Arrive in Zagreb, Croatia by 4pm and transfer on your own to our hotel. Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is a lively and colorful city and is reasonably manageable on foot. Our hotel is well located for exploring the city's main attractions. At 6pm we will meet in the hotel lobby and get to know our guides and fellow travelers over a welcome drink. The guides will provide a brief orientation to discuss the upcoming itinerary. All meals on your own.
After breakfast we will enjoy some free time to explore Zagreb before leaving to explore Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Croatia's premiere inland destination. The park is well known for its spectacular karst landscape—a sequence of 16 turquoise lakes linked together with cascading falls and travertine pools. The lakes are surrounded by beech and pine forests and are home to extensive wildlife. We enjoy a picnic lunch along the trail. Relax this evening in Korana Village while enjoying a traditional supper. All meals included.
Hiking: 3 miles; Terrain: Easy, well-marked paths. Drive time: 3 hours.
We’ll spend the day exploring the lovely pastoral Croatian countryside by bicycle. We cycle roads that are nearly traffic free around Rakovica, a community founded in the Middle Ages and known historically for the 1871 uprising led by Eugen Kvaternik. While unsuccessful, it was the first attempt to win independence for the state of Croatia. Cycling through traditional villages, we come to Barac’s Caves, where we stop to explore the cave’s fascinating karsts formations. According to the oral tradition of the local people, a man named Barac fought heroically and defeated a raging Turkish giant near these caves which were thereafter named in his honor. This evening we retire to the tiny village of Korana located in a picture-postcard riverside setting near Plitvice Park. Weather permitting our village hosts prepare a riverside barbeque. All meals included.
Cycling: 4 hours, 20 miles; Terrain: Rolling hills with one steep hill; Additional cycling: 6 miles (optional).
After saying goodbye to our hosts, we head to the "Wild West" narrow canyons of the Zrmanja and Krupa Rivers. We visit the medieval Krupa Monastery en route. Built in 1317 by monks from Bosnia, it is the oldest orthodox monastery in Croatia. Once at the river and after a short instructional introduction to paddling (watercraft may be raft or sit-upon kayaks depending upon the river conditions), we push off for an afternoon of refreshing fun on the clear, warm and green waters of these Croatian rivers, considered two of the most beautiful in Europe. Waterfalls and easy rapids, hidden swimming pools, steep sided canyons and, very likely, no one else on the river but our group – it doesn't get better than this! All meals included.
Kayaking or rafting: Class I-III rapids, 3-5 hours. Drive time: 2 hours.
Today we head to Paklenica National Park, part of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and a favorite hiking destination for the locals. Lying on the southeast slopes of the Velebit Mountains near the coast and cut by two awe-inspiring gorges, Mala Paklenica and Velika, Paklenica's scenery is one of the most pristine in the whole Mediterranean. The lofty peaks making up this range offer huge views of both coastal and mountain scenery. There are several wonderful hikes through beech and black pine forests to choose from depending upon weather and other factors. One possibility is the trail leading to Borisov Dom, a high mountain hut popular with alpinists. We spend the evening at a small hotel located on the peaceful Krka River. All meals included.
Hiking: 9-10 miles; Elevation gain: 1,000'-2,000'; Optional add: 2 miles and 800' (weather and time permitting). Drive time: 2 hours.
Today’s explorations take us to Krka National Park with its fantastic karst formations and travertine waterfalls. We marvel at the park's extensive waterways and learn about its complex history dating back to the late 10th century and the first Croatian kings. We have the option to visit Skradinski buk waterfall, the place where the second hydro plant in the world was built, just a few days after the one on Niagara Falls. This evening we transfer to the town of Skradin, located near the Krka River and at the entrance to the Krka National Park. Inhabited by Croatians since the ninth century, Skradin is a romantic Mediterranean town with narrow paved streets and a picture-perfect marina. Breakfast and lunch included; dinner on your own.
Walking: 4-5 miles; Terrain: Boardwalks and dirt pathways.
Croatia has more than 3,500 miles of stunning coastline dotted with 1,200 islands of all descriptions. This morning we transfer to Zablaće, where we launch our kayaks and begin our paddle to Zlarin Island. En route, we land at St. Nicholas Fortress, a formidable 16th-century citadel that once protected Šibenik from attacks by the Ottoman Navy. We continue to Zlarin, a lovely car-free island encircled by beaches and covered in dense pine forests. We have ample time to swim in the clear azure waters, bask in the sun and explore the small town's palm-lined, cobblestone streets. In the afternoon we drive to Trogir and spend the remainder of the day exploring the old town. We gather for a farewell dinner to celebrate our amazing adventure. All meals included.
Kayaking: 2.5 hours. Drive time: 1.5 hours.
Following breakfast, your REI Adventures trip in Croatia concludes. Transfer on your own from our accommodations in Trogir to the international airport at Split (3.5 miles) for return flights home. Or, continue your time in Croatia by joining us for a four-day Dubrovnik Hiking and Kayaking Extension! Breakfast included.