Posted by: viewfromtheriva | August 4, 2013

Vrlika, the natural beauty of inland Dalmatia

Magical Vrlika Lake, more than 20 km of unspoiled nature, surrounded by mountains and forests

Magical Peruca Lake, more than 20 km of unspoiled nature, surrounded by mountains and forests

I met Domagoj Burica, who runs Dalmatia Explorer ( a few weeks back and was impressed with his energy and passion for helping people discover the natural beauty of inland Dalmatia.  Just an hour away is Vrlika, a surprisingly prosperous town seemingly in the middle of nowhere, that is well known to outdoor enthusiasts because of its fabulous lake, climbing. hiking and biking.

Vrlika clock

My wife’s daughter Nastiya is here for the summer and we asked for her 23rd birthday (in addition to the tradition of having homemade cake for breakfast!) would she like to go kayaking near Vrlika.  Last year she loved rafting in Omis, so she was thrilled to have another outdoor experience.

All ready for our newest adventure

All ready for our newest adventure

Domagoj and his Land Rover Defender, an off road beast if there ever was one, met us at 8:30 in Split and off we went, past Sinj, into the hills beyond winding up in Vrlika.  In addition to being such a pretty town, high above the village is a very intact 15thC fort that helped protect the town and surrounding area from the Ottoman onslaught that plagued this region for decades.

on the water 1

Kayaking is a lot easier than being in a canoe. It’s simply more stable, since you are sitting on the waterline, which makes it easy to paddle without worrying about falling into the water!  I owned a kayak years ago so I was glad to see my wife and Nastiya take to it like ducks.

We skirted the shore and generally took our sweet time just enjoying the quiet beauty of this place.  It’s hard to imagine that such a large lake is man-made.  But the area was flooded years ago to create this huge reservoir so it could feed a power plant that was built as part of a dam project.  Even during the heat of summer, it’s easy to see that the whole area here is water rich.   Fed by the Cetina and other rivers, the ecology of the lake makes it rich with fish and perfect for swimming because of all that water coming in and out every day.

Our intrepid guide

Our intrepid guide

Domagoj is more than just a guy who loves the outdoors. Educated in America, he returned to finish college here and then got involved in project design and development to help the area economically.  The lake itself is part of one of his shining successes, an EU funded project called Lake to Lake. When it is complete, Lake Peruca will link a lake in Bosnia to create a unique “green tourism” and rowing experience for locals and tourists alike.  As a direct result of the project, Vrlika now enjoys a town beach and some pretty spiffy pontoons. Future plans call for development of a hotel, sports complex and more.

nastiya grinning

After paddling for an hour or so, we beached the boats and went for a swim.  The cool lake water and soft bottom on what surely was the hottest day of the year, was glorious.  As you can see our birthday girl loved it!

through the forest

It was really a wonderful day on the water gently moving in between trees whose roots must forever be wet, like these above.  After kayaking back to our starting point, Domagoj made us a great picnic lunch of local cheese, Drnis prsut and tomatoes infused with his own olive oil grown on Solta, where his family has a home.  For dessert, nectarines from Podstrana, where Domagoj and his wife live; a hilly seaside region about 20 minutes south of Split known for its juicy peaches and nectarines.  And oh yes, and a nice bottle of wonderful white wine from Imotski.  Yummy!

photo op

After lunch, we got a quick off road tour of the surrounding area, which included a stop at a high point for a stunning view of the lake and then a glimpse of where the Cetina began.

panoramic view of the lake

panoramic view of the lake

It was one of those memorable days that reminded me that living in Split is more than just being part of a 1,700 year old city….it’s Dalmatia, which is not just the sea and sun and islands, but all that lies undiscovered just an hour away, Next adventure….Imotski!

off-roading, with the beginning of the Cetina in the distance

off-roading, with the beginning of the Cetina in the distance

Enjoy our new Croatian vacation portal



  1. Hi I’ve found your blog after reading the article in the Jutarni zlist .that I read through chasing the donkey blog .look forward to more…

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