Peričnik Waterfall is one of Slovenia's most beautiful sights. Here I explain how to easily get there and how to vary your shutter speed for waterfalls in order to get different effects on the flowing water.
About Peričnik Waterfall
Peričnik Waterfall is located in the Vrata Valley, one of three beautiful valleys cutting into the Triglav National Park in Slovenia. It’s actually a dual waterfall, with the upper part being the smallest (16 metres) and lower part, as seen in the photo, the largest (52 metres).
Situated beneath Mt. Sleme and Višek mountain pasture, it is one of the highest and most famous waterfalls in Slovenia. The upper fall cascades into a small pool which then feeds the larger fall below. This one cascades down the wall of a wide rockface.
It is possible to hike up to both falls along a very accessible path. There is parking next to the Peričnik Lodge beside the road. From here it is about a 15-20-minute hike to the base of the lower fall along the fast route, which brings you to the left side of the fall. There is another trail too, which is longer and more difficult and brings you to the right of the fall. You can do this as a circular walk from both sides.
A really unique feature of Peričnik Waterfall is that you can actually walk behind the fall. A slippery path of scree leads along a narrow ledge within a recess at the foot of the rockface. Be prepared to get wet.
You can continue on up from here to the upper fall along a more demanding trail for another 10-15 mins.
How to get to Peričnik Waterfall
Getting to Peričnik Waterfall is actually really easy, especially as the road into the Vrata Valley is now completely sealed.
By car, drive north from Ljubljana or Lake Bled on the motorway and turn off just before the Karavanke Tunnel and head towards Kranjska Gora. (be careful not to miss the turn as it’s the last before the tunnel, which has a toll and takes you across the border to Austria. You cannot turn back if you miss it.)
Halfway to Kranjska Gora, turn off for Mojstrana and follow the signs into the Vrata Valley and Peričnik, which are both well signposted.
After about 4kms you’ll come to the Peričnik lodge, where you can park. There is a parking fee (about 3 euros), which you pay inside the lodge if open, or the attendant if present. If, like when we went, the lodge is closed and there is no attendant, then it’s free.
Hiking up to the waterfall
As said before, it’s a short hike to the lower fall. However, the terrain is a bit rough with rocks and roots so be sure to wear a good pair of shoes.
The trail starting on the left side of the river is the shorter one, but if you want a longer more interesting hike take the trail starting on the right side directly opposite the lodge.
A good spot to shoot from
As you get to the base of the first waterfall from the left side, there are a number of spots to choose from, but the best one I found was a nice little ledge just down to right as you first arrive.
A fence is there and a warning not to cross, but if you are careful you can get around it and over to this spot.
Keep your filter or lens dry
From this viewpoint you are quite close to the fall, and the torrent of water is very powerful. There is water cascading and splattering all across the rockface and a lot of spray.
Therefore, pay close attention to your lens and filter. It’s good to use a polariser, but take a soft cloth so you can keep it dry and free from spray each time you take a photo.
I use the Kase K9 magnetic polariser, which is made from toughened glass. This filter is the best I’ve used and each time I was able to wipe it dry without any smears.
Best time to photograph waterfalls
The best time to photograph waterfalls, and also rivers, rapids, is during cloudy or overcast days. Alternatively, you can photograph also when the water and surroundings are in the shade. Essentially you need to ensure that no direct light is falling on the scene; in particular on the water itself.
In direct sunlight the water, especially if it is churning up white water like in rapids or flowing over rocks, the water reflects the sunlight and becomes extremely bright in contrast to its surroundings.
Consequently, the overall contrast of the scene is too great for the camera to handle and either your water will be overexposed or the surroundings underexposed.
Best shutter speed for waterfalls!
Get in close for dramatic effect
Pull back to include more of the surroundings and foreground interest
Use other visitors in your shots to get a sense of scale
Watch my video
Equipment used in my photoshoots
These are links to photography equipment I use and what’s in my bag and great places to buy them.
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Places to stay nearby
The nearest places to stay are Lake Bled or Kranjska Gora. If you like camping, then there are several campsites at Bled.