I would never have thought about visiting Cerknica and the rural area around called "Notranjska". Even many Slovenians don't know much about it, which is strange for me, because it is so close to the capital Ljubljana. Thanks to Anja from NEC Cerknica, who invited me kindly to stay at her home for one week, I could experience all the natural and cultural wonders Notranjska has to offer.
The biggest "disappearing lake" in the world (Cerkniško jezero) is an amazing natural wonder - it lies in a depression of the limestone plateau known as Karst and looks different in every season. Sometimes in summer it is completely dried out and you can walk across to see its sinkholes to subterranean caves.
If you're "lucky" you can meet bears in the Notranjska Regional Park - Slovenia has one of the biggest populations of brown bears who live here in natural forests. They are even exported to other countries ;-).
Together with Anja's colleagues we took an individual guided tour through Križna Cave. It was much better than the popular Postojna Cave which is too touristy for my taste. We walked 20 min. equipped with boots and our own lamps to a subterranean lake (one of 22! in the cave) and continued the trip by boat. The guide was very funny and multilingual.
What else? You shouldn't miss Rakov Škocjan, a valley (Karst dolina) and natural reserve with natural bridges. And then, to my surprise, we visited a hunting castle in Snežnik, which belonged to the Saxon family Schönburg of Dresden (a little piece of home in Slovenia :-)).
Not to forget the many "kmetijas" in Notranjska! Kmetijas are tourist farms that give you insight in their traditional work and producing of for instance jam, wine and brandy. We tasted home made brandy in Kmetija T'Dolenj with a beautiful view of the Cerknica Lake.
The region has a very good potential for natural tourism - in many ways. I recommend it especially for research and educational trips for instance for schools and students of geography/geology and hydrology. There is a interactive museum/interpretation center in Dolenje Jezero where you can learn more about the process of the disappearing lake on the basis of a living model.
Thank you Anja for the great time! I learned so many new things about Slovenia and the work of the Ecological Center which among other things deals with the so-called "interpretation of heritage" - one way of exploring and proving authentic tourism.
My head is full of new impressions and ideas!