North Velebit National Park
The Northern Velebit National Park is a national park in Croatia that covers 109 km2 of the northern part of Velebit (the largest mountain massif in Croatia). Due to the rich diversity of this part of Velebit, the area was turned into a nature reserve in 1999, and in September of the same year it received the status of a national park. It is important to emphasize that the entire Velebit is a “nature park” (lower category of protection), and its individual parts are also national parks. In 2017, the beech forests within the national park were added to the UNESCO list of world heritage known as ancient and primeval beech forests Carpathians and other regions of Europe because of their testimony of the ecological history of forest dynamics within Europe since the last Ice Age.
The park area is thus protected and visitors are limited to marked paths, and the most famous is Premužić’s path, named after its builder, forester Anta Premužić, who built it at the end of 1933. The path passes through the most beautiful and interesting parts of the Park. From numerous peaks in the area, there are beautiful views of the Adriatic Sea and its islands (Pag, Rab, Goli otok, Prvić and Krk) and the continental side. Within the park is the Zavižan peak (1676 meters), which is also the highest meteorological station in Croatia.
The cultural value of the Park is also contributed by the numerous ruins of the so-called “summer houses”. They are left over from the time when Velebit was inhabited by shepherds and herders. On its coastal slopes are many ruins of houses, huts and stone walls, the remaining evidence of a lost local population.
Within the reserve there is the Visibaba (Galanthus) botanical reserve, with an abundance of Croatian endemic subspecies, and the Zavižan – Balinovac – Velika kosa botanical reserve, known for its extraordinary collection of mountain flora. Inside the reserve is the famous Velebit Botanical Garden, which was founded in 1967 by the professor of pharmacology and botanist Fran Kušan.
Hajdučki kukovi is one of the Kukovi peaks in the northern part of Velebit. Together with Rožanski kukov, it forms an area of about 22 km2, which was declared a nature reserve in 1969. The group of kuks has about 40 peaks higher than 1,600 m. The area around Hajdučki kuks has a complex system of underground drainage. The terrain is much wilder than around Rožanski kukov, and there are parts where no human foot has set foot even today.
Luka’s cave is the deepest mountain cave in Croatia and one of the deepest in Southeast Europe. It is even 1,392 meters deep, and it was discovered in 1992 by local speleological enthusiast Ozren Lukić, and it was named after him.
Rožanski kukovi is also a symbol of Northern Velebit, which is characterized by high boulders and steep sinkholes. The first hill of Gromovač (1,675 meters high) is two and a half hours’ walk from Zavižan. The center of the rocks begins right behind Rossi’s hut, also a 2.5-hour walk from Zavižan. On an area of about 18 km2, there are more than fifty rocky peaks, all over 1,600 m, some in the bizarre shape of towers, towers or obelisks. All karst stone phenomena such as chasms, dizzying heights, cracks, caves, natural gates and passes meet here.
The price of park tickets depends on the category for which the ticket is purchased. Thus, the cheapest ticket for hikers, students, and children up to 14 years of age is HRK 25, while the most expensive basic ticket is HRK 40. Considering the space and the possibility of spending a large amount of time in the Park, it is also possible to buy an annual ticket, which is HRK 365.