Tuesday, December 30, 2008
On my recent trip to Croatia, I had my heart set on visiting Kornati National Park, a unique archipelago with more than 150 islands that present a barren, almost lunar landscape. I was told that it was a land of limestone mounds -- some resembling snow, vertical cliffs and isolated patches of olive, fig and juniper. It's a lovely day trip from the city of Zadar. But I found out the hard way that few of the tour boats hawking their trips from the harbor actually cross into the national park boundaries. And, it turned out, the boat I was on was of these. Hard to believe, because the trip was booked through someone associated with the Croatian Tourist Board in the U.S. I confirmed everything with Fortuna Travel, the agency in Zadar they recommended, and yes, they said, the boat was going to Karnati. So you can imagine my surprise when I'm about to set foot on the m/b Fazanka and I look at the map on the brochure I'm given and it didn't look like the Kornati Islands were on the itinerary. When I spoke to one of the crew they told me that the boat is going to the islands that should be part of the national park and that it was all a political thing. It's just a matter of where the lines were drawn, I was told. Now I knew I was in trouble. After quite a bit of back and forth with him saying I'd still have a good time and me saying it's like going to the building adjacent to the Empire State Building and saying it's still a good view, the boat took off. Instead of stopping in the archipelago, we visited a couple of green islands, including Dugi Otok, aka Long Island, which is quite lush and noted for Telascica Nature Park. I walked to the cliffs on one side of the island and then through the forest to a lovely but crowded salt-water lake. This was all well and good but it wasn't the national park. The other people on the boat didn't seem to mind. As long as they were fed and had time to swim and sun. The bottom line is that few boats go to the national park. One that does go is the Plava Laguna. If you are in Zadar and you want to go to this archipelago, check out the brochures and if you see a nature park or a salt-water lake on the brochure, turn around and find another vendor. Because you won't be going to Kornati.