New Excursion Season Starts at Zlatna Greda – Spring in Kopački Rit

Total Croatia News

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The final Saturday in March came to Slavonia and Baranja accompanied by beautiful sunshine. It was ideal timing for the opening of a new excursion season at the Zlatna Greda House in Nature. From Osijek, the urban centre of the region, two roads lead to Zlatna Greda: one goes through Vardarac and Lug, and the other over Kopačevo and Podunavlje. We have opted for the second route, simply because it covers more of Kopački Rit Nature Park.

In the section from Kopačevo to Podunavlje, we enjoy the scenes of Kopački Rit on our right. The water level has visibly risen and, together with natural vegetation, creates unusual formations. Reason enough to pause and take a few photos. We turn to Podunavlje, a Baranja moor with the famous Kormoran restaurant.

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According to the latest census, in 2011, Podunavlje had one inhabitant, while in 2001 it had two. I hope that Podunavlje will keep its settlement status for the next census as well. And who knows, maybe someone moves in; one person would be enough to double the number of residents.

This is just one part of the sad story about the extinction of the Baranja moorlands, which are a unique example of industrial heritage in a rural setting and were once full of life, an excellent example of how to organise work and living harmoniously. The only restaurant Kormoran bring some liveliness to Podunavlje. Parked cars and hikers who came there to enjoy the Baranja delicacies. Kormoran is best known for its game dishes, which is not surprising given that there used to a hunting lodge in the building.

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Next is another moor, Kozjak, and then we pass by the Tikveš Castle, sometimes called Tito’s Castle. Prior to Tito, it was used by the Yugoslavian ruling dynasty of Karađorđević, who upgraded it, and before them, by the Habsburg dynasty who built it. The castle was in the focus of interest of all the ruling groups in the area, irrespective of their ideological and worldview positions, but it is now forgotten, waiting for some better times.

To the right of the castle there is a turn towards the eponymous settlement, and to the left is a road to Zlatna Greda, which is less than 30 kilometres from Osijek, located in the real wilderness.

Upon arrival at the Zlatna Greda House in Nature, which is managed by the Green Osijek association, I immediately notice new features: at the intersection of the paths leading to the educational track, the Danube embankment and the eco-centre, there is a life-size metal sculpture of a wild boar.

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My first reaction is to remember an event which took place two or three years ago when I was a guide at Zlatna Greda and went to prepare for guiding the topical route “The Paths of Danube Fishermen”. Three young boars suddenly ran out of the bush and got stuck between my legs. I notice that the educational path has been dug up while the trees next to it have been cut down. I wonder why.

The House in Nature is full of people, hikers, travellers. In addition to the adrenaline park and bicycles, there are new facilities for this season, such as electric scooters and tree houses. I meet the hosts who explain that the educational path has been dug up because the water from the Čarna canal will be brought to the house itself so that the canoe tours will start directly from the eco-centre and everything will be available at one location.

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After spending time in nature, you need to restore your energy with delicious Baranja delicacies. Catering services are covered by the Slavonian House restaurant from Osijek, offering appetizers such as fish pies, smoked fish – common carp, carp bream and grass carp marinated in oil, and the so-called “meza kod trapa”, which are homemade cured meats, such as kulen, sausages, hams, “švargla” and pork scratchings served with different kinds of cheese.

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As for the kettle dishes, on offer are fish stew and “čobanac” made with veal, baby beef, lamb and game. You can also have “perkelt” made with fish and game, together with pastry with cheese and bacon. The menu also includes carp grilled on a fork. There is something for the vegetarians as well, and they can choose between vegetarian goulash with mushrooms and pasta, vegetarian burger, grilled cheese and vegetarian stew.

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Spring is just starting; nature is waking up and inviting us to visit. Kopački Rit is one of the most fascinating natural areas in eastern Croatia, and Zlatna Greda is an ideal starting point for its exploration.

More news about Kopački Rit can be found in the Lifestyle section.


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