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Croatia: Hike, Bike & Kayak

8 days with Intrepid Travel   Rating: Budget

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Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Zadar
Arrive in Zadar. A private transfer can be booked for any time of the day from both Split and Zadar Airports (at an extra cost). Ease into things with a welcome meeting (usually taking place at 6pm – please look out for a message at the hotel), where you’ll get acquainted with the rest of the group. The evening is spent at your leisure exploring the streets of Zadar. Perhaps head out with your group for dinner at a traditional restaurant. Enjoy some local food and drinks in a city that’s home to a vibrant café culture. Try lamb in red wine, 'njoki' with Dalmatian ham and rocket salad, or opt for a popular choice of fresh fish. Don't forget to try the famous liqueur, Maraskino, made from locally-grown maraschino cherries according to a centuries' old secret recipe. This unique drink was a favourite at European imperial and royal courts and has been produced in Zadar since 1821.

Day 2 Zadar / Starigrad Paklenica
For centuries Zadar was the capital city of Dalmatia, and the city's rich heritage is visible at every step. An important coastal town, the musical steps of the ‘Sea Organ’ on Zadar's waterfront express its important relationship with the sea. On an orientation walk with your leader this morning trace marble streets through the Old Town and discover Roman ruins in amongst medieval churches. In the afternoon take a local bus to Starigrad Paklenica, a small town in a harbour that sits at the foot of the UNESCO Velebit Nature Park. This is your gateway to the Paklenica National Park – two canyons divide this mountainous region, filled with gorges, and cliffs that reach up to 400 metres in height. The evening is spent at your leisure exploring the streets of Starigrad (literally 'old town'), one of the oldest towns in Europe, built on the historic Roman settlement of Argyruntum. Relax harbourside tonight before all your activity this week.

Day 3 Hiking in Paklenica National Park
After breakfast, it’s time to set off on the first active adventure of this trip. A hike through the Velebit mountain range in Paklenica National Park is a great way to get familiar with the area. The National Park is home to one of the most visited climbing sites in Europe, incredible rock formations and stunning natural scenery. Your hike will take you by the right edge of the Velika Paklenica Canyon and reveals the most magnificent views of the national park. Have your camera at the ready to capture the lush surroundings, which are a result of the pure spring water that flows through the area, blossoming the trees and meadows. When you arrive at a mountain lodge there’ll be time for a traditional lunch (optional). After lunch, why not try the homemade brandy of the region. Alternatively, try some of the herbal tea, made from the Velebit herbs that the region’s famous for. Back on the track, you’ll drop by a 17th century village, Sklopina, which consists of houses built into the cracks in the rock. The return path leads you to the very bottom of the Velika Paklenica Canyon, along the creek where you can freshen up. Return to the comfort of your Starigrad apartment.

Notes: Total walking time is approximately 6-8 hours, with an altitude difference of 850 metres.

Day 4 Canoeing or Rafting on Zrmanja River
The Zrmanja River travels 69 kilometres as it winds along its route from the southern part of Mount Pljesevica towards the Adriatic Sea. Today delivers all things wet and wild as you hit the water for an exciting canoe safari or a white water rafting adventure, so make sure you pack your swimming gear, a towel and sunscreen. After a short drive from Starigrad you will reach the start point at Kaštel ┼Żegarski. After a short briefing, you’ll begin your journey down the river all the way to Obrovac, a distance of 14 kilometres. During the white water rafting season the rapids will be grade 2 or potentially even grade 3. Make your way along perfectly clear and green waters, through karst scenery of narrow valleys and steep sided canyons, passing magnificent waterfalls. The first part of the trip is easy, allowing you to get a feel for your craft and enjoy the surroundings, and then it will gradually get more downhill, with an increase in waterfalls and rapids. Drifting serenely and also getting the heart pumping makes this a memorable day of activity.

Note: The activity chosen will depend on seasonality and water levels in the river.

Day 5 Starigrad Paklencia
After the last few days of action, it’s time for a rest! There is no shortage of options – a dip in the azure blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, a doze on the beach, or perhaps an exploration of the nearby village of Nadin for a traditional lunch and some wine tasting. Croatia is fast becoming a hot destination on the radar of foodies, and this area is known for producing some of the finest organic wines in the country. Alternatively take a trip out to the stunning World Heritage-listed Plitvice Lakes National Park (approximately 1.5 hours one way). It's one of the oldest national parks in south-eastern Europe and the largest in Croatia, a misty Eden of endless waterfalls and spectral blue lakes. The waters tumble from a high, tree-lined ridge down through the valley and skirt dense forests of beech, spruce and pine. If action is still the order of the day, there are many optional activities that can be undertaken in the national park. Perhaps hike to the interesting Manita Cave, 175 metres long and whose cool interior houses a wealth of stalagmites and stalactites, or hire bikes and do some more cycling within the national park. If you’re after the opposite level of activity, then perhaps chill out and refresh at a local spa. In the evening, perhaps come together for a traditional Croatian dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 6 Mountain Biking in Paklenica National Park
It’s time to head back and explore the mountain paths in or around Paklenica National Park – except this time it’s on two wheels. The grassy hills and rugged mountain trails of the park make for a great spot to get some mountain biking practice in. Cycle around the countryside and enjoy this breath-taking part of Croatia. The route chosen will depend on the group's ability – there are three routes that can either be tackled by individually, or they can be combined. They run from about 15 to approximately 40 kilometres in length. All trails travel through the characteristic rocky landscape of Dalmatia, dominated by the view of the slopes of the serrated Velebit mountain peaks and beech and black pine forest. Ride through untouched nature, and diverse flora and fauna, thousands of plant species, 79 of which are endemic to the area. Cycle along dry stone walls through picturesque villages, characterized by traditional stone architecture, and pass many cultural and historical sites, with the Adriatic Sea never far away.

Day 7 Sea Kayaking to Vinjerac
This is a place where the mountains meet the sea, and today you’ll hit the beach and then keep on going for a sea kayak adventure in Paklenica Bay. Strike out on the clear blue sea through the Velebit Channel and spend a day on the water, the mountains your backdrop as you tour the coastline. Glide along blue satin water that’s often so clear that you can see the bottom, and there’ll be plenty of chances to stop and dive into the water on swimming breaks. Along the way you’ll stop for lunch, then your final destination is the nearby fishing village of Vinjerac across the bay, a picturesque place with a neat row of pastel coloured houses fronting the harbour. Look back across the sea to the looming Velebit mountains. In the evening, come together for a traditional Croatian dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 8 Starigrad Paklenica
After breakfast it’s time to bid a fond farewell to this active Croatia adventure. If you would like to stay longer in Starigrad Paklenica we are happy to book you additional accommodation here (subject to availability). A departure transfer is not included but can be booked at an additional cost to both Split Airport or Zadar Airport.
All This Included
Croatia is home to some of the most beautiful national parks, waterfalls and rock features in Europe, and this active adventure sees you hiking, biking, rafting and kayaking in and around a host of incredible spots in and around Paklenica National Parks. Enjoy local cuisine, do some sightseeing and enjoy some down time to replenish your energy because every day on this active adventure sees you taking on a different challenge, be it on the sea, on lakes, by waterfalls or along forest paths.
  • Meals - 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
  • Transport - Private vehicle, Public bus, Bicycle, Kayak, On foot
  • Guided Hike in Paklenica National Park
  • Rafting or Canoeing on Zrmanja River including Lunch
  • Mountain Biking in or around Paklenica National Park
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Get into the heart of Paklenica National Park on foot and by bike, a place where the mountains meet the sea, where stunning deep gorges, lush forests, and lost villages wait to be explored
  • Drift along pure spring-fed rivers past sparkling waterfalls, and then get the heart rushing riding the rapids of Zrmanja River by canoe or raft
  • Sea kayak out on the silken blue waters of the Adriatic, dramatic mountains the backdrop while following the coast to the delightful fishing hamlet of Vinjerac
Hostel (1 night)
Guesthouse (6 nights)
  • Ages: Min 15
  • Group size: Min 1, Max 12
  • This is an active trip packed with activities such as cycling, white-water rafting, kayaking and trekking. To fully enjoy it, you'll need to be in a good state of health and fitness. To participate in the water-based experiences, you'll need to be a confident swimmer.
  • The trip involves some early starts and long days, because the itinerary is packed with lots of exciting activities.
  • Starigrad Paklenica, the base for this trip from day 2, is located approximately 150 kilometres north-west of Split, and 50 kilometres north of Zadar. Arrival transfers to the starting location in Zadar are available for purchase from the airports of both cities.
  • A single supplement is available on this trip.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.