Krka National Park

Services and sites    -    River Krka    -    Photographs      

This is an unusual destination for the yachtsmen amongst us, especially as it lies around 10nm inland of the shore at Sibenik in the central Adriatic. Yet make the journey from Sibenik up the River Krka and through the fresh water lake of Prokljansko Jezero, in what are often steep sided and narrow gorges and you will come to the ACI Marina at at the town of Skradin. There you will have to leave your boat (the first bridge beyond the town is too low for almost all yachts to pass) and take a waterbus the last 2 miles or so up to the Krka National Park.

Anchoring at Skradin is severely restricted. Whilst it is possible to anchor in the river during the day it is not allowed overnight, though it may be tolerated when the Marina is full. The other option here is to moor up in Sibenik, either against the town harbour wall in the Mandelina Marina and take one of the many excursion boats and water taxis that run up and down the river to Skradin and the park. We did this in 2007 in early July, only to find the ACI pontoons completely empty.

Skradin and the Marina in front and to the left

The point however is to get yourself up into the Krka National Park, where you will be transported from the usual Croatian landscape of blasted limestone and low scrub and tree cover to a completely different world. Krka is famous for its waterfalls the most well known of which are right by the entrance to the park and may be the final and only destination for many visitors. Other than the fantastic views the attraction here is to swim in the cool, fresh water and you will find as you approach the pools that people are changing in the often muddy fringes of them where ever they can find a spot, as there are no designated ‘beaches’ or specified swimming areas.

While the waterfalls are an obvious attraction if you can get beyond them, following the path north-east around their eastern side you will soon discover that the Park’s real attraction is a lush tree canopy which is the home to a wide variety of wildlife and surrounding the winding and stepped course of the River Krka as it forms eight series of waterfalls (a total drop of 49 metres) as it runs south from the Visovacko Jezero Lake. In between these more spectacular falls the river runs more gently spreading to form secluded and shady pools.

The main footpath leaving the entrance to the park heads upstream along the eastern bank before winding through these pools, where you can watch fish swim and shoal in the shallows, before crossing a series of duckboards and small bridges to reach the western shore. From there you can head south again along the western shore giving yet differing and more close up views of the waterfalls before returning to the park entrance in as little as 1 hour. This is a handy little loop as many of the excursions that visit the park only provide you with 2-3 hours on the ground before they return.

For those who have more time the paths continue up to the lake which feeds the river offering many more opportunities to explore. From above the waterfalls you can also catch either a steamer or a water taxi and make the journey along Lake Visovacko (some 20 Km) to visit both the Roski Waterfalls (said to be a ‘deafening’ spectacle even in the height of summer) and also the Visovac monastery a 15th Century Franciscan Convent located on an island around 3000 metres south of the Roski falls.

Like other National Parks, Krka is a well organised business and you pay an entrance fee to enjoy it (which presumably contributes to its maintenance and conservation). There are strategically located bars, cafes and restaurants (particularly by the entrance but also in a cluster on the east side of the falls themselves) and also gift shops and a museum. Other attractions both in the National Park and also at the Roski Falls are the remains of Croatia’s 19th Century industrial past including water mills, power generation plants and factories that used the power. During our visit interpretation was limited though we got the impression that these were features that were in the process of being prepared for presentation to visitors in the future.

Hydro electric equipment at Krka

Krka is undoubtably a major tourist attraction, and busy as a result. But despite this it is well worth the visit. The only place that really feels too crowded is the bar/restaurant complex below the falls by the entrance to the park, and even there we did not have to wait to find a table and be served. Once you walk away from the first falls and into the park you will certainly be in the company of others but the space is big, and varied enough, that this is not an imposition. By the time you reach the lagoons and pools above the falls, where you cross from east to west banks, the winding path is quiet and there is every chance you will find yourself along and in a cool, green green world that could not be further from the sun soaked shores that people expect of the Adriatic coast.

Swimmers in front of the main falls at Krka