Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Waterfalls at Krka National Park, Croatia

Actual date of this event: 29 August

We had enough time while in Split to do a day trip. Luke really wanted to visit the Plitvice National Park but that was a bit too far away for our liking. It was possible, but we really didn't want to do a 14 hours day trip. After asking around and doing a bit of research, Krka National Park was going to be enough excitement. The main purpose of our visit was to see the waterfalls at Skradinski buk, and I figured it was best and easiest to go with a tour group. I chose the "Swimming Beneath Krka Waterfalls" tour with Opcija Tours, but there were a few others that seemed just as good. To be honest, I can't remember why I chose this company, and if I am going to be really honest, I probably chose this one due to the price.
We departed around 8:45am with a group of about 20 other people from all over Europe. Luke and I were so impressed with our tour guide as he spoke every single language in our group - Croatian, English, German, Spanish, Russian, and Italian - and I am willing to bet he speaks several more. Impressive! The tour guide chatted with us a bit, learning a few things about our country and where we come from. We had a beautiful coastal view for a good part of the journey.
On our way to Krka, we stopped in Sibenik for a little city tour. Sibenik is the only city on Adriatic founded by the Croatians. It was a very small and quiet town, and is the home to a UNESCO World Heritage site, St James Cathedral. We visited the cathedral which was under some major preservation work.

Our tour guide told us a bit about the town and let us go wander alone for a few minutes before departing again. Luke and I decided to venture up the stairs where we were told we could get a great view from the fort. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the fort and too many walls blocked our view, so those stairs ended up being extra exercise.

Moving along, the bus arrived to Krka National Park a short time later. As it is a National Park, there was an entrance fee to get in, but it was included in our tour, so it made things very easy. I have heard that it can be a bit difficult to visit the park on your own, so that was the purpose of the tour. We hopped out of the bus and followed a waterway to the park map. I thought the little waterfall here was really pretty, but boy was I in for a surprise!
Our guide explained a few things to us about the pathways and the best ways to navigate. He said we could follow him if we wanted or go by ourselves. He gave us a meeting time and set us free. The only free toilets were at this location, so we made good use of those before walking on. We saw a large group of people huddle by some trees, so we meandered over there for a spectacular view!

The guide made the recommendation to walk clock-wise around the pathways meaning we would go down lots of steps immediately, and the loop back around would be a slight uphill climb. Taking the stairs down wasn't an easy task though as lots of groups were going up and the path wasn't very wide. But it gave us an excuse to go looking over edges at more views of the waterfalls. And at least we were going down rather than up!

At the bottom of the steps, we came to a small bridge over the water which was packed with people taking pictures. One side had a calm pool of crystal clear water with a few people swimming. The other side had the waterfall and lots of people walking very very slowly in the water.

We set our things down to go for a swim... this is why we are in Croatia after all. As soon as we got ten feet in, we realized why everyone was walking so slowly - the water was gushing and it was impossible to walk without holding on to the giant rocks that lay on lake bottom. Any misstep would send you ten feet away. We had some awkward moments with strangers a few times as either they misjudged their step or we did and ended up, well, "dancing" with them in the water. We plopped down on a rock to hold on and sat to enjoy the view of the waterfalls.
Being a little paranoid about our things not being watching by anyone we trust, we decided to get out of the water. We laid in the sun for a while, had a beer and some lunch, then decided to make the gradual trek back to the top of the waterfalls.
The wooden walkway was like a real life waterworld. It was very cool! Water surrounded us for the majority of the walk back. We came across a few small waterfalls and also had more views of the major ones. We eventually caught up with the rest of our tour group. And of course, the journey back home required a little nap in the bus.

I can't say the actual tour was that great, but those waterfalls were AMAZING and totally worth the day! I couldn't believe how much water was gushing over those cliffs... and I still don't understand where it all comes from (even though that was explained to me). It was just so much water! I would love to see more waterfalls in my lifetime, but of course I have a mental list of more to see at some point :-) Luke just doesn't know it yet.

Other posts from Croatia: Catamaran CruiseKrka WaterfallsCity of SplitDubrovnik ApartmentDubrovnik Part 1Dubrovnik Part 2

In the summer, the rate of flow at Skradinski buk is around 18 cubic meters (4,755 gallons) per second, and in the winter it is around 43 cubic meters (11,359 gallons).

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