Jakob Awards 2023 – Ambassador of Themed Trails as a Tourism Product
The Jakob Award for 2023 and the title Ambassador of Themed Trails was awarded this year to the Drvošec Educational Trail and the Visitor Centre Cerknica Lake, which is overseen by the Notranjska Regional Park Public Institute. They submitted a project that received a significant upgrade in 2022, and on 1 October last year, the Visitor Centre Cerknica Lake opened its doors at the starting point of the Drvošec Educational Trail. It is enriched with an interactive exhibition where visitors can discover the mysterious world of the mystical Cerknica Lake and listen to the stories of its transformations before or after a walk on the themed trail.
The Visitor Centre Cerknica Lake had a Tourist Information Centre set up a few years ago. Since last year, the wooden building at the end of Dolenje Lake offers an unforgettable experience for all five senses. The centre is designed in such a way that all the senses have to be used for a complete experience; there is a lot of touching, moving objects, putting things together, smelling and, of course, listening: in the centre you will be able to smell the summer scent of a lake mint, listen to the night sounds of Lake Cerknica, hear the sound of the mysterious great bittern, the cracking of ice on the frozen lake, see in the 3D version the transformation of a dragonfly from an aquatic larva to an adult and much more. This is why a visit to the centre is recommended as an introduction to discovering the lake and its surroundings. Although any time of the year is suitable for visiting Lake Cerknica, the peak season is from May to September. The Drvošec Educational Trail, which starts at the parking lot in front of the Visitor Centre at Dolenje Lake and ends less than half a kilometre before the village of Otok, is certainly the most popular with families. Part of the trail runs along a dirt road and then turns into a forest. It total, it is 3.7 kilometres long in one direction, but visitors can shorten the route if they follow the first part of the route on the dirt road and park at the first information board after the footbridge.
The creators designed the trail along the part of Lake Cerknica that offers the best view of the vastness of this karst gem, but is at the same time also so far away that there are no problems with flooding, as it would otherwise be inaccessible when the lake fills up. The trail follows pre-existing paths and tracks, which are not circular, and new paths have only been arranged in isolated sections. However, it is also possible to return via the dirt road by Lake Cerknica; for pre-announced groups, a horse-drawn carriage ride back to the starting point can be organised. The most interesting part of the trail is definitely through the forest. For families who go on the trail at any time of the year, there is a booklet called The Lake Adventure, which helps children to learn about the animals and plants of Lake Cerknica in a fun way. The booklet with stickers and ten activities is available for purchase at the TIC and comes with a bag and colouring pencils. Children solve the riddles in the booklet with the help of information boards along the way. Children receive a prize for the correct solution when they return to the Visitor Centre. By the way: the trail is marked with a pictogram of the great bittern, which regularly nests in Slovenia only in the Cerknica Lake area.