for Lipizzaner Lodge.. one of our guests once described it best, saying we were "a hotel with a mountain in the back garden".
And Slovenians also love Nanos, local people call it a "hill", but you can see it from Piran by the seaside! And if you go to the coast then you cannot miss Nanos, particularly on the way back to the Lodge from the sea where Nanos completely fills your windscreen and looks so big and powerful it feels as if you might crash into it!
In history, Generals stood on the top of Nanos to plan campaigns, but you can hike up there now and get fantastic views down to the Lodge and the Postojna valley or across to the Adriatic sea and further to the Italian Dolomites on the other side.
There are actually numerous ways up Nanos.. Nanos means "nose" cos it looks a bit like the bridge of a nose and there is a long ridge on top with even more exploring to be done here on the massive forested plateau.
There is a car park in a little village called Razdrto over a bridge on the Nanos side of the motorway where most hikers start their ascent and locals know to come with empty water bottles.. so they can fill them at the tap that dispenses amazingly fresh pure water direct from a massive lake under Nanos.. you should do the same, the tap is impossible to miss, as it is in a walled seating area you need to walk past to get to the main hiking trails.
From Razdrto there are 3 main routes, one which winds around the mountain via a church and gives you great views of the Vipava valley and sea on the other side.. another path takes you more directly up to the top with a weeny edge bit where you have to use steel cables to cling onto as you go past a scary drop! Some locals do this walk every day for fitness and it takes them just 45 mins!! The longer walk takes a couple of hours.
There are these typical Slovenian little red RAF like circles painted on trees and rocks to follow, but the other signs are all in just Slovene, so you would need to know for example that Plesa, means the top bit on the Nanos nose at 1,262m and Suhi Vrh, means Dry Top and is the highest point along the 12km long plateau at 1,313m.
Our favourite hike is up to "Dry Top" and you start this in another village further along the hill called Strane, where there is a diddy little car park.. do look out for a massive Yew tree by the church.. it is the oldest yew tree in Slovenia. There is a steep walk from near the church up through a mainly massive and stunning beech tree forest, littered with jagged white Karst rocks. When you break out to the top of the plateau, you then get the choice to go left to "Nanos" or right to "Dry Top" where you discover a network of stony forest tracks used by hunters and loggers.
You have to scramble a bit to get to the very top peak and go past an old Italian bunker nowadays sometimes inhabited by sleeping bears! From up here you can see across to the Slovenian Julian Alps and Triglav, Slovenia's triple peaked highest mountain.
"Dry Top" is the highest point, but there are multiple peaks up here.. it is something to see and it feels like you are in a different world.. The best way for us to describe this part of the plateau with these higgledy piggledy hills popping up all over the place, is to imagine the islands popping out of the sea in Thailand.. it looks exactly the same but without the sea!
And this is not such a strange analogy if you think about it.. cos do you remember that team of young Thai footballers stuck down the cave a few years ago? Well those Thai caves are made from the very same Karst rock we have in abundance here in Green Slovenia! And you only get to see these "islands" at the very top of Nanos.
Nanos is the crown jewel of the Slovenian Green Karst region and an enormous green monster.. It isn't a mountain where you just walk up to the top, write your name in a book and then walk down the same way.. (you could do that of course) but there is so much more to see, explore and do up here.
Indeed.. it is possible to hike directly from the Lodge to Nanos and get back within the same amazing wlking day. There is a local restaurant on top near the communication towers and another further along the plateau. It is always worth having a sandwich in your pocket though or at least phoning ahead to make sure your choice is open.
Nanos is a big lump of white rock covered in green forest, with paths and tracks everywhere. On the Lodge side we are already 550m up here in Landol, but if you see Nanos from the vipava valley side, where the valley floor goes down to almost sea level, the mountain can look like a real life version of the "Great Wall in the North" (for Gamers of Thrones) fans.
There is a mass of wildlife and flora & fauna on Nanos.. every 50 metres or so that you go up the flora can provide you with different species of flower to admire and if you get up very early and go off with a local hunter, he can show you golden goats for (almost) sure!
Many years ago in the times of legend, a father got so angry with his 3 sons arguing with each other all the time other that he ordered them each to build a church in a different location on Nanos and sit to outside their church so they couldn't see one another.. those churches are still standing today and you can go climb and sit outside them if you want!
There is a tarmac road up Nanos also so you can drive up in a car if walking is difficult and numerous other stone tracks.. we had some Finnish super athletic competitive brothers who raced each other to "Dry Top" on mountain bikes in a little over 20 mins, direct from the Lodge.. we are still shocked by this! It is a long long way up, but incredibly the bike/hike directions to get from the Lodge to Dry Top are.. Left, Left, then Right.. that is it!!
But with the introduction of decent E Bikes, exploring Nanos by bike is a new sensational option for visitors to the Lodge and these E Bikes have really opened up a whole world of possibilities to explore this huge Green rock nature park.
E bike over Nanos
We found an amazing way to explore parts of Nanos we didn't even know about when we went with our Rockvelo friend Alex on E Bikes via Predjama castle, finding another fantastic eco restaurant right on the top of the mountain for lunch where the young chef owner prepares ONLY locally sourced food and has no electricty! We were exploring all day and finished our adventure in the Vipava valley on the other side of Nanos in a beautiful little medieval hill top village called Kriz.
E Bikes made this sensational adventure possible and if you want to know more about that particular day, or would like to try it for yourself, then please read the Blog we wrote about it.. E Bike over Nanos..
Maybe you will just enjoy Nanos watching the sun set behind it from one of our terraces, but we have spent years admiring and exploring this very special mountain and we hope you will also get the chance!