Sveti Juraj – Oltari - Zavizan: 32km or 6h (3h from Oltari)
If you are not heading towards Zavizan by car, starting point for this route is usually Oltari (950m), a small hamlet by Sveti Juraj – Krasno road. This is also normal winter route when Zavizan road is under snow.
Road begins at south end of Sveti Juraj, road signs points Krasno (22km) & Zavizan(32km). It ascends in many sharp bends while view towards sea is expanding with each turn. After 14km you reach Oltari hamlet (950m). Main road continues straight towards Krasno. You follow the Zavizan sign which shows right and takes you off the asphalt and into the beech forest. Before entering it, on the right is nice view towards the sea and Boboviste meadows bellow. This section of the road is flat as you approach the slopes of Zavizan group. After almost 2km from Oltari marked path leaves the road and turns right. After 4km is junction, straight is 4km to Krasno. You turn right. Road ascends through the forest, mostly beech with some spruce. Occasionally there are glimpses through the trees towards the sea. 6km from previous junction road reaches entrance to National Park. 15km from Oltari Velebit’s roads reaches its highest point (1540m) end enters Zavizan basin. As it leaves the forest you reach junction to Zavizan hut. These last 800m are asphalted. Just bellow the hut, on a pass between Zavizanska Kosa and Vucjak, fantastic view towards the sea suddenly opens. Park here.
Zavizan road, together with the rest of North Velebit road, was build in early 60’s. From Zavizan road descents into Lomska Duliba valley till it connects with Krasno – Stirovaca road. It is one of the highest roads in Croatia and highest on Velebit, regarding the beauty of scenery probably the most beautiful mountain road in country. It gives the opportunity for anybody to visit without effort some of the most beautiful scenery on Velebit, something that was before reserved only for mountaineers because of long and tough ascends. It reduced access to Rozanski Kukovi group to only 2 hours, which was 6 before. Right now there is a debate going on about should this road be asphalted, which would attract people who are not in love with nature so much.
Path begins near the church in Sveti Juraj. It crosses over the Adriatic road and ascends over the rocky terrain. At first it cuts the bends of the Zavizan road while further up it follows it all the way to Oltari (950m), 3 hours from Sveti Juraj.
For 99% of people this is starting point of the route, especially in winter when this is normal approach. Some 200 meters behind Oltari road turns right into the forest. Next 1800m path follows the road. At Ugljevarice meadows it turns right, gradually ascending through the mixed beech and spruce forest. After 15mins path turns right. In next 15mins you reach Razboj meadow where you pass bellow a phone line. Next 10mins of ascent takes you into Skorupov Dolac meadows where are few small houses of former hamlet. Path continues to ascent through the forest, reaching a bend of Zavizan road. Another steeper section as you reach Sica (1300m) where is entrance into National Park, 1.15h from Oltari (1.30h in winter at least). Behind the foresters house path ascends left of the road. After some 10mins there is a small rocky passage. Behind it is a meadow. Soon after path crosses over a road again and climbs steeply. In next 20mins you’ll cross the road again and reach Desinovac meadows. Vucjak peak (1644m) comes into view, hut is behind it. Behind the meadows path enters the forest and steep ascent begins. Soon is a junction. Left is Summer variation, while on the right is Winter variation of the path.
After some 15mins of gradual, than steep ascent, path reaches natural ‘tunnel’ passage. This tunnel in winter is usually filled with snow to the roof therefore it is not possible to pass. Some minutes behind it path gets to the small meadow between the cliffs where view towards the sea opens. Now path is traversing steep slopes bellow Vucjak peak. Suddenly Zavizan hut is in front of you. 2.45-3h from Oltari.
Behind the junction path turns right, steeply ascending through the beech forest. After some 10mins it leaves the forest getting onto grassy slopes. View expands dramatically towards sea, to your surprise and pleasure. In next 15mins you’ll reach the Gornja Klada – Zavizan route, which comes from the right. Hut is now visible, last ascent awaits. On a pass between Vucjak and Zavizanska Kosa (on your right) view of Zavizan basin and peaks around it opens. A minute more to the hut. 3-3.15h from Oltari.
In winter you will hardly need less than 4 hours from Oltari. If strong Bura blows last section of winter variation, over the meadows, is very dangerous. Snow is hard packed, wind is pushing you from the left and there is nothing to hold on to.
When there is snow crampons are needed. Walking sticks would mostly do, ice ax only if you are going to climb some steep rocky peaks. When there is no snow your regular equipment.
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