Lake Vrana Nature Park
Lake Vrana, located in Dalmatia, is the largest lake in Croatia. It has been declared a nature park, a protected area in Croatia. It is located in Zadar and Šibenik-Knin counties, between the towns and municipalities of Benkovac, Pirovac, Pakoštane, Stankovci and Tisno. Visitors can enter the park from several places, so there are three entrances to the park (Crkvine, Kamenjak or Prosika port). The most ideal way to get to the lake, no matter which entrance we choose, is to come by car or to organize transport or a tour in advance.
The nature park extends over a huge area of about 57 km², the area of the lake itself is about 30 square kilometers in size, the surface of the water is only 0.1 meter above sea level, and its maximum depth is 4 meters. The lake is located in a karst valley filled with water and is a rare example of a cryptodepression. The park is dominated by a special ornithological reserve, an almost untouched natural bird habitat, rare wetland systems, full of high biodiversity and exceptional scientific and ecological value. The lake also offers enough fish for fishing enthusiasts.
Lake Vrana is one of the best places for bird watching in Croatia. Spending time on the lakes and bird watching will not disappoint us no matter what time of year we choose. However, the best time to visit would be in spring and autumn when we will have the opportunity to see the most diverse bird life. It is recommended to plan your visit either early in the morning or before sunset, as this is when the birds are active and we are most likely to see a large number of birds. When we are already in such an important ornithological reserve, we should move slowly and quietly in order to have the best chance of seeing the birds in their natural habitat. Tour guides can be booked to take us through the reserve to help us locate birds and to point out bird nests and feathers.
One of the locations that should be visited inside the park is the Kamenjak viewpoint, which offers the most incredible view of the entire lake. At the observation deck, we can read interesting information on educational boards or sit and enjoy the view from one of the stone benches. If we have a telescope, we can even see the Kornati. Even distant islands and the town of Pakoštane can be seen from this height.
For lovers of hiking and walking, there are longer trails, such as the 5-kilometer educational botanical trail, and this circular hiking trail will take us about 2 hours to walk. The trail begins at the Kamenjak viewpoint and goes through the Mernjača canyon to the Bašinka pier and further through the Orlje Draga canyon, and back in a circle to the place where it all began. For families with children, there is a 600-meter-long wooden educational trail of the birds of Lake Vrana, which has a series of educational panels and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.
Kayaking is another tourist activity offered by the park. Namely, kayaking has to be one of the most fun ways to enjoy the lake. Lake Vrana is the largest natural lake in Croatia, and you can fish on the lake from your kayak for additional outdoor fun. We can rent tandem or single kayaks at the information center located at the entrance to the port of Prosika, and they can be rented by the hour or taken for an all-day adventure.
Inside the park there is also a camp located in the immediate vicinity of the coastal town of Pakoštane, and this camp offers a number of accommodation options. We can choose to sleep in a tent or in a modern and fully equipped mobile home. Within the camp, there are modern sanitary facilities, as well as several sports facilities.
Entrance, accommodation and service prices depend on the level of offer we want to use. As for entering the park itself, it is HRK 15 for children aged 7 to 18, and adults pay HRK 30 per person. There is the possibility of buying affordable annual tickets and family tickets. Bicycles, kayaks, binoculars and many other facilities can be rented within the park.