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More Than Mountain
South Velebit from Bay of Nin (distance 30km)
Mountains have special place in hearts and minds of many nations, to some are even national symbols like Triglav is to Slovenians or Olympus to Greeks. Here it is often said that Velebit is such symbol to Croatians; a mythical mountain, a home of Gods. In the world of today such beliefs belong to tales but pride, admiration, respect, beauty, myth, reverence, defiance are just some of the words which Velebit evokes in Croatian people. When comparing height with higher mountains, like Triglav and Olympus or Alps, Velebit does not come close but its beauty and amazing diversity, powerful appearance, length beyond one's sight, unbreakable bondage with crystal clear blue sea at its foot make Velebit special and unique mountain in the world. Velebit has one more thing that many mountains lost long ago, its innocence. There are no huge huts, no hordes of people, just peace and wilderness. Till mid 20th century Velebit was quite isolated area. Even today there are many places where humans didn’t step with their foot. Yet Velebit left important mark in the history, literature and science of Croatian people. Zeljko Poljak, one of Croatian pioneers in mountain literature goes one step further saying that large number of Velebit enthusiast’s and Velebit experts created, by their field research and published work, a discipline we can call Velebitology. In 1978 value of Velebit was recognized by UNESCO which declared it a part of the international network of Biosphere Reserves. Velebit is one of the world’s undiscovered natural treasures. If you are looking for something completely different and uniquely beautiful come to Velebit, where mountain and sea, islands and sky interlaced in inextricable ball of beauty.
19km long stretch of South Velebit, which appears like a giant wall behind Ravni Kotari (Flat Counties) region. Between is Velebit Channel (not visible)
Note: position given on this page is that of Ostarije pass, which is placed approximately on the half way between extreme NW and SE ends of Velebit massif
Velebit is the longest and largest mountain (massif) in the Dinaric Alps system. It is 145km long, stretching from Vratnik pass, on the NW end, to the curve of Zrmanja river, on the SE end of the mountain. Width of the mountain varies a lot, from 30km on North Velebit to 15km on South Velebit. It is spreading on the area of 2274km^2. Of that 41km^2 is above 1600m.
It would be easiest to say that Velebit is huge wall, whose 3/4 rise and stretches above the sea in gentle arc. Last quarter, that is SE Velebit, rises above land. But things are not just that simple. On the mountain there is infinite number of ridges, funnel-shaped basins, valleys, rock towers, cliffs and peaks. Around 70 peaks exceed 1600m. On the North Velebit they almost reach 1700m, especially Mali Rajinac (1699m), which missed the mark by just one meter. North Velebit has most peaks above 1600m. On Mid Velebit peaks exceed 1600m like Satorina (1624m) or Zecjak (1623m). Mid Velebit has least peaks above 1600m. South Velebit has all the peaks above 1700m. This celebrated club has 14 members, 10 are major peaks, 4 minor heads. Highest of them all is Vaganski Vrh (1757m). Then come Sveto Brdo (1751m), Babin Vrh (1744m), Babin Vrh (1738m) and so on.
Velebit is very compact. Passes which are suitable for traffic and connect shore with continent are rare. They are narrow and invisible to eye from around mountain. That is also one of the reasons why the Velebit gives the impression of huge uninterrupted wall. It is important to stress that top part of Velebit doesn’t have one simple ridge but is wide area of several ridges or streaks of peaks and valleys between them. One point in space, such as pass, doesn’t make the whole border of wide area. They can be considered as highest points of a border. Some are above the seaboard side, some above continental. Roads crossed over Velebit on 6 places. Those passes, from NW towards SE, are: Vratnik (698m), Oltari (1050m), Veliki Alan (1412m), Stara Vrata (927m) near Baske Ostarije, Mali Halan (1045m) and Prezid (778m). The most important of those is Stara Vrata, which is in the middle of the mountain. According to those passes Velebit is divided in 5 parts, of which one is subgroup. Here it is also important to stress that this division goes mostly for top part of Velebit as seaboard side is very compact and doesn’t have clear borders. On the continental side borders are usually valleys and are not so difficult to determine.
~ North Velebit stretches from Vratnik to Veliki Alan. Senjsko Bilo is its northern part and stretches from Vratnik to Oltari.
~ Mid Velebit stretches from Veliki Alan to Stara Vrata
~ South Velebit stretches from Stara Vrata to Mali Halan
~ Southeast Velebit stretches from Mali Halan till the bend of Zrmanja river
Seaboard side is higher than continental. Altitude difference from sea to the lowest pass is 700m and to highest peak full 1757m. Continental side is lower but steeper, especially of South Velebit. It is from only 150m up to 1200m high because it rises above Lika region, whose altitude is between 450m and 600m. The appearance of two sides is very different. Lower half or so called first step of seaboard side, which is from 700m - 1000m high, is very craggy (rocky). On some places it is completely treeless and looks like Moonscape but generally it has trees which do not form forest but are scattered. Second step is generally under forest till forest line but this varies a lot since there are many rocky places and cliffs. Continental side is steep but under deep forests which gives it green color.
SEABOARD SIDE of Velebit, which faces W and SW, rises over at least two steps, sometimes even three. Above or behind each step is terrace.
First terrace is rocky plateau which appears just above the sea, on altitude between 60-350m. This terrace is not consistent along whole massif. It is most eminent along North and Middle Velebit, where, above Jablanac village on the coast, it is widest. Slope below terrace is wild and coast very indented with numerous bays and coves. Above some are cliffs while above most are bare rocky sides with scree slopes. Along South Velebit this first terrace is found on few places but it is much narrower and looses character of plateau. In form of plateau it again exists on places along SE Velebit but it is also not consistent as it melts with plateaus and fields of Bukovica region and North Dalmatian plateau.
Above this terrace or straight from the sea, if terrace isn’t present, rocky peaks, of which many have cliffs, rise. It is called first step of Velebit. Altitude of peaks varies from 700-1200m. This is paradise for karst lovers. Craziest rocky shapes on Velebit are found here like rounded heads, knife sharp ridges, funnel shaped holes, caves, monolith towers, natural doors, windows and so on. Among many such wild places idyllic green meadows are placed. Some of the peaks, cliffs or towers in the first step, starting from NW, are: Budim (1204m), Dundovic Kosa (848m), Strogir (791m), Meralovac (1184m), Kurozeb (1167m), Velinac (965m), Saljev Kuk (1200m), Stapina (1121m), Zvirjak (972m), Bojin Kuk (1110m), Anica Kuk (712m) and so on. First step is furrowed by numerous wild torrents which descent all the way to the sea. Some are very wild with torn cliffs. Their bottoms are strewn with huge boulders some have significant cliff jumps. Purpose of these torrents was to take water into the sea when it was abundant like in glacial periods. Today they are dry. One must wonder how it looked when water thundered through them. It certainly was spectacular. Mouth of each gorge and torrent is today bay or cove. Best known and most beautiful such bay is Zavratnica while two of such wildest torrents are Vela Draga and Kozjaca. Beside all the wild torrents on South Velebit first step is cut by two true and deep canyons, Velika & Mala Paklenica. Because SE Velebit is much lowers than rest of the mountain, its first step is the only step as it rises from lower plateau all the way to the highest peaks of particular part or the mountain or forms main seaboard ridge.
Behind the peaks of first step lies seaboard terrace. It is recognizable along most of massif, except on SE Velebit. Its altitude varies a lot, as peaks of first step in front, from 600-1200m. On places it temporarily disappears as it melts into the side of Velebit but soon appears again. Next part can be on same altitude or ‘floor’ above or below. Terrace contains beautiful meadows, karst fields and plateaus. It was heart of semi nomadic life which existed on Velebit for centuries till mid 20th century. Ruins of houses are still recognizable in deep grass, while on small number of fields which have been reached by roads life still goes on. Some meadows and fields are surrounded by bizarre (read amazing) cliffs and towers which rise above their green bottoms. Those spots, but also some other meadows and fields which don’t have such amazing decorations, are some of most romantic parts on whole Velebit. Some of the more important places along the seaboard terrace, from NW are Babrovaca, Struga & Zelengrad and Dondovic Pod on North Velebit. Vrata, Mliniste, Radlovac, Brizovac and Ledenik are such places on Mid Velebit while on South Velebit most important are Konjsko, Javorovac, Stap, Rujno and Libinje.
Above seaboard terrace rises second step and this can be considered as HIGH PART of the mountain. Velebit doesn’t have a simple ridge so above terrace is seaboard streak of peaks. Height of the side varies from few hundred to 1200m above Paklenica valley. Behind the seaboard ridge is wide are of inner Velebit which is closed by continental streak above Lika. Width between both streaks varies from North Velebit, where it is widest, towards SE, where it is narrowest. Space is filled by high lying valleys or plateaus or several parallel ridges, streaks, or groups of peaks which North and Mid Velebit have. Peaks in main part of Velebit are numerous and are mentioned in each sub division section. Of the valleys and plateaus, which lie between them, it is worth to mention Smrceve Doline, Lomska Duliba and Jezera, on North Velebit, Stirovaca and Dabar valleys on Mid Velebit, Ramino Korito, Sugarsko Korito, Oglavinovac, Javornik, Struge and Dusice on South Velebit and Duboke Jasle on SE Velebit.
CONTINENTAL SIDE of Velebit is under deep forest, mostly of beech with spruce and fir and rises above the fields and hills of Lika. Generally it is steeper than seaboard side but on some places, like along part of North and Mid Velebit there are several series of lower hills which gradually rise till the foot of main continental streak. Here continental side is very wide. There several deep and long valleys cut into the massif, through the fore hills and into the continental streak. Such valleys are Krasanska Duliba, Apatisanska Duliba, Lomska Duliba, Bakovac valley, Pazariste valley and Suvaja valley. Senjsko Bilo, which is northern most part of North Velebit, and especially South Velebit rise above Lika steeply. From the foothill at the edge of Lika to the peaks in continental streak slopes are uninterrupted. Except below highest peaks of the mountain on South Velebit where on altitude from 1100-1300m continental terrace appears. From Lika side they are closed by forested peaks of first step while above terrace highest peaks which tower impressively ending with few hundred meters high cliffs. Along the terrace there is series of beautiful meadows and grassy valleys. Those are Stirovacka Poljana (1310m), Vagan (1150m), Medacki Dolac, Bunovac (1200m), largest of them, and Dolina Cubrilova.
These maps will help you to get sense where Velebit is placed and what is around. They are not very detailed because such vast area is very hard to fit into 650 pixels, allowed by SP. More detailed maps of particular areas are on group or peaks pages.
North Velebit stretches some 30km between passes of Vratnik and Veliki Alan. This is wide (30km) mountain area without characteristic main ridge that would divide seaboard and inland side. N Velebit can be divided into 5 groups:
~ Senjsko Bilo
~ Rozanski & Hajducki Kukovi
~ Veliki Kozjak – Goljak
~ Alancic - Rozanski vrh
Senjsko Bilo is quite different from the rest of North Velebit. It is a 20km long ridge that is stretching between passes of Vratnik and Oltari and marks the beginning of Velebit. NW border of this group is road Senj – Vratnik pass - Zuta Lokva while SE border towards central part makes the road Sv.Juraj – Oltari – Krasno – Kuterevo. Highest peaks of the group are:
They and whole ridge are falling steeply towards Gacko Polje in Lika, on the inland side, while towards sea group is descending more gradually, in many terraces. An upper part of the ridge and whole of inland side is under beech forest, which is mixed with conifers. Seaboard slope is on the other side rocky with lot of pastures and meadows especially on higher terraces where the series of constantly populated hamlets is. Some of those hamlets are:
All of them are accessible by car either from Vratnik or Oltari passes. Senjsko Bilo is quite poorly marked with only few paths. There are no ascents from the shore between Senj and Sv.Juraj. But on the other hand there is quite a lot of forest roads which can help you explore this part of Velebit and help you get closer to highest peaks. Forest roads are here laterally that, macadam’s that go through forest with almost no view. On the other hand roads which lead over Vratnik and Oltari passes have fantastic views towards sea.
Few ridges that lie in various directions, many peaks which are scattered all over and valleys between them make a mess of central N Velebit which is not easy to describe.
Seaboard side is rocky and steep, divided more or less in 3 steps. 1st step is around 300m high, rising steeply from the sea. On top of it is plateau which is used by Adriatic road. On the plateau there is lot of scattered hamlets or villages. This is bare rock land with some Mediterranean vegetation. 2nd step rises above it and is around 1200-1300m high. Slope is very rocky, partially covered by oaks, hornbeams, as altitude rises with maples, black pine and beech. Romantic meadows and valleys, surrounded with beech and conifer forest, lie behind this streak of peaks. This area is especially beautiful in spring when everything is blooming. All these meadows are connected by Sica – Alan marked path. Here are few peak/meadow combinations:
3rd step rises above this terrace and ends with seaboard streak of peaks, which are 1400-1600m high. All of them are rocky, with some cliffs, rising above beech, pine and conifer forests. This area is so wild that none of the peaks have been reached by marked paths. Most important of them are:
Behind them is wide central area which consists of Zavizan and Rozanski Kukovi. From seaboard streak Rozanski Kukovi are separated by huge Smrceve Doline – Cipala undulating basin. This is one of the wildest places on Velebit. It’s a combination of endless number of funnel-shaped holes and smaller basins, pure rocky chaos covered with spruce, fir and beech forest. Few rocky peaks rise above this area. They look like white islands above the green sea.
Behind Zavizan group is Lomska Duliba valley which separates it from Rajinac group while Rozanski Kukovi are separated from Hajducki Kukovi by Skrbina Draga and Veliki Lubenovac field. Above it is also Veliki Kozjak which with Goljak creates its own group. Other significant feature of the area is Jezera, large undulating grassy plateau, around 4km. It is placed in Zavizan and Rajinac groups. Only behind the North Velebit begins to gradually descend towards Lika on the continental side of the mountain.
Rozanski Kukovi and Hajducki Kukovi are story of their own. They are incredible group of rocky towers, cliffs, chasms, holes and sharp ridges. In 1969 they were declared Strict Nature Preserve.
Here is the list of most important and most of highest peaks of central region of North Velebit, which integrates all the groups are:
~ Mali Rajinac (1699m), Rajinac group
~ Veliki Zavizan (1676m), Zavizan group (photo)
~ Zavizanski Pivcevac (1676m), Zavizan group
~ Gromovaca (1676m), Rozanski Kukovi
~ Vratarski Kuk (1676m), Rozanski Kukovi
~ Goli Vrh (1669m), Alancic – Rozanski Vrh group
~ Veliki Rajinac (1667m), Rajinac group
~ Seravski Vrh (1661m), Alancic – Rozanski Vrh group
~ Krajacev Kuk (1659m), Rozanski Kukovi
~ Pljesivica (1653m), Zavizan group
~ Golubic (1651m), Hajducki Kukovi
~ Kuk (1649m), Hajducki Kukovi
~ Vucjak (1644m), Zavizan group
~ Zalovacka Kosa (1642), Zavizan group
~ Rozanski Vrh (1638m), Alancic – Rozanski Vrh group
~ Veliki Kozjak (1629m), Kozjak – Goljak group (photo)
~ Alancic (1611m), Alancic – Rozanski Vrh group
~ Goljak (1605m), Kozjak – Goljak group
~ Balinovac (1601m), Zavizan group (photo)
From Lika plateau, on the SE, 3 deep valleys cut into Velebit massif:
~ Apatisanska duliba is shortest and shallowest
~ Lomska duliba is longer and deeper. It ends on the edge of Zavizan basin
~ Bakovac is longest and deepest. It ends below Veliki Kozjak peak and it is dominated by it.
Continental side is also not easy to describe. North Velebit is widest part of Velebit. It is up to 30km wide. Markovica Rudina (1105m) above Gacko Polje field in Lika region is farthest push of Velebit towards E. Generally North Velebit gradually descends towards Lika with many forested ridges. Between them are above mentioned long valleys. Also at the foot of the mountain flows Lika river where is long Kruscicko Jezero accumulation lake.
Budakovo Brdo in autumn, Mid Velebit
Middle Velebit stretches from Veliki Alan (1401m) pass, above Jablanac on the north, to Baske Ostarije (field and village) and Stara Vrata (927m) pass, above Karlobag, which partially divides it from S Velebit. On the north it is divided from N Velebit by depression which contains streak of beautiful grassy basins and finaly deep Bakovac valley. Suvaja valley, which descends from Baske Ostarije towards Lika region, divides mid from S Velebit. Mid Velebit is 28km long and around 20km wide. Its main characteristic is forests. Largest forested areas on whole mountain are here. There are 3 parallel streaks of peaks, seaboard mid and inland.
Middle or main streak contains all the main peaks. Some of those peaks are not right above the seaboard slope of Velebit, but little bit inside, like Satorina. Peaks are free of forest and are mostly grassy or rocky with dwarf pine. They all offer beautiful views on the islands and sea. Most important are:
At Bacic Kuk is a beginning of Dabarski Kukovi, 7 km long streak of white cliffs. From here this main, seaboard, streak slowly get away from the seaboard side towards inner Velebit. The cliffs of Dabarski kukovi rise above picturesque Dabar basins, after which they got their name. They end at Ljubicko Brdo (1320m). From here streak of peaks slowly descends towards Lika plateau.
Seaboard streak is line of peaks in front of middle streak, but it is not consistent, so on places these peaks actually are part of main streak. On the NW they are grassy with long, also grassy, southern slopes which descent towards terrace behind 1st step of Velebit. Towards SE peaks of seaboard streak lose altitude, become ever rockier and are placed straight above the sea. Main peaks are:
~ Buljma (1451m), above Veliki Alan pass
~ Plesevica (1448m)
~ Kozja Vrata or Kosa (1399m)
~ Luksanovac (1472m)
~ Visibaba (1264m)
~ Ljuljacka (1278m), above Radlovac field
~ Kurozeb (1167m)
~ Razvrsje (1127m)
~ Velinac (965m), cliff above Karlobag
~ Ostarijski Badanj (1164m)
~ Basaca (1089m)
Inland streak, as its name says, is placed above inland side of Velebit. It is heavily forested and only the very tops are grassy with inevitable dwarf pine. On the inland side, deep and long valleys cut in from Lika. Main peaks are:
~ Veliki Golic (1550m), above Bakovac valley
~ Zalinac (1449m)
~ Debeljak (1506m)
~ Laktin vrh (1504m)
~ Javorovo Bilo (1367m)
~ Rusovo (1332m)
~ Metla (1288m)
Between Main and Inland streak of peaks is long valley, divided in many larger or smaller or deeper valleys by passes, but it is clearly visible along all Mid Velebit. It is mostly heavily forested with beech, mixed with fir and Norway spruce. These are largest forests of Velebit. Bottoms of valleys are usually romantic grassy meadows and former pastures. Largest of valleys is Stirovca, which contains 3 large meadows: Stirovaca, Jovanovica Padez and Borovacki Padez. Here grows one of the largest spruce forests in Croatia. Other valleys or basins are:
~ Klempina Duliba
~ Sundjer and Sundjerac
~ Crna Duliba
~ Tomina Duliba
~ Budakova Duliba
~ Bacic Duliba
~ Dosen Dabar
~ Ravni Dabar
~ Crni Dabar
Along the seaboard slope, at the altitude between 750m-1150m, there is a terrace behind the 1ststep of Velebit. It contains streak of pastures and karst fields below the seaboard streak of peaks. All of them were inhabited till some 20-30 years ago. Today some of them are still in use during summer as pastures, some are holiday houses but most of them are decomposing quickly influenced by harsh Velebit’s climate. They are:
~ Bilenski podi (750m)
~ Starcevic Pod (750m), still permanently inhabited
~ Vrata (970m)
~ Jurcic dolac (1130m)
~ Mliniste (1000m), longest of them
~ Radlovac (950m)
~ Jasenovaca (950m)
~ Vrbanska duliba (980m)
~ Skorpovac (960m)
~ Brizovac (850m)
~ Sinokos (950m)
~ Kucista (600m)
~ Duboko (750m)
~ Ledenik (600m), inhabited
South Velebit stretches from Ostarije pass (927m), towards SW, till Mali Halan pass (1045m). It is 46km long what makes it the longest part of Velebit but with average width of around 15km narrower than North and Mid Velebit.
INLAND side of South Velebit is steep, much steeper than of N or Mid Velebit. Slopes mostly fall uninterrupted from peaks to Lika plateau, with considerable altitude difference, where they end like being cut off. But on the stretch below highest peaks of Velebit, at the altitude around 1200m, continental step appears. It begins below Badanj (1638m) peak and ends under Babin Vrh (1744m). It contains series of beautiful meadows and fields like:
~ Stirovacka Poljana (1310m) below Badanj (1638m)
~ Vagan (1150m) below Vaganski Vrh (1757m)
~ Medacki Dolac (1350m) below Segestin 1715m)
~ Bunovac (1200m) below Malovan (1709m), longest (2km) and most beautiful
~ Dolina Cubrilova (1320m) below Babin Vrh (1744m)
They are surrounded with beech forest, which is mixed with some spruce and fir. Some, like Vagan and Bunovac have excellent water sources. The one on Bunovac has only 5°C temperature in summer. These are very romantic spots with dramatic views towards highest peaks of Velebit, which tower above them.
SEABOARD side is much less steep. It descends towards sea in many steps. First step, which is rising from the sea, is rocky with some Mediterranean vegetation, mostly oak, hornbeam and maple. Its peaks are between 700-1150m high. First 200-300 meters are deeply furrowed by numerous dry torrents or even small canyons, which run into sea. Today there is only water in them after heavy rains. But during glacial period they had purpose to take water from mountain towards the sea. One of the larger such torrents is Kozjaca, near Tribanj Sibuljina. It begins on Malo Rujno, runs through Zavrata field after which it tumbles steeply towards the sea. We can only imagine how spectacular it must have been in times when glacial waters thundered through it. Of course, most important such torrents are Velika & Mala Paklenica which are true canyons. Velika is up to 400m deep while Mala up to 300m. Velika Paklenica is larger while Mala is much wilder.
At the altitude between 700-900m, hidden by the peaks of first step, there is quite a large terrace. It contains largest fields on Velebit and beautiful meadows, which are like small oasis in predominantly rocky terrain. Most important are:
~ Konjsko (600m) field
~ Javorovac (700m) meadows
~ Rudelic Rastovci (650m) meadows
- Stap, one of most beautiful and romantic fields on whole Velebit
~ Bili Sinokos (720m) field
~ Duboki Dol (630m) deep basin
~ Pricatrnja Polje (750m) field, 1km in diameter
~ Zavrata (720m) field
~ Rujno, with 7km it is longest and largest field on Velebit
~ Libinje (750-900m), few kilometers long and wide rocky plateau and pasture
Second step is rising above the seaboard terrace. Peaks of the second step are actually seaboard streak of main mountain area. Profile of this area would have a U or V letter shape. On one end is seaboard streak of peaks while on the other is inland streak. Between them is inner depression of South Velebitdeep valleys, fields, meadows, other peaks or ridges. Its peaks are described in each individual group below.
Terrain can be very complicated to describe. Common thing is that Velebit, including both streaks of peaks, is gradually rising from low point of Ostarije pass (924m, border with Mid Velebit) towards the highest peaks group, which ends at Sveto Brdo (1751m). From that point Velebit losses altitude till Mali Halan pass (1045m, border with SE Velebit).
Because of the configuration there is no prominent pass on the whole stretch of S Velebit, which could be used by road. There are only old paths, which are connecting Lika with coast. Most important paths, from continent towards sea, are:
~ Brusane –> Lukovo Sugarje
~ Rizvanusa -> Baric Draga
~ Divoselo -> Mandalina
~ Medak -> Starigrad Paklenica, which is most important.
On the basis of natural distinction, main mountain area of South Velebit is divided into 4 groups:
~ Sadikovac – Stolac
~ Visocica – Badanj
~ Vaganski Vrh – Sveto Brdo
~ Debelo Brdo-Golic
SADIKOVAC - STOLAC group stretches from Ostarije pass (927m) till Jelova Ruja - Sarica Duplje valley. Two streaks of peaks are clearly visible. Important peaks of inland streak, above Lika are:
Between Siljevaca and Samari ridge there is narrow pass Ravni Samar (1157m) that is ascending from Rizvanusa in Lika and descends towards Jelova Ruja (950m). Road then continues, ascending towards Panas Vrh (1261m), where were military radar installations, which are abandoned now. They would be great mountain hut.
More important peaks of seaboard streak are:
~ Suplji Kuk (1149m)
~ Milkovic Kuk (1270m)
~ Krug (1342m)
~ Siljevo Brdo (1452m)
~ Veliki Stolac (1401m)
~ Mali Stolac (1262m)
~ Panas Vrh (1261m)
Between these two streaks are deep valleys. Ramino Korito, which is best known, has almost legendary status of 7.30h long and one of mot difficult sections of VPP trail. In its deep beech forests one has a feeling that civilization, which is only 10km away, doesn’t exist and that you are abandoned on the planet. Ramino Korito is long, up to 600m deep. Sugarsko Korito is very similar but narrower and even wilder. These are very lonely places where human foot is rarely set. Sugarska Duliba (1200m) meadows, between Krug and Veliki Stolac peaks are very picturesque.
VISOCICA - BADANJ group stretches from Jelova Ruja - Sarica Duplje depression till Struge plateau. It is considerably higher then previous group; many peaks here exceed 1600m. Two streaks of peaks are also present. Between them are forested valleys of inner South Velebit, which are not as deep as in previous group but feature high lying grassy fields and plateaus.
Peaks of inland streak are rising above beech forest and are grassy, important are:
~ Troseljev Vrh (1445m)
~ Visocica (1619m)
~ Pociteljski Vrh (1551m)
~ Golovrhe (1584m)
~ Visibaba (1640m)
~ Badanjski Vrh (1627m)
~ Badanj (1639m) (photo)
Between these to streaks there are few isolated peaks, which are rising considerably above the valleys of inner South Velebit which surround them:
Peaks of seaboard streak, which rise above the first step terrace, are mostly made of torn cliffs. Their rocky heads rise above beech forests, which are in lower layers mixed with oak, maple, ash and hornbeam. They are lower then peaks of inland streak. Important are:
Previously mentioned fields and plateaus of inner South Velebit, which lie between two streaks of peaks, have been for centuries used as summer pastures of people living bellow the mountain. In modern days that way of living died. Today these fields are romantic and calm places where you desire to rest whole day. Important are:
~ Rudina (1300m) unulating meadows, between Visocica (1619m) and Pociteljski Vrh (1551m)
~ Janjcarica (1278m) meadows, below Pociteljski Vrh (1551m)
~ Oglavinovac (1236m) field, over kilometer in diameter, below Golovrhe (1584m)
~ Javornik (1300m) field, 3km long, almost 1 km wide, between Visibaba (1640m), Badanjski Vrh (1627m) & Badanj (1639m) on inland side and Viserujna (1632m) on seaboard side
~ Struge (1400m) plateau, divided on upper and lower Struge, 2.5km long, more than 1km wide
VAGANSKI VRH - SVETO BRDO group is culmination of Velebit. Inside 10km long stretch, between Struge plateau and Sveto Brdo, all 1700+m peaks are lined up. This is probably most dramatic part of Velebit, the one that would mostly remind one of Alps. Huge slopes are falling both on seaboard and inland sides. They contain cliffs, some few hundred meters high, steep scree slopes, large grassy slopes, huge funnel-shaped basins and unlimited views from grassy cones. Even here two streaks of peaks are present but they are only about kilometer apart. They are separated by huge funnel-shaped basins; some are more than 200 meters deep. Basin between Babin Vrh and Vaganski Vrh is deepest. The one between Vaganski Vrh and Brundo is large, almost completely overgrown by dwarf pine. Cesarova Dolina basin between Segestin and Malovan had few small houses for shepherds, not much is left of them and are hardly recognizable. Side above Paklenica valley, which ends with seaboard streak of peaks, is huge, on places 1200m high. Lower part is under beech forest, which is mixed with maple and black pine. Above the forest are cliffs and scree slopes. Side above Lika rises over 500m above the inland terrace and is very steep. First 200m are under beech forest, with some spruce and fir. Forest is stunted in the upper part because of harsh climate and avalanches. Above the forest are 200-300m high cliffs of towering peaks and scree slopes. Terrace melts into main body of mountain below Babin Vrh peak, so the slope of Sveto Brdo falls uninterrupted all the way to Lika plateau and is 1200m high.
First peak on the inland side is double headed Stirovac (1596m). Next is first of the big ones, triple headed Babin Vrh (1738m). Northern head has 1725m, while SE head has 1723m (photo). Vaganski Vrh (1757m) is highest peak of Velebit. It is broad and massive and has 4 smaller summit heads. First neighbor of Vaganski Vrh is Golic (1723m). Than comes sharp Segestin (1715m) and perfect cone of Malovan (1709m) (photo). Behind Malovan inland streak is lower than seaboard one, with one smaller peak, just over 1600m.
First peak on the seaboard side, rising above Buljma pass (1400m) is Rapavac (1617m), which falls with torn cliffs deep into Paklenica valley. Next is Crljeni Kuk (1661m). Between them is Babin Dolac (1450m) (photo), small grassy valley. Crljeni Kuk falls even deeper into Paklenica valley with 700m high cliffs. Just behind it is Zoranicev Vrh (1712m), which actually does not belong to either streak and is somewhere, in the middle. After Crljeni Kuk there are two smaller heads in the ridge, one is 1660m high and the other has 1634m. Brundo (1716m) is like Zoranicev Vrh little bit inside, between both streaks. In front of it is Liburnija (1710m), highest peak directly above Paklenica valley, above which it rises some 1200m! It has best view on the valley and sea. Some 300m bellow Liburnija, on the slope, isolated stands Babin Kuk (1435m) (photo), 200m high cliff. After Liburnija there are 3 nameless heads in the ridge (1707, 1670 & 1654m). In Bili Vrh (1657m) both streaks merge. Scenery after it changes. Slopes made of cliffs and long scree turn grassy. Joint ridge continues towards SE. First peak above Bunovacka Vrata (1600m) pass is Solilo (1675m) and than nameless sharp ridge (1689m), above Ledena Draga valley. Both fall towards inland side with perpendicular cliffs while seaboard side is grassy. Above Ledena Draga is also nameless head (1710m) and behind Babin Vrh (1744m) (photo) it, third highest peak of Velebit. After Babin Vrh there two heads in the ridge (1726 & 1710m). Finally group culminates in massive pyramid of Sveto Brdo (1751m), second highest peak of Velebit. On the seaboard side, between it and Babin Vrh, there is large round basin Doci that is 300m deep. It is closed towards sea by Sijaset (1558m). Below Sijaset, isolated stands massive Vlaski Grad (1375m) (photo).
DEBELO BRDO - GOLIC group has been so far put into Vaganski Vrh - Sveto Brdo group. I don’t see a reason for that because it is much different from it. It is significantly lower with less steep sides. Also two streaks of peaks appear again. Sveto Brdo rises some 400m above Dusice undulating grassy plateau, which is placed between two streaks of peaks. First neighbor of Sveto Brdo, on the seaboard side is huge Debelo Brdo (1440m). It is enormous grassy mountain, few kilometers wide, rising over 600m above Libinje plateau. Streak continues with Biljevina (1340m), Kruh (1311m), Bozica Vrsina (1240m) and Mali Golic (1197m). On the inland side first neighbors are forested Veliko Bilo (1500m) and Malo Bilo (1425m). They are closing Dusice from N & NE. SE of Dusice is Veliki Golic (1371m), which is somewhere between two streaks and bridges them. Behind it is Bliznaci (1254m). From here till Mali Halan (1045m) pass, where South Velebit ends, there are few forested peaks which are between 1100-1200m high.
SouthEast Velebit stretches from Mali Halan pass till the bend of river Zrmanja, where the mountain ends. With 40km of length, it is second longest part of Velebit. It is quite different from the rest of the mountain. First notable difference is height. Except Crnopac peak (1404m) SE Velebit does not exceed 1200m. Towards SE it gets further away from the sea and because of that snow here usually falls at much lower elevations then on the rest of Velebit. Also it is much less forested and much barer. Exception is inland slope, which is under beech forests. SE Velebit can be divided in two larger groups:
- Tulove Grede – Celavac
- Crnopac – Tremzina
Tulove Grede – Celavac group stretches some 15km, between the road passes of Mali Halan and Prezid. Two streaks of peaks are noticeable here also. Seaboard streak begins with Tulove Grede (1120m), beautiful group of glued smooth towers and unusual rock forms. Few other peaks towards east with are: Golo Brdo (957m), Vilenski Vrh (1058m) and Prolog (1008m). Just behind Tulove Grede, isolated between seaboard and continental streaks, is Oscenica (1183m). In the inland streak important is Cetinarica (1180m) and Celavac (1198m), which is occupied by TV tower and accessible by car from Prezid pass. Between these two streaks is Duboke Jasle, few kilometers long and quite deep valley or sort of a basin. This is largest pasture area on Velebit. Beside Duboke Jasle there are few smaller fields that are very beautiful, surrounded by rocky peaks with unusually picturesque cliffs and rock forms. Most beautiful are: Ladja, Caber, Puci and Prosenjak.
Tulove Grede sunset glow
Crnopac – Tremzina group stretches some 25km in length from Prezid pass till Zrmanja river, where Velebit ends. It begins with last important rise of the Velebit, Crnopac (1404m) peak, just above Prezid pass. Its sides are steep, ridge narrow and around 2km long. North of Crnopac is very wild, almost impassable, karst area, strewn with funnel-shaped holes and true labyrinth of ridges, which is partially covered with beech and spruce forest. Under this area are Cerovacke pecine, one of the largest cave systems in Croatia and largest on Velebit. It consists of Lower and Upper cave. Lower cave is 2385m long and Upper is 1282m long. Also hundreds of holes are hidden there (more in ‘Underground’ section). South slopes of Crnopac are high and long, mostly bare, descending some 1200-1300m into the Canyon of Krupa River. SE of Crnopac are three smaller groups; Tremzina (1187m), Gostusa (1058m) and Kom (1003m) group, which descends into the Canyon of Zrmanja River, where Velebit ends.
Coast of Velebit
Coast of Velebit is very rough, rocky and indented. Almost whole massif is raising straight from the sea (except SE Velebit), on some places very steeply, even with few hundred meter high cliffs and scree slopes. Along the coast there is endless number of smaller bays and coves. Most of bays are actually mouths of wild gorges that descend steeply from the mountain. They used to carry the water towards the sea in long gone times, when waters were abundant, especially during ice ages. Most beautiful of them is Zavratnica (protected landscape) near Jablanac village and Porat near Lukovo Sugarje village. Coast is border of Velebit Nature Park. Because of its wilderness it is poorly inhabited but quite a lot of the bays are harboring villages, especially below South Velebit. Adriatic Road runs along it, on some sections just by the sea while on the other it climbs up to 300m offering great panoramas towards the sea and islands. Lonely Planet says that Croatian Adriatic Road is one of most beautiful drives on the planet; section below Velebit is maybe its most attractive section! Here is brief description of the road and places below and along it.
[ ] -> junction from Adriatic Road towards Velebit, continent or the coast.
Coast of Velebit begins in Senj town. Senj is 30 centuries old! It is placed on the coast in front of Senjska Draga valley and below Vratnik pass (700m). They divide Kapela from Velebit mountain. On the very long stretch of coast over Vratnik leads shortest link between coast and continent. That is why Senj was founded so early. It was very important Roman port and it was called Senia. When Slavs (here Croats) came to present Croatia they destroyed Senia. On its ruins today’s Senj was founded. Senj is notorious and well known because of Bura wind which here blows most of the year and in winter easily reaches hurricane force. It happens because cold air spills over the Vratnik pass and accelerates through Senjska Draga valley. This led to formation of Senjska Bura saying which means Bura of Senj.
[from Senj it is 14km to Vratnik (700m) pass, over which road leads towards Zagreb and Lika region]
~ From Senj Adriatic Road heads along the coast towards south. After 9kmSveti Juraj is first larger place.
[from Sveti Juraj, over Oltari (940m) pass, it is 32km to Zavizan on North Velebit, 22km to Krasno village on North Velebit and 48km to Otocac in Lika, on the other side of the mountain]
~ South of Sveti Juraj road continues along the sea, passing by the Raca camp and after 3km it reaches Zrnovnica bay, which has few houses. Here short creek runs into the sea. Also there are few under sea water sources which are well visible as it looks like sea is boiling on the spot where water reaches surface.
~ From Zrnovnica road begins to ascent to avoid steep coast which rises with cliffs above the sea, up to 200m high. Views towards sea and islands (Krk, Prvic, Goli, Sveti Grgur, Rab, Cres and Losinj) expand. [ After 5.5km, behind short tunnel, there is a junction (altitude 300m) where narrow road descends steeply 2.6km through very attractive scenery towards Lukovo village. It is placed in the nice bay, surrounded with steep slopes.]
~ In next section Azic-Lokva and Gornja Klada villages are by the road. Short branch ascends from Adriatic Road to Gornja Klada where trailhead of marked route towards Zavizan is. [After 7km there is junction (altitude 310m) towards Donja Klada, 2.3km, which is placed in the small bay which is submerged mouth of wild Vela Draga gorge.]
~ [After next 2.5km is double junction (altitude 300m). Towards coast road descends steeply towards Starigrad (kod Senja) village while upper road leads towards the mountain hamlet Velike Brisnice (530m) which are 4.3km away. Trailhead of marked path towards Rozanski Kukovi is there.]
~ In next stretch road passes by the Ivanca, Legci, Jurkusa and Zivi Bunari hamlets. Shortly behind Zivi Bunari there is a natural bridge above the road called Suplja Draga. After 12km there is double junction (altitude 240m).
[To the right road descents in many bends towards Jablanac (4.6km) and Stinica villages. From Jablanac ferry takes you on Rab island. Near Jablanac (1km to the south) is most famous bay along the Velebit coast, Zavratnica. Panoramic path reaches it from Jablanac. On many spots it is cut into the cliffs and there is one tunnel. Zavratnica is 1km long while sides are up to 200m high with crystal clear blue sea.]
[To the left road leads toward Veliki Alan (1412m) pass (18km) and further into Velebit (Stirovaca valley, 29km). Most of the road is asphalted till the pass. View from the last few km’s before the pass towards the sea is fantastic]
~ After 14km there is junction (altitude 230m) where road descents to Prizna village where is ferry port to Pag island.
~ Adriatic Road now gradually descends toward the coast. After 7km it goes through Cesarica and Ribarica villages. 6km more along the coast is to Karlobag, third largest place below Velebit.
[from Karlobag it is 17km to Ostarije pass (927m) and further 22km to Gospic town in Lika, behind Velebit]
~ Behind Karlobag road continues along the sea and after 5-6km it begins to ascent. On this section there is a small tunnel and nice view upon the coast. After few km’s spent on altitude road descends again to the coast where beautiful Porat bay is. Just behind the bay is Lukovo Sugarje village, 17km from Karlobag.
~ Behind Lukovo Sugarje road continues along the coast, going around many small bays in endless number of bends. Lined up are Krizac, Devcic Draga, Baric Draga, Tribanj Sveta Marija Magdalena, Tribanj Lisarica, Tribanj Kruscica and Tribanj Sibuljina villages, each in its own small bay.
[16km from Lukovo Sugarje, in Kruscica village, there is a road which ascends to Ljubotic village (300m) on the slopes of Velebit]
~ 9km from Kruscica road goes by Milovci hamlet, which is reached by 500m long branch from Adriatic Road.
~ 4km behind Milovci is Starigrad-Paklenica, second largest place below Velebit. Here is management of Paklenica National Park and entrance to Velika Paklenica canyon.
~ 3km behind is Seline village where entrance to Mala Paklenica canyon is.
~ 6km behind Seline is small Modric village and kilometer behind Rovanjska.
~ Just behind Rovanjska are the toll gates of the Zagreb – Zadar – Split highway, near Maslenicki Most bridge, where Velebit channel ends.
~ But coast of Velebit doesn’t end here, although it isn’t possible anymore to drive along it. Both Maslenicki Most bridges span over Novsko Zdrilo (Novsko Gorge) which used to be part of Zrmanja river canyon. Through the gorge Velebit Channel is connected with Novigradsko More (Novigrad Sea) which used to be large karst field by the Zrmanja river. When sea levels rose after last glacial period gorge and the field were flooded. Novigradsko More is over 40m deep and sides of Novsko Zdrilo gorge are still up to 100m high. Zrmanja river now flows into Novigradsko More. In the SE corner of Novigradsko More, few kilometers from mouth of Zrmanja, is another small gorge through which Novigradsko More is connected with Karinsko More. Here is where the coast of Velebit ends. Karinsko More shares the same story with bigger neighboring Novigradsko More. It used to be large karst field by the Karisnica river. But Karinsko More is no longer below Velebit but small Orljak (694m) mountain in the inner North Dalmatia.
Underground of Velebit – Holes & Caves
Velebit is very rich with speleological objects but not yet well explored. Caves are beautiful but not very large on world level while holes are amazing and belong among deepest in the world.
HOLES/PITS, shortcuts to the belly of Velebit
There are hundreds of HOLES/PITS on Velebit. Puhaljka is explored to depth of 318m and Mamet to 206m. Hole on Bunovac is 534m deep and it was deepest of Velebit holes for decades.
In 1993 new era of speleological exploration began, which was marked by discovery of Lukina Jama. Because of its amazing depth it was absolute sensation then. Everyone has always hoped that some day such object would be found and finally there it was one of the deepest holes in the world. With 1392m it is ranked 13th in the world and deepest in Balkans. At the time of discovery it was 9th deepest in the world. Its entrance is on the NE part of Hajducki Kukovi group at the altitude of 1436m. It is unique object in Dinaric Alps karst. The hole is almost vertical, steepest in the world, what makes it even more unique and it can easily be said that is one of the most beautiful holes in the world. On the bottom, is small lake or siphon behind which hole might extend. Few years after discovery expedition was undertaken to explore it in more detail. Then two speleologists dived in it, which was world record for deepest underground dive. They reached another siphon, some 50m away, behind which water channels extended further. Because of extremely cold water and wet suits they had it was not possible to continue. Brand new species of leech has been found in Lukina Jama and was named Croatobranchus mestrovi.
Also in recent history Ledenica hole was found and it is 514m deep but not yet well explored and it could be even deeper.
In 1995 another great object was found, 1000+m deep Slovakia hole. And again Slovaks found it (they also found Lukina jama). It is situated on SE part of Rozanski kukovi at altitude of 1520m, around 1h walk from mountain hut on Lubenovac. In summer of 1998 another expedition to Slovakia was organized. As expected the hole was deeper than 1000m and depth of 1301m has been reached. Maybe it is even deeper because at the “bottom” there are few horizontal channels which are under water and till they are also explored it not sure that true bottom has been reached. They found Croatobranchus mestrovi leech here too. Expedition in 2002 extended the depth of the hole to 1320m which currently puts it on 18th place in the world! At the end of the new channel is water siphon so it can be even deeper.
In 1997 Patkov Gust was found. It is another great object in Hajducki kukovi, 553m deep.
In 2001 Slovaks found another great object in Hajducki Kukovi group, Meduza hole that is 679m deep (previously 705m, third deepest on Velebit and fourth in Croatia). Till the discovery of Velebita hole, which is mentioned bit lower, Meduza had highest or deepest underground vertically on Earth, measuring 450m.
Another great object is Munizaba hole on SE Velebit in the northern karst of Crnopac. It was first explored by Ozren Lukic in 1989, who was killed few years later in 1990’s independence war. Lukina Jama was named after him. Munizaba is 448m deep and 1115m long. Its trademark is large underground spaces. In terms of volume it is largest hole on Velebit. Especially impressive is first hall below entrance with 120x80m dimensions as are some corridors which are 20-30m wide and up to 70m high. Also there is 30m wide lake in lower part of the hole.
Also during past several years 35 new holes were discovered on the ridge of Kita Gavranusa on North Velebit. Deepest of them is Paz hole with depth of 388m.
In summer of 2004 speleologists explored Velebita hole, that is placed in Rozanski Kukovi group. It is 582m deep but what is unique about this hole is that it has deepest or highest uninterrupted underground vertically in the world, measuring 516m as from 62m of depth it is one vertical chamber, up to 30m wide. At the bottom are several smaller lakes and 8 Croatobranchus Mestrovi leeches were found here, which is more than in any of nearby gigantic holes.
In the summer of 2005 exploration of Velebita pit continued. New channel was discovered which deepened Velebita considerably. Current reached depth is 941m! This puts it on the third place on Velebit and in Croatia. Because of huge amounts of water (rainy summer) further exploration was not possible so depth of the pit can extend, possibly over 1000m, which would be extraordinary!
Recently 206m deep Mamet hole on SE Velebit became known around the world after Felix Baumgarthner from Austria, who is known as most daring BASE jumper in the world, BASE jumped into its blackness on 17.10.2004. That was most dangerous and most daring event in history of BASE jumping so far because fall is short and there is no time for eyes to get adjusted to darkness but he pulled it off successfully.
Still many holes wait to be found and Velebit will continue to deliver surprises.
Here is a list of holes/pits on Velebit, deeper than 500m, found so far:
1) Lukina Jama, 1392m, Hajducki Kukovi, North Velebit
2) Slovacka Jama, 1320m, Rozanski Kukovi, North Velebit
3) Velebita, 941m, Rozanski Kukovi, North Velebit
4) Meduza, 679m, Rozanski Kukovi, North Velebit
5) Patkov Gust, 553m, Hajducki Kukovi, North Velebit
6) Ledena Jama, 536m, Lomska Duliba, North Velebit
7) Ponor na Bunovcu, 534m, Bunovac, South Velebit
8) Jama Olimp, 531m, Hajducki Kukovi, North Velebit
9) Lubuska Jama, 521m, Hajducki Kukovi, North Velebit
CAVES, magic below the surface
CAVES are also numerous on Velebit. Some of them are Manita Pec, Jama Vodarica, Vrtlina, Cerovacke Pecine and number of caves in Paklenica. Cerovacke Pecine is one of the largest cave systems in Croatia and it is well known tourist point. It consists of Lower and Upper cave. Lower cave is 2385m long and Upper is 1282m long. Vrtlina is around 900m long with one hall 80m in diameter. There are numerous caves and holes on Lika plateau in the foothills of mountain. Their purpose is to take water through massif of Velebit to the sea.
According to karst terrain and limestone structure Velebit is quite poor with water. There is small number of surface flows and they are usually short. Only few of them have strong and constant sources. One of those is Velika Paklenica creek and it has few sources. Highest of them is at 1200m near Ivine Vodice refuge in upper Velika Paklenica valley. Velika Paklenica flows during all year. Only during summer months when there is no rain for almost 2 months it disappears in its rocky bed. But only in last 1/4 of its flow. During autumn, winter and spring it has plenty water. Along the trail to Paklenica hut, during hot summer, you can find many beautiful pools to refresh in. They attract you with their emerald color. Mala Paklenica creek is much poorer with water than Velika Paklenica. It also has a constant source bellow Vlaski grad peak but it almost never makes all the way to sea. There is plenty water only is spring when snow starts to melt. There are dozen sources on Ostarije field, border between South and Mid Velebit. They feed Ljubica creek that flows some 3 kilometers before disappearing in its bed. Periodical is also Borovi potok creek on Veliko Rujno (around 900m) which has its source on Strazbenica pass (1200m). But there are sources on many other places. Some of them are week and some more powerful, some always have water. Well-known source is in Stirovaca valley and it has temperature of 4°C in July. Also sources at Vagan and Bunovac valleys bellow Vaganski vrh and Malovan are well known for their cold water. There is also Ivino vrelo source at 1530m bellow the peak of Visocica, Liscani bunari 1250m. Water can also be found in stone basins few days and even longer after the rain. Others are only small creeks with very small flows, like those in Jovanovica and Crni Padez near Stirovaca on Mid Velebit. There are few well-known water-wells like the one on Marasovac, Veliko Rujno or Veliko Mocilo. Every source or well will be mentioned by any of Velebits routes.
Rivers of SE Velebit
Karst terrain is poor with water, at least on the surface. But where karst shows the water it is something special. Rivers of SE Velebit, Zrmanja & Krupa, show that this can't be truer. I've heard from many tourists, who come here from around the Europe, that these two rivers are the most beautiful they saw. Their waters come from Velebit and regions behind it, finding its way through the mountain and appearing on its 'sunny' side. These waters are crystal clear and clean, deep and calm in their canyons while making thunderous noise when tumbling down the numerous waterfalls. If you wonder why it happens here, below SE Velebit, it is because this is the only part of Velebit that is rising above the ground while other parts are above the sea. This also means that along the coast of Velebit there is lot of under sea water sources.
Till recently they have been undiscovered by people, especially their canyons which are preserved oasis of wilderness. Recently word began to spread of their beauty and number of visitors in ever growing, although it is really small still. Currently greatest danger is wild and unsupervised rafting which is organized by numerous agencies. Although this is most beautiful way to get to know the rivers it is worst. People walk over and jump from waterfalls, bottoms of rafts, kayaks and canoes scratch them too and break Sedra. What is sedra? Waterfalls are alive on karst rivers, they grow constantly as calcium carbonate is extracted in water which then sediments on moss. Result is sedra or travertine which turns into rock with time and that makes waterfalls grow. This is very long process which takes years and years while reckless rafters break upper soft parts in one step. Organizers of rafting should instruct their customers of these phenomena and tell them to be careful. Best of all would be to give status of strict preserve to rivers of SE Velebit and organize supervising of rafting and other activities around rivers. This status would also prevent any kind of construction along the rivers. If you go on rafting, please be careful not to break sedra or throw anything into the rivers.
Several agencies organize rafting or canoeing. Here are few links to make it easier for you. I don’t have to do anything with any of them so I guess they should feel lucky for having free advertisement. Type on Google ‘Zrmanja rafting’ and you’ll find more.
Zrmanja river brings life to thirsty Bukovica region. Its source is behind Velebit, near Zrmanja Vrelo village at the altitude of 395m. From here Zrmanja makes 69km long journey around Velebit and makes its SE border, which is also border of Velebit Nature Park. On its way it receives waters of Krupa and Dabarnica. While it spends most of the time in the canyon it also passes through 5 fields: Mokro, Ervenik, Zegar, Bilisanske Luke and Muskovacke Luke fields. On the part of its course, between Ervenik and Zegar, during longer droughts, it disappears underground. Most beautiful part of the river is from Zegar till the sea. Zrmanja is in the canyon, which is up to 250m deep. Section contains lot of waterfalls and cascades. Especially is beautiful Veliki Buk waterfall, which is 15m high, just few hundred meters lower of place where Krupa flows into Zrmanja. There are no access roads to this area so beauty is reserved only for rafters and kayakers. From Obrovac town till the sea Zrmanja is calm in its 200m deep canyon, which is navigable for smaller ships.
~ Krupa river
Krupa is biggest tributary of Zrmanja and is inside Velebit Nature Park along its whole flow. It is even bigger than Zrmanja. It is hard to tell which river flows into which. It is just that Zrmanja is longer till this point. 15km long journey begins near Krupa village, at the foothills of SE Velebit. River appears through the stones of rocky slope, immediately cascading as a quite powerful river. Below Krupa village, after 2km’s it enters a small canyon. After few kilometers canyon suddenly widens and Krupa enters rounded Manastirsko Polje (Monastery Field) field where Krupa monastery is placed. Behind the field it enters canyon again and never leaves it. On this journey its canyon is carved into the slopes of Velebit and up to 200m deep. There are numerous waterfalls, some 12m high. Between them Krupa is mostly calm, quite deep and has amazing green and blue color. Now there is a marked route through the canyon which goes from Monastery till the point where Krupa and Zrmanja meet. One of most beautiful locations in canyon of Krupa is Kudin Most old bridge where are several waterfalls and beautiful smaller cascades.
~ Krnjeza river
Krnjeza is short but powerful and impressive tributary of Krupa river. It appears at the bottom of 300m deep chasm, coming out strongly from the huge cave. Its journey to Krupa is only 2km long but goes through 200-300m deep and wild canyon. In summer, when it is drought, Krnjeza appears on the surface some 500m lower of the cave. Than it is possible to enter the cave, pass under a natural bridge and descent to deep blue lake, surrounded by smooth cliffs, very spooky and fascinating place.
Climate of Velebit is well known thanks to Zavizan meteo station (1594m), which is observing weather since 1953. On WeatherOnline & DHMZ (Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Association) sites you can find current data for Zavizan and on WeatherOnline even forecast.
In general climate of Velebit is very harsh, much more than on any Alpine station at the same altitude. It receives more precipitation, including snow, and is colder. On some days it can even be colder than on stations which are more than two times higher like Aiguiile du Midi (3842m, France, below Mont Blanc), Klein Matterhorn (38820m, Switzerland, above Zermatt) or Jungfraujoch (3580m, Switzerland, above Grindelwald).
Note: Zavizan hut and station is placed on the southern slope of Vucjak (1644m) and by it partially protected from Bura wind. That is unfortunate because we don’t have proper readings, from top of mountain, of strongest wind in Europe whose gusts below mountain reach up to 300km/h! Bura wind generally blows from NE direction but when reading data from Zavizan station it is important to know that because of Vucjak peak Bura there blows from E (90°) direction. So, when you see that wind is from that direction it is Bura and real strength is at least twice stronger! I asked why they don’t place anemometer on some normal place where we could have real readings but weather man told me that reading must be from the station. One more interesting thing is that every anemometer which was installed on Zavizan so far has malfunctioned. It was either broke by Bura wind or by huge amounts of ice. All other winds have real readings.
Cold period lasts longer, especially in high areas of the mountain, from October to sometimes mid May. Coldest months are December, January and February. Lowest temperature on record is -29°C. 158 days per year average daily maximum temperature is below 0°C.
Warm period lasts shorter, from mid May to October. Difference in average January monthly temperature and the one in august is 17°C. But word “warm” must not be taken literally. Only in July and August there are ‘no’ days with temperature below 0°C. ‘No’ because sometimes snow can fall even in summer or temperature can drop below 0°C but that is very rare. During the passing of the front and rain temps regularly drop below 10°C in summer. Microclimatic changes of temperature can be significant even in summer. In lower shallow layer of air, night temperature in some valleys can drop to –6°C. But generally speaking in July and August you can expect max daily temperature to be pleasant, between 15-22°C. Maximum temperature on record is 29°C. This of course goes for the highest parts of mountain. While on top you can have pleasant 20°C at the same time along the coast and lower parts of mountain there can be true hell with temperatures over 40°C. Temperatures like that (up to 42°C) have been recorded at the entrance into Mala Paklenica canyon. In the highest areas of Velebit temperature exceeds 20°C only when it is hot around the massif (30°C or above). Temperatures above 25°C are very rare.
Average annual precipitation increases from NW to SE end of Velebit. On Zavizan meteo station (1600m) it is 1800-2000mm. On Ostarije (924m), in the mid part of the mountain, rain amasses 2100-2500mm. On Mali Halan (1045m) at S Velebit end, there is 2500-4000mm of rain. Wettest months are October and November in autumn and April and May in spring. All in all, if Velebit weren’t heavily karstified limestone massif there is enough precipitation to sustain numerous surface flows, but instead all the water goes underground.
Snow: First snow falls between beginning of September and at latest mid November. Usually it will cover peaks by the end of October and lasts till beginning or mid May, depending on amassed snow during the winter. Almost every second year first snow falls in the first half of September or even by the end of august but it doesn’t last usually more than a day or two. Highest amount of snow on record is 320cm. Those figures are higher for highest peaks region on S Velebit where every winter 2-3m is expected. Snow drifts as high as 15 meters have been recorded. Average amount of snow on Zavizan from winter to winter is between 120-200cm. Lowest amount of snow recorded was 80cm in 1963/64 season. By the mid May snow usually doesn’t cover the ground anymore. But in shadows of cliffs on the north side, below highest peaks of Velebit, snow usually lasts till June and patches of snow till July. In some holes and pit’s snow holds up whole year.
Clouds & Sun: From November till March average cloudiness is considerable. For highest part of the mountain very characteristic is huge number of days in clouds. Statistics say that Zavizan spends 187 days in coulds per year. That number is even higher for highest peaks region above Paklenica. Reason for such huge numbers is position of Velebit. It rises like a wall above sea and is border between continental and Mediterranean climate. Most days spent in clouds come in November and December (around 20 per month). Average monthly moisture rises over 90%. Warm and moist masses come with SW wind from the Mediterranean low pressures. While they rise up the mountain they cool down and condensate, so highest peaks can be closed by clouds whole month.
All of this of course doesn’t mean that Velebit is in the clouds all the time. The sea that will often cause mountain to be closed by clouds will also enable lot of sunshine hours. While continental part of the country can stay cloudy long after the rain stops and front passes, above the Adriatic it starts to clear very quickly. In the winter especially are beautiful days after the Bura wind when air is cold but crystal clear with fantastic views. In the June, July and August clouds are something that you don’t see very often. Summer is usually quite dry here, with no ‘real’ rain for few months. Of course, chance for rain is much greater on tops of Velebit than on the coast. It is sunny from day to day with some daily clouds that can sometimes produce local heat storm. Statistics say that there are 5-6 local storms per month during the summer. Well it seams that data goes to history because there haven’t been so many storms in the past decade, at least not from locally developed afternoon storms. But, in summer heavy thunderstorms can be expected during the passing of the frontal system, especially in June and July, when difference in the temperature of air in front and behind the front system is significant.
Wind: Wind has huge influence on climate of Velebit. There are more than 150 days with strong wind per year. 40 of those 150 days are with wind above 100km/h. Most important and very well know wind around the meteorological world is BURA. It blows from NE direction. Highest peaks, passes and whole of seaboard side and coast below it are especially exposed. Bura is dry and cold katabatic wind (fall-wind) that blows from continent towards sea. It blows during whole of year but it’s strongest in winter after the cold fronts pass or there is low pressure above Adriatic or Mediterranean. Cold air from continental Europe or even Russia starts to flow towards south and ‘spills’ over the coastal mountains. While Bura is blowing ridge of Velebit is in the cloud that is called Kapa or cap. It looks like it is sitting on the mountain but if you look better you will see that it is moving very quickly like a waterfall over the edge. It is usually very smooth and disappears on certain altitude. Bura is very dangerous and it quite often reaches hurricane force. Here it is called Orkanska Bura (orkan=hurricane). Gusts over 300km/h have been recorded on the coast below Velebit. Winds speeds of up to or over 200 km/h happen several times during the winter. But Bura over 100 km/h is very frequent between December and April. This is the strongest wind in Europe. When it blows like that traffic is paralyzed along the coast and over the passes. Roads have to be closed because Bura can flip over truck or bus and even car like a feather. Another danger on the roads on lower altitudes is that before the front passes it rains. Then Bura begins to blow and quickly drops temperature below 0°C, turning wet roads into icy skating ground in matter of minutes. Higher up the mountain blizzards build drifts very quickly. Velebit channel is in huge cloud of salt dust that wind cuts from the waves. It is deadly to be on the mountain then. Bura produces unbelievable wind chill effect, even when temps are moderately below freezing. Just imagine what it does with temperature of around –20°C and wind up to 250 km/h. It becomes unbearable. Read more about Bura wind in general at WeatherOnline.
Velebit is also exposed to very strong south and west winds. Jugo (jug=south) is wind from SE or S direction and is preceding front or low pressure. Second most common wind on Velebit blows from W or SW and can also be very strong. Both Jugo and W wind bring lot of moisture and that means clouds, rain or snow on Velebit.
But west wind doesn’t always means precipitation or clouds. Even during the calm days on the coast one can feel breezy to moderate wind from W or SW direction on the tops of Velebit. That is warm air rising from the sea up the seaboard side. You can be sure of that when you see calm sea below, in the Velebit channel. This is daily wind during stable high pressure situation. During the night wind changes its direction, in such situation, to light or moderate Bura which is also called Burin (diminutive of Bura). If west wind is strong weather change is coming, usually.
In the end we can conclude that climate of three main regions of Velebit is very different. Seaboard side gets more sunshine than high part and inland side. Inland side is much colder with lot of snow. While highest peaks are in clouds, seaboard side can be sunny. Seaboard side has much stronger winds than inland side. There are numerous examples. Despite high amount of precipitation, seaboard side is dry as karst terrain swallows all the water. Another predominant factor is Bura, which lessens relative air humidity, quickens evaporation end even more so it dries soil. Also Bura keeps carrying away particles of soil on exposed terrain, depriving plants of anyway shallow layer of soil.
You could read all about it in the section above. Here are few shots how it looks on the spot, below Velebit massif.
Current Conditions on Velebit
If data displayed here is not from today you can check conditions on the links above.
Observing Station: Zavizan hut (1594m), Zavizan, North Velebit
DATE: May 29th 2007
TEMPERATURE at 07/13h: 0/5°C
WEATHER: unstable, occasional thunderstorms, snowed this morning
VISIBILITY: crystal clear
WIND: South, 6m/s average speed at the hut (moderate)
SITUATION: Low pressure is placed above Croatia. After almost 2 months of dry and unseasonably warm weather it finally brought precipitation in form of powerful thundershowers and even snow in the highest areas of Velebit.
SNOW: 4cm, (last snowfall: May 29th) (stats for 05/06 season are in the section below)
Note: this was one of the worst snow seasons on record and snow melted extremely early. Also this was the warmest winter since weather on Zavizan is observed.
~ seasonal max for 06/07 season: 105cm on March 28-30th 2007
~ compact snow on the ground from: January 24th 2006
~ last day with compact snow on the ground: April 13th 2006
~ first snowfall of 06/07 season: August 30th 2006
Weather Stats for Velebit
BURA WIND STATS for 06/07 season (from the beginning of September till last weather update)
Number of days with hurricane force Bura: 7
Number of days with gale force Bura: 18
Number of days with strong Bura:30
BURA WIND STATS for 05/06 season (from the beginning of September till last weather update)
Number of days with hurricane force Bura: 12
Number of days with gale force Bura: 25
Number of days with strong Bura:58
BURA WIND STATS for 04/05 season (from the beginning of September till the end of August)
Number of days with hurricane force Bura: 15
Number of days with gale force Bura: 27
Number of days with strong Bura:53
Strongest Bura gusts per event of hurricane force Bura, which means for example that event which holds number one spot certainly had more stronger gusts than strongest in event at number 2 and so on. 1: 305km/h on December 24th 2003, Zagreb – Zadar highway below South Velebit (Maslenicki Most bridge) 2: 280km/h on November 14th 2004, wind power plant on Pag island below South Velebit 3: 250km/h on December 21th 1998, Zagreb – Zadar highway below South Velebit (Maslenicki Most bridge)
Maximum snow depth for 2005/2006 season of 300cm was recorded between March 12th and 19th 2006
Maximum snow depth for 2004/2005 season of 193cm was recorded on March 4th 2005
Maximum snow depth for 2003/2004 season of 192cm was recorded on March 12th 2004
Maximum snow depth for 2002/2003 season of 160cm was recorded on March 04th 2003
Maximum snow depth for 2001/2002 season of 146cm was recorded on February 25th 2002
Maximum snow depth for 2000/2001 season of 144cm was recorded on March 03rd 2001
Maximum snow depth for 1999/2000 season of 160cm was recorded on March 05th 2000
Maximum snow depth for 1998/1999 season of 270cm was recorded on February 12th 1999
Of course, these depths are for Zavizan station. They are quite accurate and represent average for most of Velebit but on many places depths are from year to year higher, like in highest peaks group on South Velebit.
SNOW STATS for 04/05 season (from the beginning of September till the end of July)
Last day with compact snow the meter at the Zavizan station was April 28th. Snow remains were present in high areas till last third of June. In May and June it’s been snowing on two separate occasions but significant layer wasn’t created on the ground. This season snow melted much quicker than it is usual because of warm second half of March and April.
Stats for 04/05 season:
~ First snowfall: September 25th 2004 (25cm) (also first day with snow on the ground)
~ Seasonal max: 193cm on March 4th 2005
~ Last snowfall: June 9th 2005 (also last day with snow on the ground)
~ Number of days with compact snow on the ground: 164
SNOW STATS for 05/06 season (from the beginning of September till the end of July)
2005/2006 winter season was exceptional! Snow reached the depth of 2m even before the end of December! It officially broke the 3m mark for the first time in 20 years! Official maximums for December and January were broken. But on some places there was much more snow, especially in the forests of high areas which are protected from Bura wind. Snow drifts were reaching the 15m mark. On South Velebit, on Struge plateau, average snow depth was 4m at its peak! Snow held long into the spring and it also snowed at the end of May and several times in the first decade June. On some spots in high areas snow remained on the ground till August!
Stats for 05/06 season:
~ First snowfall: September 18th 2005
~ First day with snow on the ground: November 17th 2005 (5cm)
~ Seasonal Max: 300cm between March 12-19th 2006
~ Last day with snow on the ground: June 3rd 2006
~ Last snowfall: June 8th 2005
~ Number of days with compact snow on the ground: 181
Cooler side of the thermometer
Number of days with temperature -20°C or below: 7
Number of days with temperature -15°C or below: 12
Number of days with temperature -10°C or below: 48
Number of days with temperature 0°C or below: 155
Warmer side of the thermometer
Number of days with temperature 10°C or above: 123
Number of days with temperature 20°C or above: 14
Number of days with temperature 25°C or above: 2
Min temp in 2005: -22°C (Jan 29th 2005) Max temp in 2005: 25°C (July 29th and 30th 2005)
TEMPERATURE & SNOW HISTORY for past few months
Morning Min / Daily Max / Evening Min (snow at 7h / snow at 19h) Blue -> daily min, Red -> daily max
Flora of Velebit is very interesting from the scientific point of view. First scientists which explored Velebit were botanists. Two vegetation regions collide here, mid European and Mediterranean. Migrations of plants north and south of Europe also collided here. Carbonate base and karst terrain also have major influence on vegetation. That is why Velebit has so many endemic plants, around 80. There are 2250 plant species on the mountain which is for example twice as much what Britain has! The most interesting and best known is Velebitska Degenija (Degenia Velebitica) which only grows on Velebit. Others are Hrvatska Gusarka (Arabis croatica), Prozorski Zvoncic (Campanula fenestrellata), Hrvatsko Zvonce (Edraianthus graminifolius var. croaticus). Hrvatska Sibireja (Siberaea croatica) is Croatian endemic. Kitaibelov Jaglac (Primula kitaibeliana) is dinaric endemic and many, many more. Vegetation of Velebit can be separated on 3 zones: seaboard (which is very rocky), high altitude (sub alpine) and continental zone, each with its own characteristics. Here are some important communities:
Deciduous seaboard community: by the sea lot of thorny bush, juniper, forest or coppice of oak, hornbeam, ash, maple tree’s and other. Average tree is only from 3-4 meters high on seaboard side from 0-700 meters. Trees and bushes are scattered on the rocky slopes and that is why this side of Velebit seams to be bare naked.
Seaboard pine forest: is extension on previous community and grows between 700-1400m. There is lot of pine forest on Paklenica area, below Zavizan on N Velebit and Vratnik pass.
Beech forest: is most widely spread on velebit. There are many different communities of beech on Velebit. It grows from 700-1650m along entire massif but sometimes even lower like 250m in Senjska draga valley below Vratnik pass and in Velika and Mala Paklenica. On high elevations and places exposed to wind it is stunted and looks more like a bush with deformed branches. Sometimes it reaches the summits of high peaks like Mali Rajinac (1699m) on N Velebit. On lower elevations trees are straight and high (20-30m). In beech forest there is also quite a lot of maple.
Beech forest with fir: is characteristic for higher mountain regions of N velebit, inland side of mid and S Velebit.
Spruce forest: settles in humid valleys and larger funnel-shaped holes that are not exposed to wind, between 850-1300m. Most beautiful spruce forest is in Stirovaca valley on mid Velebit. Some trees are 40m high. On some places spruce reaches, alone or with beech, altitude of 1440-1600m or all the way to the summits. Often spruce forest is mixed with some fir.
Mugo pine or dwarf pine: makes highest vegetation layer on velebit. Short and laid down it looks like a bush. Dwarf pine is characteristic for the harsh climate of Velebit’s highest peaks. Mostly grows in dense communities that look like beautiful, evergreen, carpet which is almost impossible to walk through. It grows on altitudes between 1400 and 1750m and is found along whole Velebit. It is especially dense in the highest peaks region between Stirovac and Sveto Brdo. One of many Velebit characteristic is that dwarf pine is found even bellow the mountain beech belt, as low as 1000m (Bunovac and Vaganac valleys on S Velebit).
Autumn on Mid Velebit
Because of so many different types of trees and variations in imaginative karst terrain autumn on Velebit is just heaven on Earth! Vegetation layers change all the way from sea to highest peaks, from Mediterranean climate to sub alpine. Autumn on Velebit lasts very long, over a month. On highest forest altitudes (1400-1600m) leafs change color in last third of September while those by the coast do the same in the first third of November.
Most beautiful are beech and maple forests, especially when they are mixed. Colors range from bright yellow to dark red. There are 5 different types of maple on Velebit so some are completely yellow, some totally red, while some trees have all tones, from yellow to red. Colors of beech leafs range from bright yellow to bright brown. Also beautiful are mixed deciduous and conifer forests. When, as a backdrop, you add blue sky or the sea or white limestone rock formations, even all together, you get the scenes that are simply kaleidoscope of colors!
of Velebit is very diverse. On seaboard side it has Mediterranean, inland side mostly mid European and in highest part mountain-alpine characteristics. As Velebit wasn’t considerably caught by glaciations many relics were preserved. Velebit is well known for its 130 species of butterflies. Bird world is made of about 100 domicile species with some very rare and endangered species like eagle, owl and best known Bjeloglavi sup (Gyps fulvus, white-headed vulture), which is protected. It is huge bird, with wingspan of 3 meters, which is nesting on the cliffs of both Paklenica canyons. Therefore climbing in Mala Paklenica is forbidden. Mammals on Velebit are represented with some significant species like bear (medvjed), wolf (vuk), marten (kuna), chamois (divokoza), wild cat (divlja macka), deer (jelen), boar (divlja svinja), lynx (ris) etc.
Protection of Velebit
In the area of protection of Velebit, which is extremely valuable massif from all points of viewing, there are many problems. Biggest problem is forest exploitation by state firm Hrvatske Sume (Croatian Forests) and then come ideas of commercial exploitation by private entrepreneurs and currently from the management of Paklenica NP. But let me first mention the protected areas.
In 1928 Velika Paklenica was also declared national park but that kind of protection didn’t last long because local people needed wood. In 1949 both Velika and Mala Paklenica were declared National park. Area of the park was 36km^2. In 1997 park was significantly expanded to 96km^2. Today it includes main crest of Velebit, with all the highest peaks, part of continental terrace, area of high plateaus and karst fields (Oglavinovac, Javornik, Struge), area between both canyons and Bojin kuk area. But valuable Rujno area on the seaboard terrace in the western part of the park was left out because of commercial exploitation! Paklenica NP Plans to open two new roads, one in the very heart of NP and the other through the most beautiful and most valuable black pine forest of South Velebit which is unacceptable!
There were efforts, also long time ago, to protect Stirovaca conifer forest. It was declared a National Park in 1929. Unfortunately its borders were never defined and it all remained a dead letter on the paper. Forest exploitation could not be stopped. In 1999 Stirovca was included in North Velebit National Park after over 2 centuries of exploitation.
In 1969, Rozanski and Hajducki Kukovi were declared strict nature preserve, which is highest form of protection, on area of around 22 km2. Any kind of human work is forbidden here. Other reason why they are so well preserved in their primeval form is because Mother Nature took care of it. They are so unapproachable that there are places there that even today man didn’t set his foot on. Since 1999 Rozanski and Hajducki Kukovi are inside the North Velebit NP but their status of strict preserve remained.
Cerovacke pecine caves are protected as geological object. Tulove Grede cliffs are protected as geographical-geological monument of nature.
Plants Velebitska Degenija and Hrvatska Sibireja +20 more are protected. Some animals like Bjeloglavi Sup bird and wolf are also protected.
In 1967, Velebit botanical garden was established in Modric dolac valley and its surroundings on Zavizan area of N Velebit. It covers area of around 50 hectares with task to introduce Velebit’s rich flora to visitors and to protect them.
On February 10th 1978, UNESCO declared Velebit to be part of the international network of Biosphere Reserves. UNESCO – Man & Biosphere site.
On May 29th 1981, Croatian parliament declared whole Velebit to be Park of Nature, on the area of 2274 km^2. But through the years it has been proved time and time again that this is more a symbolic protection status than the real one. All other protected areas are inside of Velebit Nature Park.
In 1999 North Velebit National Park was declared. Unfortunately some fantastic areas of North Velebit were left out to amazement of all Velebit lovers. Such areas are Jezera high plateau, Mali Rajinac, highest peak of North Velebit, Lomska Duliba valley and Veliki Kozjak, most beautiful peak of North Velebit. Now there are plans to build Krasno ski center on Jezera plateau! Thankfully park at least included Smrceve Doline, a closed basin of primeval forests, which was target of Croatian Forests for exploitation. Park also includes Zavizan area and Rozanski & Hajducki Kukovi which already had stronger protection status than NP. Also Stirovaca forest basin and forest preserve area of Borovi vrh peak (Pine peak) were included.
Forest was and still is most imperiled link in nature’s chain on Velebit. Till present day not much has been done to protect forest from exploitation because it brings lot of money to the state without a penny invested, except into countless forest roads which left some 700km of scars in the body of Velebit!
Wish to declare whole Velebit to be one National Park has been present for few decades in hearts and minds of smart people of Croatia who care about this priceless national treasure. Why that idea still didn’t see its realization? There are many reasons. One could be the enormity of the area and how to organize on such huge area everything that national park needs, at least by Croatian standards. Here entrances to NP’s are charged. How can one organize toll houses and entrances for such a huge area, which has so many possible entrances? That is stupid thinking because there are so many NP’s all over the world where entrance isn’t charged. Important is level of protection that area enjoys and not how much one can profit from it!
For example in the 90’s Lukovo Sugarje village on the coast below South Velebit was target for various sick ideas. Deserted military object was flaming the imagination of various domestic groups and even from abroad. There were ideas to build coal energy plant there! Also some Italians wanted to build cement factory there. Since nothing like that can be built in Nature Park they even wanted from Croatian parliament to change the borders of the park, amazing! Fortunately swift action by ecological groups led by ecological section of Zagreb-Matica mountaineering club and supported by people all over the country led to abandonment of all plans.
Now it is important to stop Croatian Forests from opening new roads and cutting of the forest. And their powerful lobby presents the biggest problem. Croatian forest service has literally gone wild recently. They are opening new forest roads for exploitation purposes all over Velebit, even on places of high natural and historical value like seaboard terrace of Mid Velebit. Not many untouched areas are left. Especially endangered is South Velebit with most untouched areas. If they are not to be stopped in few years’ roads will lead into almost every corner of Velebit!
Because of this enormous problem new campaign Za Velebit (For Velebit) has been initiated at the end of April 2005. Campaign can be followed on this web address: For Velebit Eco Campaign. All of you who love Velebit and see its value are invited to support the campaign by writing your thoughts in the commentary section of the campaign pages.
Anyway, if one closes the eye on the roads, conclusion that Velebit is quite well preserved can be drawn. Air is crisp and clean, sea beneath the mountain and water on the mountain are crystal clean. If only forest exploitation could be stopped! Main reason why Velebit is preserved is because this is very poorly populated area. Depopulation of Velebit’s, although small, villages also helped very much in preserving nature. Today on Velebit there are few hamlets and only two villages; Baske Ostarije and Krasno. Around Velebit there is not a single factory! There weren’t attempts till now to exploit mountain for tourist purposes yet like building large hotels or ski centers and cable cars. Suddenly all of this is happening and if it’s not stopped all the remaining virgin areas will be gone. And that would be tragic loss not only for this country but for the world too because Velebit is value on the world scale! One can only hope that newest campaign will give results and that things will at least remain like they are today because future generations also have right to experience original, nature created Velebit. Not everything is for sale or is it?
Explorers of Velebit have various backgrounds. Many were scientists, mostly to botanists. First, among many, was P.Kitaibel from Budapest, Hungary. He was the pioneer which was followed by numerous other scientists, mostly foreign. One of better known is Arpad Degen, who found Velebit endemic Velebitska Degenija (Degenia Velebitica) and wrote famous Flora Velebitica in 1936. Several others are Friedrich August II, Lj.Vukotinovic, J.Sloser, V.Borbas, I.Horvat and Fran Kusan who founded botanical garden on Zavizan. They were followed by geographers, geologists and speleologists. Long before them poet Petar Zoranic (1508-1569) fell in love with Velebit. His poetical work Planine (Mountains), from 1536 was inspired by Velebit and is the oldest example of esthetic experience of the mountain. With it, Zoranic put himself among first few writers about mountains in the world. It happened 19 years before Konrad Gesner published his book about climbing Pilatus in Switzerland, which is acknowledged as first mountain literature work. Pioneer work in discovering Velebit to mountaineers did HPD (Hrvatsko Planinarsko Drustvo – Croatian Mountaineering Association), founded in 1874. HPD’s branch “Visocica” (founded in 1898) from Gospic with president Ivan Gojtan (1869-1939) explored S Velebit. Dr. Ivan Krajac, president of HPD in Zagreb, explored N Velebit, especially Rozanski kukovi. First mountain huts on Velebit were their work. Dr. Josip Poljak (1882-1962) wrote first guidebook about Velebit in 1929. Dr. Radivoj Simonovic (1858-1950) is known for his enormous collection of Velebit photos. Eng. Ante Premuzic (1889-1979) built famous Premuziceva staza path, which is going along N and Mid Velebit some 50 km’s with spectacular views on the sea. In last period most credit goes to Slavko Tomerlin who build few refuges, explored many wild areas, found and marked numerous paths. Most attractive paths on Velebit are his work.
Origin of Velebit Name
Famous poet Petar Zoranic tried to solve that question more than 400 years ago. According to some it seams that word velebic meant mountain in Croatian language few hundred years ago. It is interesting that the name of one mountain hut in Bulgaria is Velebit. Petar Skok in his etymology dictionary says that word Velebit means or describes huge shepherds habitat. To me Velebit sounds very similar to word veleban which means magnificent or grand.
VPP – Velebitski Planinarski Put or Velebit Mountaineering Trail
VPP is longitudinal, long distance path along almost whole Velebit. Because massif is very long, has series of huts and refuge’s, Premuziceva Staza path along North and Mid part of the mountain, Velebit is very suitable for such trail. After two years of preparation HPD opened VPP on July 4th 1969. It is 100km long with 20 checkpoints, equipped with seals. Time to collect all seals is not limited. VPP gives it’s visitors almost complete picture about Velebit, once inaccessible mountain, in relatively comfortable way, visiting most of highlight places. Senjsko Bilo, northern most part of North Velebit, and SE Velebit has been left out. This should change and VPP should stretch along whole Velebit. But several refuges would have to be built before that. It usually takes around 7 comfortable days to do VPP but it can also be done in 4 tough days. When one fills VPP diary with required stamps they receive badge and diploma from HPS (Croatian Mountaineering Association). More then 2000 people received badges till today, which actually is not much. Trail begins on Zavizan and ends in Velika Paklenica. VPP was closed during the war because S part was inaccessible due to war operations. In year 2000 VPP was reopened. After 30 years route changed as because of possible mines section between Jelova Ruja and Struge was diverted to seaboard terrace. New section leads from Jelova Ruja towards Struge via Stap and Rujno. Old section has been reopened but VPP remains unchanged in its new form.
Check Points of VPP:
01) Zavizan hut (1594m) (info on Zavizan page), Zavizan group, North Velebit
02) Gromovaca (1676m) (info on Rozanski Kukovi page), Rozanski Kukovi group, North Velebit
03) Rossijevo Skloniste refuge (1580m) refuge (info on Rozanski Kukovi page), Rozanski Kukovi group, North Velebit
04) Crikvena (1641m) (info on Rozanski Kukovi page), Rozanski Kukovi group, North Velebit
05) Alan (1340m) hut (info on Satorina page), Veliki Alan pass, border between North & Mid Velebit
06) Satorina (1624m) (info on Satorina page), Mid Velebit
07) Radlovac (960m) (info on Satorina page), Radlovac field, Mid Velebit (check point near former refuge)
08) Bacic Kuk (1303m), Mid Velebit
09) Ravni Dabar hut (750m), Ravni Dabar valley, Mid Velebit
10) Baske Ostarije village (920m), border between Mid & South Velebit
11) Sugarska Duliba refuge (1210m), Sugarska Duliba, South Velebit
12) Jelova Ruja (920m), Jelova Ruja valley, South Velebit
13) Stap (860m) (info on Stap page), Stap, South Velebit (seal in Tatekova Koliba refuge)
14) Rujno (900m) (info on Rujno page), Rujno plateau, South Velebit (seal by the St.Mary church)
15) Struge refuge (1400m) (info on Vaganski Vrh page), Struge plateau, South Velebit
16) Vaganski Vrh (1757m) (info on Vaganski Vrh page), South Velebit
17) Sveto Brdo (1751m) (info on Sveto Brdo page), South Velebit
18) Ivine Vodice refuge (1250m) (info on Sveto Brdo page), Paklenica, South Velebit
19) Paklenica hut (480m) (info on Paklenica page), Paklenica, South Velebit
20) NP Paklenica, entrance into NP Paklenica , Velika Paklenica, South Velebit
Hiking possibilities on Velebit are literally endless. Velebit is longest and largest Croatian mountain. It’s extraordinariness is in abundant karst forms, incredible diversity like contrast between seaboard and inland side, unity of sea and mountain, botanical and zoological rarities, amazing forests, unforgettable sea views, good and numerous access’s, solid network of mountain huts and refuges, two national parks, natural preserves, good network of marked paths… Especially valuable is 50km long Premuziceva Staza path along N and Mid Velebit, with phenomenal views towards the sea from bird’s perspective, which doesn’t have match in our country and maybe further beyond it. It can be easily said that on Velebit one has enough possibilities for a life time!
It is ungrateful task to pick best hikes among so many possible. To see whole of Velebit in short time is impossible. If you are visiting the mountain for the first time, this chapter will try to help to decide what to see and where to go. I can’t tell you which the most beautiful place on the Velebit is. You can go anywhere and be sure that it was the right decision. If you visit Velebit few times maybe you will find your favorite spot.
It is important not to hike in big groups because the capacity of huts and refuges is limited. Bring your own food. Only the Zavizan and Paklenica huts are partially supplied but even there don’t count on prepared food all the time. The only food store on entire Velebit is the one in Krasno village on North Velebit and it is quite away from usual hiking routes on North Velebit, not to mention all Velebit.
If you are planning to go along Velebit via VPP have in mind that for 5-7 days, depending on you speed, there isn’t a single store on the way. You have to judge how much food you need. This is most rewarding way to get to know Velebit but also the hardest one. Your rucksack will hardly weight less than 20 kilo’s.
Great way to explore Velebit is to have a base in a hut or refuge and take circle trips everyday. The best huts for this kind of hiking are Zavizan, Alan, Prpa and Paklenica. If you prefer to camp most convenient places are those with source or cistern. Here is selection of few which are accessible by car: Veliki Lubenovac, Veliki Lom, Stirovaca, Veliki Alan, Ravni Dabar & Ostarije. Here are few which are not accessible by car: Mliniste, Radlovac, Sugarska Duliba, Stap, Veliko Rujno and Struge. But according to the law camping on Velebit is forbidden, except in legal camps, like the one on Ostarije.
Visitors with cars can take an advantage by using a large network of forest macadam roads to access some of the high peaks. You can get as close as 1 or 2 hours of walking from any of the high peaks on N and Mid Velebit. But some roads are in poor condition and are not suitable to anything less than 4x4 vehicles. Recently many of North and Mid Velebit roads were repaired and are suitable for ordinary cars. South Velebit is exception. Because of its inaccessibility no such roads were built. The only high peak on Velebit with macadam approach is Visocica. You can drive through N and Mid Velebit using Velebit’s Longitudinal Road (which is part of network), from Oltari to Ostarije. On the way you will see some breathtaking beauty but currently section between Stirovaca and Dabarska Kosa on Mid Velebit is in quite bad condition. It is passable for ordinary car but with great caution.
If you are group with bus you can start on one pass and let bus wait for you on another. This way you don’t have to go back the same way. Non-comparable combination is from Oltari pass or Zavizan to Veliki Alan pass, which includes passage through Rozanski kukovi. Other hikes of this kind are: Alan – Ostarije and Veliki Alan - Stirovaca via Satorina. Also crossings of Velebit are possible this way, from continent to the coast or vice versa. One such combination is from Brusane village in Lika via Sugarska Duliba to Lukovo Sugarje village on the coast or from Rizvanusa village in Lika via Visocica and Stap to Kruscica village on the coast.
On each individual group or peak page you’ll find hike advices section.
Climbing on Velebit officially began in 1938 when Dragutin Brahm tried to climb Anica Kuk (712m) in Paklenica, highest (350m) and most demanding face on Velebit. Try ended with tragic accident and he died. Since then Paklenica became famous climbing area for alpinists around Europe and wider. Around 1000 new routes were opened in the cliffs of the canyon. On May 1st traditional climbing days, when climbers from almost all European countries gather, various climbing competitions are held then, like Big Wall Speed Climbing. Good thing about Paklenica is that climbing is possible year round. All this goes for Velika Paklenica canyon. Tempting cliffs are also in Mala Paklenica, neighboring canyon, but climbing is forbidden there, because endangered Bjeloglavi Sup (Griffon Vulture) nests in its cliffs.
Climbing is possible also on many places and peaks all over Velebit like:
- Veliki Kozjak (North Velebit), very popular lately
Since 1912, when first object was opened, till today, there have been around 30 various objects on the mountain. Today there are 25 + 2 hotels. Objects on Velebit are mostly property of mountaineering clubs and HPS (Croatian Mountaineering Association) with few private ones. They are considerably well disposed. Don't count on hot meal in any of the huts but there can be sometimes. Most huts have kitchen where you can prepare your own food. Another problem is that there are simply not enough beds, especially on Zavizan, in summer. Huts have blankest and sheets but it is better that you always carry your sleeping bag with you.
During the war, two beautiful and high placed huts on S Velebit (Dom na Visocici hut and Dom na Stirovcu hut) have been lost (set on fire). Vlaski Grad refuge (maybe most beautifully placed on the whole mountain) was set on fire in May of 2000 by poachers. It was rebuilt in summer of 2002.
Here is complete list of mountaineering objects on Velebit.
Object / Location / Type / Beds / Open times / Supplied / Owner (club name, city) / Contact
01) Vratnik Motel (698m) / Vratnik pass, N Velebit / Motel / 10 rooms / in summer
02) Kuca u Sijasetskoj dragi (400m) / Sijasetska draga, Senjsko Bilo, N Velebit / Hut / 6 / on arrangement / no / ‘Zavizan’, Senj / Mladen Atanasic (0)53-882296
03) Kuca na Oltarima (940m) / Oltari hamlet on Oltari pass, N Velebit / refuge in the house / 30 / on arrangement / No / ‘Sisak’, Sisak / (0)44-536138 / Mijo Strk / Niko Markovic holds the key in Oltari village
04) Dom na Zavizanu (1594m) / Zavizan group, N Velebit / Hut / 1594m / 28 / open all the time / Yes / HPS, Zagreb / (0)53-8910089 / number is at the hut (photo)
05) Rossijeva Koliba (1580m) / Rozanski Kukovi, N Velebit / Refuge / 10 / open / No / HPS, Zagreb / (0)1-4824142 / (photo)
06) Lugarnica Lomska Duliba (1274m) / Lomska Duliba Valley, N Velebit / Refuge / 15 / open / no / this is open object which is not supervised by any mountaineering club (former foresters cottage)
07) Planinarska Kuca Apatisan (1015m) / Apatisanska Duliba, N Velebit / Hut / 12 / weekends during whole year / no / ‘Rajinac’, Krasno / Jurica Glavas (0)53-851040
08) Careva Kuca (1180m) / North Velebit / Hut / 15 / closed / No / ‘Gromovaca’, Otocac / Ante Plavcic (0)53-772298
09) Planinarska Kuca Mrkviste (1276m) / border between N and Mid Velebit / hut / 45 / open during the summer weekends, key needed in other times / No / ‘Zavizan’, Senj / Zeljko Matijevic (053 – 881069 at the office, 053 – 882946 at home)
10) Planinarska Kuca Veliki Lubenovac (1265m) / Lubenovac valley, N Velebit / Hut / 30 / open / No / ‘Stanko Kempny’, Zagreb / Tomislav Pavlin (0)1-6140016 / (photo) Note: Unfortunately Lubenovac hut, one of the most beautiful objects on Velebit regarding its interior and location, has been set on fire in November 2004 and it burned completely. Rebuilding will begin when bureaucracy business is completed and permit issued by Sjeverni Velebit NP. That will probably not be before the summer of 2006.
11) Kuca u Donjem Kosinju (500m) / Donji Kosinj village, Lika, Mid Velebit / Private House / 20 / on arrangement / Partially / private, Vukelic family / 099-453564 / Vukelic family
12) Kuca na Alanu (1340m) / Veliki Alan pass, border between N and Mid Velebit / Hut / 43 / open, managed in summer / Partially / HPS, Zagreb / 099-504411 mobile in house / (Alan hut on the net, photo)
13) Dom Miroslav Hirtz (20m) / Jablanac village, on the coast, Mid Velebit / Hut / 40 / from May till October and on arrangement / partially / ‘MIV’, Varazdin / (0)53/ 887323 at the house, (0)42-231764 Milan Turkalj
14) Skloniste Ogradjenica (1400m) / Ogradjenica pass, Mid Velebit / Refuge / 6 / open / no / ‘Djakovo’, Djakovo
15) Skloniste Kugina Kuca (1180m) / Mid Velebit / Hut / 16 / Open from June to October and on arrangement / partially / ‘Zeljeznicar’, Gospic / Tomislav Canic (0)53-574065
16) Dom u Ravnom Dabru (723m) / Ravni Dabar valley, Mid Velebit / Hut / 50 / weekends during whole year / Partially / ‘Industrogradnja’, Zagreb / Mile Prpic (0)53-633016
17) Prpa Houses (935m) / Ostarije pass, Mid Velebit / Private Bungalows / 30 / open / no / private, Prpic family / Vlado Prpic (0)53-674012
18) Vila Velebita (927m) / Ostarije village and pass, border between Mid and S Velebit/ Hut / 30 / open / ‘Zeljeznicar’, Gospic / Tomislav Canic (0)53-574065
19) Hotel Velebno (927m) / Ostarije village and pass, border between Mid and S Velebit / Hotel / 120 / Open / Yes / HIZ Zagreb / (0)53-674001 reception
20) Skloniste na Sugarskoj Dulibi (1210m) / Sugarska duliba, S Velebit / Metal container refuge / 10 / open / No / ‘INA-Naftaplin’, Zagreb / Antun Odicki (0)1-3773974
21) Tatekova koliba (860m) / Stap, S Velebit / Refuge / 10 / open / No / ‘Paklenica’ Zadar / Slavko Tomerlin (0)23-397582
22) Skloniste na Zavrati (690m) / Zavrata, S Velebit / Refuge / 10 / open / No / ‘Paklenica’, Zadar
23) Skloniste na Strugama (1400m) / Struge plateau, S Velebit / Refuge / 20 / open / No / ‘Paklenica’, Zadar (photo)
24) Skloniste na Vlaskom Gradu (1280m) / Vlaski Grad pass, S Velebit / 15 / open / No / ‘Paklenica’, Zadar
25) Skloniste na Ivinim Vodicama (1200m) / Ivine Vodice, Velika Paklenica, S Velebit / Refuge / 12 / open / No / ‘Paklenica’, Zadar (photo)
26) Dom u Paklenici (480m) / Velika Paklenica valley, S velebit / Hut / 56 / whole summer, rest of the year during weekends (Fri.-Sun.) / Partially / ‘Paklenica’, Zadar (photo)
27) Skloniste na Crnopcu (1140m) / North side of Crnopac peak / Refuge / 6 / open / No / ‘Paklenica’, Zadar / Slavko Tomerlin (0)23-397582
Primary mean of transportation today is car. Velebit is superbly accessible by car. There are 6 mountain road passes, 4 of those 6 are asphalted. Here is a list of Velebit’s road passes:
Vratnik (698m) – Main road, asphalted, from Senj to Zagreb or Otocac Oltari (1020m) – Local road, asphalted, from Sv. Juraj to Krasno Veliki Alan (1412m) – Half asphalt, half macadam road, from Jablanac to Stirovaca or Krasno Ostarijska Vrata (927m) – Main road, asphalted, from Karlobag to Gospic Mali Halan (1045m) – Mostly macadam road, from Obrovac to Sveti Rok Prezid (768m) – Main road, asphalted, from Obrovac to Gracac, Gospic or Zagreb
There is large network of forest (macadam) roads, over 500km now and rising, especially on N and Mid Velebit. Part of the network is Velebit longitudinal road that runs along inner parts of N and Mid Velebit and is very picturesque with great views of Velebit peaks, valleys and forests. Zagreb-Zadar-Split highway goes through the mountain via Sv. Rok tunnel, which is almost 6km long, connecting continental with coastal Croatia. Openings are above 500m above sea level. Highway is welcomed relief for Prezid pass because heavy traffic is turned aside and pass is now only used for local traffic.
Roads on Velebit are great for cyclists, either for those that prefer road bikes or those with mountains bikes. You can do so many different combinations like ascending via one pass and descent via another. If you are interested in exploring Velebit with your bike write me and I’ll give you some suggestions.
Views from Velebit
Apennines massif in Italy from Velebit, distance 270-300km!
Velebit is rising directly from the sea and it makes natural border between two great regions; Adriatic Sea which is part of Mediterranean Sea and continental Europe (Lika region in Croatia). All along the mountain views are just fantastic! No matter from which peak you look there are numerous islands to be seen. They are especially beautiful when observed from bird’s perspective of high Velebit peaks, scattered like a pearls on the surface of the golden sea that is sparkling on the afternoon sun. On very clear days, after the Bura, rain or snow, Italian coast, across Adriatic can be seen, especially in the winter when the Apennines are snowy and shining (270km away). From Zavizan area, parts of Alps that are 300km away can be seen. Very beautiful view from here is on Kvarner bay. When the night falls, thousands of lights lit up along the coast and on the islands. On the inland side ever present is Lika plateau bellow the mountain. Behind it is Licka Pljesivica massif. From N Velebit, Goski Kotar is very close. From S Velebit views towards south are extremely wide; mountains in Bosnia & Herzegovina are at hand, plus all of the Dalmatian mountains as far as Biokovo (170km away). There is no weak viewpoint on Velebit but of course as you go higher views are wider.
Mountain of Sunsets
Sunset view towards Italy from South Velebit
Mountain of Sunsets is one among many epithets you can attach to this magnificent mountain. Velebit sunsets are amazing! It is spreading in NW-SE direction and whole seaboard side is facing W or SE. Their beauty is amplified by sea and numerous islands which interrupt Suns golden reflection. There is no best place to observe sunsets as along mountain scenery towards west changes and each spot has something else. Special are also hours before sunset when Sun leans towards west. Than it warms and saturates colors of everything, gives long shadows to objects. These are best times to photograph.
Of huts or refuges beautiful sunset have Zavizan hut (all year), Rossijevo Skloniste refuge (spring/summer), Alan hut (from nearby Buljma peak all year), Ogradjenica refuge (shorter days period), Vlaski Grad refuge (most of the year, from nearby Vlaski Grad all year).
Views towards Velebit
Velebit is most dominant mountain in closer and farther surroundings. Its rising high above its foot therefore is visible from all directions. Views can be divided on those looking at seaboard or inland side of the mountain.
Any of the islands bellow the mountain provides great view on it. Of course some of them are always better. Baska on the island of Krk and Lopar on island of Rab have great view on N Velebit. Kamenjak (408m), highest point on Rab Island has great view on both N and Mid Velebit. Sveti Vid (349m), highest point of Pag island has fantastic view on Mid and S Velebit. From Paski most bridge, between island of Pag and land, there is beautiful view on S Velebit as is from Razanac and Vinjerac villages (photo) on the coast of Velebit channel. Most beautiful view on S Velebit and its highest peaks is from any point of the main road leading from Zadar to Maslenicki most bridge and farther to Rijeka or Zagreb. From this road Velebit looks like a huge wall that is rising above Ravni Kotari County, which are flat. Pinnacle of this view is at Maslenicki most brigde. On the north side of the bridge, on the very edge of the cliffs above Novsko Zdrilo gorge, there is a small chapel. Stop here and enjoy view on Velebit and bridge itself.
Vinjerac village is one of the best view points of Velebit
Peaks and main ridge of N & Mid Velebit are quite far from roads in Lika. That is because here Velebit is not rising steeply above the Lika plateau. S Velebit is another story. Above Gracac to Gospic road are towering peaks of S Velebit. Along all 50 kilometers of this road your view will be riveted on Velebit, especially on the Sveti Rok to Medak section. Above this part of the road all the highest peaks of Velebit are lined up, from Babin vrh to Sveto Brdo. They act like magnet on your eyes with their cliffs rising above beach forest, especially in winter when they are cover with deep snow.
Around the world in most cases valleys lie between mountains, chains, ridges or crests. Dinaric Alps have that but also their own specialty, karst fields. They vary in size but common thing among them is that they are closed by mountains from all sides and have closed hydrological systems. Creeks and rivers spring on them, flow but at the end of the journey, in front of high obstacle like mountains side, there is no where to go but underground. Bottoms of fields are mostly flat but can also be undulating and strewn with funnel shaped sink holes.
Lika is typical karst field, one of largest in Dinaric Alps. It is not just a field but whole region placed between Velebit on the west, Kapela on the north and Licka Pljesivica on the east. On the south edge of Lika is hilly region squeezed between closing Velebit and Licka Pljesivica massifs. Dimensions of Lika are some 100km in NW-SE direction and up to 50km in W-E direction. Lika is split in western and eastern part by Licko Sredogorje (translated it means Mid Range of Lika), which is stretching from NW towards SE (parallel with Lika and Dinaric Alps). Peaks of Licko Sredogorje regularly exceed 1200m but arouse no interests in mountaineers and are without any marked paths as far as I know. Lika, particularly western part below Velebit, has lot of water. Many rivers surface and go underground here. Underground water reservoirs of Lika are largest in Europe.
Average height of Lika varies as there are numerous fields each lying on different altitude. There are 3 main fields which are also largest.
Heart of Lika is Licko Polje field, largest in Croatian part of Dinaric Alps and one of the largest in whole chain. It is around 60km long and up to 20km wide. Average height is between 550-600m. On the west it is closed by Mid, South & SE Velebit while on the east is Licko Sredogorje. There dozen rivers on the field. Most important is river Lika. It springs below South Velebit and, as every river in Lika, disappears underground once it reaches high obstacle, in this case slopes of Mid Velebit. Before that happens river is accumulated in Kruscicko Jezero lake (read Krushchichko) that is placed between nice forested hills at the edge of Mid Velebit. Behind the lake, before its water reaches sinkholes below Velebit, Lika has been redirected through tunnel towards river Gacka. On Licko Polje field there are large open parts which are under meadows or vast fern areas but also there is lot of forest, mostly of oak, beech and maple. Center of Lika, in every sense, is Gospic town (read Gospich) which is on 565m. In the SE corner of Lika is Gracac town (560m). It is placed below Crnopac on SE Velebit.
On the NW is Gacko Polje (Field of Gacka) which lies on 450m. It is placed between North Velebit on the W and Licko Sredogorje on the east. Gacko Polje is around 20km long and up to 10km wide. It is most beautiful in Lika and well known because of famous river Gacka. In its crystal clear waters trout has largest growth in whole Europe. Gacko Polje is forest free. Its bottom is covered with meadows and cultivated pieces of land. On the field there are many fruit-trees which add to beautiful scenery, especially in May when they are in full bloom. Center of the field and this part of Lika is Otocac town (read Otochac). Especially picturesque is southern corner of Gacko Polje where powerful sources of Gacka are located. There are many hamlets and scattered houses in this part of the field which adds to picturesque scenery. Close to Otocac town, near Svicko Polje (Field of Svica), Gacka is joined by water from Lika river which comes through the tunnel from Kosinjsko Polje (Field of Kosinj, part of Licko Polje). Their joint waters, just before they reach sinkholes of Gacka river at Svicko Polje, are redirected by another tunnel to Gusic Polje accumulation lake. From there water goes through Velebit, again using a tunnel, and falls on the turbines of Sveti Juraj hydro power plant on the coast of Velebit.
In the eastern part of Lika, which is placed between Licko Sredogorje & Mala Kapela on the west and Licka Pljesivica on the east, Krbavsko Polje (Field of Krbava) is largest. It is 20km long and up to 6km wide, located at 700m. Krbavsko Polje is completely open with rare isolated trees. On the hill above its SE corner is small town Udbina (830m). Krbavsko Polje is famous because of legendary battle between Croats and Turks of Ottoman Empire which took place in 1493. Turks won kept Lika occupied for almost 2 centuries. North of Krbavsko Polje is smaller Korenicko Polje (650m) field with small Korenica (647m) town. Just north of Korenica is world famous Plitvice NP, jewel in rich nature of Lika.
Lika is coldest region in Croatia. It acts like a basin for cold air behind Velebit. In winter temperatures can drop below -30°C. Even during hottest summers nights are mild here and pleasant for sleeping. Lika receives lot of precipitation during the year which means snow in winter. But area is also exposed to south or SW wind which blows from Velebit like famous fan in the Alps. It quickly raises temperature before coming front or low pressure and melts snow which after falls again. Most snow in winter comes with Mediterranean lows which are rich with moisture. They can dump up to 1m of snow in 24h. If temperatures were steady cold during whole winter more than 2m of snow would be accumulated. Air in Lika is very clean and crisp which led to formation of saying ‘Lika air’.
Because of harsh climate, no industry and major investments Lika is poorest and least inhabited area in Croatia with only 70 persons on square kilometer. That even sounds a lot but is concentrated in several small towns. Rest is just wide uninhabited space. Population dispersed all over Croatia and world. Lately it is slowly coming back to life because of new Zagreb-Split highway and steady commitment to continental tourism. Lika, being inseparable from Velebit mountain, has lot to offer to its visitors, from rich history to rich unspoiled nature. Even without Velebit there are so many beautiful and interesting locations to visit. In summer it is possible to pleasantly sleep here under a blanket or quilt and swim during the day in the Adriatic sea, which is just on the other (read hot) side of Velebit.