Established in 1999, Northern Velebit is the youngest of eight national parks in Croatia. This part of the Velebit Mountain is a true patchwork of the most diverse habitats that are home to countless plant, fungus and animal species – a wealth that is yet to be explored in its entirety. It is this diversity of kart formations, wildlife and landscape, to a large extent created by man, which was the main reason for setting up the Northern Velebit National Park.
Velebit & Its Reserves
Northern Velebit National Park encompasses several areas protected earlier: Hajdučki i Rožanski Kukovi, strict reserve, the Visibaba botanical reserve – home to the endemic species Croatian sibirea, and the Zavižan-Balinovac-Velika kosa botanical reserve which houses the well-known Velebit Botanical Garden, which has been listed as a monument of landscape architecture. Due to its exceptional worth it has been included in the National Ecological Network and is listed in the proposal of the future Natura 2000 network of protected areas. The Park is also a member of the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) network, being the national winner in the category „Tourism and Protected Areas“.
European Destinations of Excellence Video
Velebit & Its Habitats
Velebit is a mosaic of diverse habitats – forests, grasslands, rocks, screes and rare aquatic habitats. No element of this mosaic is completely independent from the others, because many species use more than one type of habitat. In addition, the boundaries between habitats are not clearly delineated, but merge into one another in transitional areas, which are often the richest in life forms. It may seem to us that this landscape has always been like this, however, the reality is quite different. Its present appearance is the result of a long development process and a multitude of influences. The landscape is not static, but continually changes depending on a number of factors that are often difficult or even impossible to predict.
The Park is predominantly covered by forest habitat (85% of the total surface area). The main feature of mountain forest habitats is zonation – distribution in belts arranged according to altitude. With the increasing altitude, the climate becomes more severe, which is reflected in the plant cover or vegetation.
The Northern Velebit National Park is recognizable by its preserved biodiversity, richness of the natural phenomena and experience of pristine wilderness. It is a space for gaining new experiences and the stronghold of sustainable development for the surrounding local communities, based on traditional practices.
Things to do & places to explore!
Northern Velebit is an ideal destination for all those who prefer active holidays and relaxation in intact natural surroundings where you can experience the charm of pristine wilderness. You will be able to choose from over 30 mountain trails that run through different landscapes offering you countless possibilities for exploring the region. For easier orientation, all mountain trails are waymarked with signposts installed at intersections stating the average hike duration in hours. Almost all of the trails lead to mountain peaks that afford magnificent views of the sea, the Adriatic islands and the region of Lika. The existing mountain trails and paths are also suitable for other activities such as trekking and hiking.
Check out the ultra-trail Video
This being a mountain park, nearly all of the proposed tours include a visit to at least one of the mountain peaks, either located in the National Park or the neighbouring Velebit Nature Park. All peaks provide spectacular vantage points, with those located in the western regions of the Park offering stunning views of both the Kvarner Riviera with the islands and some of the inland regions, and those lying further east providing better views of the inland regions with Lika. On sunny days, the peaks offer views of distant mountains: Učka, Klek in Gorski Kotar, and even the highest Velebit peak – Vaganski Vrh (1757 m ) which is located in the Paklenica National Park.
There are no dedicated cycling tracks within the National Park, however, there is a network of public and forest roads that are well suited for cycling excursions. Visitors entering the park on a bycicle are eligible for a discount entrance ticket.
How to get there?
When you get to Senj you should take a local road to Krasno or Oltari. Once ascended, continue in the direction of Zavižan, which is the start of Velebit hiking trail. The other way is the asphalt road to Štirovača, which is in the south-eastern part of the park. The park can be also accessed from the coast, using the road from Jablanac, but that path is not recommended because of the road’s narrowness. If you use it anyway, you’ll enter the park from the south-west, at the Alan mountain hut.