With vast rivers and mountains, Slovenia’s southern section is an undeniably exciting destination. Combine mountain explorations with old forest hikes, wildlife watching with river rafting, and a great guide!
We want to introduce you to Petra Draškovič Pelc, our local guide in Slovenia. She is a curious researcher and holds a PhD in Biomedical science, but is always very close to the heart of nature.
Curiosity and spending time in nature have shaped her way and helped her to explore the world around her. However, in 2015, she decided to turn her hobby - photography and travelling - into her profession. Since then, she has worked as a professional photographer, responsible nature guide, certified tourist and interpretive guide, and researcher through different projects.
Petra loves serenity, solitude, and the light of wild natural places, northern lights, as well as the beauty of the untouched nature of her home - Kočevsko, the secret forest of Slovenia.
Choosing a nature orientated profession did not happen overnight. She has always loved spending time in nature, photographing, and this was certainly growing on her as a way of life. Petra thinks that her solo trip to Alaska might have had a lot to do with it. Spending five months in the wild, meeting wild animals and looking into stunning landscapes, changed her forever.
She returned home, started working on her PhD thesis, but still the spirit of the wild called her. Petra felt that maybe, this was her true calling; to show the beauty of nature, to make people aware of nature, and to start caring for it.
There are a few things petra likes the most about her profession. When she is out in nature, she can be in the moment. There is always so much to see, to hear, to smell, to feel… and all these things enable her to perceive nature in a different way. Unpredictable meetings with wild animals, can be such an incredible moment of acceptance, building trust - and that is so special and incredible for her. She never comes back the same after those ‘meetings’.
When she is guiding, there is no greater joy for her, than sharing the passion for nature (and culture) with her guests. To see their enthusiasm, the sparkle in their eyes when they explore nature gems together.
She loves seeing happiness in both sides - also when she brings people to local artists or hand craftsmen. The guests can admire the art, can feel their dreams, their visions in the products. For the artist, there is no greater reward than a guest who loves the artist’s work.
What Petra enjoys the most about nature and wildlife, is that it teaches her to be patient and respectful.
“I love the light in the forest, I love seeing shapes of trees in their graphical views, I love exploring winter tracks of animals, as it helps me reveal the mystic about animals, learning more and more about their behavior, paths...It helps me also to understand who I am.”
When Petra talks about the area around her, you can really appreciate the love she has for Slovenia. She feels privileged to live in the countryside. For Petra, the forest of Kočevsko is not just a forest. It is a very special place in Slovenia.
“We can compare it with the touch of wilderness and spirit that wild animals like bears, wolves and lynx bring to this area, which is very much covered in forest.”
“It is not the same feeling walking in these forest near Maribor or near Kočevje. Large carnivores bring another atmosphere to the forest, they add another dimension, also the magic feeling of knowing that all these animals are there”.
When it comes to ecotourism, what she believes and tries to achieve through her tours is to share respect: towards nature and towards people. Petra tries to work mostly with individual guests, small groups, as this enables her to be fully present to all of them.
“I strive to offer trips and tours that enable our guests not only to feel the magnificent nature, to respect it and learn about it, but also to engage with local people”.
This is something that they enjoy, because it gives them an opportunity to learn more about local customs and culture. Petra sees this opportunity to support local businesses, as well as buying locally sourced food.
She strives to minimize their environmental impact and offer guests reusable alternatives to common single-use plastics. On the tours they might encounter wildlife, but of course they do understand that they are wild animals with their own will, thus they cannot force them to be there on time where they want them. Ecotourism gives value to people (guides, local shops, artisans), and it matters for nature.
Her motto is EXPLORE - INSPIRE - CARE. “And I love sharing this love with my guests. I want to show them our most loved places in a way that they can respect them with the same care as we do. Only this way we can continue our work on and share this to our future guests-friends”.