Desire for exploration lies within all of us. Mesmerizing beauty of mountains captured mans attention since the beginning of times.
Among numerous breathtaking national parks in Croatia probably the most magnificent of them all is Paklenica.
National park Paklenica settled in the heart of the highest mountain in Croatia – Velebit. Because of its unique natural base, exceptional geomorphological forms and magnificent forests, area of Velika and Mala Paklenica were declared a national park in 1949.
The importance of protecting and preserving the largest forest complex in Dalmatia comes as no surprise when you look at the abundant plant and wild life, rich cultural and natural heritage.
National park was named after the tree of paklina. It was used for medicinal purposes of healing the wounds and for coating the wooden boats in the past.
Paklenica National Park covers an area of 95 square kilometers on the southern slopes of mount Velebit, beneath the highest peaks, the Vagan peak (1757m) and the Holy hill (1753 m). Its most prominent feature are the indigenous black pine forests, several types of beench forests and deep ravines with streams Velika and Mala Paklenica.
Their distinctive canyons carved vertically into the south slopes of Velebit and the broader surrounding area. The relatively small area has an abundance of geomorphological phenomenaand forms, diverse flora and fauna, attractive landscapes and untouched nature. The diversity of the living world is conditioned by climatic characteristics and a rich and varied geological history.
Manita Pec – the most fascinating cave
If you plan on staying in Dalmatia or Zadar, you really shouldn’t skip on visiting Paklenica. This travelers’ heaven abounds in things to explore.
One of such places is the cave Manita pec. The entrance to the cave is located 570 meters above sea level. The hike takes about an hour and a half and is completely worth it!
The cave is rich in cave formations or sigma. It features a wealth of underground fauna. In the cave you can observe different species of bats. Previous researches have identified a total of 52 species of invertebrates, 20 species out of them are true cave animals. Experiencing this mysterious cave is very impressionable.
The temperature in the cave during the whole year is around 9 Celsius – so don’t forget to bring your jacket!
The old Mills – best resting spot
In the first half of the 19th century there were thirteen mills built on the streams of Velika Paklenica. Up until the 60s these mills served the population of entire area, including the islands of the Zadar archipelago.
Although in very good condition, they are no longer in operation. They present a well-worth monument of the past and are a favorite spot to take a rest from hiking.
Hiking and free climbing
The best way to explore and really get to know Paklenica is by hiking.
The park includes up to 200 kilometers of trails and paths. Touristic routes take you from the canyon to Manita cave, the forest home and the mountain hut, while the mountaineers’ routes are more demanding and lead to Velebit’s highest peaks. All roads are marked with boards and mountaineering marks.
Paklenica is also the most significant Croatian climbing center, well known to world class climbers. Its unique charm is provided with the close proximity of the coast making it ideal to bring climbing and water sports on the same spot.
Outdoor lovers find this place an adventurous utopia full of unexplored territories and great excitement.
Counting all the stunning facts about Paklenica would take several hours, but weather you are a recreational hiker or an experienced mountaineer – you will fall in love with this National park.
The astonishing view from the top is truly unforgettable. Captivating caves, alluring trails and seductive beauty of the endless green will hypnotize you. The clear waters, interesting flora and fauna and calming forests – Paklenica simply has it all!
Do you enjoy hiking? Are you a mountaineer? Would you ever try free climbing? Did you know that Zadar hinterland had this mesmerizing gem?
Author: Nikolina Dukic
Photo Credit: (1) Michael Pollak, (2) enbodenumer, (3) enbodenumer, (4) katsch1969, (5) Danilo Tic, (6) Karin