Canyoning in the Cetina River
After an overnight bus departing from Florence around 9:30pm and arriving in Split, Croatia around 9am, my friends and I were all a bit tired and anxious to stretch out after a long bus ride but still energized and excited for the activity of the day: canyoning in the Cetina River valley.
I had never heard of canyoning prior to signing up for this tour, but the promo video that we watched looked like so much fun that we had to do it. Canyoning definitely seemed more unique and memorable than rafting, our other option for today’s activity. Canyoning is basically a combination of hiking, swimming through rivers and letting the current take you, and cliff jumping in a canyon carved by the Cetina River. Because the water is relatively cold, we had to don full wetsuits complete with shorts, long johns, and jackets. We also had to wear helmets and life jackets to protect ourselves and to help us float along the Cetina with ease.
With our gear on, we walked to the edge of the canyon and began our descent down about 200 feet to the bottom of the canyon where the river flowed with piercing blue fresh water. The trek down was a bit of extreme hiking, with steep descents and rocky terrain, and we were all tired and a bit sweaty by the end of the short trek descending into the canyon. Thus, we all eagerly jumped into the water to cool off and the wetsuits did their job, keeping us at a comfortable temperature as we were able to sip the fresh water straight from the river to refresh ourselves.
Our guide, Matija from Adventure Dalmatia, was fantastic and friendly, leading us through the river and along the length of the canyon, showing us the best places to lie down and float in the river as the current hurried us along. He also pointed out prime spots for jumping off somewhat high rocks into deep pools and pockets of dark blue water below.
The river was dotted with rock formations, beautiful riverside foliage, and even waterfalls. At one point, the river lead to a 50 meter high waterfall that was impossible to swim or float through, so we diverted to a path carved into the side of the canyon which used to be used to access the hydroelectric power plants that harnessed the power of the Cetina. We crawled and slid on our backs through narrow passageways and walked through dark tunnels quite literally looking for the light at the end of the tunnel before reaching the other side and jumping back into the cool, blue Cetina.
We came to an area where there was a 19 meter high rock perfect for jumping off of and stayed there for a short while as we climbed up the rock and jumped off repeatedly. While we did this, we noticed another tour helping people repel down via a single rope from the very top of the canyon about 200 feet above us down into the water – it looked terrifying but also must have been an incredible experience.
We finally finished up and our guide brought us to a small clearing where there was a whole watermelon cut up and ready for us to eat as we replenished our energy from our exhausting, but extremely fun, canyoning adventure.
While the Cetina River in total is about 101 km long, our trek lasted about 3 hours and covered only 1.5 km of the canyon. However, our total step count came in around 3 km when adding up all the walking up, down, and across the canyon and river.
Full of adrenaline, wonder, and surprises, canyoning along the Cetina River was the most exhausting but the most adventurous thing I’ve ever done. It was the highlight of my trip to Croatia and I would highly recommend making this a stop on your itinerary if you’re ever in Split!