World Rivers: Croatia & Montenegro

World Rivers: Croatia & Montenegro

Where the southern tip of the Alps comes up against the Adriatic, dramatic landscapes interrupted by the historical and cultural relics of overlapping tides of invaders through the centuries are the norm. Everywhere you turn there is a castle or a cliff, an ancient orthodox monastery or a leaping waterfall, a Venetian-era walled port city or a jewel-like string of islands in the sea. The lifeblood of the land, holding it all together, is an intricate network of lively rivers.

We crisscross between three countries to navigate the waters of the Mreznica, Una, Zrmanja, Cetina, Trebizat, and finally the Tara Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  On some of the rivers we’ll paddle sit-on-top kayaks for an extra-close appreciation of the excitement.  All of the rivers cut their channels through beds of limestone, giving bright blue and green hues to their waters and creating fantasylands of calcite dams and formations.  Some of them have challenging whitewater with Class III+ low volume rapids, but they should all be comfortable even for a beginner.  One of the unique attractions is the chance to kayak and raft off the sheer drops of rimstone pools in safe but thrilling chutes.

The rivers are terrific and the off-river  activities do not pale in comparison to them.  The Croatian national park of Plitvice Lakes is a wonderland of lakes, streams, waterfalls and forest, with historic mills and villages sprinkled in.  We visit Dubrovnik, a medieval walled city that draws crowds from around the world with its cobblestone alleys and Venetian palaces; Mostar and Sarajevo in Bosnia, both old stone cities where the influences of Turks, Catholics and Orthodox occupiers are evident; and the lovely historic coastal cities of Zadar and Trogir or Split.  And don’t forget the coastline and the peaceful fishing villages and islands of the Elafitis.

Fantastic stuff! Read on to learn all the details, then join us in the Balkans.

2015 SCHEDULE

May 27 – June 9

ITINERARY

Day 1, Zagreb, Croatia

Arrive in Zagreb, and transfer to the Palace Hotel.  We can help you pre-arrange this, or you can just hop in a metered taxi.  The rest of the day is free to see the town, a classic middle European capital.  This evening at 6pmwe meet in the hotel lobby for a pre-trip briefing.  Dinner is on your own at one of the many good restaurants near the hotel.                                                                                                                                                                                              Dubrovnik Hotel, no meals

Day 2, Korana Village, Croatia

Just a two hour drive from Zagreb we’ll get to Plitvice Lakes National Park, a World Heritage Site featuring 16 lakes and an assortment of travertine waterfalls, all in dazzling shades of turquoise and green that turns the sunlight into explosions of color. Wooden walkways wind through the watery world, and passenger shuttles and ferries make it easy to explore the entire park. Lunch is on your own in the park, where there are small inns and restaurants. When this entertaining day of walking, taking pictures, and admiring the scenery ends, we’ll return to our rooms at Korana Village.

The traditional houses built on both banks of Korana River may have you thinking that you’ve stepped back into a simpler time. We stay in charming, wood-tiled houses in simple but clean and pleasant rooms. After the day’s activities you can swim in the river, relax by the waterfalls, or just relax and enjoy the fresh, clean air and traditionally prepared meals served outdoors in a riverside hacienda.
Korana Village Houses, all meals

Day 3, Mreznica River, Croatia

Clear emerald water, unspoiled woods and magical landscapes – that is Mreznica, one of Croatia’s finest and clearest rivers. This typical karst river with numerous travertine waterfalls interspersed with calm water can reach 80 degrees in the summer! Due to its biological diversity and variety of habitats, the Mreznica area will soon be categorized as a Croatian Nature Park. We choose the more challenging canyon run on the upper Mreznica, so that we can add some whitewater fun to swimming and jumping off waterfalls for a full day of fun.

We return to Korana Village for another fantastic traditional Croatian dinner and pleasant evening in the river breezes.
Korana Village Houses, all meals

Day 4, Una River, Croatia/Bosnia border

We drive to the put-in for our rafting trip on the lively Una River, at the base of a spectacular waterfall. Strbacki Buk Waterfall is one of the highest waterfalls in this part of Europe (18 m) and our paddle starts right below it. The Una,the border between Croatia and Bosnia, will steal your heart with her virgin beauty, green clear water, and a landscape of dense forests. We actually run several very exciting waterfalls sandwiched around an hour-long flat section. The total run is about 4 hours.

After the trip we drive to Novigrad, a town near the old coastal city of Zadar.
Hotel Castrum Novum, all meals

Day 5, Zrmanja River, Croatia

Today we journey on rafts or sit-on-top kayaks (depending on the water level; both of our trips are scheduled at the edge of the low water season when kayaks are normally used, but if the water level is high we will raft) down the magnificent Wild West-like canyons of the Zrmanja and Krupa Rivers in Velebit Nature Park. The perfectly clear green water, rapids, waterfalls, hidden swimming pools, and steep canyons make this adventure unforgettable.

To add to this awesome day we journey on to Zadar, a beautiful old town on the Adriatic coast. In the past several years Zadar town has become an outdoor exhibition of art and architecture, attracting people from all demographic structures. It’s well worth seeing and experiencing it.  Our visit includes dinner in a local restaurant.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Hotel Castrum Novum, all meals

Day 6, Cetina River, Croatia

We drive south towards the little village near Omis, where our adventure on the Cetina River begins. Clear green water, jungle-like forests, caves and waterfalls will thrill you and make this rafting trip an unforgettable experience.  The trip ends at Radman Mills, a national restaurant in a beautiful setting of old mills once powered by the waters of the Cetina River. We continue to Split or Trogir (group depending decision). In Split you are free to walk its popular palm tree promenade and visit the Roman emperor Diocletian’s palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 4th century.  If we choose  Trogir, another UNESCO site, we enjoy an old town with fairy-tale streets and stone houses of incredible architecture, filled with works of art and warm ambience. After a dinner in town we drive into Bosnia to our hotel in a suburb of Mostar.                                                                         Hotel Most, all meals

Day 7, Mostar/Trebizat River/Sarajevo, Bosnia

This is our busiest day yet.  First, we visit Mostar.  Mostar is the regional capital of the Herzegovina region of Bosnia. It’s hard to sum up the uniqueness of this multi-faceted city – East and West meet on its gleaming, turquoise river in a blend of oriental architecture, Mediterranean air and Balkan beauty. Of course, the main attraction is its world-famous bridge, although visitors soon find themselves immersed in other sights around its Ottoman Old Town such as the Old Bazaar, the Turkish House and one of the many fascinating mosques which have stood in this city for hundreds of years.

After seeing the town, we drive to the Trebizat River.  This adventure takes us to the most exciting karst areas of Herzegovina. We will enjoy a trip on narrow Trebizat surrounded by lush forests teeming with birds and the stunningly beautiful karst landscape formed by the river over thousands of years. A stop will be made so we can relax, enjoy the beauty of the landscape, swim in the clear water and of course have lunch.

We then drive north to Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital.  No time for sightseeing this evening, so we’ll check into our hotel.  Head out to one of the many good restaurants in the area for dinner on your own whenever you’re ready.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Boutique 36 Hotel, B&L only

Day 8, Sarajevo, Bosnia

In the morning we visit Sarajevo. Sarajevo has always been an important crossways for different cultures of the world. Since ancient times it has acted as gateway for the people of Greece and Asia Minor migrating towards the midwest of Europe or vice versa.  It is best known now for its Turkish old town, though it has its full allotment of classical European style buildings too.  There are museums and great handicraft shopping you can include if you wish.

When we are done in Sarajevo, we drive a couple hours to the Montenegro border and our mountain hut accommodations along the banks of the Tara River.                                                                                                                                           Tara River Camp, all meals

Days 9-10, Tara River, Montenegro

Today we drive to Splaviste to begin our 100 kilometer descent of the Tara River, a river so crystal clear that you can see every pebble on the river bottom as you float past. The river flows through the second deepest canyon in the world (after the Grand Canyon), and it is situated at the foot of the Durmitor chain of mountains. On the way to the river we will stop to walk out on the famous Tara Bridge, a long span 500-feet above the river that gives us a unique perspective on the canyon. At the beginning of our float we’ll see Ljutica Falls—sometimes referred to as the biggest spring in Europe—as it flows forcefully into the Tara. On the first day we’ll spend four or five hours on the swift, but still fairly calm waters before pulling ashore On the second day of the trip we’ll come to the thrilling whitewater stretch, with numerous Class III rapids and exciting waves. We’ll also take some time to explore Bajilovica Sige, a mysterious underground lake with a beautiful waterfall into the river at its outlet.

Both nights on the river are spent in modest bungalows—no camping or need to bring a sleeping bag or pad!
Bungalows, all meals

Day 11, Dubrovnik, Croatia

We complete our Tara River rafting experience, and take out at Bastasi near the Bosnian border. Our three hour drive to Dubrovnik takes us out of Montenegro, through Bosnia, and into Croatia once again. This evening we do not go into the city proper, but stay at Zaton Bay, west along the coast. It’s a quiet bay, away from most of the tourist hullaballoo, and we stay in a family pension in this traditional fishing village. Dinner tonight will be at one of the excellent small seafood restaurants within walking distance of our inn.
Zaton Pension, all meals

Day 12, Dubrovnik, Croatia

We drive into Dubrovnik and begin our sea kayaking day at the foot of Lovrjenac Fort.  We paddle along the towering parapet walls of the Old Town for a unique view of the city, passing near Buza, Sveti Ivan tower, Porporela, and the Old Harbour before crossing the small bay and paddling further to Lokrum island.  At Lokrum, we can visit its Benedictine monastery or simply snorkel around the blue, warm waters, or check out Betina Cave and its pebble beach. Take a break there for a lunch or refreshment on your own then we paddle back across the bay towards the walls of the Old Town. This is an eye-popping way to spend most of a warm summer day around Dubrovnik, combining sightseeing, outdoor activity and the beach.

The kayaking behind us, it is time to visit the city.  Dubrovnik is a walled city, and you can walk around the parapets and look down at the winding alleyways and cobblestoned streets. There are many lovely churches to visit, including the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and both Dominican and Franciscan monasteries. We’ll have a short guided tour to introduce you to the town, then you’ll be on your own until evening to enjoy the museums, take the splendid walk around the city walls, or just sit in an outdoor café and watch the world go by.  We enjoy our farewell dinner in town at one of the many excellent seafood restaurants in town.                 Zaton pension, B&D only

Day 13, Departure

After breakfast we’ll provide a transfer to the airport for your flight to your next destination or maybe back home.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 B

SCHEDULE

May 27-June 9, 2015

COSTS

Land cost

$3700 per person double occupancy for 11+ participants

$4100 per person double occupancy for 6-10 participants

Trip costs are based on double occupancy. Should you prefer single rooms and tent, the single supplement cost is $300. Should you be traveling alone but willing to share rooms and tent, we will try to match you up with a roommate. If we are unable to do this, the surcharge for involuntary singles is $200.

Airfare is not included. You will need international flights to Zagreb, Croatia returning from Dubrovnik, Croatia.

WHAT IS INCLUDED
Included in the land cost for your trip are
• Wantok leadership on the trip and planning assistance before it
• accommodations in hotels or inns in cities
• all arrangements in the field, including group gear and rafting equipment
• meals as noted
• sightseeing and activities as noted in the itinerary
• ground transportation

WHAT IS NOT
Excluded from the basic trip cost are
• international airfare
• insurance
• optional tipping off-river and to leader, guides and river staff
• excess baggage charges
• airport taxes
• any meals not specifically included in the daily itinerary
• personal items like drinks, laundry, souvenirs, etc.

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