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The Iška and Zala gorges

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The Iška and Zala gorges

The crystal-clear Zala and Iška rivers have carved their river beds in picturesque gorges in the most northern part of the Notranjska Regional Park, and with their character, added some Alpine touch to the Notranjska region.

The Iška surfaces on the marshy edge of the Bloke plateau and works its way north through a narrow gorge cut deeply in dolomite. It is fed from both sides by clear streams, the longest and most furcated among them are the Opečnik and the Črni potok streams.

The Zala river surfaces under the Vid plateau. On its way towards the Iška, with which it unites at Vrbica, the Zala has created a picturesque valley with gorge character where numerous rapids, cascades and waterfalls supply the stream with oxygen and make the valley difficult to pass.

The rivers with Alpine character, above which rise steep carbonaceous walls with typical flora, have been included in the Natura 2000 Network because of their intactness and importance for nature conservation.

Maximum depth of gorges: 300 m
Highest waterfall: 30 m
Length of the Iška in the NRP:  7 km
Length of the Zala in the NRP:  5 km 
  • Fauna

    In the embrace of wilderness of isolated and hardly-accessible gorges, shy otters, wildcats and black storks find their peace and food. Golden eagle glides above the steep walls, peregrine falcon shoots by, two ravens greets us from above the tree crowns, grey wagtail flies over the rapids, and white-throat dipper dives into the stream...

    The intact and oxygen-rich streams are home to stone crayfish, which hides under the rocks during the day and is lured out in the evening when it becomes hungry. Goldenrings, our largest dragonflies, continuously fly along the shore. When day throws its shadows over the streams, brown trout comes into sight and starts chasing larvae of caddis-, stone- and mayflies which are only found in the clearest of waters.

    Yellow-bellied toads and Alpine crested and common newts get together in puddles where fish never stray, whereas fire and Alpine salamander rather stroll through the forest.

  • Flora

    The Alpine character of the Iška and Zala, steep slopes, carbonaceous rocks and areas around the upper course of streams give promise of special and diverse flora.

    Steep slopes are covered with beeches and firs, sometimes also yews and common hollies, whereas in sunny areas beeches are replaced by black pines.

    Willow trees and tufts of endangered hairy spurge cling to rocky shores, and false asters and stone brambles blossom on the rocks.

    The steep rocky slopes above the bubbling stream are decorated with yellow betony, hairy alpenrose, round-headed rampion, two-flowered violet, alpine clematis, alpine plantain and the protected yellow daylily.

    From the cracks in the rocky walls rising above the water, a native species stretches its stem – Carniolan primrose which is kept company by yellow veronica, Alpine butterwort, blue moor grass and three-leaved valerian.

    Hidden flat patches around uppercourses of streams only increase the diversity of the area. Here blossom the endangered species found in low marshes, including marsh helleborine, common and broad-leaved cottongrass, and flat sedge.

    Number of native species: 1

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