Customer Review

22 October 2011
I am a regular visitor to Croatia. Whether as someone who sort of knows the place or as someone with no experience, I have two major problems with this guide:

1) The guide is almost entirely focussed on multi-day treks. There are mutitudes of possibilities of one-day hikes in the regions the book covers, but the book does not provide these options. There are no "shorter versions" of walks given where they exist. In summertime, multi-day treks on water-free mountains where wild camping is technically forbidden, are not - probably - what the normal walker in Croatia is looking for. Additionally, the guide seems to be concentrating on "bagging" all the mountain ranges irrespective of their intrinsic quality or attractiveness. For example, 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 Pakenica National Park, which is just infinitely better equipped with paths and huts, not to mention being scenecially superior: it's not a National Park for nothing. Anyone who visits Mosor from Split, thinking that this is representative of the delights on offer is going to be very disappointed. For Paklenica, there is still no better English guide than the scant few (priceless) pages in Piers Letcher's 1989 book "Yugoslavia: Mountain Walks and Historic Sites" (long out of print). The sole decent day walks in the book (in my opinion) are the hike to the top of Sv Ilija from Orebic and the walk from Martinscica to Lubenice on Cres, neither of which really require a book to explain. So in this regard I would have vastly preferred the guide to outline a set of single-day AND multi-day walks in the places where people are more likely to be: walks in Paklenica, walks in Plitivce, walks in Risnjak, walks on Hvar, on Brac, on Mljet, in Istria (eg. where is the lovely and straightforward 2-hour walk between Labin and Rabac?). Maybe I need to compile my own actually........

2) Most recently I tried to get round this failing by attempting to cobble together a single day hike in Biokovo based on the multi-day one in the book, planning to walk from Bast along the ridge nearest the coast and back down into Makarska (unlikes the author I don't have a compelling need to bag all the high peaks: a good walk in wild scenery with stunning views is enugh for me and most people I rather suspect). Merely finding the start of the walk was a bit of a mission: this is a failing of many walking books in fact. It is so easy to sketch a little map of the villages and route-heads why not do so and avoid having me wandering around for an hour trying to locate the start? Next the book mentions an ascent from Bast over scree taking around an hour to achieve a saddle. This ascent was in fact fiendishly dangerous and not really suitable for anything other than real hiking boots with hiking poles for assistance. The slipping, loose gravel and slope was frankly horrible to tackle and rather frightening with the fear of a broken ankle or cut hands at most steps. Falling on razor-sharp karst is not pleasant. It took us over twice as long as the book suggests, leaving us with no time to continue upwards (with another 600m to go before even reaching the ridge, we looked up and called a halt). We had to backtrack all the way back down the scree to Bast and abandon this walk as time was not going to be enough. It was a good day, sure, but the guide simply did not make the difficulty of the scree apparent and the timing was way off for the casual hiker. I guess scree varies with whatever the previous winter does to it, but really....

Anyway, in short, not a very useful book, but at least it does point out options for you to go away and do research elsewhere and make up your own walks. Maps are readily available in-country of these regions. Probably much more useful to the multi-day experienced hiker than someone who just wants to do some walking in Croatia.
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