Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th May
Time to say farewell to Martina and Ralf again, though this time we are heading in different directions so expect this time it really is farewell. Never say never!
We continue to agree that some of the most memorable moments of our trip have been with total strangers who have become friends.
We headed inland away from the coast and after a very long drive today we arrived at our campsite.
Our campsite for two nights: Camping Bear Plitvicki, Rakovica – GPS 44.947762N 15.637490E
Only a small campsite with about 30 places, though over the two days it swelled to lots more as campers arrived on bikes and cars and set up tents in every spare spot. Our site which we thought was ours exclusively ended up with two tents at the back of us – no problem though.
Very quirky little family farm with makeshift buildings for tent campers to sit and eat. Lots of trees and greenery giving it a very country feel (complete with sheep roaming about in the paddock beside the campsite).
At one time, two young French ladies arrived in a car and began setting up a portable fence around their camp space. Out came 4 dogs – all different makes and kinds with three very large and one small playing about in this area – didn’t think there was room for a tent as well but they proved me wrong. Not sure where the dogs slept as they were still roaming about well after we went to bed.
Rebooked our spot for the night with management and put two chairs in our space to reserve this and then headed off in Ziggy early to get a good start at Plitvicka National Park and Falls.
Arrived at around 8.30 am, parked in the huge car park adjacent, took a parking ticket and walked across the road to the entry where there was already a queue.
Another 150 kunas ($34 $AUD) entrance fee each and everything they say about this magic kingdom is more than true. The national park extends over a surface area of 294 square kms and is the largest in Croatia. Again another UNESCO world heritage site. The paths and boardwalks take you through rich green forests and over and around lakes, waterfalls and steams. 16 lakes tumble into each other via a series of waterfalls and cascades. There are over 18kms of wooden footbridges and pathways that take you around the three sections of the park.
It took us nearly six hours in total and that was making use of the parks complimentary shuttle buses and the small river boats which travel between sections 2 and 3. Doesn’t say in the brochure, however you can only take one boat ride (your ticket is stamped) but unlimited bus rides.
Had just the most wonderful day with numerous waterfalls large and small along the way – even saw a rainbow at the big waterfall. The scenery is spectacular, the numerous cascading waterfalls just so picturesque and the lakes and forests just so beautiful.
This is a “must see” in Croatia and really well done however the signage throughout the park is woeful and very confusing. We asked questions at the tourist information office several times as did so many other people and have to say these people should not have a job as they were totally rude to so many confused people.
Left with so many memories here and lots of pictures – none doing justice to some of the magic sights.
By the time we left late afternoon, the park was totally crowded with tour groups and school kids – so glad we started early.
The parking price was a surprise to us as cars are charged at 7 kunas per hour but motorhomes get slugged with a one off charge of 70 kunas ($16 $AUD) regardless of how short or long the stay – till 11pm only – no overnight parking.
Arrived back at Camping Bear to find a tent in the middle of our reserved site. The man was not very pleasant and it took a few very harsh words from my driver (and the threat that Ziggy might make the tent look a little dishevelled if he didn’t move) before he slowly moved to another location. The manager had told us he had asked him to move earlier.
Settled in for another quiet night and watched as this little farm swelled with tents and campers – hate to think what it would be like in July and August. All cash money too – what a rip off as I am sure very few of these camp spots would declare total income inc the 25% GST or VAT they are supposedly collecting.
Left next morning very refreshed and ready to leave Croatia to continue our adventures in Slovenia again.
Absolutely stunning scenery along the coastline.
In the hinterland the countryside is fairly boring with not much farming land and mostly a shale rock landscape except for the beautiful national parks, lakes and waterfalls.
Croatia appears to be almost totally dependant on tourism for its economy.
Croatia has become quite expensive to tour, compared to most other countries in Europe – diesel over $2 AUD/ litre, no wild camping, Stellplatz or Aires so forced to stay in camp grounds which are expensive even in the off season and triple in price in summer to over 70 Euros or in excess of $100 AUD/night – when you are self-contained in a motorhome and don’t need all the facilities provided by camp grounds it is a bit annoying to have to pay for facilities you don’t need.
Eating out at Restaurants is very expensive and we had some of the smallest serves and worst quality food we have experienced whilst in Europe.
Some of the campsites are not open according to their advertised dates which can be quite inconvenient when touring, arriving late afternoon to find closed gates and then having to move on to another site.
Dubrovnik has one of the best walled old towns we have seen, however when there are cruise boats visiting it is better to stay away and time your visit for another time – there are free Apps available which provide the shore dates of all cruise boats world wide – a very handy App to have.