Paklenica National Park
Fortunately, not in all corners of Earth the wonders of nature are overpowered by technological civilization, and Paklenica National Park proves this statement by its harmonious majesty and wilderness.
The area of National Park occupies a small, but significant part of southern Velebit (about 96 sq km) overlooking the Adriatic sea. It takes in the highest peaks of the Velebit range (Vaganski Vrh - 1757 m, Sveto Brdo - 1753 m) with multitude of canyons, creeks, rivers and caves. Due to the proximity of Zadar (40 km) with its train station and ferry port, and airport Zemunik (28 km), a small town of Starigrad, where the entrance to Paklenica National Park can be found, is easy to reach.
The park is divided into two major parts, canyons Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica. The former is a larger canyon (14 km long) featuring smooth cliffs striving from the water to the peaks, in some places reaching as high as 700 m. The latter is more "modest", with cliffs rising here up to 400 m. Two thirds of the park are densely forested and abound in the number of vegetative plant species, including endemic ones, due to a great number of springs and streams. Furthermore, Paklenica has more than 90 caves and pits, secreting species and unique geological formations.
The park is a treat for tourists who are eager to uncover the mysteries of history. It has places which have been inhabited since the prehistory, with Starigrad-Paklenica being just one of them. The medieval fortress Vecka, the remains dating back to the antiquity, and early Croatian churches constitute a significant part of the region's cultural heritage. What is more, the visitors will encounter the mirila, special stone landmarks referring to unique funeral customs which used to be practiced by local people in the 17th-20th c.
150 km of the park's hiking tracks are more than enough to satisfy any hiking lover. One of the most popular tracks is the one that crosses the Velika Paklenica Canyon and leads to the Paklenica Mountain Hut. Since the park boasts some of the best climbing areas in Europe, it attracts crowds of climbers. The close proximity of the Adriatic Sea endows the park with a special charm, making Paklenica Riviera a favourite destination for those active travelers who want to combine climbing with aquatic sports. The history of alpinism in the park began in 1938 when Dragutin Brahm made a courageous attempt to climb Anica kuk and died trying. In 1940, Slavko Brezovecki and Marijan Dragman succeeded in completing his route. Since then, Croatian alpinists climbed all the routes that are now established in this area, such as Mosoraski, Velebitaski, and Klin. Now, there are over 360 equipped climbing routes of different levels and lengths in Paklenica national park, so that each climber can find the route which perfectly suits their fitness level and liking.
To say that wildlife of Paklenica is diverse would be understatement. 84 species of diurnal butterflies roam on the park's territory; 230 bird species, including peregrine falcon, the eagle owl, goshawk, and even golden eagle, enjoy their freedom there; 53 species of mammals, such as lynx, wild cat, chamoix, wild bore run free...
The soft gurgling of streams, the views of wispy feathered clouds above the mountain peaks, and melodious songs of birds praising the beauty around them will dissolve your busy and chaotic thoughts at once, making your mind balanced and your soul as clean as a mountain river.