River Cetina rhapsody

Friday 2011/05/20

Yep, I'm still behind with posting all the adventure stories from the letter „O“. However, I do have to mention our absolutely perfect first day of the letter „M“. Cycling from Trilj to Zadvarje, seeing the incredibly beautiful canyon and rafting in river Cetina, hiking towards Fortica situated on a ridge above the town called Omis, all in great company of our cheerful Welcome team.

First of all, I'm very exited about the fact I'm not going to be on my own throughout the letter „M“. From today, and until the end of what will be a very diverse and logistically demanding but gorgeous letter, our four member Welcome team will be reinforced with a few new members! Joining us there is Tea Djurek, a very versatile adventurer with an impressive sports career (including climbing up to Sljeme hill in high heals). Then there's Mislav Mironovic also known as the Flying Bicycle Man. Another great man joining us is Davor Sajko, called Psycho. Not only will he be great company, but also, he will make for a great visiting blogger, thanks to his Sportnet.hr blog.

Apart from Psycho there’s also his cousin Zeljko, who's gonna spend just a weekend with us, then there is Ivan, the personal coordinator, who will no doubt (I hope) teach Cedo, our coordinator, some new standards of field work. We got Jagoda joining us for our morning start, in front of the St. Mihovil Hotel in Trilj. She is actually responsible for choosing a wonderful route for our last day of the letter „O“.

We didn't choose the St. Mihovil Hotel as our goal and start of the Welcome spelling adventure randomly. Sime Klaric, owner of the hotel, was the first person in Croatia to start offering adventure tourism programs. It's a shame there aren't many more like him sharing this great vision for adventure tourism. It would make for a better and longer tourist season throughout the year. Sime also suggested taking a much nicer and shorter cycling route to Zadvarje. It might make our letter „M“ a bit wonky looking, but we took his advice nonetheless.

We were in Trilj in no time, cycling on a nicely beaten macadam, the route that used to take international mountain bike racers. Further on we got to enjoy really diverse landscapes of meadows and pine forests, going through Caporice, over Cikotina Ladja by the canyon, towards Blato on the river Cetina. Totally lush natural beauty left the whole team speechless (apart from my own very loud expressions of excitement and thrill at times...).

Real magic, however, started happening at Zadvarje. This small place, which one can pass by without noticing, taking the highway down the Makarska riviera, is absolutely amazing. From and incredibly well organized and equipped Volunteer Fire Department to a cult restaurant (even I'm impressed with it, and I don't eat meat), there's a first Croatian auto-cross polygon not so much in use today, but hey), two sled representatives and, what we really came here for, the most impressive part of the canyon of river Cetina. My friend and our host, Tonci Cizmic was our guide for this part of the adventure.

Toni Poljak, director of Dalmatiarafting is one of the most experienced, most serious and best organized people to enjoy these wild waters. Few hours later on we were leaving Cetina, absolutely thrilled to have enjoyed such beauty but also in stitches from laughing so hard at all the stories and jokes we'd been hearing all day long.

Unfortunately, there will be no photos or recordings of the canyon, for this part. As Marko says: what happens in canyon, stays in canyon. Since it was too wet for Marko and Luka to take their equipment down, and my GoPro camera's battery ran out, I don't really have any proof of what I'm talking about, so you'll just have to trust me on this one. Apart from that, I have to admit that this part of the country is really only for the fittest to attempt. The first part, which leads to the canyon, takes you down a very steep and very narrow path. The path then comes out at the end of a tunnel.

This part of the canyon, with some cliffs more than 150 meters deep, is partly dried out, so basically for those few kilometers you can only walk or swim or get across jumping from rock to rock. The most impressive part of the canyon is by far the Gubavica waterfall. This amazingly beautiful and wild stream runs to the end of a small but very deep lake, which leaves you with a choice of jumping from 5, 10 or 15 meters. And this is where we switch from canyoning to rafting. Rafting is the most successful business for Cetina, really. Definitely an experience no one should miss out on. Especially if you get to have a guide like we had!

For the end of our unforgettable first day of the letter „M“, we enjoyed ourselves in fantastic company of Planinarsko drustvo Imber mountaineering Club. With their president Zvone and with Luka we hiked through a pine forest to get to Fortica, a 14th century fort, situated on a cliff of a 300 meter high ledge above Omis. This short but very intense climb was worth it. The view from Fortica is fantastic. On one side, the there's magnificent views of the sea, the island of Brac, and the town of Omis. The other side reveals magnificent, rocky cliffs and their huge limestone plates, with a green river running through it. Our visiting artist in this adventure Andrea showed up as well and brought us some amazingly delicious strawberries. Mmmm...

Omis today, that's only after Paklenica, has the most climbing routes. There is river Cetina, the sea, its own mountain, Dinara and Biokovo. This old pirate town could in fact be the biggest Croatian center for adventure tourism.