Summer in Croatia is beautiful. It’s exactly the weather you wish for when planning a vacation. We had a rough travel day getting from to Skradin from our tiny town on an island off the coast of Split. It involved confusion with the train, a packed bus ride, and we missed the final bus into town and paid for a taxi to take us to our hotel, the very lovely Villa Marija.
After a good sleep, I was the first up and ran. I’m a “morning person,” as they say. My internal clock sets to sunrise. Here in Croatia, that’s 7:00am on the dot. In Nepal, I woke with the sun at 5:30am. It makes for a nice start to the day. I enjoy waking early while everyone dozes, I make tea, enjoy bread and cheese, and I don’t have to talk to a single soul. On a round the world trip, sometimes it’s these quiet, alone hours that are cherished and lovely.
Plus, I had extra hours to plan and plot for our hike through Krka National Park. Puffy cotton-ball clouds filled the sky and the sun baked the landscape warm. In short, my Florida-girl self considered it the perfect hiking day.
By 8:30am, my cousin and friend Jenn had started moving, so it was go-time to eat and leave for the hike. Jenn and I had hiked together for years while we lived in Los Angeles, and my cousin and I hiked together in Nepal’s Himalayas. Having talked to other travelers in Italy, we had heard the hiking in Croatia is gorgeous. And in anticipation of our full day of hiking, we prepared packable snacks: bread, cheese, and tomato sandwiches, with an apple each.
The ferry from Skradin to the National Park entrance was included in our ticket price and was a lovely 20 minute ride upstream and across the Krka river. The nature and wildlife started right when we left port; we passed a happy family of swans. Birds soared over head. Everyone was happy for the lovely weather.
As we entered the park and grabbed a map, we were all surprised to learn that it the entire circuit takes just two hours, and the park has installed wooden boardwalks along the route. This is great for accessibility, but it’s not what we had anticipated after having chatted with others. We even asked at the information booth and thoroughly stumped the woman, who reiterated what the map indicated—the park has a lower boardwalk route around the falls and an upper track near the monastery. Visitors are not allowed to take off from the boardwalks and actually hike.
That wasn’t the plan, and we were all disappointed to discover we had to stay on a set tourist course around the park that took in all sides of Skradinski Buk, the largest and famous falls. That said, as we started out, we all lost ourselves in the sheer beauty. The boardwalk laces around seven stunning falls. The Krka River is powerful that starts in Slovenia and runs through Croatia, making falls at this part of Central Croatia.
Intriguingly, the waterfalls never look the same on any given day. The falls flow over calcium-carbonate rocks, which shift and change in color. Some days the water turns stunning shades of brilliant blue and turquoise. Other days, like the day we were there, the waterfalls appear through patches of brilliant greens—every shade of green imaginable!
Because we had our launch and extra snacks packed, the three of us took our time walking around the park. The tour groups plodded past. The gaggles of teenagers on field-trips skipped by quickly. And the three of us fanned out to snap pictures of the metallic blue dragonflies. We found a riot of colors in the bugs, insects, and wildlife around the boardwalks. Anything interesting, we were game for photographing it.
As the day progressed, we lost the sunshine. It rained a bit, and many people left the National Park. But we are not easily deterred. We stripped off our hiking boots—they were completely unnecessary, we could have walked the park in flip-flops—and waded through the swimming area for more photos, this time of us in with the pretty waterfall.
And there is just nothing like a nice fellow traveler willing to commit to the shot. We met a fellow American who had stripped down to his trunks so he could capture great shots of his daughters near the falls. He took this awesomely-framed shot of the three of us, which is one of the few that we have from our time traveling together! Both Jenn and my cousin were leaving my round the world trip, so I am happy to have this fun and beautiful reminder.
The rain was light and passed quickly. We enjoyed snacks at the picnic tables and then ran to the entrance to catch the hourly ferry back to Skradin. The day turned out differently than we had hoped, but visiting the gorgeous waterfalls at Krka National Park was a clear highlight no matter. And later, we would find a similar situation at the beautiful Plitvice Lakes.