Arrival to destination – Starigrad-Paklenica
Our trip begins today in Starigrad-Paklenica. As a centre of the Paklenica Riviera, it is a small but lively tourist town with somewhat more than one thousands inhabitants who exchanged their traditional way of life in the foothills of the Velebit for life alongside the sea some half a century ago. The nearness and the easy access to the mountains, particularly through the attractive Velika Paklenica canyon, means that Starigrad is not merely a pleasant seaside resort, but also a traditional gathering place for hikers and climbers, adventurers and scientists, and all nature lovers who come to enjoy the beauties of Paklenica and the Velebit. After settling into your accommodation, we will meet in the hotel restaurant for a get-together dinner and a presentation of the program.
Meals: D; Van drive from airport: Split 2,30 hours or Zadar 45 min
Trekking Krupa River Canyon
Through millenniums Zrmanja and Krupa rivers in the Velebit Mountain Nature Park have carved a spectacular canyon and built magnificent waterfalls. These are two of the most beautiful rivers in Europe with green banks and perfectly clear water. We start our day with a van drive to a little village called Golubici where very few people live nowadays. One of Croatia’s prettiest rivers is probably exactly the tiny Krupa. Located just under the steep slopes of Velebit, this beautiful river stretches from the lovely spring all the way through a deep canyon where it meets Zrmanja – another beautiful karst river. Arriving to Golubic village we visit a local sheep and goat farm. After tasting local cheese and drinks, we take a short walk down the hill to Kudin most – or The Bridge of Kuda – one of the nicest places in the hinterland of Zadar. Actually, the place is called Deveterci for the 9 small cascades that make the place so magical. Kudin Bridge has been built at the turn of the 18th to 19th century. Legend says that a young guy called Kuda wanted to be closer to his loved one who lived on the other side of the river. So he built the bridge from 12 arches out of travertine blocks, and just as many pillars. The last two arches are now damaged but Kudin Bridge still stands despite time and high water level in winter. After the hike we will stop and visit the Orthodox monastery on the Krupa river bank. You will experience only the sound of river and birds. Magical!
Meals: B, L and D; hiking: 3h, moderate
Kayaking the upper part of Mrežnica River Canyon, OPTIONAL visit to NP Plitvice Lakes
We are going on the water this morning in the upper Mreznica canyon. We start our expedition upstream, traveling through a gorge so narrow and deep that the sun enters it for only a few hours each day, around noon, creating spectacular light effects. Bypassing cliffs of carved white rocks, lush vegetation and cascading waterfalls, we will arrive at a strong freshwater spring. We continue our journey to the second highest waterfall on Mreznica (8m), a magical place ideal for swimming and a picnic lunch. After a break, we head downstream and finish the adventure back where we left our vehicles.
On our way back to Starigrad we can visit Plitvice Lakes, Croatia's premier National Park for a short walk. Its exquisite series of 16 emerald green and opal blue travertine lakes, more than 90 waterfalls and numerous caves make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lakes are surrounded by beech and pine forests and are home to extensive wildlife.
(Please note that the optional visit to NP Plitvice will incur an additional charge, payable on site)
Meals: B (picnic lunch on your own, dinner on your own); Van drive: 2.30h one way; kayaking: Class III rapids, 3h.
Trekking NP Paklenica, OPTIONAL rock climbing course
If there was ever a morning worth getting up early, this is that morning. Our small expedition leads us into Paklenica National Park, the most famous hiking and rock climbing national park in Croatia. It covers the area of torrent flows of Velika and Mala Paklenica, and their distinctive canyons carved vertically into the southern slopes of Velebit and the broader surrounding area. The relatively small area has an abundance of exceptional diversity of geomorphologic phenomena and forms, diverse flora and fauna, attractive landscapes and intact nature. Having adapted to the geographic and climatic environment, the residents mostly engaged in nomad stock herding, which is confirmed by mountain shepherd residences. The fact that many people stayed in mountain residences in summertime is reflected in the ruins of numerous sacral buildings: churches, chapels, altars, holy hills and measures. The name Paklenica probably derives from black pine sap called “paklina”, which the locals used in traditional medicine, for wound treatment, for light and for coating of wooden boats. Hiking is the only way to really get to know Paklenica.
For those looking for more excitement, we will have a chance to test our persistence and hardworking personalities by joining an optional short rock climbing school. When we arrive to our climbing spot you’ll dress up in climbing gear and your instructor will set an easy route for you to try to climb it. You’ll learn how to tie useful knots and how to use safety gear. The instructor will be watching you and protecting you from potential risks.
(Please note that the optional rock climbing course will incur an additional charge, payable on site)
Meals: B and D (optional lunch at Ramica Dvori mountain hut); hiking: 4-6 hours; moderate
Sea Kayaking to Vinjerac, afternoon visit to Zadar
This day is all about exploring the area in our sea kayaks. After sea kayaking instructions on the beach just in front of our hotel, we head out towards the open sea and little Vinjerac town. The sole arrival offers to each tourist a picture of a quiet place surrounded with crystal clear sea and the mountain Velebit in immediate vicinity. Kayaking and swimming in clear blue sea with a view on the impressive Velebit Mountain will make your day. Vinjerac has always been known as a fishing place. The everyday catch of the local fishermen enriches the menu of the households and restaurants in Vinjerac and together with homemade food makes it a great location for lunch before we head back to Starigrad.
Finishing our fabulous day we continue our journey to visit Zadar, a beautiful old town on the Adriatic coast. In the past several years, Zadar town has become an outdoor exhibition, attracting people from all demographic structures. It is really worth seeing and experiencing. We will get to experience Zadar´s most beautiful sunset and have time for dinner. We return to the hotel for overnight.
Meals: B (lunch on your own, optional dinner in Zadar); kayaking: 4hours, moderate. Van drive to Zadar 1h
6. Free day – optional
On your optional day you can be as active or as lazy as you wish. You can relax by the sea, swim, play beach volleyball or even take another optional tour on your own. Several organized and guided tours of hiking, canyoning, climbing, sightseeing or beach trips will be proposed in case you are keen on discovering more beauties that Croatia has to offer. (Please note that the optional trip will incur an additional charge of approx. 50€ per head, payable on site, and is dependent on suitable weather conditions. The price is based on a min. of 4 participants.)
Meals: B and D (lunch on your own)
7. Zrmanja Canoe Safari
We head out for canoeing down the magnificent wild-west-like canyon of the Zrmanja and Krupa Rivers. After a short introduction to paddling (watercraft may be raft, canoe or sit-on-top kayaks depending upon the river conditions), we push off for an afternoon of refreshing fun on the clear, warm and emerald waters of these Croatian rivers, considered two of the most beautiful in Europe. From the geologic aspect Zrmanja is also very interesting. The basin of Zrmanja is, according to geologic research, built mostly of limestone and dolomite. Waterfalls and easy rapids, hidden swimming pools, steep-sided canyons and, very likely, no one else on the river but our group – it doesn't get better than this!
Meals: B and D (optional picnic-lunch); Van drive: 50 min; kayaking or rafting: Class I/II rapids, 4-5 h
8. Departure day
Depart Starigrad Paklenica for the airport and flight home. You are welcome to schedule your homeward transport for any time. If you decide to spend more time in Croatia, our guides will be happy to recommend other beautiful places to visit - especially those you won’t find in tourist guide books.
Meals: B; Van drive: Split 2,30 hours, Zadar 45 min