Velebit Nature Park

Velebit may not be the highest, but it is certainly the largest mountain and mountain range in Croatia. It offers a whole range of geographical, natural, animal and plant differences. Velebit is thus home to the Velebit Nature Park and two national parks (Paklenica National Park and North Velebit National Park). The Velebit Nature Park is thus the largest protected area in Croatia, stretching over 2,000 square kilometers. In 1978, the park was included in the UNESCO list of international biosphere reserves.

Also, what is very important is that this nature park is under the protection of UNESCO as part of the World Biosphere Reserve project. Velebit Nature Park offers numerous opportunities for active tourism, and hiking or cycling is recommended. Also, educational excursions are available where you can learn more about fauna and flora, and passionate speleologists can discover and explore the deepest caves in Croatia.

Thus, the most famous are the Cerovac Caves, located in the southern part of the Velebit Nature Park. It is the most important speleological object in the Republic of Croatia, and it is located near Gračac (Knin). The cave complex consists of the Lower, Middle and Upper caves, which contain over seven kilometers of explored channels. The complex was discovered in 1913 during the construction of a railway in this area. Zavratnica is a 900-meter-long narrow bay located at the foot of the mighty Velebit, in the northern part of the Adriatic Sea (a kilometer south of Jablanc). Due to its beauty, it is one of the main tourist attractions of the Park, and since 1964 it has been declared a protected landscape.

The western slopes of the Park look towards the sea and are completely bare and rocky, while the slopes on the eastern side are almost completely forested. On the western side, the storm falls down the sunny slopes and prevents the growth of greenery. Velebit has always been important for the survival of Croatia, so the western slopes were important for grazing from Roman times until the middle of the 20th century. In addition to grazing, Velebit is criss-crossed by roads that were trade routes that brought wheat and flour from the interior to the sea, and salt, wine and figs to the interior. Those ancient paths are now beautiful hiking routes.

The area of ​​the Velebit Nature Park entirely belongs to the Adriatic Sea basin, and the Lika, Gacka and Zrmanja rivers are especially important for the Park area. Their watersheds are on the northeastern side of Velebit and the coastal watershed from Novljanska Žrnovnica in the north to the mouth of the Zrmanja river in the Novigrad Sea in the south. The rivers Lika and Gacka differ significantly in their hydrogeological features. While the Gacka river basin has typical karst features with large karst springs, the largest part of the Lika river basin is connected to surface or shallow underground runoff. Because of its geological structure, Velebit is a hydrogeological barrier, so almost half of the mountain massif is drained into the Lika river basin. There are two hydropower systems in the area of ​​the Nature Park: the Senj hydroelectric plant and the Obrovac hydroelectric plant.

The variety of climates and habitats enabled the development of diverse animal and plant life. There are relatively many eagles, vultures, bears, wolves and wild cats, and there are also a few lynxes. Flowers also flourish on Velebit, so the most precious flower is the Velebit degenia, which only grows in a few places in the Park.

The prices for entering the park depend on the contents that interest us. Thus, entrance to the Zavratnica cove is from 20 to 30 kuna, and entrance to the Cerovac Caves is charged from 30 to 90 kuna (depending on the number of caves to be visited). Considering the attractiveness of the location, the Park offers the possibility of commercial photography, filming of films or commercials, creation of promotional motor vehicle rides, holding of various competitions (rafting, marathon, cycling, etc.).