Archives for posts with tag: cicerone

My reply to a review on (follow this link to original posting).

Dear Mr XXX,
Sorry you didn’t find the book more useful. As the author of this guide I wouldn’t usually comment on my own book, however it has been suggested that in this case I probably should, since one of the comments here is perhaps somewhat misleading: ‘Yes Biokovo, Mosor and the northern Velebit are fine mountains, but the real focus of this stretch of coast should be the southern Velebit’s Paklenica National Park, which is just infinitely better equipped with paths and huts, not to mention being scenecially [sic] superior: it’s not a National Park for nothing.’
As a regular visitor to Croatia, I’m sure you are aware that northern Velebit is also a national park…? As for huts, it is just as well equipped as Paklenica (including one of the best huts in Croatia, Zavizan, which unlike most is open all year), and its paths are just as clear and well signposted. (Also, unlike Paklenica and southern Velebit it doesn’t have areas still considered unsafe due to landmines from the war in the 1990s – for which reason, much as I like Piers Letcher’s Mountain Walks and Historic Sites, a book predating the early 1990s should not be used in this particular area. Use Piers’ excellent Bradt Croatia guide instead, the last two editions of which I’ve updated.) As for scenically superior, well that’s a personal/subjective choice of course, but I’d actually pick northern Velebit, as would several other hikers I know – Rozanski kukovi for example is a specially protected area, with some of the most impressive and easily accessible karst scenery anywhere in Croatia.
The guide focuses on longer walks/treks because (at least at the time of writing the first edition) there was much less information on these in English than day walks on the coast, and, in many cases, these longer treks offer the finest hiking anywhere in the country. Nevertheless some of the longer walks include sections which can be walked as day walks using a hut as a base, such as Zavizan (which you can even get to by road if you want) in northern Velebit, as (I hope) the book makes clear.
I’m afraid I’m a little perplexed at the references to ‘peak bagging’. Yes there are optional routes/side trips to peaks and other features of interest off the main trails, as many would consider it a great shame to walk past an excellent viewpoint that was only an additional 10 minutes easy walk away. And yes I include several less well-known mountain areas (eg Mosor and Biokovo) which I consider worth visiting (one of the purposes of a guidebook, I think), rather than just Paklenica – though there are also plenty of others which I don’t include, if I don’t think they’re as interesting/attractive/accessible or whatever.
As for the walk from Bast, I’m sorry you got lost there – I agree it’s frustrating when guides don’t help you find the start of a route, which is why I included a long paragraph on finding it (though perhaps I’ll need to revise this for the next edition if it’s considered unclear?). I can only think that, from your description, you attempted to continue up the scree too far, whereas the correct route should ‘veer to the right, leading off the scree and… onto more stable ground’. Proper hiking boots are of course strongly recommended for this and any other routes in the introduction.
Best wishes, Rudolf Abraham (author)

The walk to Zmajeva špilja on Brač (Walk 23 in the 2nd edition of Walking in Croatia) is no longer recommended as described in the book – unfortunately the new asphalt road to Murvica, combined with the effect of a forest fire on the slopes above, and the complete lack of any useful signposting after the village of Murvica itself should you choose to start from that end of the route instead, all combine to make it extremely difficult to find the correct path.

Monarch Airlines has announced that it will begin flying to Dubrovnik from London Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester from summer 2012.

The walls of Dubrovnik with a sculpture of the city's patron saint Sveti Vlaho, Croatia

Photo © Rudolf Abraham.

A few images from a very snowy Plitvicka jezera (Plitvice Lakes) national park, Croatia, taken in January this year. I timed this particular visit to arrive after four days of snow and sub-zero temperatures, so that the icicles on the waterfalls didn’t melt. This also meant that the section of the national park I planned to visit was officially closed, so I had to seek special permission to get into that bit (that is, get in with a 3-minute boat trip rather than walking the long way round by road, which would have lost me half the day!). Croatia’s first area to be declared a national park (back in 1949), and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvicka jezera gets incredibly busy in the summer – but in the winter it’s surprisingly quiet, and you get large sections of trail to yourself.

Veliki prstevac, the waterfall I had come to photograph at this time of year, near Gradinsko lake

One of the best-known views in the national park, the trail winding across Kaluderovac lake

The trail between Kaluderovac and Veliki slap (the highest waterfall in the national park)

Gradinsko lake in the ‘closed’ (at the time, anyway) southern section of the national park

All images copyright Rudolf Abraham. No unauthorized use permitted.

Worth mentioning that as of 18 January this year, tram rides in central Zagreb – which had been free for the previous couple of years following an election promise (and we all know what happens to them sooner or later) – now require a ticket just as anywhere else in the Croatian capital. The system’s still the same though – buy ticket(s) from news kiosk, insert ticket into machine when you board the tram to get it ‘stamped’ with time/date, and use said ticket on multiple journeys (tram/bus) in the same direction over a two hour period. Or you can get a top up card, or buy a ticket by text message.

Tram and snow in Ilica, Zagreb, Croatia

I’m giving a talk on walking in Croatia at the Outdoors Show on Saturday 15th January, at the Excel Centre in London – gave talks on Montenegro and Patagonia today. Hope you can come along.

Just before my most recent visit to Lonjsko polje (early October 2010), the area around Zagreb and Sisak had recently been subjected to some of the worst floods in more than a quarter of a century. The wetlands of Lonjsko polje – into which part of the Sava’s flow is diverted as a flood defense measure – were a quite spectacular, drowned world. Under such circumstances any walking route/exploration beyond the flood bank which lies north of the villages of Cigoc etc is impossible (at least, unless you happen to have a boat). The flood waters also swept away the wooden bridges on the short walking route south of Cigoc – and the remaining ones, I almost found to my camera gear’s cost, are far from stable. Check at the Lonjsko polje park information offices if you’re planning a walk in the area.

Lonjsko polje nature park in early October, after the floods of September 2010 (the most serious for more than a quarter of a century)

Q: Is there much new material in the 2nd edition?
A: Yes

The first edition was 224 pages, with 17 walks; the second edition is 272 pages, with 26 walks – including some in Slavonia (Papuk, Lonjsko polje, Kopački rit nature park), which was not covered in the first edition, another on Medvednica, more coverage of Plitvička jezera and Krka national parks, and more walks on the islands (Korčula, Hvar and Mljet) – as well as short summaries of further walks in each area (which effectively brings the number of walks up to 38). There’s also a much longer hut directory, changes and updates to original walks (in particular the walk in southern Velebit, which now includes the area around Bojinac), and new photos.

So, hopefully there’s something there for you even if you already have the first edition of the guide….

The full contents of the second edition are listed on the About page, above.

Posavina horses in Lonjsko polje, one of the new areas covered by the second edition

Mountain walking and trekking guide to Croatia, with walks in the Dinaric Alps (Gorski Kotar, Velebit, Mosor, Biokovo), Istria, Slavonia, the islands (Korcula, Mljet, Hvar, Brac, Lošinj and Cres, as well as the Pelješac peninsula) and around Zagreb. 26 routes from easy day walks to multi-day treks and via ferrata over varied terrain. Includes full background information, language and history sections, and hut directory.