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Travel just two hours from Zagreb towards Plitvice National Park and on the way you will find this magical village Rastoke in a town called Slunj.
Normally you would just drive through Slunj without even noticing it, as you would be excited about your trip to the supremely famous Plitvice National park which is listed in must do activities in Croatia. Hence this gem remains hidden. You’ve heard the expression “short but sweet.” Well, it can certainly be used to describe the little river Slunjčica. Although only 6.5 kilometres long, this river has created some of the most spectacular landscapes in Croatia.
The spot where it merges with the river Korana, Rastoke, is characterised by a natural symphony of 23 waterfalls and numerous rapids, where water roars, ripples, and celebrates life.
Even the name of this small village near the town of Slunj suggests that water here flows in great quantity, as it comes from the word rastakati, which means “to pour out”. Many call this area “mini-Plitvice”, partly because Rastoke is only about 30 km away from the world-famous national park, and partly because the geological makeup of the two water systems is identical, much like the vegetation and typical karst formations, such as tufa deposits or underground waterflows.
The enchanting landscape is complemented by the spoon-like water mills typical of the area, whose wheels giggle happily as Slunjčica tickles them. Numerous legends were created in the quiet, green-blue oasis, the most well-known one relating to Rastoke fairies.
These timid forest creatures have lived in the Rastoke area since ancient times, and are mostly active at night, as they usually avoid people. According to folk tales, while the mills were grinding corn and wheat, and the millers were telling stories around the pale light of the oil lamp, the fairies would take their horses, which were resting for their return home.
In the early morning hours, when the stars were ending their night swim and the first sunrays caressing the blades of grass and the crystal-clear water, these forest imps would return the animals to the stables with braided manes and all out of breath and sweaty from the night out on the green hills.
Although there are no more horses at Rastoke, the fairies are still here. Their favourite gathering spot is a waterfall by the name of Fairy’s Hair (Vilina kosa), whose silver water fits perfectly with the silver hair of the Rastoke fairies.