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Paklenica National Park - a paradise for nature lovers, mountaineers and climbers

Paklenica National Park - a paradise for nature lovers, mountaineers and climbers

Being in awe of nature

Dalmatia is the home of several breath-taking national and nature parks, some of which we have already written about in some of our nature articles. The one we want you to get acquainted with here, is no short of being an oasis for nature lovers, mountaineers and climbers. Paklenica National Park is one of 8 national parks in Croatia, and is located in northern Dalmatia, along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, north of Zadar. It covers the area of the recognizable canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica, vertically engraved in the southern slopes of the magnificent Velebit Mountain, encompassing an area of 95 km2.

In a relatively small area, there is an abundance of geomorphologic diversity of phenomena and forms, diverse plant and animal worlds, attractive landscapes and untouched nature.
The giant passes of Velika & Mala Paklenica leave no room for indifference over the smallness of man beneath the mountain – this makes one be in awe of nature.

Paklenica was the 2nd one in Croatia to be proclaimed a National Park (1949), just after the Plitvice Lakes. The reason behind the proclamation, was the protection of the largest and best-preserved forest complex on the territory of Dalmatia, which was threatened by overexploitation. Velebit Mountain was proclaimed a biosphere reserve in 1978 (as the first one in Croatia), and in 2017 Paklenica was also added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in Europe.

The diversity of the living world is conditioned by climatic characteristics but also by the rich and diverse geological past.

Distinctive features of Paklenica National Park are the autochthonous forests of black pine, several types of beech forests and deep canyons with torrent flows of Velika and Mala Paklenica. The wider area of Paklenica National Park prides itself with rich and diverse cultural heritage.

The name Paklenica is said to derive from black pine sap called “paklina”, which the locals used in traditional medicine, for wound treatment, for light and for coating of wooden boats.

Things to do and see in the park:

The only entrance to this national park is near the small coastal town of Starigrad - Paklenica. There are signs everywhere, so it cannot really be missed.

Hiking trails - Paklenica has around 175 km of marked mountain paths, from those for tourists (lighter ones) to those intended for mountaineers, leading to the highest peaks

Educational trails - only to mention a few of the more known ones: Velika Paklenica as the most visited trail; Paklaric Educational Trail, leading to the Paklaric Fort (defence facility, believed to have been built in the middle ages) providing a magnificent panoramic view of the Adriatic Sea ; “A short journey through history”, the educational trail which is a part of the 8 km long pedestrian & bike trail Starigrad – Reljani; the 1.5 km long pedestrian trail of Pjeskarica, leading you through an area of diverse relief forms and lush vegetation.
Regardless of which path you choose, you will be delighted with the beauty of the park. The track sections follow the river Paklenica which is full of small waterfalls.

man with climbing equipment climbing up a steep rock wall towards the sky

Climbing – Paklenica is the most visited place to climb in Croatia. The close proximity of seawater gives this climbing site a special charm, making the Paklenica Riviera an ideal place to combine climbing and water sports, if you are an enthusiast. The Paklenica climbing site is mostly composed of limestone, and there are about 400 well equipped marked routes of different difficulty grade. The most known rock for climbing in Paklenica is Anica kuk, with various routes up to 350 m long. Every year at the beginning of May there is an international gathering of climbers organised here.

If you are the adventurous type, it might interest you that there are also several caves and pits in the national park, among which the most famous cave is the Manita Peak above the canyon of Velika Paklenica and Jama Vodarica.

Discover the underground secrets of Paklenica, by exploring the tunnel shelter (popularly referred to as the “bunker”), built at the end of the 1950s in the Velika Paklenica canyon, meant as a shelter in case of an atomic war. Now open to the public, it was reconstructed into a Presentation centre. Within the multifunctional hall of the centre, you can enjoy the Little climbing centre, an artificial climbing wall, and receive lots of other information about climbing and the park itself.
Here in Paklenica, the power of nature did not restrain its superiority, but also not its kindness towards those who respect it.

Whether you choose to visit this magnificent National Park cause you like climbing, hiking, biking or you just like to walk and be in awe of unspoilt raw nature – make a choice to experience it while you are staying in one of our charming villas with pool in Dalmatia - and you will not regret it. :)

Natalie Sipak

+385 1 222 70 50