Usually when people hear Croatia they think of the beautiful beaches with mostly pebbly shores and surrounding them mountains. Somehow everyone forgets the inland Croatia and lots of its, maybe not so full of tourists, but still worth seeing spots. So on the 4th day of our trip we left the sandy beaches of the Pag Island and got back to seddle to see some new places far off the sea.
Sunrise at Stara Povljana beach
We started our inland Croatia trip with sunrise at the Stara Povljana beach. The day before when we were starting our camp there, we couldn’t see thing in the night’s dense darkness. But after opening the tent in the early morning, we were quite nicely surprised!
At first the Velebit mountains were a little shyly hiding in some fog, but after a while they finally showed up their contours.
The Stara Povljana beach is actually the most sandy beach we’ve got to see so far in Croatia.
We’ve noticed the water might be quite silty in some spots, but I guess that’s what you usually get in the beaches situated in bays ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We liked it anyway as we were happy we could stay there over night and enjoy nice sea view right away when we woke up.
The beach is open to everyone, public and is quite far away from any buildings, unlike the Perilo beach for example. So it’s good for wild camping for one night and no one should bother you there.
The only thing we couldn’t take was the sun, which was really burning hot!
We assumed it’s not so bad, though, and we won’t need to use sun cream. We thought we will pack up the tent with the speed of light! How wrong we were… I think it got us only an hour to get mild sunburns :D No jokes with Croatian sun!
We hid our tent a little bit away from the beach part, where the people actually roam with their towels and sunbeds, so they wouldn’t be concerned with us (and vice versa). But we anyway didn’t want to linger too much.
Our next planned stop was the Krk National Park.
Bye, bye, Pag Island!
To get back on the track we had to maneuver a while between the fields to get to Povljana.
Povljana itself looks like a typical touristy little town with lots of hotels, motels and other guesthouses. Aside from the Stara Povljana beach, which is rather remote, there also 3 other beaches closer to the civilization – the Perilo, the Dubrovnik and the Livade i Obatnice beaches. All of them are quite sandy, but as I mentioned before they lie rather close to the city center, hence you may not want to pitch up the tent there, right in front of some apartments for rent :P
After leaving Povljana we took an unnamed road around the Velo Blato Lake. It’s not huge or anything, but it’s not just any lake. It’s said to be an ornithologists paradise as more than hundred species of birds were recorded there. Judging by rather skimpy landscape I would never guess that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The road itself was rather narrow, so this made quite a problem for cars sometimes.
In the end we found ourselves back on the road 106 and we took direction to the Miškovići and Zadar.
However before leaving the island we spotted a nice place for a stop.
It made a nice vantage point on one of the island’s bay many corners.
Though, we couldn’t stand the heat for long when standing still geared up fully (•_•)
We left the Pag Island through the Pag bridge, which is another way to get to the island, next to cruising there by a ferry.
After passing the bridge, before racing into inland Croatia, it’s good idea to stop once again :D
Not only you can look over the bridge itself, but you will also notice a fortress ruins sitted on the Pag island naze devoid of any sign of vegetation.
It is said that nothing can grow there as the strong winds cover everything with sea water mist, so most plants can’t withstand the salt left after the water evaporate.
I’ve also read that the fortress is a nice place to take photos from. You would get nice pics of the whole bay or the Pag bridge to your more or less private portfolio ;) But we gave the fortress a pass as we were planning to pay a visit to another fortress. You will see which one in a couple of posts ;)
From picturesque Croatian coast to hospitable inland Croatia plains
From the Pag bridge we rode straight to E65 road in order to cover few kilometers quicker.
Then at Sopot we finally said good bye to the Adriatic Sea. To get to Krk National Park we finally had to ride a little inland Croatia.
We also did some shopping as we were running out of provisions and water ;)
So we were scanning the roadsides for a Pekarnica (croat. bakery) sign and happily in Benkovac we spotted one. Eager we entered and looked around for something tasty.
The pastry selection was quite wide, so we had problem to decide for anything. Fortunately, the lady behind the counter was speaking English very well and saved us some trouble. Patiently she advised us a pastry which fits the best to the level of our hunger – a big burek with dry cottage cheese pulled out right from the oven (｡◕‿◕｡) So this was really extra nice! A small thing, but we still remember this clearly after months passed… Not to mention I think that was a best burek we had comparing to others, which we tasted later along the way ;)
Of course, we, awful gluttons, also took some extra sweet buns. You have to have power to ride, don’t you? (☞ﾟ∀ﾟ)☞
We also chatted for a minute about our trip across inland Croatia and then had to go. Other clients were waiting. But we had two extra coffees at the Caffe Bar Cinca, which is just next door to the bakery and which was recommended by the bakery lady.
We wasted a bit of time, but I guess sometimes it’s good to just chill and enjoy your burek ;)
If you’ve never tried burek then better get some if you will get a chance, while visiting any Balkan country (although you can get some also in Mediterranean and Arabian countries, but of course we will agitate for the Balkan ones :P) Burek is a pastry made of a flaky dough, which resembles a puff pastry dough, filled with cheese, meat, vegetables or sometimes even fruits. Simple, yet awesome, not only for breakfast.
From Benkovac we took road 56 to Žažvić and then rode the road 59 straight up past Kistanje and after few kilometers we finally arrived to the Krk National Park.
The Krk National Park
The Krk National Park is 109 km² big and the time was already quite late, so we decided to only visit the 59.6 meters high Manojlovac waterfall and its surroundings.
If you’re eager to see the whole park, which is worthwhile, then better reserve all day :)
Apart from the Manojlovac waterfall in the north of the park, there is also Skradinski buk (the beautiful, longest travertine barrier on the Krka River) south and the Roški slap somewhere in the middle. The waterfall at the Roški slap is lower than the Manojlovac waterfall, but the backwaters and cascades there create a whole new, different landscape. And that’s only an outline of menu for nature lovers.
If you have an appetite for some history than you should also pay a visit Burnum, Krk Monastery and Puljani! Oof… So as you see that’s a lot to see only in one day!
But as other inland Croatian attractions were waiting, we will only take you to some of the interesting spots at the Krk River beginning ;)
Although we nearly ended our adventure at the park entrance ಠ_ಠ Somehow we looked into the ticket price table wrong and didn’t bring enough cash. As we expected, there wasn’t any terminal. We were missing 20 or 30 kunas and you wouldn’t find any ATM in the middle of nowhere (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
Sad as it was we were of course about to retreat and ride further. With regret, but what can you do about it…?
We must have looked really upset, because suddenly the ticketing ladies told us to go… without the tickets ⚆ _ ⚆ Just under circumstance we wouldn’t go to the monastery (which we didn’t even want to visit from the beginning).
We felt like dumb asses. But we whatsoever couldn’t rebuff this random act of warmth and friendliness given to us for no apparent reason ◉_◉ So we flooded the ticket ladies with many thanks and we went up the trail. (We flooded them once again when we came back and I think we would once more if there would be occasion ;) We didn’t expect this kind of positive things happen to us :O)
Of course the first trail was a little steep, the sun was boiling us happily in our gear like always and we were sweating just like never :P But there wasn’t any suitable option to change clothes, so there we were – waddling slowly uphill.
At some point the waddling changed to pushing past rocks and trying not to fall from the hill edge.
After climbing a bit we could finally enjoy some nice scenery. Phew…
Yet after reaching some rock shelf and a bat cave we didn’t climb further.
We figured out we want to find this blue water down the trail and use it to cool down our boiling bodies. Thus we got back and found some narrow path between the trees and some old, ruined walls of some building.
The path, after wriggling a bit here and there, got a little muddy and just in few steps there we were.
Dawid took the idea of cooling quite seriously :P
Some other overheated tourists joined us after few minutes. In 35°C everyone was looking for anything cold.
Nevertheless, we had some more waddling to do as we wanted to see the Manojlovac waterfall and check out how the canyon looks like from the vantage point in park. So the new climbing began ;)
However there were some viewpoints, which sweetened the way :))
The canyon itself was hard to embrace with our camera lens.
When we reached the canyon top we had to traverse the hill a bit to get to the actual, official viewpoint.
But it wasn’t a long way. We’ve finally made it! :D
The whole wandering took us about from 2 to 3 hours if you count the way back to the bike.
Searching for the Cetina River spring
After we almost drank all of our water supplies and died of heat stroke in the Krk National Park, we started making our way further through the road 59 to get to the Cetina River spring, which is also placed inland Croatia.
In the end we headed to the Knin town by route 1.
This road (and road 59) isn’t something very special. Sometimes you can notice mountains looming somewhere in the background or hills and houses spread picturesquely, but sometimes they will also hide from sight.
What I found it interesting about riding more inland Croatia is that you can notice a contrast. Somehow it is weird to observe how the Adriatic Sea riviera landscape, which looks so rich, expensive and touristy, transforms to a lot more modest and ordinary view of cultivated fields and houses under construction.
In Knin we did some shopping as this was last bigger city on our way and we didn’t have much kunas as we were relying on our debit cards a little.
Yeah, I know, the prosaic thinking about the food and water can be boring :P But I think if excited you forget about basic things like sleeping or eating, you will have a bad time. Then morale melt away real quick.
After stocking up the bike we continued our way with road 1, because there’s no other route option.
The weather seemed to get worse. Some heavy dark clouds were hanging above our heads. Unthinkable even in the inland Croatia I think. A real disaster. You rather don’t want to put on the folic rain layer of the motorcycle suit when there are over 30°C outside.
We’ve got lucky, though. After some more kilometers of riding we’ve lost all the clouds, when we’ve got nearer to Kijevo.
To actually get to the Cetina River spring, you have to get on quite inconspicuous, unnamed road leading to Civljane from road 1.
I don’t even remember any road signs pointing to the Cetina River spring there.
When you will see a small orthodox church on a hill, then you will know you’ve reached your destination. However it’s not the end. You don’t have to go by feet, there’s an offroad downhill path for more courageous drivers (but it’s not super hardcore, it can be just inconvenient).
When you will get down you will notice right away a crystal clear water flowing lazily around the trees.
Getting to see all this vivid green life around again brought a feeling of landing on another planet, after all day long ride in the heat through the rocks and the plants fried by the sun.
But the best we were still about to see in just few more turn of the Africa wheels!
Izvor Cetine – the inland Croatia forgotten, but alluring spot
The first thing that blew me away, when I saw the Izvor Cetine, were the colors.
Just flawless azure and deep blue mixing like watercolors. Surrounding it vivid green just make the whole view more crisp and live.
The second thing which startled me is the thought of how the spring is deep. The Izvor Cetine spring is also called Glavaševo vrelo (apperently from Glavaš fortress nearby, located below the Dinara mountain, which is also worth including in a trekking day trip) or Veliko vrelo as this is the biggest spring of the Cetina River.
I don’t know how deep you would have to dive into it to reach its bottom. It is only said to be investigated by the professional divers down to 115 meters under the water surface. Nevertheless apparently I’ve found that every year there are some amateur daredevils, who try to dive there and see the spring underwater wonder on their own.
However I’ve got information that few years ago they took out some unlucky diver stucked in there to death. Sooo… I would pass myself ;)
If the weather conditions are good and the sun lights up the spring at the proper angle, then you can stare right into the abyss yourself just standing safely at the waterside ;)
So remember to get there for chilling when there’s a nice weather and before the sun will start to set :)
The place itself isn’t touristy yet. You would even say that the spring isn’t touristy at all, when you would compare it to other inland Croatia attractions, like Plitvice Lake National Park. So the spring is a nice spot for anyone who likes to contemplate the nature splendors in peace.
Riding deeper inland Croatia along the Cetina River
Of course, our trip didn’t end at the Cetina spring. Although the day was ending, we were still about to get to some new spot. For the last highlight in our 4th day of trip, we’ve chosen the Peruća Lake.
The route to the lake leads straight by the road 1.
The Peruca Lake with the surface of 15 km2 is the Croatia second greatest artificial lake. Third greatest if you would also count the natural lakes.
However as big as it is, if you seek salvation from the crowds you’ve met at the Adriatic coast, then you’re in the right place. There are many spots, where you can chill at the lake shore. We even chose one of those for wild camping as it seemed quite remote.
Though, to get to the shore, you sometimes have to take a gravel road, which is hidden in the bushes and doesn’t really look like leading to anywhere (, not to mention leading to a nice place to lay aching bones after a day long ride :P)
Also sometimes the light gravel road suddenly turns into more aggressive, rocky one, like in our case.
So we couldn’t park the bike right near the water. Nor we couldn’t place a tent on the gravel path as it was a little too steep and the rocks lining it were sometimes sharp. The ground right at the shore was even worse :D
Eventually we withdrew a little back.
We found some flat ground a bit above the lake. To get to swim in the water we had to walk down for 2-3 minutes, but there wasn’t any better option . And maybe this was even better? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The legend says that there’s monstrous, more than 3 meters long snake living in the lake. So better be careful! :)
You could also tell that someone herds goats or sheeps here, but as a wild camper you should also be prepared and get up early in the morning to pack up and leave no trace behind before anyone comes (⌐■_■)
We got to bed quite early, after having some beer under the starry sky, as in the next day, apart from more riding by the inland Croatia, early morning chill at the lake shore was waiting for us :)