Latitude 42°46'39'' north, longitude 17°26'59" east - my wife Sonja carefully drives the Malibu Van along a gravel road through the nature reserve on the Croatian island of Mljet towards the coastline. To the left and right only a few centimetres to rocks, bushes or the slope. I myself sit in the passenger seat and concentrate on flying the drone, which takes in the scenery from a height of 100 m about 200 m behind us. The forest thins out and gives us a view of the coast. It's 8pm, the golden hour has just begun. On the horizon in the evening light, the small chapel on the peak before Kozarica, on whose forecourt we want to spend the night. For tours like this, we drive a Malibu Van!
Let's start from the beginning:
After two years with a Carthago c-line I 4.9 LE, we would like to return to "vanlife" in the next few years. During this time, we mainly have our sights set on holiday destinations where small roads or gravel tracks lead to the most beautiful places. For example, in Scotland, on Corsica or in the nature reserves of Croatia and Slovenia. We have chosen southern Croatia as our destination for June/July 2021. When we talk about a destination, we mean the rough direction in which we are going. We don't pre-book, we don't set any stages, we are ready to change direction completely at any time if, for example, the weather doesn't cooperate or the area isn't as great as expected.
So we set off on a Sunday afternoon in the direction of Croatia. If you live in the Ravensburg district, this is no big deal - after about 600 km you reach the border crossing at Rupa. The journey takes us past Salzburg in the direction of Villach, where we cross the border into Slovenia. You pass Ljubljana and then reach the northern border of Croatia. Due to the 3.5 t registration of the Malibu van, a single vignette is sufficient in both Austria and Slovenia. In Croatia, motorway tolls are charged per kilometre. For us, the first place to go was the Krk peninsula. We arrived there around 9 p.m. and booked in for one night at the small Campin Slamni in Klimno. If you want to spend more time here, we recommend the town of Krk, the island of Cres and the peninsula of Mali Losinj!
For us, the journey continues the next day in the direction of Primosten. A small coastal town south of Sibenik. Our port of call was the Adriatiq campsite in the north of Primosten. In addition to a beautiful old town with a small harbour, Primosten offers a small highlight for photographers and adventurers at the southern edge of the town. A "lost place" in the form of the old Marina Lucica hotel complex, which dates from the good times of the Yugoslav era and is now weather-beaten as a ruin. Of course, it is not allowed and dangerous to enter. However, a walk through the old parks around the complex offers plenty of impressions and many good motifs, e.g. you can also look over the shoulder of one or two artists.
After two days we move on to Trogir. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, the old town about 15 km west of Split offers plenty of sights and above all "flair". We recommend the Rozac campsite, south of the town. It takes about 30 minutes to walk to the old town. In addition to the old town, the peninsula Otok Ciovo is an absolute highlight, which is also perfect for great cycling tours.
Orebic Peninsula - Orebic
On the overland route towards Orebic, you briefly drive through Bosnia and Herzegovina. The border crossings are uncomplicated. In a few months, a bridge should make this diversions superfluous. Immediately after the approach to the peninsula, the castle complex with Europe's longest city wall at "Ston" and "Mali Ston" catches the eye. It is definitely worth a visit. We drive along the coastline to about the middle of the island. Near the town of Orebic is the Nevio campsite [42.982383, 17.198160]. We stay here for three days and enjoy the sun and the beach.
Before we cross over to Mljet, we explore the rest of the Orebic peninsula and by chance arrive in the small fishing village of "Loviste" at the western end of the island. As always - chance brings the best places. It's a wonderful place with a bay where sailors stop off in the evening. The Lupis campsite is a small site in an olive grove directly on the beach. Perfect for the Malibu Van, vehicles over 8 metres are the exception here. Tip: There is a fire road (43.019660, 17.071504) along the northern coastline, which is very good for cycling and offers a wonderful view of the opposite coasts! The evening is best enjoyed in one of the small restaurants directly in the bay of Loviste. The restaurant Gradina [43.023326, 17.027821] - on the other side of the bay - is highly recommended.
Nature reserve island of Mljet
A large part of the island is covered with forest - this is relatively unusual for Croatia. At the western tip is the Mljet National Park. Campsites are rare - we are partly free or at the small family-run campsite "Autocamp Lovor Mljet" where the owner has an open ear for every guest and, as a farewell gift, laurel leaves for the next homemade goulash. The national park is ideal for hiking. The highlight is the Benedictine monastery on the island of Saint Mary. The island lies in a saltwater lake that is only connected to the sea by a narrow passage. From the guarded car park of the national park centre, many hiking trails lead off into the surrounding area. The tour to the "Montokuc" lookout point is recommended. There is an altitude difference of around 270 metres. The eastern part of the island is a bit more lively. Here it is definitely worth visiting the small bays, e.g. "Prozurska Luka" (42.728355, 17.648057).
Back towards the north - Sibenik
After the eventful tours on Mljet, we slowly head back north. We have been recommended the camping site Solaris [43.699620, 15.879839]. It is located on the coastline off Sibenik, right next to the Sveti Ante canal. The area is huge and offers space for over 10,000 people, in addition to the campsite and five hotel complexes. At the time of our trip (June 2021), the site was only about 25% full, so there was plenty of space and choice. It is about 20 minutes by bike to the centre of Sibenik. However, we ourselves skipped the town on this tour. Not only the city of Sibenik with its harbour is very beautiful to look at, but also the surroundings of Sibenik have a lot to offer. By bike, it takes less than 20 minutes to reach the old fortifications around the St. Nikolas fortress. The area is currently being developed as a kind of war museum and offers a lot of information about this special fortress and its importance in the world wars on very well-developed hiking and cycling paths. The "Morski Tunnel", which served as a bunker for warships, is also worth seeing. In the immediate vicinity of Sibenik are the KRKA waterfalls. These are one of the tourist magnets in Croatia, to which hundreds (thousands?) of tourists are driven every day. Our tip: Also take a look at the course of the KRKA river, which runs about 70 km inland from here. There are many great bays and bathing spots. Wonderful viewpoints of the rugged mountain landscape through which the river meanders and, last but not least, the Visovac monastery situated on an island. Even in these surroundings, the Malibu Van has its advantages if, like us, you drive into every dirt track to see if there is a better view of the river. We only visited the waterfalls themselves in the evening, after 6 pm. After a short walk, you are in the valley and can view the waterfalls from all sides via very well built footbridges. The way back up is a little easier if you walk along the road. The reward here is also a great view of the river. Overnight tip: Hotel Vrata Krke (43.795310, 15.967613) runs a small campsite behind the hotel. It is located right at the entrance to the tourist centre of the waterfalls. We spent the night here after the "evening tour" of the waterfall and continued our trip the next day.
Tisno Peninsula / Murter (43.800258, 15.611528)
We continue towards the north. We drive here with a small stage of only about 100 km to the peninsula Tisno/Murter. Until now, this was a "white spot" on our Croatia map. After a short drive around the peninsula, we decide to camp at Jezera Village (43.793167, 15.627380). The site is a good starting point to explore Tisno on foot or to visit the villages of Murter and Jezera a little further on by bike.
Last stop - Amines Atea Camping Resort Krk (45.169929, 14.547058)
The Krk peninsula and the offshore islands of Losinj and Mali Losinj are worth a trip in themselves. On this tour, we only use Krk as a stopover on the way there and back. Quite soon after the bridge at Smrika, we reach the village of Nkivice with the camping site Atea. We quickly notice that the season is slowly picking up speed. It is the beginning of July and the pitches are becoming scarce and much more expensive than in mid-June. This is fine for one night and we enjoy a last dinner with a view of the sea.
About our Malibu Van
The Malibu Van is the ideal travel companion for tours like these. Fast and agile on the road to cover distances. On location, it's great for exploring narrow paths and alleys. And when you're not driving, a comfortable flat that's big enough to feel at home in. We opted for the comfort 640 LE floor plan. The large overhead storage cupboard above the driver's cabin was important to us, so that we could stow jackets and bath towels. We chose an engine with 180 hp, but frankly speaking, 160 hp is also sufficient. We do not want to do without the automatic transmission and the Fiat assistance systems. In terms of media technology, we have a Pioneer sat nav installed at the factory, which does a decent job on the normal route. When it comes to the small roads, we prefer the iPad in the Fiat mount above the radio. Here we use off-road apps like MapOut, Gaia or Google Maps. Part of our profile is that we attach great importance to a minimum of self-sufficiency and for this reason want to have - and use - a really usable bathroom with shower and toilet in the vehicle. The bathroom in the Malibu Van is really ingenious, I can say it from experience, it can compete with that of a premium-class motorhome in many respects. There really is enough storage space and shelves. Not to be underestimated are the shelves under the cupboards in the sleeping area and the corner shelves in the rear. For loading, we used aluminium profiles to create a loading box that allows quick access to everything from barbecue grills to chairs to fishing rods. For the bikes, we rely on eMTBs, which do not fit on the rear door carrier due to their weight. We can recommend the carrier from Weih Tec in Aulendorf.
My name is Jürgen Fleuter, I am 51 years old and have been working in sales at Carthago since 2013. Today as Sales Manager, I have been responsible for the sales of Carthago motorhomes for more than three years now. My wife Sonja (50) and I share the passion for mobile travelling and have been travelling with tents, caravans and all kinds of motorhomes for more than 25 years. We already had our first own Carthago before our professional connection - a Carthago c-tourer T 143 from the 2012 model year. We enjoy my professional opportunity to be able to deal with product innovations from Carthago/Malibu again and again, to put them through their paces. Only, even today, we always have a private motorhome packed up and standing in front of the front door so that we can go on tour with our dog Ike at any time. It serves as a kind of "getaway vehicle". Whether it's just for an overnight stay in the nearby mountains for a hiking or mountain bike tour or for a visit to friends with our own "guest room" in tow. We are ready to leave in less than half an hour and use this at least once a month for spontaneous tours. Our previous trips have taken us right across Europe. In addition to experiencing it ourselves, we like to document our tours with pictures, films and roadbooks so that we can share the fascination of motorhome holidays with other people.