Krka National Park, and the Near-Death Mountain Climb

The long-anticipated Sunday had finally arrived, and we were off on our first and only booked excursion of the week. We booked through an agency online before our arrival, and prepaid a couple of days prior to the excursion at the Portal Travel Agency offices, conveniently around the corner from where we were staying, and more or less in the walls of Diocletian’s Palace.

The excursion was yet another aspect of the holiday which was so reasonably priced and cost us approximately £42 each for the entire day, including transfers and park entry.

We hopped on the coach a little bleary eyed thanks to the early start, to be met with the HAPPIEST coach driver and tour guide I have ever met. WHO is that happy at 8am on a Sunday morning?

Thankfully, both were truly accommodating and helpful throughout the day, and clearly loved their jobs, which is something that rings true for a lot of Croatians we met.

The coach journey to Krka took a little under two hours, and the tour guide (I forget his name, let’s call him Bob) let us stop off to take pictures of the scenery and stretch our legs after about an hour. The excursion was more or less fully booked, and was a total mix of people and cultures. Apart from a cute little old man, there were no other English, which pleased me greatly. Rude Americans there were, however.

When we arrived, we were handed our park tickets and given a little history behind Krka national park, before embarking on the very long and winding roads down into the park’s entrance. The place is absolutely HUGE and has multiple entrances spanning across its 109km area. This was the first of two entrances we were planning to visit during our tour, though I’m sure each and every part of the park is as beautiful as the next. The place we visited I later found out is called Skradinski buk, and is absolutely stunning – I can’t say I’ve been anywhere as breathtaking.

Bob gave us a quick guide on where to go and what to do, and let us go our separate ways. We were hoping we’d be allowed to swim in the waterfalls as Bob had told us it wasn’t always permitted due to the changing tides (or something). Thankfully, today was a good day for swimming, and so after quite literally gawping at the beauty of the place, we headed down for a swim.

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This was the second point of the holiday where we were praying for sea shoes, as mentioned in this post. The rocks beneath the water were so horrendously painful; Joelle and I looked nothing short of two crippled old ladies struggling to make our way from A to B. Seriously, TAKE SEA SHOES. We gave up on trying to get anywhere near the waterfall and so sat on a rock in the mildly cool water, and gawped a little longer. Photos cannot do this place justice. One of the greatest parts about Krka National Park was how unspoiled it was – there wasn’t a trace of rubbish to be seen.

We continued to venture around the park, along the winding wooden pathways, taking in all of the sights, sounds and strange wildlife. We were given two hours to venture before returning to the coach, and making our way to briefly visit Visovac.

Visovac is home to a Roman Catholic Monastery which sits on a solitary island surround by the National Park. Bob told us that it was a working monastery whereby men were to spend a full 365 days on the island without leaving, before ‘becoming’ a monk. It is possible to visit the monastery by boat tour, though we didn’t have time.

Joelle and I were getting pretty hangry by this point, so were glad to be told that the next stop would include lunch. We paid an extra 70 Kuna (£7) for the privilege, which turned out to be more olives, more bread and more Italian ham, around a large wooden table with all our excursion friends, Bob, and Bob’s mate the bus driver. Turns out it was a pretty great idea as it was the first time we got to speak to any of our fellow ramblers properly. After trying to make conversation with some horrendously rude and arrogant yanks, I turned the other way to speak to a lovely couple from Croatia but residing in Australia, and an Australian residing in London. You follow?

Lunch annihilated, and a shot of the local Rakia, we trekked off to find a huge mountain that Bob had told us about, which supposedly had amazing views when you got to the top. We had 50 minutes before we needed to be back at the coach, and Bob had told us it was 25 minutes to the top (if you were physically fit).

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Naturally, we thought it sounded like a great idea, so we headed off towards the 608 steps which took you to the top. For anyone reading this and who isn’t aware, 608 steps is a LOT of steps. In 30 degree heat. With no water whatsoever. We somehow managed to clamber about halfway in ten minutes, taking numerous pit stops for a handful of tic-tacs (they were all we had; they work the same as water right?) By this point, I had come to the conclusion that death was upon us and we’d never reach the top. The whole situation was not helped by the views behind us which consisted of long winding rivers and waterfalls – the least helpful thing to see when you’re dying for a drink.

SOMEHOW we made it to the top, after laughing at a group of girls who quite literally looked like their worlds had ended, and took in the fantastic views. After asking a woman whose English stretched as far as ‘yes’ to take a photo of us at the top, we began the descent down almost immediately, which was nearly as painful as the climb upwards.

After running/walking/hobbling back to the coach, we were ready to head back to Split, via Sibenik, which I won’t waste too much time on, as it wasn’t all that impressive – sorry Bob.

Bob clearly loved Sibenik, but I think Bob would still be smiling if you told him his house had burned down. He gave us a ‘brief’ (long) history of the place, and let us go on our merry way to explore for just over an hour. Joelle and I explored as far as the shop selling ice creams, and the bar next door with ice cold beers. After our mountain climb, all we wanted was to sit down. The hour passed and we were back on the coach, on our way home.

Krka National Park is definitely worth spending the time and money on, and I would highly recommend Portal Travel Agency, not only for the cost and convenience of coach transfers, but the very witty tour guide, and the freedom to explore the National Park individually. All-in-all a fantastic day; I would not hesitate to return.

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