Thursday 17 September 2015

Plitvice National Park and Heading North

Croatia, 11th – 14th September 2015

When checking out from Auto Camp Uvala Borova in Zaostrog after two nights there this was the first time here that tourist tax has been built into the ACSI price which earns them bonus points and saved us a few Euros. We decided this would be our turning point to start heading back north with Plitvice National Park (NP) our next destination. We stopped at Lidl in Makarska to do some shopping and had lunch in the car park before deciding which way to head next. We considered cutting inland from Split but might have had trouble finding somewhere to stay the night (as it was too far to travel the whole way in this afternoon) so took the coast road for a start to give us more options. In our Camperstop book the only free overnight parking spot listed for Croatia is near Krka so we followed the GPS hoping to stay

Some views from the road
there but were a bit unsure if it was going to work out as the GPS location and description didn’t match up, but gave it a shot anyway. Instead of the place shown in the book it took us onto a small quiet village road amongst a collection of houses with no sign of a car park. We therefore doubled back on ourselves to have a look along the access roads to the Krka NP for this parking area but with no success. There were four or five motorhomes parked up at the back of the main car park for the NP but Jo wasn’t sure about staying after reading the Police can be strict on freecamping with there being a substantial fine, so we went back to Kamp Krka where we stayed when visiting the park. Pulling in the owner recognised us from before and showed us to one of the few available spaces left as it was busier than last week. I got chatting to a German lady next door to us while Jo started on the dinner, a very nice chorizo and bean stew from a recipe in The Camper Van Coast book.

Plitvice National Park

After breakfast, a tidy up and doing all our water tanks while we had access to a decent service point we set of inland towards Plitvice. We drove through Knin and took the ‘1’ road north, the roads were good and quiet cutting through the mountains. As the car parks at Plitvice NP have barriers we pulled into the next side road after Entrance 1 which happened to have a wide grass verge that was being used by people for parking rather than paying for the car parks. We parked up and went to suss out the ticket and parking prices and where we needed to be tomorrow, and pick up info leaflets. Finding they charge 20kn for a map of the park with the walking routes on, on top of the already quite pricey entry tickets and car parking charges we took photos on my phone of the large info signs with the same maps on.

For the night we were considering staying at one of the nearby restaurants that offer camper parking when you have a meal, but as it was only 4pm went to the small ACSI site 14km up the road, Autokamp Korita (GPS: 44.96421 15.64495, 117kn [€15.50/£11.40] inc electric with ACSI). We got the chairs out and made the most of the rest of the day’s sun while Jo caught up writing our daily log and I read through the leaflets we’d picked up.

We planned to get to the NP entrance early but got a bit behind schedule after snoozing the alarm a few times, however still got in by 9:45 after a 15 min queue to get tickets which were 110kn again, and 80kn for me with my student ID. We decided to pay the 70kn/day parking charge for a motorhome for the car park for security rather than parking on the side road although it probably would have been fine.

A walkway junction
We took the walking route along wooden walkways just above the water of the streams and waterfalls. The walkways are more rustic here than the ones at Krka and were busy near the start due to a lot of tour groups, but better as we got further on. We went up some steps off to one side that led into some small low dark caves you could walk into with the assistance of phone light. We chose to follow the 8km ‘C’ route that involved a ride on an electric boat down the lake (included in entry tickets) before continuing walking. We got to the other end of the park quicker than expected so only took the panoramic bus, a Unimog with trailer carriages, part way back rather than the whole way. Instead we added about 3km more walking along the lakeside gravel path following a section from the longer 'K' route which was very quiet and peaceful. Getting back to the car park we had my can of beans and sausages kept from the UK on toast for a late lunch.

There are more photos at the end of the post.

Heading North-West

Driving towards the coast the route was hilly cutting through the mountains, before opening out into a wide flat section for a while. We joined the same hilly section at the end as last time to bring us down into Senj, this time though turning north following the coast road. We found out that our friends Steph and Matt had been on holiday to Croatia and Slovenia in their campervan last month, so contacted them for any recommendations. Steph got back to us with loads of info of everywhere they’d been and the good and bad bits which was very useful. Thanks again Steph for that! One place they’d camped looked great on their photos, being able to park by cliffs on a headland overlooking the sea. We’d got the details of where this was so headed there to Autocamp Punta Povile (GPS: 45.11452 14.81464, 138.50kn [€18.30/£13.50]) in the village of Povile. After checking the price (which had insurance to pay as well as the usual tourist tax and registration fees) and that a good pitch was available, we got parked up on at the end of the headland overlooking the water with panoramic views of Krk island and the coastline of Povile and beyond. We cracked open the bottle of 2L Deep (lager) still in the cupboard from Romania, got sat out and read until it got dark.

Our evening view from Autocamp Punta Povile - Povile on the mainland coast on the left and Krk island on the right
After hearing some rain in the early morning we woke up to a gloomy cloudy day. We’d been hoping to swim in the sea here and wander into the village but it was dull, windy and the sea was rough, crashing onto the rocks. We decided we’d wait until latest check-out time at midday to see if it cleared enough to warrant staying, but it didn’t so rather than sitting around inside we hit the road. The facilities are poor at Autocamp Punta Povile and it was relatively expensive with all their extra charges but the excellent location giving most of the pitches great views we thought made it worth it.

Driving up the coast we went through the centre of Rijecka which looked like a working city and quite rough so we didn’t stop. The weather didn’t improve and as we approached Pula the skies opened and we had a big downpour. We made a dash into Kaufland for some shopping  including stocking up on three of the 2L plastic bottles of wine for 22kn each (£2.10) we’d bought one of last time and found to be quite good. In preparation for visiting Pula we came to Camping Stoja (44.85752 13.81337, 136kn [€18/£13.20] inc electric & WiFi with ACSI) where we are now. This is one of the huge sites with 700-odd pitches but is in a good location being the nearest site to the city centre, and Steph had mentioned it has a bus stop right outside to get there.  There were two British vans in the area where we chose a pitch, who we made ourselves look stupid in front of with several attempts at trying to level the van on the ramps. Within about a minute of each other the men from each van came out to check we were ok.

The weather forecast in reception is looking better for tomorrow so we should be heading into Pula to see the sights.

- Matt

More Plitvice NP Photos:

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