Hiking to the bottom of Blue Lake of Imotski

The Blue Lake (Modro jezero) has been dry for over three months now and no one even remembers when was the last time the drought was so serious… I had a post on Modro jezero a while back so I won’t go into too many details. Just a few basics:
– the depth of the lake from the upper rim is 220 meters.
– water level can reach more than 90 meters in early spring.
– the water level reached 107 meters and the lake was overflowing at the southern rim back  in 1914. And once you see the empty hole, as we did yesterday, that is a scary fact!

So, how can we not go and visit the lake when it is dry and we can walk on the bottom? I packed my family and wife’s cousins from split and off we went. We also planned to meet our friend Domagoj and his family and that was just a very nice bonus to our trip.

We started our descent at Topana fortress led by Domagoj’s two sons: Filip and Roko.

Topana fortress
Topana fortress

The descent is fairly easy but quite long… The path to the bottom of the lake is down a nice trail built in 1907. Still in good shape, it is a very busy place during summer months as Blue lake is the favorite swimming spot for people of Imotski. Basically, their beach.

And the views…

Starting our descent
Starting our descent
Half way there :)
Half way there 🙂

The easy trail ends at one point as bellow that part is usually water. Not this time… It was a bit demanding as we had to go down slowly as I had a very precious, nine months old, blue-eyed cargo on me 🙂

https://i0.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7021/6666136631_9c8fea85bf.jpg
First time at the bottom of the lake for me and my baby girl Ella

The bottom of the lake is fascinating with spectacular views wherever you turn! The cliffs on one side, several caves in the slopes….the place is so unique and well worth the hike!

The amazing, dry lake
The amazing, dry lake

Unfortunately, the fish that lived in the lake, did not share our excitement. As they could not  survive such a long drought without a drop of water, dead fish was everywhere to be sen. Looking quite dramatic and a bit cataclysmic.

The fish apocalypse
The fish apocalypse

There was only one small puddle of water and that will dry soon. With no serious rain in the forecast, I guess the traditional Imotski football game between the “Elves” and the “Werewolves” can be played again this winter. Before the snow on the mountains melts in the Spring and the local underground springs become alive again.

The bottom of the lake is truly a unique place and definitely worth the hike! And then it was time to go back… and that did not look fun at all!

Nothing short of spectacular!
Nothing short of spectacular!

We made it while stopping several times to admire the views and the grandeur of this natural phenomena that is not nearly as visited as it should be and especially being so close to Split. We decided to have more of that conversation at our friend’s place. Domagoj, being a true offspring of the area, is a great host. Everything from home made brandy to a stellar, traditional lunch was ready by the time we got to his place.

Winter sun casting shadows on Domagoj's house
Winter sun casting shadows on Domagoj's house

We started strong: homemade myrtle and walnut brandy served with homemade cheese pastry.

Welcome!
Welcome! (this was before we went hiking)

And then it got serious. Frog legs brodetto, Imotski style on mashed potatoes followed by a traditionally prepared wild game with local herbs. Served with home made gnocchi.

Frog legs brodetto
Frog legs brodetto
Wild game
Game over for wild game

All this was enjoyed with several glasses of Domagoj’s own great kujunđuša (2006 and the young one) and, I am sure nearly 99% of you reading this never even heard of it, rudežuša rose. Not native Croatian speakers, please don’t try to pronounce these names out loud as that can damage your tongues. 🙂
Rudežuša is one of 8 native grape varietals to Imotski region that are nearly gone. It is red grape and is nearly extinct in the area. Domagoj is very dedicated to preserving as much as he can of all these treasures. Domagoj and Sanja are just great people (and dear friends) and with their great, encyclopedic knowledge on so many subjects, they are very interesting people to hang out with.

The end of our lunch was royal!

Imotska torta cake and traditional apple stroudel
Imotska torta cake and traditional apple stroudel

Imotska torta is a true queen of all Croatian sweets. And this comes from a “chocolate person”. But this blows every single chocolate cake away! Nothing comes close to the fullness of tastes of Imotska torta. However, the recipe is not easy to get. Yes, you can find recipes online but it is always some sort of a mutation and not the original recipe. This was the cake done to Domagoj’s grandmother’s recipe and his family was famous for her Imotska torta for generations. This was a very special honor. Sanja continues this tradition masterfully!

And, as the sun already set behind Biokovo, we left our dear friends and thanked them for their hospitality. Baby was already a sleep in her chair and home was only 2 hours north in this cold winter night. But our hearts are still warm from this great trip…

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