Cruising the Hidden Waterways of Croatia

The inland waterways near our hometown of Šibenik are scenic and peaceful, at least in the off-season.

The inland waterways near our hometown of Šibenik are scenic and peaceful, at least in the off-season.

Today was a day of discovery for me.  Nothing was disclosed ahead of time about where this excursion would be going.  My friends have been plotting to surprise me with an outing hosted by diving boat skipper, Emil Lemac.  It was finally revealed that our boat trip was to take us into the fjord-like waters near the mouth of the Krka River.  What did not come as a surprise was that I was offered a shot of rakija as we started off. 

Emil welcomes us aboard his comfortable powerboat.

Emil welcomes us aboard his comfortable powerboat.

Emil was our skipper back in September for our island boat excursion to Kornati National Park.  Summer is when he takes scuba divers to the islands for amazing underwater exploration.  Winter, when there is not a commercial diving job, is when Emil and his brother maintain an oyster and mussel farm they just seeded this year. 

Some villages hug the hillsides near the shoreline

Some villages hug the hillsides near the shoreline

There are only a few villages clinging to these sheltered shores.  The area remains quiet and unspoiled, at least at this time of year.  Emil informs me that as many as 800 boats per day cruise in and out of these inland waterways during the summer months including fancy yachts.  The townspeople of Skradin seem unduly impressed by the rich and famous celebrities that vacation there, and that, of course, gives the town its appeal.  Famous people can escape their busy lives here with some degree of anonymity.

The water is like glass as we enter the Gudića estuary.

The water is like glass as we enter the Gudića estuary.

Our cruise takes us to a quiet estuary at the mouth of the Gudića (GOO dee sha) River.  No Entry signs are posted in Croatian and English along the shore.  I am told the area is a bird sanctuary.  I can see by the reeds crowding the shore that this is an ideal nesting area for migratory waterfowl. 

A swan swims by to see if we have any food to give away. (We don't.)

A swan checks us out while we stop for lunch.

This tranquil spot was our lunch stop.  Emil and his friend, Boris, readied fresh fish for the frying pan.  I helped make a green salad.  A fresh loaf of bread and a bottle of wine appeared and we feasted while basking in sunshine and listening to pop music playing softly on Emil’s onboard sound system. 

Standing at the mouth of the bat cave

Standing at the mouth of the bat cave

On the return trip Emil led me up a hillside scramble to a bat cave he knew about.  It is not visible from the water below, so not many people visit this cave.  There were plentiful signs of bats which Emil informed me were numbered in the hundreds and were sleeping somewhere another 200 yards deeper into the cave.  There were also signs of wild boar which are common in this habitat.

The surrounding countryside is beautiful.

The surrounding countryside is beautiful.

As we headed back to the dock, we meet up with an interesting older gentleman named Zivko.  He rents apartments in his modern building near the shoreline.  He has created sculptures in his garden which symbolize our galaxy and Earth’s fragile place within it.  His site serves as a message to all who visit that we are stewards of this beautiful place, and he warns us we must all tread lightly to keep from destroying the planet for future generations.  Having just spent the day in the garden-like setting of this stunning landscape, I also hope this place retains its unspoiled beauty for all the generations of visitors who may pass this way.

 

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11 comments on “Cruising the Hidden Waterways of Croatia

  1. Stunning! Absolutely stunning. Each new post on Croatia amazes me more. This is just gorgeous, Mike.

    • Mike Lince says:

      The hidden coves and waterways are similar to Puget Sound in that they are salt water, although the dry, sparsely vegetated land reminds me of Lake Chelan in central Washington. Being an Apple Country guy to the core, I still use my home state as the basis by which I measure the beauty and livability of places around the world, and Croatia stacks up with the best. – Mike

  2. By the way, I’ve just shared the Sisterhood award with you. Check out the bottom of my NYC post, for details. I just added it. (or, in the process) ;-)

    • Mike Lince says:

      This is an quite an honor – The Sisterhood Award! Does this mean I can go into the women’s locker room to conduct post-game interviews? (Florence says, “No!”) Okay, I still appreciate the recognition. Thank you. – Mike

      • No, but you could maybe come into the ladies’ changing room, and say “Can I get you anything else?” You can be in my sisterhood any day darlin’… but I’m with Florence on the locker room!

  3. reocochran says:

    This country of Croatia is beautiful and filled with all kinds of wonderful sights! I particularly studied the bat cave photograph. I focused on the cave, since the others are just so gorgeous and similar to other coastal photos, you have kept our eyes filled with so much that I skip to the one I had not expected to see. I should have realized in all the nooks and crannies, there would be caves!
    I enjoyed seeing the big Mammoth Cave but the little caves with my friend, Bill, those were interesting but some had posted that they were closed due to a “white nose” sickness that man has passed in Kentucky and Ohio to the bats! So glad that this has not gone literally “viral” and infected the bats around the world. I have come to love these creatures and whenever I had one in my rental homes, my son with a hot pad mitt on his hand or a pair of mittens from my collection, would gently remove the bat, once caught and get it outside. Thanks for this post, love all your photos and enjoyed your story of discoveries, too!

    • Mike Lince says:

      We have visited some sizable caves in Croatia. In some caves the public is prohibited from cave exploring until the government can determine any threat to habitat or possible safety hazards. They also seek to determine if there is any scientific information to be gleaned from an archeological analysis before the public is allowed in. In spite of how ancient this land is from a human habitat perspective, it is amazing how pristine the country remains in most areas. I know Croatia is not a wealthy country, but they have done great things with parks and natural areas to maintain their precious natural resources. We feel fortunate to have discovered many such areas for ourselves. – Mike

      • reocochran says:

        I think that the Croatians should be given a medal for their care taken with the land, water and natural wonders. They seem to really protect them. Have you seen any littering at all? I have always wondered why, in the U.S., you would go to a beautiful sight and still see a pop or beer can, or other trash. I am hoping we get better at taking care of our country and am so grateful for these lovely scenes, the water, boats, hills, mountains and the buildings of Croatia have been a wonderful visit for me to take! Merry Christmas to you and Florence! Enjoy yourself and let us know some more of your adventures. I am possibly going to be done with blogging until I get back, we will see about tomorrow, (Sat.) my final chance to get to the library… Until we ‘meet again,’ my friend! Robin

  4. Mike, Isn’t the “off season” wonderful? You get to see so many things that most visitors miss, and a side of the people when they’re relaxed and not dealing with tourists. Your gorgeous first photo is one of my all-time faves. Merry Christmas to you and Florence. It looks like you picked a perfect place to enjoy the holidays. All the best, Terri

    • Mike Lince says:

      You are right, Terri. I have taken trips to two nearby destinations this week that would have been packed with tourists during the high season, and it was so nice having those places to ourselves. One trip was a return to the falls at Krka National Park, and the other was a boat ride to the Isle of Zlarin. They are both hotspots except at this time of year.

      Merry Christmas to you and James! – Mike

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