About Croatia Activity Holiday (Paklenica)
Rivers and Canyons – kayaking, trekking and swimming in central Croatia's national parks.
Activity code: CRHK02
Difficulty: Activity level: moderate
Duration: 8 days
A thousand years of rapidly flowing streams in the Velika and Mala Paklenica canyons, with their sources high up in the Velebit Mountain, have formed at their base a fertile plain and peaceful shore which is the site of the small town of Starigrad. As a centre of the Paklenica Riviera 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 mountains.
Day 1: Arrival to destination – Starigrad Paklenica
Day 2: Trekking Krupa River Canyon
Day 3: Kayaking the upper part of Mrežnica Canyon
Day 4: Trekking in NP Paklenica + optional rock climbing
Day 5: Sea Kayaking to Vinjerac, afternoon visit to Zadar
Day 6: Free day – optional
Day 7: Zrmanja Canoe Safari
Day 8: Departure
Sea kayaking, river kayaking as well as trekking are included in the program as everyday activities and are suitable for all ages. The sea and rivers are friendly – they have pleasant temperatures in summer and they are not dangerous or physically too demanding.
Trips are designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. The daily program is a combination of kayaking, walking, swimming, sightseeing and exploring. You can expect to paddle about 10 miles a day (four hours), but our schedule is very weather dependent. Previous kayaking experience is recommended, but not required.
8 years if accompanied by parent(s).
The meals tend to be fairly heavy on the meats, breads and pastries, pastas and dumplings. If you have special dietary needs, please let us know as soon as possible. Vegetarian diets can be accommodated but we recommend that you bring along with you some of your favourite protein snacks.
The summers are typically warm and sunny. From May to October temperatures are comfortable for hiking, paddling, and swimming. Rain is always a possibility in Croatia so it is essential to bring adequate rain wear and a jacket in case of inclement weather.
Min 4 – max 16 per group; larger groups are on request.
Hotel Vicko situated near the beach, at the quiet end of Starigrad town. Hotel Vicko has 58 beds in single and double rooms with view of the sea or the park. Classic rooms are equipped with shower and WC, air conditioning, phone, satellite TV and a safe. Maritime rooms are equipped with all the basics but also have a balcony with sea view.
NB. This itinerary can be subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, weather, water levels, special events of interest, etc. Our guides and tour leaders will do their utmost to ensure the best possible experience for you without compromising safety at any time. This may mean changing the original itinerary to avoid discomfort or risk which could be caused by exceptional situations.
Our trip begins today in Starigrad-Paklenica. As a centre of the Paklenica Riviera it is a small but lively tourist centre with more than one thousand inhabitants, who swapped their traditional manner of life in the foothills of the Velebit for life beside the sea around 50 years ago. The nearness and the easy access to the mountains, particularly through the attractive Velika Paklenica canyon, means that Starigrad is not only 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 beauty of Paklenica and the Velebit. After settling into your accommodation, we will meet in the hotel restaurant for a get-together dinner and presentation of the programme.
Transfer from airport: Split 2.5 hours or Zadar 45 mins
Through millennia 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 crystal clear water. We start the day with a van drive to a little village called Golubici where very few people live nowadays. The Krupa is probably one of Croatia’s prettiest rivers. Located just under the steep slopes of Velebit, it stretches from its spring all the way through a deep canyon where it meets Zrmanja – another beautiful karst river. Upon arrival at Golubic village we visit a local sheep and goat farm and after sampling 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 thanks to the 9 small cascades that make the place so magical. Kudin Bridge was 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 at the other bank 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 waters in the 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: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
Hiking: 3 hours, moderate
We are back on the water this morning in upper Mreznica canyon. We start our expedition upstream, travelling through a gorge so narrow and deep that the sun enters 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 optionally visit Plitvice Lakes, Croatia's premier National Park for a short walk. Here you'll find an 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: Breakfast (picnic lunch on your own, dinner on your own)
Transfer: 2.5 hours each way
Kayaking: Class III rapids, 3 hours.
If there was ever a morning for you to get up early, this is that morning. Our small expedition leads us into National Park Paklenica, 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 south 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 summer time is reflected in the ruins of numerous sacred buildings: churches, chapels, altars & holy hills. The name Paklenica probably derives from black pine sap called “paklina”, which the locals used in traditional medicine for wound treatment 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 the chance to test our persistence and hardworking personalities, by joining an optional short rock climbing school. When we arrive in the 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: Breakfast and Dinner (optional lunch at Ramica Dvori mountain hut);
Hiking: 4-6 hours moderate
Today 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 towards little Vinjerac town. Upon arrival you will get the impression of a tranquil place surrounded by crystal clear sea and the mountain Velebit in immediate vicinity. Kayaking and swimming in the clear blue sea with a view towards 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, 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 it. We will get to experience Zadar´s most beautiful sunset and have time for dinner. We return to the hotel for overnight.
Meals: Breakfast (lunch on your own, optional dinner in Zadar)
Kayaking: 4 hours, moderate.
Transfer to Zadar: 1 hour
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: Breakfast and Dinner (lunch on your own)
We head out for canoeing down the magnificent wildwest-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 researches 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: Breakfast and Dinner (optional picnic-lunch)
Transfer: 50 min
Kayaking or rafting: Class I/II rapids, 4-5 hours
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, we will be happy to recommend other beautiful places to visit.
Airport transfer: Split 2.5 hours, Zadar 45 min
Fully inclusive priced based upon 2 adults sharing; discounts for children (8-12 yrs).
Children can take part in this activity. Discounts for children of 8 and under may be available on request.
Prices from £685
All prices are per person