After Montenegro and Albania it was finally time to enter the European Union once again. A road trip in Croatia was next in line and the fairytale stories of the beautiful islands and coastlines of Dalmatia had been om my travel bucket list for quiet some time. During this road trip, I encountered dragons and castles as I was visiting the filming locations of the populair TV-show “Game of Thrones” in Dubrovnik.
When driving towards the north part of Croatia, I stopped by a brown bear rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary deep in the Croatian mountains.
Ready to make some extra kilometers, but all for a good cause!
This was my road trip in Croatia
Welcome to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Home of “Game of Thrones” and… Everybody else?
Ah, what can I say about Dubrovnik? One word: “Gorgeous!”
This beautiful old city is surrounded by ancient architecture, which instantly takes you back in time. When you arrive from the North you will have a glimpse over the city with an amazing topview, therefore I highly recommend seeing this view either by car of with a lift. It will be the best part of your road trip in Croatia. Trust me!
It is a childhood fantasy that right away pop’s up when you enter the big gates of Dubrovnik. My heart was pumping, dry throat and my smile became bigger and bigger as we got closer to the gates. I remember thinking: “And here.. we… go!”
“Game of Thrones t-shirts! Get your t-shirt! Tours for sale! Book your tours today!”
Are you kidding me? It was a trap! A massive oversized tourist trap and it seemed that half of Asia had fallen into the trap. It was absolutely packed with way too many people and all the surrounding businesses were pushing their activities. If you are expecting to have some romantic times walking around the little shops and ancient churches you are in for a rude awakening. Of course, it was also the high season, but when even the locals tell you there are too many toursits it says a lot.
And although there are a lot of parking spots available, please keep in mind that it is ridiculous expensive. I have parked many cars in many countries, but never had I been charged 6,50 Euro per hour. I am not sure if it was because of the summer season or it is just expensive in general, but please keep it in mind!
Visiting the Game of Thrones locations
If you want you can take a special “Game of Thrones” tour in the city. This tour will show you all the hotspots of where the populair TV-show was filmed. I personally did it myself as I was only interested in a few spots, but either option would be interesting as the guide also gives you a lot of extra information.
When walking on the Dubrovnik City Wall you will have an amazing view over the city and it is definitely the best attraction you can do. Ticket prices are 150 HRK per person and it includes a visit to the Ford Lovrijenac. Also here several shots have been filmed, therefore I would recommend just buying this ticket and you will be able to see 4 or 5 locations by yourself. The total route is 2 Km long and will bring you all the way around the city.
You can enter the wall at three different locations, but I recommend using the main entrance at the beginning of Stradun. During your walk you will be able to get some amazing shots including from the island next to the wall; Lokrum.
After you visited the wall, you should take a small walk down to the Dubrovnik West-Marina. It is a beautiful little port and easily missed if do not know it is there. There was also another famous Game of Thrones scene filmed here, but you might no recognize it right away.
Visiting the bear sanctuary in Kuterevo
After a short stop in Split, I continued my road trip in Croatia and drove up to the northern part towards a little village in the mountains called: Kuterevo.
“Hello! Sir, where can I find the bear sanctuary?” I asked a local farmer as I was obviously lost again. He did not understand English very much and shrugged his shoulders as he waived his hands in such a way that it could only mean: “I have no idea what you are saying, boy” in Croatian. As my internet connection was not working I had to do my best impression of a bear. After several minutes of me making bear movements and growling sounds the farmer must have had two thoughts; Either he knew exactly what I was talking about or he thought I was batshit crazy. Anyway, he waved his hands towards his left and shook his head with a “yes” gesture.
I thanked him and drove towards his suggested direction, but I could not help thinking that I might have given the farmer his best “pub story” ever about a foreigner doing a road trip in Croatia, with a green Volkswagen Beetle doing bear movements and noises for minutes, all whilst the farmer could speak English perfectly. Oh well, who knows! 😉
Kuterevo Bear Sanctuary
The Kuterevo Bear Sanctuary was founded in 2002 and is currently the home of 9 bears. The European brown bear is a common bear species in Croatia and the Balkan area, but although the animals are protected they are still in need of help. Hunting and habitat destruction are the most common threats, therefore the sanctuary educates its guest about the morphology of the bears, diets and behavior and their natural habitats. There are about 1000 bears left in the wild today in Croatia.
"Look for the bare necessities. The simple bare necessities. Forget about your worries and your strife. I mean the bare necessities. Old Mother Nature's recipes..That brings the bare necessities of life" #wildlife #wildlifephotography #wildlifewarrior #wildlifeonearth #wildlifeaddicts #wildlife_seekers
The current inhabitants:
The Refuge is separated in two parts. The first one is dedicated for the younger bears and the second for the older ones. In this moment we have three bears in the first part – Marko Kralj, born in 2012; and Mlada Gora and Mlad Dol, both born in 2010. And in the second part we have six bears in total: HuuBear and VladMir, born in 2008; BlagoZoo, born in 2007, coming from the Zoo in Zagreb; LjuboLik and ZdraviGor, both born in 2003.
All of these males share one enclosure, therefore the Lady of the Refuge – Mirna, lives in another enclosure all by herself. She spent almost all her live in the Zoo in Split, but joined Kuterevo in April 2015. Being born in 1984, now blind and deaf makes her the oldest bear in the Refuge, thus being the biggest attraction here!