The Highest Peak of Croatia – Sinjal

Even though Croatia is quite mountainous, we don’t have any peaks over 2000 meters. Our highest peak is Sinjal (1831 meters/6004 ft) in the Dinara mountain range and I had a desire to climb it for quite a while. Actually, everyone in the country should attempt it at least  once!

Dinara is one of the most beautiful mountains in the country and this particular view is one of my favorite ones of the entire Dalmatian hinterland!

The view of Dinara from Peruča lake (Spring, 2015) – This is NOT Dinara where the highest peak is but the southern section of the mountain

This hike was planned for a long time. First we wanted to do it this past May but had no time. With forecast looking favorable for the beginning of October, we made quick plans for this Saturday, filled up the tanks and made small shopping for food. The climb is demanding and there would be no time for proper meal.

Before departing, I did a lot of research but the information available online is not really sufficient. Especially not for those willing to drive. That is why I will put quite a few photos and give as many details as I can.

First, Kinin is the starting point.

Knin in the morning mist

We decided to meet near Krčić waterfall. That is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Croatia. Usually.

A very dry season

This time of year, there was no water coming from Krčić stream just above the waterfall. This was our meeting point. Right by the very start of Krka river.

The fleet

One can reach Krčić just by turning first left (or at the bridge) when driving from Knin to Sinj. Since were going the oposite direction, we returned and followed signs to Strmica and Bosnian border. Only few kilometers on that road, there is a sign to a village Guge. Take right before restaurant Ivan and follow the sign to Dinara (sharp left).

The road to Dinara is a dirt road from the start. While it can be done by a regular car, this is not recommended at all. You need a proper off road vehicle to do this trip. Or one can walk.

Guardian dogs

The road is wide and in fairly good shape. Almost no traffic and no life but we did see a couple of shepherd dogs.In any case, follow the signs to Planinarski dom. Not too many of them but enough. I also used Google maps to stay on the right road. After a fairly boring, short ride, the views of the mountains became stunning. We came out of woods to Markov grob view point. This is also a good spot to leave a car and walk all the way to Sinjal.


We saw some other people making a stop and taking photos and we also met a guy who is counting wolves! Of course, he does not see them but looks for wolf dung and other signs.

Counting wolves

We did see, just before reaching Markov grob a jackal crossing the road! So I was glad I could report it to someone who can actually mark it down where it matters. It was actually an interesting combination of a dark jackal and a hawk crossing the road. I am sure that would mean something in more romantic times where “signs from the skies” were important but we just continued.

We got to talk to this guy (he is from Sinj) and learned that wolves in Croatia are truly endangered and that there are only about 200-300 animals left! There were also some newspaper articles on populating the region with large Siberian wolf but we learned that it is all nonsense.

The road continues right from this point and we drove to another sign and then up the hill. We also saw some hiking markers to help out. Soon, we reached a very scenic Badanj peak overlooking a lovely valley. The weather did not look good any more…

Weird engineering

…and this was the last bad part of the road till Brezovac mountaineers’ lodge located at the edge of a very picturesque and spacious valley.


This was an ancient home of numerous families of shepherds. There is a great video of last ones of them:  The times have changed.

Brezovac lodge is a solid place with great grill area ( of course). This is, for many, the place to park the car and continue on foot to Sinjal as the path through the forest is quite scenic.


Since we had kids and most of us are in no shape to walk for three hours from the lodge to the summit, we followed another group driving to a closer place. The trail is nicely marked through the woods and there is no way one can get lost.



This road is for serious off road vehicles only! And then we parked in a lovely valley.


Peaks in the mist

The weather was great and sunny but there were clouds at the very peak and we could not really tell where the peak was. Again, the trail is very well marked and it is nearly impossible to get lost.


One part of the group left us while waiting for our friends who decided to park at the lodge. We started the hike with kids as the trail is easy at the beginning.



In the fresh, mountain air we got hungry fairly soon and it was already 11 AM. The right time for marenda (or brunch).

What’s a hike without a beer?
What’s a hike without home made apple pie?

And it was time to continue as we were still quite far from the peak. Some of us did not feel like going much further so part of the group stayed in the meadow below waiting for us who decided to reach the peak.

Waaay to ambitious for a 5 year old :)))

We continued following the trail that now got steeper.


..and got us into the woods.dinara031

This was an easy part…

After the woods, the trails gets much steeper and more difficult. I had to stop several times and thought about giving up on half a dozen occasions.

Getting serious

But, when one travels in a group, it is easier to continue. Stopping to catch a breath and to enjoy the views also helped.


Soon, we were in the most difficult part of the climb. That is the part that is very rocky and one needs to be careful. That is right below the final part that leads straight to the summit.


The monument at the peak has probably been destroyed by lightning and I was so looking forward to see that sign saying that this is the highest peak of Croatia. But there is only an official sign.


…and we did get the stamp from the box!


Quite proud of my son as there are not too many 12 year olds that have been here!

The peak was a busy place as there was another small group of hikers just below the peak and we got offered the gemišt :)))


Too bad for the views but this was all we saw from the very peak.


And then it was time to go back. It took us over  2 hours to  get to the peak from the parking but going back was much faster and with fewer resting stops.

Descent is not as demanding but still not a joke. And I wanted to enjoy the nature and take some shots of the region.

Badanj in the distance


I could not think of an easier way to get here but some guys thought of a HARDER way to get to Sinjal!


Their objective is to climb to the peak (with their bikes on their backs) and then drive down to Glavaš. Glavaš is another point where people start their hikes to Sinjal.

We got to the valley soon and decided to drive back as the days are already shorter and wanted to enjoy more time at the foothill of Badanj.


Badanj has some fascinating stone “towers” and shapes.


While there were not too many animals, I did see one spectacular caterpillar!

Spurge hawk-moth caterpillar (Hyles euphorbiae L.) or Mlječikin Ljiljak in Croatian

Leaving Dinara behind us, we stopped at trout farm to get some fish farmed at the very start of Krka river. It does not get any better than this!



Going back, through the night and quiet villages of Bukovica, we felt (again) blessed by the fact that we live in such a special and uniquely beautiful little country. I do take my kids everywhere with me so they learn to appreciate all the riches we have and to stay connected to nature. Together with about a dozen others who climbed that peak on the same day with us, we are a minority. It is easier to sit on a sunny riva and have an opinion on the economy, tourism, politics, sports…





Pyramid of Dalmatia – the mystery continues?

It has been a while since I last reported on the pyramid “mystery”: in the meantime, I was contacted by several very interesting people who were trying to locate it and challenge the location I established.
One of them  – Mr. Galic from Mostar – had a very interesting story and most likely the right location of the “pyramid” from the old map.


Basically, he did a proper research on the toponyms mentioned on the old map and concluded that the “pyramid” cannot be where I put it (the hill of Zvonik) and is further south. He made correct assumptions and found a place that actually has a hilltop ruin named kulina. Yes, that is very close to Colina mentioned on the map! The place is located in Nisko, a tiny hamlet on the southern slope of Moseć mountain. The area suffered greatly during the Turkish wars and occupation and was brought back to life when the Franciscan monks brought new inhabitants from Bosnia back in 1720. so it is likely that those inhabitants had no clue of the region they were brought into and that the fortress was already a ruin.

Today, Nisko is nothing more than a sleepy hamlet…

Nisko village and Kulina hill above it.
Very few people live in Nisko…

One winter day, when vegetation wass low and one could actually see most of the structures, I drove to Nisko. The access to the hill is easy but there is not much to see. The hill is full of stone dry walls that don’t make much sense. And, it seems, someone from the village still plants some vegetables (potatoes?) in the only part of the hill that looks fertile.

It is very hard to make any educated guesses so I just took a lot of photos of structures and also studied a lot the aerial photos.


The structure does not say much nor it indicates that it could be of a pyramidal shape. Mate Matas – one of the explorers of the gradina hilltop fortresses in this area – wrote that this could even be a possible seat of old-Croatian county Zmina. Here is the full text (in Croatian):

Oko 1 km južnije od spomenute Gradine odnosno oko 500 m sjevernije od zaseoka Galići nalazi se Kulina koju prema položaju i nekim drugim obilježjima treba ubrojiti u ilirska gradinska naselju. Naziv Kulina (stara ruševna kula), specifični ostatci (temelji građeni s vezivom) i predaje (u njih treba ubrojiti i usmene izjave stručnjaka arheologa i povjesničara), upućuju na zaključak kako se navedeno gradinsko naselje najduže koristilo. Dužina između temelja bedema Kuline u smjeru I-Z iznosi oko 70 m, a u smjeru sjever jug približno 50 m, što znači da se ona ističe primjernom površinom.
Kulina se ističe i impozantnim širinama i visinom nekadašnjeg bedema. Prema zapadu i sjeverozapadu odakle je i najbolji pristup prema utvrdi širina bedema iznosi oko 12 m, a njihova visine oko 4 m. Prema jugu i strmijem prostoru širina i visina bedema se postupno smanjivala. Prema količini materijala moglo bi se zaključiti da se bedemi prema jugu te istoku i sjeveru bili najniži i najtanji, što se donekle može objašnjavati i strmijim padinama odnosno lakšoj obrani utvrde s tih strana. Međutim, na južnoj i istočnoj strani naziru se tragovi temelja građenih s vezivom. Jesu li u pitanju temelji utvrde ili posebnih stambenih objekata građenih u novijem razdoblju teško je odgovoriti bez detaljnih arheoloških istraživanja lokaliteta.
Takvim bi se istraživanjima pronašao i odgovor na 
pitanje što predstavljaju pravilni kvadratični temelji također građeni s vezivom, a koji se nalaze uz zapadnu stranu već spomenutih dužih temelja građenih s vezivom (možda su u pitanju ostaci spremnika za vodu, zemunica, stambenih prostora i sl.). U zanimljivosti ili posebnosti Kuline treba ubrojiti i jasno izražen unutarnji prostor s naglašeno ravnom podlogom, ograđen suhozidinama. Dužina tog prostora u smjeru I-Z je 12 m, a u smjeru S-J iznosi 10 m. Na tom unutrašnjem prostoru još su vidljivi i veliki kameni blokovi koji su očiti predstavljali okvir vrata okrenutih prema jugu gradine. Postoje i pretpostavke kako je spomenuta gradina mogla biti i sjedište starohrvatske župe Zmina. Tome idu u prilog i pronađeni ostaci starohrvatske bazilike u polju ispod Kuline u blizini crkve sv. Ivana. Dio pronađenih ostataka pohranjen u samostanskoj zbirci u Sinju. Ispred sadašnje crkve sv. Ivana je stećak s ukrasom koji je nekada služio i kao oltar…

Today, nothing more of some indications of walls can be seen.

Parts of the structure that can be followed in a in a semi-circular shape around the hill
The fertile field of Nisko

Basically, the mystery stays. No one can prove that this was truly a pyramid but the theory that this was an important stronghold is based on facts.

There was another interesting discovery by Mr. Galic – he connected the Nisko “pyramid” to the ruins of Asseria and Varvaria… Those two important archaeology sites were connected by “lay lines” in another blog post I wrote 3 years ago:

From Nisko to Nin

The blog is just the discussion on whether all these important “temples” (structures) were found on a single line just by coincidence or it was done on purpose. I still believe it is pure coincidence but…

So, here are the exact locations of the line going through previously established locations of Visovac, Bribirska Glavica, Asseria and Nin (Temple of Jupiter – the largest Roman Temple on the Adriatic coast we know of)


The line continues north to Brijuni as described in that blog on the Lay line.

Now, calling it a Lay line may be completely wrong as this may be something very different. It is also VERY strange that all these important historic places are on the same line but let’s still say it is a pure coincidence due to the orientation of our coastline.

There is another curiosity connected to this “pyramid of Nisko”: Nisko – in Croatian – means “low”. The alleged “Bosnian pyramid” is in Visoko. Which translates “high”…

Another interesting coincidence! Or not?


Dining in Split

The number of quality restaurants and various eating options has recently exploded in Split. Not all places are worth eating at, of course. Since we always send restaurant recommendations to our clients, here is just a brief overview of some of the best places we recommend.

Long time our favorite is still a popular place in town for great settings and seafront seating. The views and atmosphere are simply great and very relaxing no matter if you are looking for an easy family lunch or a romantic dinner for two.

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The menu got some needed additions and refreshments although the basic idea is still the same.


Overall, Dvor is still a good place to eat at but it got somewhat more expensive than last years. In Dvor, I always had issues with waiters who were never professional as in some other places and were trying to be friendly more than they should be. Also, this time the three of them were quite loud and we could not even talk normally at the table located near the entrance to the kitchen. Will look for a table further away next time.

Operated by the same folks who own Dvor, I did expect a bit better food and a bit better service as this was a major investment and it is one of the nicest places in Split.

File 06-08-16 09 48 47

The ambiance is absolutely superb despite being surrounded by socialist buildings. It is a proper oasis close to the very heart of the city.

I must say that the food was better than expected. The tastes were there, structure and design were flawless. My lamb shank in pea sauce was absolutely great! Also, desserts are superb in every way so definitely leave some room for them after the meal!  This is a place I can easily recommend everyone for food and settings although staff again is the weakest link. They don’t seem to realize that their working hours are to be dedicated to the guests. No serious issues but just an overall feeling that the service level has room for improvement.

Long awaited addition to restaurant scene in Split opened this very spring and is already getting praises for food and ambiance. We had lunch there maybe a week or so after it opened and did not have high expectations as, usually, restaurants need some time to get started and everything starts rolling.

I must say that everything was simply great and I love the fact that they have a great selection of appetizers. We had all of them🙂 and not one was mediocre!
Followed by the main course and fabulous dessert selection, O’Zlata got very high rating from us right at the first visit! My only negative would be actual number of meals as it seems that in one or two visits, one can taste everything.

Still undisputed in Split and most of the Adriatic coastline. The level of service, menu, wine list and (new) offer of select gins, make Paradigma number one place for great and proper fine dining in Split.

Where to start? Menu last year was great but this year chef Ante made huge progress in focusing even more on tastes and design of each meal. Of course, like in any restaurant of this sort, tasting menu is the way to go. Don’t expect to capture the “philosophy” of Paradigma just by sampling one or two dishes. We opted for full 9 course tasting menu but we had only few glasses of wine with it as it was a bit too late for me to drink.

Every single dish that was brought to us was a piece of art and the tastes were simply superb. My only “complaint” was that I needed something more refreshing for dessert so I ordered  a fabulous panacota to sweeten everything. Also, the service – still unparalleled anywhere in Split. By light years. All the staff from other restaurants should at least have one meal in Paradigma just to see how it is done.
Gin Tonic -and then there is my perfect summer drink done the perfect way. The selection of 29 world’s best gins make this place even better!

In any case, this is just a small overview of over 280 places to eat at in Split. Just a selection of some of the best that we eat at regularily over the season. We do not recommend many others to our clients but we are always happy, for those into more casual eating, to recommend Brasserie on 7, Mazgoon and newly opened Torito as great alternatives.

Split has come a long way and became a great place to eat out with numerous options!