Fly to Zagreb. We transfer south out of Zagreb for approximately 2 hours to Plitvice Lakes. We will spend the night in a hotel close to the park, giving us plenty of time to prepare the bikes for the week ahead. We will have a full breifing in the evening. The geological phenomenon of the lakes is best described as a series of lakes, large and small, linked by streams and waterfalls in a densely wooded valley. But what makes the area so striking are the light blue colour of the water and the spectacular height of the waterfalls. A series of wooden walkways has been built alongside and over some of the shallow lakes to allow you to safely explore this truly remarkable site. In the evening there will be a briefing about the week ahead.
We start with a circular ride exploring the Plitvice Lakes and then continue our ride to the town of Otocac, situated on the Gacka River. This ride takes us through the heart of Lika, a mountainous region in central Croatia. During the 20th Century Lika was exposed to the depopulation caused by various factors and these days it is very sparsely populated. However the region is home to three national parks and today's ride takes us through two of them; Plitvicka Jezera and Sjeverni Velebit.
Ride approximately 66km.
Today we enjoy a challenging ride through the beautiful Velebit National Park with an 1100m climb up to Zavizan Mountain. En route we will pass through the village of Krasno and be rewarded for our efforts with beautiful views of Velebit Mountain as well as the Adriatic Sea and islands. Zavizan is also a National Meteorological station from where you can take a short walk to the Velebit Botanical Garden that was set up in 1969, with over 600 indigenous and 30 transplanted species of plant. We will spend the night in the Zavizan mountain hut, in a remote location in the Velebit Mountains far away from everyday life.
Ride approximately 67km. Mountain Hut
Waking up in the mountain hut is a special feeling, but this is just the start of what should be a memorable day. Today's ride takes us through the heart of the Velebit Mountain range with its dramatic cliffs, bare hills on the seaward side and the wood-covered slopes of Lika. Velebit was historically home to a high population of shepherds and cattle herders and we will have a chance to visit some of the ruins of their 'summer lodges'. The ride finishes at our hotel in Gospic.
Ride approximately 80km.
Our second ride in Velebit takes us from Gospic through the valley of Velebit into the peaceful interior of Croatia. Today's ride is flat to start with, providing an excellent opportunity to recover and to enjoy the great mountain views. We then begin a long climb up to the pass of Mali Halan. This section of the route is one of the most spectacular, and opens up vistas that are very different to the landscapes that we have experienced so far during the week. From this point it is a fabulous downhill ride all the way to the town of Posedarje on the Adriatic Sea. Posedarje is a picturesque Dalmatian town situated on the west shores of Novigrad bay with opportunities for swimming.
Ride approximately 105km.
Today's ride will take us to the Nature Park of Vransko Jezero. We will start cycling from our hotel in Posedarje to the village of Vrana where our adventure will really get started. Vransko Jezero is natural phenomenon - on one side you will see the Adriatic coast, famous for its inviting beauty and clean sea, and on the other side you will see the largest natural lake in Croatia. It is a rare natural habitat for birds with fresh water springs and diverse flora and fauna. The Vrana Lake and its surroundings were declared a Nature Park in July 1999 and our route will take us around the lake to a picturesque village on the coast for a refreshing swim. We will transfer by bus back to our hotel.
Ride approximately 45km.
You can't come to Croatia without enjoying the fantastic coastline, so for our final day of cycling we will visit the island of Pag for a fabulous final road ride. This is one of the larger islands in the north-Dalmatian archipelago, so the ride will be long but not too strenuous. Pag is famous for its sheep cheese and lace making and the day will be a combination of riding and enjoying the delicious products of Dalmatia. Since the island is also renowned for its great beaches there will be the opportunity for a refreshing post-ride swim. At the end of the day we will transfer back to Posedarje for a final evening together.
Ride approximately 50km.
Transfer to Zadar; fly to London.