Paklenica National Park

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Paklenica is Croatian National park that cover the most attractive parts of southern Velebit, as well as its highest peaks, all located in Lika region. Paklenica is an area of unusual contact between the sea and the mountain, rich in natural forests of beech, black pine and mountain pine. This is a habitat for the endemic plant called pljeskarica in Croatian (Arenaria orbicularis) and other plant and animal rarities, filled with karstic forms. It is famous for some parts of Mala Paklenica and Velika Paklenica. National Park Paklenica covers an area of 96 km2.

The highest peaks is Sveto brdo (1753 m). The main attraction of the Paklenica Park are two impressive canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica, vertically cut into the mountain from the sea to the Velebit’s highest peaks. In this small area of the national park, there are several unusual carst forms, caves, and varied flora and fauna. There are various species of large mammals in the park. too. Throughout the park, one can see game species such as roe deer , red deer , chamois and wild boar. Large predator species include the brown bear, the wolf and the lynx – though there are not a lot of visitors who can claim seeing them.

Anica kuk – the steep rocks in Paklenica Park (see right photo) is popular spot for hikers and climbers. In the upper parts of the canyon there is a large woodland area.

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Climbers at wall in Paklenica

Due to it’s unique geographical position (similar as Biokovo Mountain) Paklenica National Park features several vegetation and climate zones – from warm Mediterranean to cold mountain climate. Velebit is a branch of Dinaric Alps structure, mountain chain that stretches from Slovenia, through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina via Montenegro to Albania. Velebit Mountain, as well as Biokovo is the only part of Dinaric Alps that gets so close to the sea.

National Park Paklenica is listed as Croatian national park in 1949.

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Paklenica – 60th anniversary of the national park:

Paklenica national park has recently celebrated its 60th anniversary of being declared a protected area. The park is spread over 95 square kilometres, and is located at a littoral slope of the southern part of Velebit, just above the town Marasovici, bordering with the zone of the highest peaks – Vaganski vrh, Babin vrh and Sveto brdo.

The park contains the area of torrential currents of Mala and Velika Paklenica, their recognizable canyons, cut vertically into the southern slopes of Velebit and the wider surrounding area. In a relatively small area, one can find an extreme richness in geo-morphological forms and phenomena, a variety of flora and fauna, attractive landscapes and untouched nature.
Certainly the most attractive part of southern Velebit are the canyons of Mala and Velika Paklenica.

The canyon of Velika Paklenica is 14 km long, and 500 to 800 meters wide. In its narrowest parts, the canyon is only 50 m wide. On both sides of the canyon, there are vertical rocks, of which some are taller than 700 meters. This canyon is visited by more than 110,000 visitors annually. The canyon of Mala Paklenica is of more humble dimensions and the torrent flowing though it is significantly weaker. It is 12 km long, from 400 to 500 meters wide, and in its narrowest part it is only 10 meters wide, while the surrounding rocks are up to 650 meters tall. Representative for the central part of the park is the relief complex of Borovnik and Crni vrh, and the valley expanses of Mala and Velika Mocila.

The eastern part of the park is geo-morphologically extremely differentiated, inaccessible and wild. Further to the east, this wilderness turns into an area of more mild forms in the region of the Mali and Veliki Libinj, which form karst plateaus with numerous karst sinkholes, whose bottoms were mostly used for agriculture.

The tip of the Paklenica national park is made up by the narrow ridge of Mountain Velebit, one to three km wide. This is where Velebit’s highest peak is located – Vaganski vrh (1757 km). Walking is the only true way to get to know the park. It has between 150 and 200 km of paths, from tourist ones, which lead from the canyon of Velika Paklenica to the Manita pec cave, the forest lodge “Lugarnica” and the mountaineers’ refuge hut, to mountaineers’ paths leading to Velebit’s highest peaks.

All paths in the park are marked with signs and tables. The park features the mountaineers refuge hut “Paklenica” with 50 beds in rooms with several beds. The walk from the canyon to the hut takes around two hours. It is open every day from June to September, and only during the weekends for the rest of the year. The Paklenica national park is the most significant climbing centre in Croatia, well known outside the country. It is particularly attractive on account of its proximity to the coast, which makes the Paklenica Riviera an ideal destination for combining climbing and water-sports

The history of mountain climbing in Paklenica begins in the distant 1938. Nowadays, in the Paklenica climbing destinations there are more than 360 directions of varying difficulty and lengths so every climber can find something for himself. The main climbing season in Paklenica begins in the spring and lasts until late in the autumn. There are also three educational paths in the park an one bike trail. The name of the park originates from the resin of the black pine tree, the so-called “paklina”, used by the local population in folk-medicine for healing wounds, as sliver for lighting and to coat wooden boats. (Paklenica National Park www.paklenica.hr)

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