Wednesday 26 Jul 2017

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PAKLENICE NATIONAL PARK.

The national Park Paklenica has a surface area of 96 km². This park is a great place for hikers. The highest mountains of Velebit are Vaganski Vrh (1757 m) and Sveto Brdo (1753 m).
Paklenica abounds with numerous natural wonders and phenomena, which is why the entire area was proclaimed a national park in 1949. This region is simple and unusual in its connection between the sea and the mountains. It’s rich in beech and black pine forests. The deep canyons cut vertically into the Velebit ridge and numerous caves and pits can be found.

OFFER AND VISITING.

Mountaineering and Hiking
Within the National Park, there are over 150 km of hiking trails. Certainly the most frequented trail is the one leading from the reception area through the Velika Paklenica Canyon to the Paklenica Mountain Hut (about a 2 hour walk).Trails also head towards the source of Velika Paklenica. Visitors often choose to take the trail from the Velika Paklenica Canyon, through Jurline and Njive to Mala Paklenica. The entire round trip is about 5-6 hours. There are numerous other possibilities: from the Forest Hut Lugarnica to Mala Močila and Crni Vrh (about 2 hours), from Crni Vrh to Velika Močila, etc.
The short trails through the park are also interesting, such as the one from the Mountain House to Stražbenica, and then on to Veliko Rujno or Golić. Increasingly, hikers are choosing to hike from Anića luka to the Manita Peć cave towards Vidakov kuk, and then right to Njiva or left to Tomiće or opting to take the road to Dokoza and Mali and Veliki Vaganac. From Milovac, one can head towards Bojinac, a unique formation of South Velebit.


Manita Peć Cave
From Anića Luka, there is a trail heading towards the west of the canyon, which leads to the Manita Peć cave.
The entrance to the cave is at about 550 meters above sea level. The cave is 175 meters in length and is divided into two halls which abound with stalactites, stalagmites and columns. It is estimated that the age of these figures is about 80,000 years.
You have to walk about 1,30 hour to the cave.
The cave can be visited only with a park guide.


Excursion with picnic in the Forest Hut "Lugarnica"
Winding up the main trail through the Velika Paklenica Canyon, about a two hour walk from the parking lot, is the Forest Hut "Lugarnica" at about 400 meters above sea level, located right on the bank of the creek. This house offers unique hospitality – grilled sausages and drinks.

Underground tunnels – "Bunkers"
The underground tunnels, “bunkers” are a complex of underground tunnels dug out of the cliffs of the Velika Paklenica Canyon. The tunnels were constructed by the Yugoslav Army and were intended to serve as a shelter for the state and military leaders of the time.

Bird Watching
Throughout the entire Paklenica National Park, 212 species of birds have been recorded. This accounts for 52% of all the recorded bird species in the Republic of Croatia. The most interesting bird fauna are found in the Velika and Mala Paklenica Canyons, the petrophilous bird communities of some 20 species, in particular the colony of Griffon vultures.
Within its visitor’s program, the park administration has paid particular attention to guided bird watching tours, led by a qualified ornithologist. The basic size of the group is between 5 and 10 persons, and both half-day and full-day bird watching tours are availableHalf-day tours cover the area from the park entrance to Anića luka.
Full-day tours include bird watching from the parking lot in the Velika Paklenica Canyon to Anića luka, Jurlin, Njive Lekine to Mala Paklenica, where in addition to viewing petrophilous species, the opportunity exists to also see certain thermophilous species.
All arrangements require the bird watcher to bring his or her own equipment (binoculars, telescopes, cameras, etc.).


Mountain Biking
The trail which leads from the park reception to the parking lot, and the main trail (number 1) towards Lugarnica and the Mountain Hut are also open to mountain bikers.
The number of bicycles on the path at any one time must not hinder the passage of those visitors hiking on the same trail, and in no way should the number of bicycles on the entire trail, from the parking lot to the Mountain Hut, exceed 10.
Outside the park boundaries, there are mountain biking trails from the center of Starigrad-Paklenica to the village of Dokoza (paved road) and onto Mali Vaganac (gravel road).

Sightseeing: Paklenica Mills
During the first half of the 19th century, seven water mills were built on Velika Paklenica Creek, from the entrance of today’s National Park to the Paklenica Mountain Hut. These mills are: Donji (Lower) Marasović Mill, Srednji (Mid) Marasović Mill, Gornji (Upper) Šikić Mill, Markov Mill, Katić Mill, Parić Mill and Ramić Mill, with its column still functional today.Up until the 1960s, these mills were used to serve the households in Podgorje, and often from Ravni Kotor and the island archipelagos as well. Today, not one of these mills is still in function, even though they are still in good condition. In order for the park administration to preserve the mills, as a specific form of traditional industry, the Paklenica National Park, with the professional assistance of the conservation experts of the Office for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, the Mid Marasović Mill was restored in 2000. During the months outside the main tourism season, the mills can be visited upon prior arrangement, and during the summer months, the mills are open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Presentations of how the mills work are possible only in times of heavy water flow.

Presentation Center

The Paklenica National Park Presentation Centre is located on the main floor of the park administration building. The Presentation Centre is intended to display the natural and cultural points of interest in the park, and to educate visitors preparing to visit the park.
The external section of the Presentation Centre is comprised of exhibition panels which are changed periodically, and show the flora and fauna within the Paklenica region, putting special emphasis on rare and endangered species, as well as to show the geological, geomorphologic and other natural particularities. The panels also describe what the park has to offer in terms of recreational possibilities (alpinism, hiking, mountain biking).
The park administration offers the possibility of organized lectures in the Presentation Centre, accompanied by slide and video projections in the Presentation Hall. The Hall can seat 28, and as such, this is the maximum size of groups for organized lectures, while outdoor lectures are limited to 50 persons.


Alpine and Recreational Climbing
Paklenica National Park is the most visited Croatian climbing centre, well known throughout the country as well as outside its borders, and both in terms of organization and quality, and is included among the top European climbing areas.
This climbing centre is particularly charming due to its proximity to the seacoast, and as such, the Paklenica Riviera is an ideal place to combine climbing and water sports.
The history of alpinism in Paklenica began long ago, in 1938 when Dragutin Brahm attempted to climb Anića kuk. Tragically, he died in the attempt. Two years later, S. Breovački and M. Dragman completed Brahm’s mission.
The second phase of alpinism began in 1955 when the most difficult slope of Anića kuk, Mosoraški, assessed as a V+ slope, was conquered. From 1960 to 1970, many faces including the Velebitaški, Klin, Funkcija, Karabora and Ljubljanski were climbed. Today, there are some 400 equipped climbing routes of varying difficulty and length, providing something to satisfy every climber.
The main climbing season in Paklenica begins in spring and lasts until late autumn.


GEOMORPHOLOGICAL AND GEOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS.


The entry to the canyons of Mala and Velika Paklenica are a phenomenon due to their geological and hydrological particularities, the abundant karst, and the wealth of flora and fauna.The creeks Mala and Velika Paklenica give great value to the entire region, enriching it, and in the spring and autumn, the sheer power of the creeks erodes the limestone walls of the canyons, thus deepening them further every year.
Both, the Velika Paklenica Canyon, 14 km long, and Mala Paklenica Canyon, 12 km long, are deeply cut into the massive south face of the Velebit mountains.
The geological particularities of the National Park are seen in the sharp karst formations in the regions of Bojinac, Vidakov kuk and on the plateau between both canyons. Here, many varying karst formations are visible, from cracks in the limestone, channels, basins, fissures and caves, which arose from the intensive activity of flowing water and from the large temperature differences during individual seasons.
Basins with cracks and channels are particularly well developed in the Bojinac region, where the karst formations were created during glaciations, evident in the numerous moraine deposits.
The park boasts some 70 caves. The most spectacular are the Manita Peć cave and the Vodarica pit.
Only the Manita Peć cave is open for viewing.


FLORA.

In the region stretching from the seacoast to the highest peaks of Velebit, there are some 800 species of flora. Of these, some 40 species are endemic, plants of limited distribution, mostly located only on the Velebit Mountains or the Dinaric Mountains.
The only species to grow exclusively in the canyons of the Mala and Velika Paklenica creeks and nowhere else in the world is a specific species of sandwort.
The most well known endemic species in the canyons of the Mala and Velika Paklenica creeks is the window bellflower.
Within the national park, several species of bellflower grow; the most worthy of note is the chimney bellflower.
On the slopes of the canyon, a commonly found species is Waldstein’s bellflower.
In the early spring, among the first to bloom is the sweet violet.
The phenomenon of the forest is one of the primary reasons why the region of South Velebit was proclaimed a national park. The steep cliffs of the park are covered with black pine forests.
Due to the specific climate and the rocky foundations, the trees are frequently dwarfed, and are interesting and unusual in appearance.
The common smoke tree gives the regions colour in spring with its blossoms, while in the autumn it bears leaves of a brilliant red.
In some areas of the park, the only species present is the red-berried juniper.

FAUNA.

Within the park boundaries there are 20 different habitat types.
The most common animals in the park, by number of species and the number of individuals are certainly the insects, with many endemic and protected species.Of the butterflies, which include 82 species in the park region, the most common is the scarce swallowtail. Of the endemic subspecies, Vagan’s silky ringlet must be noted in the peak regions above 1400 m. In this region, one of the most beautiful Croatian butterflies, the Apollo is also found.
There are 31 species of amphibians and reptiles in the park, including 12 snakes. The most commonly found in the park are the Balkan whip snake, the Leopard snake and the Aesculapian snake. The Nose-horned viper and the very rare Orsini’s viper are the only venomous snakes in the region.
Birds are the most abundant vertebrates in the park, with 212 species recorded to date. The bird population is widely represented throughout the park by 97 species of nesting birds. Of the nesting birds, the cliff populations in the canyons of Mala and Velika Paklenica, represented by 18 species, must be noted. The most common species are the rock nuthatch and the blue rock thrush. The Griffon vulture was represented in 1999 by only three mating pairs. Unfortunately, the declining numbers of animals in the Velebit region and the increasing attempts to poison predators, particularly the wolf, have lead to near extinction in the park. We have also witnessed decreasing vulture populations on the Kvarner islands of Krk and Cres, and as such, the Griffon vulture is becoming a very threatened species, on the verge of disappearing from Croatia. The sparrowhawk is a nesting bird in the pine forests. The European robin is a common songbird found in the coastal regions of the park during the winter months. In the summer, it nests in the beech and beech-pine forests.
There are 47 species of mammals in the park. Throughout the park, one can see game species such as roe deer, red deer, chamois and wild boar. Large predator species include the brown bear, the wolf and the lynx.

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