Cycling in Croatia_happy about the first climb

Inland Croatia: Karlovac area and steppes

We left Zagreb that we enjoyed a lot to move on towards Plitvice lakes, a very famous spot to visit in Croatia. Indeed it was a nice beautiful nature spot, but experiences on the way were equally interesting for us.
As we are not moving fast, with loads of luggage and not being cyclists, we spent 5 days until we reached the seaside and crossed as we called the Croatian steppes.
Udbina steppes with rain clouds 2

We cycled out from Zagreb on 24th of February and for the next evening we had planned to reach Karlovac, where we contacted some Couchsurfers without a positive response. We cycled out early, like 9, to reach Karlovac before evening as the rain was forecasted. But we somehow we took a bit another route and had some hills, which were indeed nicer than that old route Zagreb-Karlovac, busy with cars and with a very small shoulder.

But by the end of the day as the clouds were catching us up we reached Karlovac. The city didn’t look very charming, only crossing the big river and arriving into it was somewhat nice. And also it was really nice to get hosted by locals who felt sorry for us going to camp in a rain (no hostel was open :/).

One more support member in Karlovac
The CS host invited us to stay with her and her parents in a 2 room flat. Imagine 5 adults and a huge dog in a small block flat! It was awesome, we were overwhelmed by their hospitality. As we were cycling to reach their place in the dark and rain we were met on the road. We just shortly stopped at the roundabout and saw some shadow with an umbrella running towards us like from nowhere. And it was Jelena, greeting us and pointing that she will show the road with the car. And not just her, she asked her dad to come and wait for us (!) like for an hour, for what he skipped his football team play… or well, had to hear it over the radio. And at home, at home, we were welcomed with their homemade spirits, freshly baked muffins and other snacks. We had to wear slippers – šlapy, the CS host mum would repeat and repeat. And so warm, filled and overwhelmed we had plenty of conversations and laugh. We were advised about our future road, given a map. Also, we heard the recent experiences of Yugoslavian war.
Next day we saw its’ marks so lively.
House in Karlovac,Turanj and not an exposition

In the morning the ‘universal mum’ of our CS’er even packed us a lunch package for the road! Gave the map and told she is going to follow our trip online 🙂 The package was emptied already at the lunch.
Having lunch we got from the universal mother in Karlovac

After the lunch we reached Slun, were one very active Couchsurfer-Warmshower’er lives. He met us with words: where have you been, I was waiting for you since the morning! And that was true, there was a huge apple strudel in the oven made from scratch on his own! I promised myself I am going to try to make it once we settle.
Home made Apfelstrudel from scratch

He also offered to stay for a couple of days and meanwhile visit the Plitvice lakes National Park.
Once the Plitvice River formed a terrace lake complex with blue blue water, plenty of waterfalls, caves and beautiful paths to walk around. So we took the offer and next day hitchhiked to the lakes – about 30 km away and found still so much snow! As it was raining in Karlovac, in Plitvice it was snowing! As in Zagreb it was so warm we thought the winter is already behind… At least the sun was heating and snow was melting fastly.

Plitvice lakes from the top with snow

Views were fantastic! Here is the whole photo album.

By the way, Slunj is also a nice place to visit – old mill houses bridged over the same river filling the Plitvice lakes.
Korana spattering in Slunj

So 2 days later, on 27th, we left Slunj to move towards the seaside as advice through the Gračac. We didn’t go far as after some climbs we realised we forgot our cooking stove bottle in the house. It took a while for Umut to fetch it back and so we camped just at the edge of the National park in the church garden, which seemed abandoned. However, bells were ringing all night. Even with ear plugs we have heard that.
Camping at the church yard

Next day, after passing Plitvice lakes with all touristic area, we entered the inner part of Croatia between the Velebit mountain at the sea side and the mountain ranges on the border with Bosnia. The territory was so empty, it looked like steppe.
Steppes of Croatia 2

There were more graveyards then houses without broken windows and even those seemed without people around. As again heavy rain was forecasted we climbed to Udbina and found there are some rooms for rent available. We were happy to have a warm shower and a fireplace with wood while it was raining outside. But too tired to enjoy we slept soon.
And in the morning the rain turned into a snow! Again. We waited and cycled out just after 10, with plenty of water on the roads. It was +5 and still raining.
Clouds running away rain puddles stay

We continued through ‘the steppes’ seeing just some shepherds and barely fieldworkers, who at the time if outside were burning the old grass :/ In the afternoon we reached the passage, still all in light rain. And immediately after we crossed it, the highest at the time for us, about 700 m., we met the sun!
Climbed over the Velebit jump

We little by little descended into the heat. It all suddenly felt so medditeranian, the olive fields, the mandarines, the sun, shepherds and the smell of the sea.

One thought on “Inland Croatia: Karlovac area and steppes

  1. Guys, unbelievable trip and really well documented. As someone who has done a lot of cycling in Croatia, especially in the area mentioned in this post, I am interested to know how you dealt with all the wild/ farm dogs that love nothing more than trying to take a bite out of a cyclist. I used it as a chance to practice my sprinting but with all your equipment I don’t believe that option would have been open to you!

What do you think?