Thursday 10 September 2015

Krka National Park and Southern Croatia

Croatia, 6th – 10th September 2015

Freecamping or no freecamping: at least the views are great
We’ve now officially been in Croatia for over a week, and have now started to warm a little more to the place.  To give the country credit, the coastline itself is very beautiful, with lots of pebbled beaches and a crystal clear sea.  The people are very friendly and the weather has improved significantly; after the heatwave and downpours of our first few days, we’ve had blue skies and temperatures somewhere between 25 and 30 degrees: perfect.  As a place to go on a holiday it would be great (although maybe not in July/August when it’s packed).  It’s just not really somewhere you can spend extended periods in a camper if you’re trying to keep to a tight budget like we are as freecamping is pretty much non-existent here and many of the campsites are still extremely busy and pricey in September.  As it stands, we’re running a little over budget.  Without our ACSI discount card, the budget would have been blown out of the water completely.
 On the plus side, we've been getting some great use out of the Cadac BBQ and have been sat out until past eleven for the past couple of nights (with the assistance of a mozzie repelling candle!)

Krka National Park

To get away from the coastline for a bit, we detoured inland to Krka National Park.  This is an area of 109 square kilometres surrounding a section of the Krka River and its basin that is notable for its wide array of flora, fauna, and large number of waterfalls.  The ticket to visit the park is priced at 110 kuna (about €14.50 or £11), unless you’re a jammy bugger like Matt and can still get in using your student ID, in which case it is 80 kuna.  For anyone thinking of visiting, I’d recommend you get there early and make a day of it as the ticket covers you for most of the main sights within the park, other than a few places that can only be accessed by paying extra for boat excursions.

The main site, Skradinski buk, is home to one of the longest stretch of waterfalls.  It is accessible by two different entrances, with one offering frequent buses to the area and the other offering hourly boat rides.  We initially were going to try the boat ride from Skradin, but the parking here was pay and display (unless there was another free main car park that we missed), so instead parked for free at the larger Lozovac entrance and got a bus in.  There’s a very pleasant 2km walking trail around the waterfalls that travels through a lot of nice areas of streams and ponds with lots of fish along wooden walkways, and when you get to the base of the main waterfall there is an area where you can swim in the water.  I stayed on bag/camera duty whilst Matt investigated the water.  His verdict on the water: ‘refreshing’.

I think Matt is the person in the bottom left with blue shorts!
Matt at Roski Slap
Our next destination was Roski Slap, which is a series of lots of small waterfalls known as the Cascades, or Necklaces.  When we pulled up at the entrance and asked the staff where best to park, they directed us and helped manoeuvre us into an area that technically had a No Parking sign over it (maybe they don’t worry about it so much in low season/later in the day).  We had a walk around the waterfalls here, as well as visited a cave that is 59 metres deep (horizontally) with not quite enough headroom to stand in at places, and requires an ascent of 517 steps to the entrance.  Perhaps we once would have scoffed at the number of steps required and not bothered, but after the 1480 steps required to reach Poenari Fortress in Romania, 517 suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.  Got to work off all that baguette I’ve been eating somehow!  We also visited Manojlovac slap, which is the tallest (59.6m) and said to be the prettiest waterfall in the area.  It can only be seen from a distance however, which makes the size seem a little less impressive.

To see the Krka National Park, we stayed at Auto Camp Krka (GPS: 43.80046, 15.94138), which is around 2.5km from the main entrance to Skradinski Buk, Lozovac.  At 100 kuna (about €13 including electric and taxes, free WiFi) it’s pretty reasonably priced, and has some of the smartest, cleanest toilet/shower blocks we’ve come across so far on our travels.  The staff are friendly, and I’d recommend it for a stopping place.  There is also another campsite charging similar rates next door; we chose A.C. Krka because it just looked that little bit nicer and was a little quieter.

Both shots taken around Skradinski buk
Skradinski buk
Manojlovac Slap

Back to the Coast

Since visiting Krka we have moved back to the coast, slowly making our way further south.  We spent a day visiting Trogir, which is a UNESCO listed historic town on an island joined to mainland Croatia by a bridge.  It’s quite a pretty little place, with streets made up of lots of narrow alleyways, numerous churches, a fortress and a small cathedral.  Just over the bridge back on the mainland is a marketplace selling lots of produce, especially lavender in various shapes and forms.  We’ve not spent enough time in Croatia yet to know whether lavender is a countrywide or region specific product, however.

The market at Trogir
A Trogir historic town street
The pedestrian bridge connecting Trogir historic town with the mainland

Rozac Auto Camp
Over another bridge from Trogir takes you to the neighbouring island of Ciovo, where we spent a night at Rozac Auto Camp (GPS: 43.50578, 16.25847, €16 ACSI price + €4 in tourist tax and registration fees, WiFi expensive at €5/day, a short cycle from Trogir).  It was a slightly larger site (although still not too big by Croatian standards at 150ish pitches), and despite being out of the July/August peak season, there were only three pitches left during our arrival.  The pitch next to us filled up with a French van in the evening who chatted to us for a bit; the man seemed sure that he had already seen us, and we couldn’t figure out where at first until we realised we’d been parked next to each other at Lidl that very morning.  We bumped into them again when we left the island the following morning whilst stuck in traffic; we got stuck in a slow, often standstill section whilst attempting to leave the island that left us in one place for long enough to chat to them for a few minutes whilst they were cycling back to the campsite in the opposite direction.  On the traffic: in my opinion, the two islands don’t really have the right infrastructure in place to support a large quantity of traffic; we were stuck for around an hour with no reason for the delay other than a lack of traffic lights, tight passing places and poorly planned road junctions.  It’s a lovely town, but I hate to think how it would be in peak season.

Another roadside view
From Trogir we’ve been heading south, and have now stopped near Zaostrog, a tourist town in southern Dalmatia.  We were initially thinking of going to Dubrovnik from here (as well as a headland that is popular for windsurfing), but the section of coast it is situated on is separated from the rest of Croatia by a small stretch of coast that belongs to Bosnia.  Our vehicle insurance doesn’t cover us for Bosnia (and we have no intention of risking driving through anyway), and the ferry to bypass Bosnia is a little pricey (over £60 for a return journey).  We don’t quite fancy stretching our budget that far, so we’re probably going to give it a miss this time around and leave it for something to come back to in the future, perhaps on a camping holiday rather than a long-term trip when watching the pennies isn’t so much of a concern.  After all, we only have a year and if we attempt to visit every place we’d like to see we’ll just burn ourselves out.

Auto Camp Uvula Borova
Our current spot is at Auto Camp Uvula Borova (GPS: 43.13088, 17.28708, free sitewide WiFi), a small pine-tree campsite overlooking the ocean (with a few bays right next to the beach).  Priced at €16 with an ACSI card it’s pretty reasonable, and when we asked at reception the lady told us there was no charges on top, it was €16 all in.  Seems a little too good to be true given that most other places have charged tourist tax so maybe she misunderstood our wording of the question, but we’ll see what happens when we check out.  Somewhere in the area is a local possibly stray cat, who took a shine to Matt yesterday.  When we were finishing eating it came up to us with a meow, and I assumed that when it realised it had nothing to feed us it would disappear.  But when Matt sat down, it jumped up on his lap and curled up instantly.  Matt asked if I was jealous the cat preferred him; my lips say no but my heart says maybe a little.

We’ve been swimming in the Adriatic sea for the first time since entering Croatia whilst we’re here; the water is still a lovely temperature in September, and amazingly clear.  Most of the beaches here are rocky rather than sand, but we haven’t spotted much in the way of anemones or other such obstacles to be avoided.

We may carry on to the Bosnian border (about an hour away) before we start making our way north again.  Plitvice National Park is more than likely on the go-to list for our route north, as well as the area around Pula, but if anyone has any experience with Croatia then we’re certainly welcome to suggestions!

- Jo


  1. Ta for the info, just looking at Croatia for the next trip. Is it worth the effort? Hope you are both well!! Tnb from morella

    1. Hi guys, Overall we'd say so, there are some nice places to see. We weren't that impressed on Croatia generally as it wasn't what we were expecting & we weren't keen on having to stay on campsites every night, with the faff of choosing and moving to new ones every day or two in our case. I think we'd give it another chance in future though and stay in less places for longer.
      We'd definitely recommend spending some time in Slovenia too, especially around Lake Bohinj in the Triglav National Park, one of our favourite places we've been.
      We're good here thanks, enjoying exploring Austria currently, hope you're well too!
      Give us a shout (on here or email) if you've got any other questions we might be able to help with, and let us know how you get on if you get down there.