The first thing that comes to people’s mind when thinking of Croatia are the beautiful beaches and walled cities of the coast but the country has beautiful national parks inland as well. Plitvice National Park is easily the most famous but Krka National Park seems to be getting a lot of attention lately as well, we visited both after leaving Drubrovnik. Both parks have amazing waterfalls and winding paths that take you right on top of the blue-green water. But which should you visit? Take a look at the photos below but spoiler alert, my answer is both! Also, view more photos on my photography site.
Plitvice is the more famous of the two parks, photos of its beautiful waterfalls are all over Pinterest. But we heard Krka is much less crowded AND you can swim in the pool at the bottom of Skradinski Buk. We arrived a little after 9am and the parking lot didn’t have many cars which seemed like a good sign. It’s a 20 minute walk to the actual pools from the parking lot (a shuttle is available) and we walked immediately to the paths. I really wanted to get shots before too many people were around but already there were groups of people walking through sticking their giant ipads in the way of my shots. Another issue I didn’t consider was the vibration from people walking ruining slow shutter-speed shots.
A small waterfall in Krka National Park, Croatia
Looking down at the pools of Krka National Park
George & Cindy walking through the paths of Krka National Park
The colorful water under a walkway in Krka National Park
After attempting to quickly drive down to the Everglades (the horrendous Florida drivers making every effort to stop us) we managed to arrive on time to Everglades City for an airboat ride. Everglades City is not only the best place in the world for airboat rides but has had a fascinating (but painful) last few decades, some of which is documented in the documentary ‘Square Grouper.’ We were on our way to Everglades National Park but stopping here for the aforementioned airboat ride. It was really fun, the driver had a lot of interesting pieces of history about the city to tell us and made the ride very exciting. We also saw our first wild alligators on the trip so far (they seem to subsist on a guide-provided diet of marshmallows.) After the boat trip we walked through the ‘zoo’ which was a disappointing exhibit of awesome animals in tiny cages. Supposedly the new owners (same company as the airboat rides) are making plans to build new enclosures.
Morning arrived and it was finally time for the hike! This was the part of the road trip we were most looking forward to. Our itinerary:
Day 1: Down the South Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch – all the way down to the Colorado River – to the Bright Angel Campground for the night
Days 2 & 3: Shorter hike along the river, up to the lowest plateau to camp for two nights at Indian Garden Campground
Day 4: The toughest day, hiking back up to the rim
Day 1 – What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?
We woke, packed our remaining items, and had breakfast at the hotel. We were in a bit of a hurry since there were only three hiker express shuttles from the lodge to the trailhead – we had to be on one of them. The first two weren’t happening (for us, at least) and making the third was going to be close by the time we were finished with breakfast. Driving into the park we got lucky and found parking spots right by Bright Angel trailhead – this is where we’d be coming up in four days. We caught the hiker express and thirty minutes later we were at the South Kaibab trailhead getting ready to head down.
The South Kaibab trail is 6.7 miles to the campground, dropping about 4,780’ along the way. The trail is very uneven despite constant work from the trail building crews due to the constant mule traffic. It also generally follows steep cliffs, so it can be a very unnerving first backpacking experience, especially if you have acrophobia. The South Kaibab trail also lacks water, which can be an issue in summer, but temperatures were barely above freezing when we started, although it warmed up pretty quickly as we made our way down. One interesting thing when hiking in the canyon is how much the temperature varies as you change elevation – it’s typically 20-30 degrees warmer at Phantom Ranch in the bottom as it is on the rim. Continue reading “West Coast Road Trip – Days 7-10 – Hiking the Grand Canyon”