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Niagara is the nearest comparison you could possibly make. The 800-metre-long waterfall of Skradinski buk, the picture-postcard main draw of the Krka National Park, leaves onlookers in awe with its 17-step series of cascades. Holidaymakers dip in its pure pools beneath waters crashing down from 45 metres over their heads. But this key attraction, surrounded by boardwalks for easy access, is only one of many in this most versatile and surprising of Croatia’s eight National Parks.
By the beautiful town of Skradin, near Šibenik in central Dalmatia, the Krka National Park is named after the 75km-long Krka river it practically encompasses. Krka, like Plitvice, is awash in the marvel and miracle of natural travertine. Where the two differ is the degree of interaction with nature. Where Plitvice has sheer wow power, Krka offers hands-on adventure. To find out, take the riverboat four-hour tour to Roški Slap waterfall. Backdropped by three towns on the riverbanks, 222 bird species, 19 types of reptiles, 18 species of bats and 860 plant types, and rushing tributaries leading to the Krka estuary and the Adriatic, give Krka its flavour.
On the way you can visit the park’s strange treasure: Visovac. This man-made isle is home to a Franciscan monastery where monks still reside and where trainees spend a year enjoying occasional games of basketball and greeting tourists with enthusiastic waves.
As you arrive back on land, majestic swans swimming past local fishermen in threadbare sweaters and rubber waders, you realise that Krka isn’t just one thing but many at once. It’s a river, a gorge, a monastery, a collection of villages and a place from which people still feed their families. Visitors can also drop in on the stone houses of an ethno-village, its mills, traditional and working weaving looms, and the not-so-traditional souvenir shop.
Beside the recently opened Visitor Centre at the main entrance in Skradin now stands the three-star Hotel Vrata Krke, with 50 rooms and its own restaurant and bar. Trips to Krka can be arranged at reception.