Friday, September 24, 2010

Krka National Park – 16 September 2010

And now for something completely different – we left the coast and headed inland to the Krka National Park. This is a stunning area of lakes and waterfalls, and although New Zealand is a land of waterfalls, we do not have anything quite like this. The distinctive look of these falls, is all the green vegetation growing under the falling water and it is the vegetation that creates the waterfalls. The plants use the calcium in the water and the limescale builds up on the plants and the so a structure grows, increasing the water level behind the natural dams. The whole ecosystem is thus a living changing complex where water channels change as the plants and calcium build on one another.

The setup is very efficient; we entered the Park at Lozovac and purchased a Park permit which allowed us free travel to Skadinski Buk, the starting point of the two activities here. The first activity for the day was a 3.5 hour boat trip. The first half hour was through lakes with fairly boring vegetation on the surrounding hills. Then in the middle of the lake, we stopped at an island with the Monastery of Visovac. This is a lovely spot, and we enjoyed the picnic lunch we had brought.

Then a further 30 minutes, mostly through a dramatic gorge, took us to Roski Slap, the waterfall area at the head of this lake system. There was a one hour stop here, and this gave us enough time to walk the loop track, over bridges and board walks around the lush green valley, where the water moved in delightful green stages over mini falls, all green with the vegetation growing from the calcium rich water.

After returning to Skadinski Buk, we were able to do the true high-light of the day – the very extensive board walk around an area full of large pools and large waterfalls. The final falls plunge into a large pool, which was described in the guide book as suitable for swimming. We were so glad we took our togs, as the water was unexpectedly mild. For those who love swimming, it's a wonderful deep and large swimming area.

These falls were also the site of the second hydro electric plant in the world, though actually the first useful hydro plant. In actually generating electricity, Krka was beaten by two days by the hydro plant at Niagra Falls in 1895 but began lighting the city of Sibenik immediately whereas the American one did not start lighting Buffalo until 1896.

For anyone visiting this area of Croatia, we would recommend a trip to Krka.

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