It is a fact that tourism in Croatia has been rising throughout the past years, specially since Croatia joined the European Union in 2013. The country is usually portrayed as being one of the pearls of southern Europe, home to incredible national parks such as the Plitvice Lakes, beautiful coastlines and fortified cities such as Dubrovnik. However, there is a place in Croatia that is not as famous as the sites mentioned above and that deserves a lot more credit. I am speaking of Krka National Park, Croatia’s second most visited national park, located within a hour drive from Split, the city where we were staying.
On the fifth day of our Ultimate Balkan Road Trip, we drove from Split to discover this national park that I had put in our itinerary. I had done all of the planning at work, during a few night shifts, and I really wanted to include the Plitvice Lakes in our itinerary but it wouldn’t be possible. I knew that we wouldn’t have more than thirteen days on the road, and I didn’t want to rush it. In our minds we were still thinking of our unforgettable ride from Belgrade to Sarajevo, which proved that sometimes even the best plans can go wrong.
Arriving to Krka NP
Out of the seven waterfalls of Krka River, Skradinski Buk is the largest and the most famous one, but a mistake stopped us from visiting, and we just realized that at the end of the day. We drove over the Skradin bridge, which connects to the small town of Skradin and we saw what seemed to be an entrance to Krka, on the right side of the road right after the bridge. We ignored that entrance and I kept driving the road that surrounds the national park, leading to Roški Slap. On the end of that day, I blamed my phone’s map, but six months later I have admitted my mistake. However, I do not regret it, because we ended up enjoying some other different attractions which we would probably have ignored if we had made it to the first waterfall.
By the time we parked the car, it was almost 11 a.m. The entrance fee depends on the season and on what you’re actually interested in visiting. You can have a look at the price lists for 2017 and 2018 on Krka National Park official website.
Hiking trails can be find everywhere, and despite the fact that we were wearing flip-flops that did not stop us. The park’s rich flora and fauna is presented in several displays that you’ll find along the trail. Right on the beginning of the trail that heads north we found a section to hike up the nearby mountain. On the way up you’ll come across a few lizards, and if you’re lucky, snakes as well. I have no idea how long it would take us to get to the top, but a couple on the way down told us that it was pointless to keep going up, explaining that the view did not get any better. In fact, the panoramic view from where we were standing at the moment was too incredible to be that easy to beat. The river flowing through the middle of the hills, a few boats sailing these waters and the small cascades, which the locals call of silver necklaces, created the most amazing scenario.
Oziđana Pećina Cave
From my point of view, hiking down is always the most difficult part. I don’t know if it’s just me, but in order to feel safe of falling, specially when hiking around the Balkans with your flip-flops on, I tend to put a lot of pressure on my heels. Anyway, in no time we were back on the main trail, along the Krka River, Croatia’s 22nd longest river. A few minutes later we spotted the long wooden staircase that leads up to the Oziđana Pećina Cave. 517 steps, to be precise… the number of steps we had to climb to reach the cave, located 220 meters above sea level.
We were well received with cherries as soon as we entered the cave. The staff spoke with us for a while, she informed us about the spiders and bats living in the cave, she handed us two yellow safety helmets, similar to those the miners wear and we posed for a photo before adventuring ourselves in our first caving experience, holding nothing but our phone’s flashlight. Oziđana pećina cave is 59 meters long, 7 meters wide and 2,5 meters high. It was proven, according to researches and artifacts found, that human presence was continuous for thousands of years. You can read more about it as soon as you start your short caving expedition on informative displays on your right. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any bat, they were probably asleep. However, we met some of the few spiders that inhabit the cave.
We climbed down the stairs and then we followed the signs to the Roški Slap area. A few old houses and windmills, a souvenir shop and Krka’s sixth waterfall, the Roški Slap. There are a few excursion boats that you can take to reach Krka National Park’s second most visited waterfall.
We were still in May, so the area was far from being crowded, and I am happy for that. There was a small improvised beach where you could swim, but my main interest ended up being the small waterfalls nearby, where swimming wasn’t even possible.
It was starting to get late but we still tried to find our way to Skradinski buk. We drove to Skradin, we crossed over the blue bridge and we stopped the car next to the entrance. We were told that we couldn’t drive there, hiking the trail would be our only option. We opted by not doing it at this time, Croatia is not that far, so I’m pretty sure we’re visiting sometime soon. At this moment we just wanted to go back to the campsite, have a shower, grab something to eat at some nearby restaurant and pack our belongings for checkout the next morning.
Stay tuned for the next part of The Ultimate Balkan Road Trip
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