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Camp Korana (Croatia)

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Address: Plitvice Lakes National Park / Scientific Research Center "Ivo Pevalek" / HR 53231 / Plitvice lakes / Croatia / Tel: +385 (0)53 751 015

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      10.09.2010 14:24
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      A good place to stay at when you want to see Plitvice Park

      Camp Korana is a campsite in central Croatia close to the Plitvice National Park. We very much enjoyed our time there and were grateful for the opportunity to rent a bungalow as we didn't travel with a tent. These bungalows are very small but spotless clean and provide cheap accommodation for anyone that wants to spend some more time in this amazing National Park.

      If you are a bit more into camping you have the choice between staying there in your own camping van or in a tent.


      - - - - - - - Where is it? - - - - - -


      Camp Korana can be found 8 km away from the Plitvice National Park - one of the most stunning natural attractions I've ever seen. The crystal clear turquoise water of over 17 lakes and hundreds of stunning waterfalls are a joy for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and casual hiking. Being located bang in the middle of Croatia it is easily reachable from most points of the country and is one of the main stop of points on the route from the coast to Zagreb or the other way round.

      To reach Plitvice National Park by public transport you can get a bus from either Zadar on the coast or the Croatian capital Zagreb. Each way will be between 2 and 3 hours and should cost around 80 kuna each way (prices obviously depending on time and bus company). We arrived at Entrance 2 which is located in the middle of the park between the upper lakes with their stunning waterfalls and the wider area of the lower lakes. We came straight from Zadar with our backpacks on and not fancying carrying them around the whole day our first stop was the Hotel directly opposite the Entrance. We were allowed to store our bags there for 10 kuna each in a lockable storage room. If you struggle finding the right place just ask the Park Information, they'll point you into the right direction.

      Unfortunately it is quite hard to reach Camp Korana by public transport and your best bet is to go straight to the Park, store your luggage, and enjoy an amazing day hiking before catching the shuttle bus back to the camp in the evening. Busses leave every evening at 5pm sharp at Entrance 2 and a few minutes later from Entrance 1 - make sure to be there on time, busses don't tend to wait for anyone and there are no further options to get to the camp apart from hitchhiking or flagging down a taxi.

      The bus ride to the camp is quite nice and near Entrance 1 we had a breathtaking view on the largest waterfalls of the Park. Within 10 minutes we reached Camp Korana and were immediately impressed by its massive size of 86 acres which can accommodate up to 2500 campers. Check in is right at the entrance were you will be allocated to a bungalow or a campsite. During high season you should definitely book advance if you come with a campervan and if you want to stay at one of the bungalows you will have to book in advance at any time of the year. Payment can be made in cash or by credit card and is due when you leave the grounds on your last day.


      - - - - - - The camping ground and the rooms - - - - - -


      47 bungalows can be found at the beginning of the grounds surrounded by loads of greenery and the beginnings of a forest to one side. The wooden huts are quite small and contain each 2 single beds, a small table and one or two chairs. Sounds basic but is more than sufficient for one or two nights. All bungalows have power sockets but coming from the UK you will need an adapter to convert your plugs to mainland European 2-pin sockets.

      Bed linen is provided and was, just as the rest of the bungalow, spotless clean. I had the impression that the huts were quite new or at least very well taken care of; the walls looked freshly painted and the mattresses were incredibly comfortable. They are certainly a great alternative to camping and were very much welcome after 2 full days of hiking 8 miles a day around Plitvice.

      One small thing I'd like to see improved is the addition of mosquito nets; with two people sharing the relatively small space it can get quite stuffy at night but we couldn't leave the window open as we would have been eaten alive by mosquitoes all night.

      The grounds are open from April throughout October with July and August being high season and quite a bit more expensive than the other months. A bungalow will cost you 17Euro for one person and 24Euro for two people sharing. This option does not include any food and was what we actually wanted, however we were unable to book this option as it only gave us the choice between breakfast and half board. Even after contacting the camp directly via e-mail we still couldn't book a bungalow without breakfast which seems to me very bad practice and a way to get some extra money out of tourists. In the end we paid 32Euro for the two bed bungalow which works out at roughly the same price as a hostel. If you want half board the price of a bungalow rises to 48Euro. That works out at 8Euro per person for dinner which is rather steep and might be more than you pay if you simply order something from the menu at the restaurant. There's no explanation what is included in the half board offer so you might want to check in advance if it is worth booking it.
      High season really changes the prices here with all bungalow prices raised by 10Euro per night.

      With providing space for around 2500 campers the grounds are so big that you will probably never see all of it. From what I understood you can simply turn up there, check in and than choose your own space. Places for campervans are marked as you will have access to running water and electricity but if you simply come with a tent you can just put it anywhere. My suggestion would be to drive past the main building complex in the middle of the area and find a nice place close to the river that runs along the west side of the grounds.

      As we didn't actually camp there I cannot go too much into the details but at least I can tell you the prices. Per person you will be charged 7Euro a night and an additional 2Euro in high season. Also they charge 2Euro per car, 3Euro per tent and 6Euro per campervan. Although electricity is included that comes to quite a lot of money when two people share a campervan. I think the 3Euro per night pet tax is a bit stretching it but being one of the only campsites close to Plitvice they can charge whatever they want.

      Please note that a compulsory tourist tax per person per day of 6 kuna will raise the price of your stay a bit. However, this tourist tax is not raised by the park but by the government and has to be paid all over Croatia.


      - - - - - - Other facilities - - - - - -


      The shared bathrooms that can be found all over the campsite were surprisingly modern and clean and remind more of normal hostel facilities than those dirty and old things we all remember from our worst camping nightmares. A high number of shower cubicles and toilets meant that we never had to wait for anything and there were even special sinks to wash vegetables and clothing.

      The facilities were cleaned several times a day and the only complaint I had was that some of the drains were a bit blocked and the water very slow to vanish after showering. But in all fairness, we usually have the same problem in our house and everyone that lives with several girls with long hair should be use to that anyway.

      One thing I encountered on many campsite bathrooms was that hot water was limited during peak times and people had to fight for every single drop of warm water. Surprisingly I never had a problem with that at Camp Korana and even with all shower cubicles being used at the same time I still had more than enough hot water. However, a little word of warning; the cubicles are quite small and there is no shower curtain meaning that your stuff is likely to get wet. A simple solution is the use of plastic bags to keep towels and change dry but a shower curtain would still be a nice (and cheap) addition - this is a complaint I have wit most hostels/campsite/ anywhere with a shared bathroom and I just don't get what's so hard about buying a couple of shower curtains for your customers' convenience.

      In the middle of the campground a restaurant/café complex can be found and seems to be the "social centre" of Camp Korana. I found both to be rather overpriced and not very interesting with the restaurant being hardly used by anyone and the café playing loud nineties music all day. We didn't really use either of them but they are probably a nice addition for anyone that is not travelling on a budget. The website also advertises an outdoor BBQ which was unfortunately closed - a shame as I really felt in love with the delicious Chevapcici you can get all over Croatia.

      The shop that can be found on the grounds is incredibly convenient and we bought basically all the food we used over the following few days there. It stocks a range of fresh fruit and vegetables, loads of tinned and dried goods and even has a large selection of frozen food. The cheese section is particularly well stocked but I found the meat section to be disappointingly over-priced. Next to food you can also buy basic cosmetic products as well as guides and souvenirs. It appeared to be a bit more expensive than normal supermarkets but given that the next one is a 30min walk along a busy road away we decided it was worth spending those extra kuna on the convenience.
      An ATM can be found right next to the store which accepts all major cards but charges a small withdraw fee.

      One of the reasons for staying at Camp Korana was the shuttle bus to the Park which leaves at 9 in the morning and comes back at 5pm. This offer is obviously very convenient for everyone that is not there by car and would probably be still cheaper to use as I'm sure that they charge a parking fee at Plitvice. The bus leaves at 9 am and trust me, they really mean 9am and not one minute later. If you miss it you have only two options to get to the park - walk the 8km or try your luck hitchhiking. For comfort and safety reasons I cannot recommend either of these option so make sure you wake up early enough.

      And this brings me to a few negative points I encountered during my stay here. There weren't any major problems and certainly nothing preventing me from staying there again.


      - - - - - - Negative points - - - - - - -


      The shuttle bus to Plitvice National Park is obviously a very nice in convenient if you don't have a car available to you - we were certainly very grateful as walking 8 miles every morning and afternoon didn't sound too appealing. What we didn't know (and what the guys at the info failed to mentioned) was that there was only one bus respectively and that unlike stated on the website it wasn't free at all. 20 kuna is a bit more than 2.50 £ which is a very steep price tag for a 8 mile return bus ride. The tickets have to be bought at the same day at the reception and can either be purchased as a return or single. This is a bit cheeky but I would recommend buying a single one - the driver on the way back to the camp in the evening never seemed to control them anyway and didn't prompt us to purchase them when we failed to show the tickets to him. In my experience you will probably get away with it and in the case that they want to see one you can purchase it straight of the bus driver.

      The restaurant looked lovely from the outside and the menu was quite mouth-watering - unfortunately it was way too expensive with mains starting at around 60 kuna going up to way over 130 kuna. Honestly, those are prices I would struggle to justify in a proper restaurant and there is no way I would pay this kind of money for Pasta Bolognese in a campsite restaurant. Not having actually eaten there I cannot really comment on the quality of the food but judging from the breakfast I can imagine that it is rather good. Breakfast was always very varied and plentiful, covering everything from different types of bread to various fillings, fresh fruit and the delicious cheese strudel for which Croatia is famous for. Unfortunately it is just far too overpriced and I didn't actually see many people eating there. People generally prepared their own meals with products bought at the shop that can be found on the campsite.

      No social atmosphere is something I expected; after all it is a campsite and not your typical hostel. Plitvice National Park doesn't seem to be a destination that is frequented by younger people which is a real shame considering what an amazing place it is. I met loads of other people my age that went there on a daytrip from either Zadar or Zagreb, which in my opinion is sufficient to see everything but not to experience the park to its fullest. So yeah, younger people seemed to flock to the beaches rather than seeking out the campsite and spending more time exploring the area. This meant that most people staying at Camp Koruna were older couples in campervans or family with young children staying in the bungalows. There might have been younger people but the obvious lack of any communal area meant that we never met any of them leaving us feeling a bit bored in the evening. The bus back to the camp is at 5pm and quite frankly, there was nothing else to do after that. We usually had our dinner consisting of bread, cheese and a very delicious and addictive paprika paste, sitting at one of the camping tables that are scattered all over the site. Unfortunately that was it, with evening entertainment and no inside community room all was left to do was getting a good night sleep preparing us for the next day full of hiking around the lakes.

      The reception area was totally pointless and the staff beyond rude. We went there after checking in to ask a few basic questions. Of the simple question where the breakfast was available in the morning I got the responds "Well, where do you think it is? The restaurant of course!". Well, thanks for that, being a bit polite to ones customers cannot be that hard. Other questions were simply ignored and no advice whatsoever about the surrounding area could be given. I'm not sure if the girl was now or whatever but she really didn't seem to know too much about the campsite. For example she would tell us that the shuttle bus was free - and we had to explain the next morning to a very angry bus driver why we hadn't bought our tickets in advance. Reading back through my latest travel reviews I seem to complain a lot about the staff of various hostels; honestly I might simply be spoiled by the amazing hospitality I experienced while travelling in Asia and am a bit over-critical here.


      - - - - - - Would I stay there again? - - - - - -


      Plitvice National Park was one of the highlights for me on my trip through Croatia. I loved hiking around the beautiful lakes admiring the stunning waterfalls and the varied flora and fauna. We spend 2 full days exploring the park and felt that this was the minimum amount of time one should spend there to fully appreciate the national park's beauty.

      On our first day we were travelling with another girl that only had a day in the park as she was on the popular tourist route from Zadar to Zagreb. In a 7 hour "walk" we did the whole tour around the lakes leaving us totally exhausted and without enough time to really appreciate the small yet stunning things. When the two of us came back the next day we spend more time exploring our favourite places more in depth and in a more relaxed way. We had enough time to have a picnic or simply sit down for 10 min starring at a particularly beautiful waterfall.
      If you have time I would definitely recommend staying for 2 days at the park, it is well worth the money and the time spend. Camp Korana is the cheapest and the most convenient option if you do not want to stay at an expensive hotel. If you are travelling by car you are obviously more flexible than when you have to rely on the shuttle bus but even so it is not a big deal. I would prefer it if there were several busses leaving at different times throughout the day.

      However, considering the price, the nice bungalows and the other facilities at Camp Korana I can recommend staying there for anyone who enjoys nature and camping holidays. It is especially perfect for people like me that were on a backpacking trip without carrying a tent around with me. The reasonable priced bungalows allowed me to stay over night for the price of a normal hostel. I wish this service would be available on more camping grounds that are so very conveniently located close to popular natural attractions.


      - - - - - - - Booking and additional information - - - - - -


      This is the website we booked our bungalow at:
      http://www.booking.com/hotel/hr/bungalows-korana-campsite-korana.en.html

      General website of the park and Camp Korana - no booking through this website possible:
      http://www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/eng/index.php?option= com_content&task=view&id=50&Itemid=65


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      Thank you for reading and rating my review!

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