Walking in Croatia
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This guidebook of 19 day walks and 7 multi-day treks focuses on Croatia's Dinaric Alps and some of the Croatian islands. The terrain varies from gently sloping hills to rugged tops and limestone crags. Each route is graded by difficulty ranging from very easy to difficult so there is a route to suit every ability.
SeasonsSpring, summer and autumn are all fine – but routes near the coast such as Mosor can become extremely hot in July/August; winter also possible, turning the uplands into a beautiful snow-bound landscape, and waterfalls into cascades of ice.
CentresZagreb for Medvednica and Samobor; Osijek for Kopacki rit; Gornja Klada, Karlobag and Starigrad-Paklenica for Velebit; Delnice for Gorski kotar; Split for Mosor; Makarska for Biokovo; Korcula, Bol and Cres for the islands.
DifficultyRoutes range from easy, straightforward rambles on the islands and in well-known national parks, to extended and at times quite stern mountain routes, with some (frequently avoidable) scrambling. Some cabled and pegged sections; single- and multi-day options.
Must SeeNorthern Velebit, in particular Rožanski kukovi and the area around Zavižan, for its outstanding karst scenery; Gorski kotar for its beautiful forested mountains; Pelješac and Hvar for high routes with amazing views on the coast and islands.
From gently sloping forested hills to rugged tops and limestone crags that reach their most spectacular in the massifs known as the Dinaric Alps, Croatia’s mountains offer a landscape of magnificent grandeur in which to roam. Visitors cannot fail to be in awe of the rugged mountains which rise up spectacularly beyond a narrow ribbon of coastal cities and rocky beaches. More significantly they provide a superb, and as yet remarkably unspoilt, arena for the mountain walker or alpinist.
This guidebook describes 19 day walks and 7 multi-day treks in all the main hiking areas of Croatia, from the mountains on the coast to those inland as well as taking in several of the islands. The routes vary from 3km easy strolls to strenuous multi-day hut-to-hut mountain treks.
The routes are both circular and point-to-point routes, varying in duration from a few hours to a few days. In many (but not all) cases there is scope to shorten or extend routes, bypassing more difficult sections or adding more challenging excursions or alternative routes. They fall into eight main sections: Walks around Zagreb, Walks in Slovania, Walks in Istira, Walks in the coastal ranges or Dinaric Alps, Walks in Velebit, Walks in in Plitvicka jezera and Krka, Walks in Mosor, Kozjack and Biokovo and Walks in the Croatian islands.
Each walk in this guidebook has been given a rating (very easy, easy, moderate or difficult). In rating the difficulty of a particular route or stage, a number of factors have been taken into consideration: technical difficulty (in particular whether any scrambling, or the use of fixed pegs and steel cables, is involved); terrain; duration; altitude and the total amount of ascent/descent; clarity of the route/trail; availability of water, huts and shelter.
A reasonable level of fitness is required for the walks in the Dinaric Alps, while those on the islands are in general very easy. None of the routes requires any climbing skills or equipment, however, a number do involve a degree of scrambling, although this can be avoided.
Croatia’s major mountain areas are covered by a detailed (1:25,000 or 1:30,000) series of maps published by SMAND (www.smand.hr). They give accurate topographical detail (with contour lines drawn to 25m), and mark both paths and huts. Those relevant to the routes in this guide, with their sheet numbers, are:
Samoborsko gorje (08)
Samarske, Bijele stijene, Bjelolasica (11a)
Gorski kotar I (11)
Gorski kotar IV (14)
Sjeverni Velebit (16)
Srednji Velebit (17)
Južni Velebit I (18)
Nacionalni Park Paklenica (19)
Until recently these were unavailable in the UK, but The Map Shop (www.themapshop.co.uk, tel: 01684 593146) now stocks them, and they can be ordered online. The maps are also readily available from bookshops in Zagreb (see Appendix C), and from hiking clubs and huts, and usually retail at about 55Kn.
Some of the national parks and nature parks produce their own maps, including Plitvicka jezera, Paklenica, Lonjsko Polje, Papuk and Medvednica. A new sheet, covering the recently extended boundaries of Risnjak National Park, is also available from PD Snježnik and PD Risnjak, if you are unable to find the relevant SMAND sheet. Also useful for its coverage of the entire Gorski kotar area is the old Gorski kotar planinarska karta (1:100,000), produced in Slovenia, though this may now be hard to find, and a number of the paths shown have now become forest roads. A number of military sheets (1:100,000) are also available through the Croatian Mountaineering Association. However, the SMAND maps remain the preferred choice for walking.
More general maps include the Freytag & Berndt series covering the coast in a number of sheets (1:100,000), but note that while fine for planning trips around the islands, these are not suitable for hiking. These maps do not accurately locate all paths, while the inclusion of huts and springs is frequently misleading, due to a number of the former having been closed for a number of years (or requiring advance booking if you are to find them open at all), and a number of the latter drying up over the summer.
Tourist information offices generally do not carry maps suitable for hiking – a notable exception being the excellent map (‘Walking through the countryside of the Pelješac Riviera’) available free from the tourist information centre in Orebic.
Finally, a number of Croatian-language hiking guides (see Appendix E) include fairly detailed maps. Recommended even if you are unable to read the text are the following small and inexpensive route guides: Velebitski planinarski put (for the entire route from PD Zavižan to Velika Paklenica) and Mrkopaljski planinarski put (covering the MPP on Bijele stijene).
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Rudolf Abraham is an award-winning travel writer and photographer specialising in Croatia, Central and Eastern Europe. He is the author of over 10 books including Peaks of the Balkans, The Islands of Croatia, The Mountains of Montenegro, Walking in Croatia and St Oswald's Way and St Cuthbert's Way. His work is published widely in magazines and online, including Arts Society Review, BBC Countryfile, BBC Travel, France Magazine, Geographical, Hidden Europe, The Independent, Morning Calm, Mountain Pro, The National, National Geographic Traveller, OE, The Telegraph, TGO, Top Trails etc. He first visited Croatia in the late 1990s, lived there for two years, and has been returning to his favourite corner of Europe ever since.View Articles and Books by Rudolf Abraham
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