Kayaking on river Kupa, Croatia

Posted by on 31. August 2012 in Blog / Journal | 1 comment

On the last day of my holidays in Croatia, I decided to escape the heat and signed up for a kayaking trip down river Kupa. This beautiful river flows through rugged mountains of Gorski Kotar region in central Croatia. The source of river Kupa is located within the boundaries of Risnjak National Park. With its turquoise waters and bountiful plant and animal life, the Kupa spring is one the most beautiful wellsprings in Croatia.

River Kupa flows through mountain region of Gorski Kotar, Croatia

Calm river section downstream from Brod na Kupi

First 25 km of the river flow is fast, passing through a narrow canyon of St. Ana. A set of 5 rapids provide for a challenging rafting adventure during high water levels in spring and fall, and after heavy rains. After passing through the village of Brod na Kupi, the river slows down and is suitable for a more relaxing kayak and canoe-based trips. Here is where I booked a kayak with Goran Pernjak, owner and operator of the adventure and recreation tourism company Gorski Tok. His company specializes in rafting, canoeing and cross-country skiing tours. Goran lives in Delnice, about 20 minutes drive from Brod na Kupi. We arranged that someone will be waiting for me in Brod with the gear. Indeed, when I drove into the small compound filled with inflatable rubber rafts and various types of kayaks, I met with Goran`s wife Mirna and son Ivan. They quickly prepared a wide sit-on plastic kayak and gave me the necessary gear.  At this point, the river is more peacueful and allows for use of wide and stable kayaks that can accommodate two people. Because of the extremely dry summer, I did not expext to encounter many rapids and kept a small camera bag strapped over my shoulder (I used Lowepro SlingShot 200 AW for this trip). I encountered a little bit of white water, mostly riffles and small waves over ledges.

Paddling on river Kupa, Croatia

Paddling on river Kupa

I was told to paddle downstream for about 10 kilometres until a small suspension bridge where Mirna and Ivan would pick me up. I was given two hours to reach my destination, enough time for a leisurely paddle and a swim. After a short safety drill, I was on my way. The day was perfect to be spent on water; warm, sunny, with just enough breeze to keep pesky mosquitoes away. I slowly drifted with the flow, keeping watchful eye on rocks and occasional submerged tree trunk. The water was clear and I cloud easily see large trout gliding underneath my kayak. A kingfisher and a few other water birds kept me company throughout the trip. A heron and a hawk circled above, on a constant lookout for a tasty meal.

Large portion of the upper part of Kupa when it flows through Gorski Kotar, the river forms a natural border between Croatia and neighbouring Slovenia. I encountered two groups from Slovenia; a party of ten in four rubber kayaks waring serious safety gear – helmets, life jackets and all the works. My non-waterproof camera bag and swim trunks felt completely inadequate. The second group of five seemed more relaxed. The dominant piece of technical of gear in their rubber raft was a large cooler. I did have a chance to briefly chat with them. They assured me that I do not have to be concerned about crossing into the Slovenian territorial waters as Slovenian Navy does not patrol this particular part of the river. They shared a drink from the cooler, in exchange for a few action shots. This was the first time I was paid for my photographic services right on the spot. I didn’t even have to write an invoice.

Wild boar stew with gnocchi at the Hotel Mance restaurant

Wild boar stew with gnocchi at the Hotel Mance restaurant

Mirna and Ivan picked me up at the pre-determined spot and drove me back to the place I left my car. After a very pleasant morning on the river I decided to skip sandwiches I brought with me and visit a local restaurant instead. Mirna recommended I get a meal at the hotel Mance, located right by the Brod na Kupi border crossing. I had a fantastic meal: venison pate asapetizer, mushroom soup made with local mushrooms that resemble large portobellos, wild boar stew with gnocchi, salad and a glass of wine. All that for equivalent of $25 Canadian.


One Comment

  1. After reading your accompanying dialogue, I notice that the cooler in the raft ie quite prominent and large. I’m guessing those boys have quite a thirst!

    Having used my Lowepro Slingshot 200AW bag in pouring rain, I can testify to its water shedding capabilities, and I had not even used the built-in rain-coat. You may have been OK in a quick dunking. Your camera gear may have been OK too!

    The meal looks absolutely delicious, and it would only have been savoured even the more after a day on the water.


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