Giant crater lakes and Croatia’s highest mountains

The Biokovo mountain range seemed to just shoot up from Croatia’s coastline. The lower slopes were forested, but the vast majority was steep, grey rock rising over 1000m with sheer edges. It forms a wall along the coast and plateaus off at the top with numerous bumpy peaks including Croatia’s highest mountain at 1762m.

We hadn’t trekked since Bulgaria so put the battered hiking boots back on and headed uphill into the park. The carpark for the trail was probably at 200m or so, and as we walked up the relentless zig zags the views didn’t seem to change from the carpark, needless to say, I was moaning. The sun was glaring towards us too so there wasn’t even a grand view of the coastline.

We reached 850m elevation, from where a sign said it was 1 hour 15 minutes to Vosac summit. That sounded doable so we trudged on. As we reached the plateau at 1338m, Vosac loomed above us. It had a sheer rock face and looked pretty impressive so up we went. The view from the top revealed dozens of peaks rising from the plateau, the coastline below wiggled up and down creating little bays, and the best part was seeing the edge of the mountain range drop down to the coast.

It was a long 5 hour hike and I was dragging my feet on the way back. There were just so many zig zags, and everything looked the same. I managed to avoid stepping on a poisonous viper snake who slithered right infront on me along the path and into the shrubs. Once it submerged itself in the grass all we could hear was him hissing.

The next day we drove up and over Biokovo to a little corner of Croatia close to the Bosnian border. As we approached the town of Imotski I knew it was well worth the detour; the town is best known for having two huge crater lakes, and we could clearly see the town, a forested slope and two giant holes in the distance.

The lakes were likely formed from giant underground caves collapsing and creating sinkholes. The first lake we saw was ‘Blue Lake’ which was an extremely wide crater. A dark lake was way below us with blue tinges in the sun. This lake sometimes dries up in summer and locals use it as a football pitch – which explained the two random white goals sitting on the slopes.

We followed a trail into the crater and got a closer view of the almost 1km long lake. It was nice, but easily forgotten about after visiting its bigger and better neighbour; Red Lake.

The water in Red Lake is blue, but it gets it’s name from the red colour of the sheer cliffs that rise up to 241m above the waters edge!! It really was an incredible sight. It’s the third largest sinkhole in the world; the total explored depth is approximately 530 metres.

From the road, we stood at the lowest area of the crater, looking across to the highest and reddest section – but it was too steep to fit in a photo! There was a rough trail around the rim and I’m really glad we followed it as the views were so much better. It was an amazing contrast; the navy, almost circular lake, with red, cream and grey walls rising above it to a densely forested rim. We spent a while throwing rocks into the lake, it took about 10 seconds for the rock to hit the water.

We reached a section with a metal barrier and the view, again, was outstanding. This way we were at the highest section and only at this angle was it possible to take a photo that fitted most of the scenery in. Behind the craters edge were tiny, perfectly tended lines of crops, and behind them, silhouettes of the Biokovo mountains we’d driven from. What an amazing place and another hidden gem with hardly a soul around.

Croatia, you are truly spoiling us!

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