I really wanted to love Krka Park, and I think it would be wonderfully magical in the off season, but the sheer number of tourbus loads made it really kinda suck.
We left Split in the morning to catch a day bus up to Krka. I was glad I had bought the tickets in advance, as the bus was almost completely full. My anxiety about T puking was through the roof and I was prepared with plastic bags and paper towel just in case. The road to the park was straight, and on the highway, so we didn’t have an issue.
The entrance that the bus drops you at is the Skradin entrance, from Skradin, you buy your park admission and then take a free ferry or walk to the main falls. We opted to take the ferry there and hike back. The ferry ride was beautiful and takes you up river through the greenest water I’ve ever seen. The surrounding forest looks like interior BC and I kept thinking, “this could just be BC.”
We arrived at the dock, and it wasn’t too busy yet, but the large number of food stands and picnic tables gave us a hint of what was to come. We took a few pictures of the main falls, the only place in the park where swimming is allowed. New rules are in effect though, and you cannot swim until June 1st, much to the kids dismay. We started up the trail and it was lined with tables of women selling nuts and dried orange peel, we bought some overpriced nuts and peel to eat with our lunch. I felt that the commercialization kinda ruined things.
The trail leads up to an ethno-village where you can see how the falls were utilized by the people in the area. This was honestly my favourite part, because the tour groups bypass it and there was a lot of interesting information. The kids enjoyed seeing how the watermills ground corn into cornmeal, with some actually in production and grinding corn! We also got to see how wool was processed using the river.
Once we hit the main boardwalk trail, things got crazy. The tour busses drop on this side of the river at the start of the boardwalk that circles back down to where the boat lands. This is the most popular part of the park, and I had been hoping to visit some of the quieter areas, but it is not possible without a car. In hindsight, I probably should have looked into renting a car for the day. We navigate the boardwalk, through scenery that would be magical if it was quieter, and I try and focus on this and not the hordes of people threatening to tip me off the boardwalk and into the water. We “pull over” to the side every time a group comes by, but there are some points when we are waiting 15 mins or longer for group after group to pass us. They move so fast, that I’m not sure how anyone in those groups is seeing anything of the park. The kids are obsessed by the fish that are hanging out in the crystal water, and we enjoy standing and watching them while the groups pass us.
When we get back to the main area, we decide to sit and eat our picnic lunch. I splurge on some chocolate crepes and they round out our meal nicely. The kids pick out some postcards for their friends back home and we hit the trail back to the town. The 4km trail is essentially a “logging road”, but we enjoy the solitude on the way back.
Once we hit the town, the kids beg to swim, and since we are out of the park I let them hop in the lake in their underwear and a t-shirt. They swim for an hour and then we go kill some time walking around town. I have booked the last bus of the day, and we have 3 hours to kill. We hike up to the fort with a good view and play in the park.
Now I am very glad we bought our bus tickets, and even more glad that we get to the bus stop 45 mins early. I watch as the bus before us fills up, is overbooked and leaves people behind. 9 people from this bus, realize that there are no tickets to our bus either and get a group taxi back to Split, 80km away! After seeing this I decide I’m going to stand where the bus stops and not move until we are on it. Z struggles with waiting for transport and has a pretty hard time, especially because our bus is 50 mins late, and she worries it isn’t coming. It arrives and we are the first ones on. Soon the bus fills and there are still people standing. They have tickets, but the bus has been oversold. Some people agree to get off the bus, but one woman isn’t moving. She argues that she bought her ticket in the morning and has a flight to catch. The arguing goes on for while and then the bus driver throws his hands in the air and shuts the bus door and we leave. A young girl of about 14 gets up and offers her seat to the woman, the woman sits and the girl rides sitting on the front step of the bus. We get back with no puking and get ready for our trip to Zagreb that is leaving in the morning.
If you ever go to Krka, I recommend off season, I have heard from a couple people that it is amazing and magical with few people there!
I have also realized that Croatia is probably best explored by car.