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The Drava river canoeing - Adventure of the life time
Join us for a magnificent canoe expedition on the Drava river in northern Croatia. Experience one of the few true wildernesses left in Europe. Once we mount or canoes we leave civilization behind and head straight in to a great adventure.
Price per person: 1300 €
„Adventure of a lifetime“ includes:
canoe “Old Town” Predator or Guide 160 and “Nova” 460; and other paddling equipment, tents and floormats; expert guiding. One guide in canoe, one guide in jeep; accommodation (5 nights at hotels/guest house and 5 nights at campground, two persons per room/tent); all meals, except one dinner in Osijek;
entrance fees etc.; insurance cover; transfer from and to airport Zagreb;
„Adventure of a lifetime“ does not include:
sleeping bags (possible to rent); various specific personal items (hygienic, medical etc.).
Interesting places, nature and local tradition: protected areas, marshes, channels, tributaries, villages, old oak forests, richness of wildlife (Bitterns, Black Storks, Great White Egrets, White-tailed Eagles and Bearded Tits and many other nesters during May, June and July and a lot of migrants in August and September), even Beavers and Otters, Croatian naive painting.
Small changes are possible due to weather conditions or similar problems we can not control.
The Drava is a calm flowing river that takes you in to a quiet wilderness almost nonexistent in Central Europe. The word wilderness is quite appropriate you are going into a world of raw nature. Camping and sleeping in a hunting lodge which is really used for that purpose. You need to bring some strong long lasting insect repellent. If all of the above makes you uncomfortable, then this tour is not for you. If you want to spend fascinating evenings in a rough camp with good company, if you love the outdoors, if you are not afraid of the odd wild boar then we'll show you nature reserves, cave paintings, tributaries, wild animals – deer, rare birds and hopefully no wild boars along 255 km along the Drava to the Danube confluence.
Meals will be prepared by our guides when we camp out in the open. You are welcome to lend a hand. Our guides are not only familiar with the river, its wild life and nature, but also with local cuisine. When we stay in hotels we will always give you the opportunity to try local specialties.
There is not much more to write about this trip because you have to experience it. If you have ever been out in the wild, on a long peaceful river, you may know what to await. If not, and you are ready for it, the memory of this wonderful journey will stay with you forever and it will change your life. The guides spend most of the year outdoors and you are in good hands with them. One will company you in a canoe and explain the history, wildlife and nature of this wonderful region, to you along the way from Donja Dubrava to Osijek. Also another one will follow by jeep and show you where to set up camp.
We spend the first night in a hotel in the former Croatian capital Varaždin, a beautiful old baroque city in north western part of Croatia. Walking through its streets, near palaces and churches, you will feel the genuine spirit of the middle European culture, the old Croatian aristocracy and a touch of Habsburg royal dynasty.
Not far from the start of the tour we reach the Drava – Mura confluence. Between two rivers there is a marshy triangle with dense forests and narrow channels – Veliki Pažut zoological reserve, with its richness of water birds and other animals. And if you are lucky, you will see beavers too.
The Križnica area with a small village in the middle river course is compressed between meanders of the Drava river bed and the remnants of the old river bed. The shape of former river bed is unbelievable and typical at the same time – like an open hand with five fingers. And nowadays the river bed is completely different. This example shows us that the river is alive and in continual changing, if not gyved by concrete and transformed into canal. The Križnica area is a small piece of Croatian territory north of the Drava River, surrounded with Hungarian territory. Its connection with Croatia is a picturesque pedestrian suspension bridge and an old traditional ferry-boat without engine, but slowly run by river current only. Both Križnica and the whole Drava River are known as excellent fishing sites.
The tour ends, similar to its beginning, with another river confluence, this time the confluence of the Drava and Danube rivers. And, again, in the triangle of the two rivers there is another large marshy area – Kopački rit Nature Park. This park is much larger than Veliki Pažut reserve and much richer with wildlife. But, sadly, it is on the very end of the tour. If you are little tired of mosquitos and sleeping bags and you wish to enjoy a little civilization, in the genuine Amazonian style surrounding of Kopački rit you will change your mind and wish to stay ten more days in that paradise.
Just two kilometers downstream we leave the river in the small village of Aljmaš, where a famous shrine of Our Lady of Sanctuary is situated. The shrine was established in 1704 in a small church made of mud. That church does not exist any more, but the new church and the shrine attract a lot of pilgrims nowadays.
The Drava river canoeing
Transfer from Zagreb airport to the lovely Hotel Varaždin in Varaždin. After we check in, we give you a thorough briefing of the tour over a great dinner. Varaždin is the former capital of Croatia.
Now you will get the first feeling of adventure when you see the equipment lined up by the river. Canoes, lifejackets, tents, sleeping bags… Here 7 km away from the Drava, Mura confluence will give you safety instructions. The river is slow flowing and makes for easy paddling. We will visit the Veliki Pažut zoological reserves and explore its channels, reed beds and forests. We set up camp at the right of the rivers confluence.
Very busy day. There are a lot of channels to explore and, besides them, we simply must visit the nearby village of Hlebine, the cradle of the world famous Croatian naive art. We have to leave our canoes and to walk some four kilometres. And overnight… in a nice hunters’ lodge, near the small lake, surrounded with old oak forests.
Easy canoeing with exploring surrounding forests and marshes. We finish our paddling for this day in a small sleepy village, in a nice family-run hotel, with a great local cuisine. The village itself and marshes around it are perfect for an exploration.
We are in no hurry. After a hot morning shower and a nice breakfast of local home made food, we easily paddle downstream, with occasional stopping and walking around, while our canoes wait for us in a quiet channel.
In this part of the river we have several small tributaries to explore by canoe and walking. At the end of the day we’ll have a special event. Our guides (one of them escorting us all the time in the car) will prepare our dinner on the campfire. Our dinner is a famous local spicy fish soup prepared in a traditional way in a small kettle on the fire. This soup, which is traditional in Hungary too, it represents the obvious Hungarian impact to this part of Croatia. Nothing surprising, Hungary is just across the river. Everyone who wants to take part in the cooking is welcome.
After the half day of easy canoeing we reach the town of Donji Miholjac, where accommodation awaits us in its a small hotel. But before that we’ll explore Podpanj ornithological reserve and large fish ponds. Both sites are rich with water birds.
Again canoening and exploring surrounding wildlife. We’ll prepare this dinner too. It will be a real barbecue wilderness party. Well, our garden is a little wild this time, but that’s what makes it more magical.
Canoeing and hiking today. We recommend to watch around for the native Black or White Stork, various egrets and herons, even White-tailed Eagle fishing on the river. Cormorant birds are common here and especially Sand Martins from the colonies in the large river banks, which fly around our canoes all the time. Well, in fact, the whole Drava River is a bird paradise.
The current in this down river course is a bit stronger, so we have to paddle strong, but this portion of paddling is not very long. We reach the city of Osijek about lunch time. Osijek is actually the only settlement which is situated on the very river bank. And our hotel is, too, so we’ll watch our canoes from the windows in our rooms. We’ll also have enough free time for sightseeing the city.
A busy day today. It is recommended not to sleep too long, because the unique Kopački rit nature park is waiting for us. Even more, the corner of the park, completely quiet and with no people – our private wildlife. Animals will not be too afraid of several people in the canoes. After that, full of impressions, we’ll paddle four more kilometres, enter the big Danube river and finally finish our tour in the village of Aljmaš. From this point we leave river and travel towards Zagreb. We’ll finish our day and the tour with farewell dinner.
After a lovely breakfast we’ll take you to Zagreb airport.
See you next year.