Apparently Hell has waterfalls.
Pekel is a small gorge near Borovnica, a Slovenian village about 20 min away from the capital, Ljubljana. The name translates to Hell from Slovene and I bet the last thing you would ever expect to find in Hell are waterfalls, but our Pekel does in fact have 5 gorgeous ones.
The hiking trail to Pekel starts at a small wooden devil statue next to the Pekel Inn and takes you up to the highest 5th waterfall at about 450 m above sea level elevation. The going gets a bit harder after the first waterfall, so I’d recommend it only to normally fit people, as it can be quite steep and narrow at times. The round trip takes about 2 hours and the trail is well-marked, so you really can’t get lost, but you should factor in extra time for swimming breaks. You can also extend your hike to the very top of the gorge and see the Devil’s tooh rock formation.
My best friend lives in Borovnica and has been trying to get me to go to Hell since forever, so we finally managed to do it in 2017 and it was fantastic. It is a beautiful place to swim or have a picnic during the hot summer days and we did swim in the pool at the last waterfall after all that huffing and puffing, despite the super cold water.
Impressions of Pekel
If you ever find yourself with some extra time in Ljubljana, I heartily recommend you to visit Pekel, as it makes for a great daytrip, is free (not counting the train to Borovnica, which is quite cheap) and gives you a glimpse of that famously pristine Slovenian nature.
Getting there: It is much easier if you have a car, but it’s also doable with public transport, it just requires a bit of walking. If you do have a car, take the road from Ljubljana towards Brezovica and Vrhnika, then turn left for Borovnica once you reach Vrhnika. The signs for Pekel start to show up in Borovnica and you can park at the Pekel Inn, which can be found via Google maps here.
The situation is similar when taking the train: you’ll need to take the train for Borovnica from Ljubljana, which takes 20 minutes in one direction, then walk to the Pekel Inn where the trail starts, which will take you about 45 – 50 minutes down the road. I suppose you could also try to catch a ride with some friendly locals heading that way, as Pekel is quite popular during the season and with ice climbers in winter. Also, visiting after a longer period of rain can be ultra slippery and a bit dangerous, so keep that in mind.
Fun fact: the village name Borovnica means blueberry, even though it’s not named after blueberries.