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Adventures in Paklenica, Croatia

Updated on June 29, 2013

Walk Through National Park Paklenica!

There are many really exquisite places in Croatia. National Park Paklenica is one of the eight national parks in Croatia. What's even more interesting is that there are two national parks which are spreading over peaks, hills, mountains, fields and other forms of the Velebit mountain. It's combination of wild and hard to reach mountains - for those who love adventures and rock climbing, and for those who like slower pace - numerous hiking, trekking and biking routes, or simply walking and bird watching. And all of this in surrounding that is stunningly beautiful and peaceful.

"Paklenica is peculiar, different from other national parks. It seems to be here for nature lovers, not for tourists." (Quoted girl from France who visited Paklenica.)

This lens is not completed! I plan to add many more information in future! So come by again!

Whether you read about Paklenica or not, the real thing is bound to amaze you. As soon as you enter the park and see the canyon rocks, hear the rustle of life and trees in the silence of virginal nature, you feel at peace. The fragrances of pine woods and Mediterranean herbs spark your imagination while you plunge in this fantastic scenery. At night, after the people are gone, it is not unusual to see the real inhabitants of the park appearing out of nowhere. They all avoid man, but they take over Paklenica every night.

Few Basic Facts About NP Paklenica

Velebit - Included into World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

Before we start our walk, just a few words about National Park Paklenica. It's situated near Croatian coastline, more precisely in northern Dalmatia, at the southern slopes of Velebit mountain, not far from Zadar. Paklenica is situated across 95 km2 (36.7 sq mi) and it's borders are highest peeks of Velebit mountain - Vaganski vrh 1,757 m and Sveto brdo 1,753 m.

It covers the area of torrent flows of Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica, and their distinctive canyons carved vertically into the south slopes of Velebit and the broader surrounding area. The relatively small area has an abundance of geomorphological phenomena and forms, diverse flora and fauna, attractive landscapes and intact nature.

Paklenica was pronounced national park 1949 and was second national park in Croatia (1st was Plitvice Lakes). According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization MAB - Program on Man and the Biosphere, complete Velebit mountain has been recognized as biosphere reserve, as a sample of the world's major ecosystem types which are devoted to conservation of nature (February 10, 1978).

Look From The Adriatic Sea on Velebit Mountain

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Starigrad - a tourist destination on coast of Adriatic sea is in front part of picture. You can see clouds stuck on mountain peaks!Big gap in mountains is torrent of Velika Paklenica.This is place to be!
Starigrad - a tourist destination on coast of Adriatic sea is in front part of picture. You can see clouds stuck on mountain peaks!
Starigrad - a tourist destination on coast of Adriatic sea is in front part of picture. You can see clouds stuck on mountain peaks!
Big gap in mountains is torrent of Velika Paklenica.
Big gap in mountains is torrent of Velika Paklenica.
This is place to be!
This is place to be!

On The Road From Starigrad to Paklenica - Mountains bring out all the beauty of silence!

Even before you enter into National Park Paklenica, on your way there by road - you'll be amazed by beauty of nature as you leave Adriatic sea behind your back and move toward wild but peaceful mountains!

The Paklenica Canyon can be reached easily. You can enter the park by car, the road leads up to the first rocks. You can find plenty of parking spaces, kindly indicated by the park staff. If you come by foot, you can catch the bus which goes back and forth all day long. You can reach the park by foot or bike.

Paklenica Was Named After Black Pine Sap

Locals used it as remedy!

The name Paklenica probably derives from black pine sap called "paklina", which the locals used in traditional medicine, for wound treatment, for light and for coating of wooden boats.

Way From Adriatic Sea to Mountain House

Some trails in Paklenica are arranged and marked particularly well. They have been adapted to tourist visits, like the panoramic terrace with a telescope, standing above the park entrance. What is probably the most beautiful mountain trail in Croatia leads through the canyon to the lodge in the middle of the park. This trail was used for centuries by the ancient dwellers of Paklenica. It is wide and well-trodden, enabling the visitors to freely enjoy the miracles of nature around them. There are several sources of drinkable water along the way, so you will not need any water bottles before the lodge. Most of the trail follows the river of Velika Paklenica, which gave its name to the canyon. It is a magical experience. While you tread the path in the shade of trees in the summer heat, you are accompanied by a watercourse of wonderfully clear and drinkable water. Still, there is one special spot: next to the trail, near one of the characteristic wheat mills of Paklenica, there is a small lake. It is deep enough for you to jump into it from the rocks sheltering a small waterfall. What an incredible feeling! Right in the middle of a national park, you can refresh yourself in a pool of the cleanest and clearest water you can imagine. Velika Paklenica will flow along you until the mountain lodge.

Tranquility Walk Through Paklenica

When you enter Paklenica, you'll be amazed with so many sounds around you which produce such a tranquility sensation!

Mountain House in Paklenica

Place for Hikers to Stay Over Night

After light walk through 2 km long path through mountains and wild nature, on some parts followed by clear and fast river, you'll reach mountain house. If you're just here on one day tour, you can find resting place and refreshments on a terrace which is placed in a shades of old trees.

This mountain house it a part of The Croatian Mountaineering Association and as such it's used by its members as resting and gathering point on their hiking tours around park. Here hikers from abroad can also stay for few days if they are planning to take several of numerous hiking tours around Park.

This mountain house is opened during weekends all year long but during summer period, from June 15th until September 15th, it's open all days of the week. It has 40 beds and running water. There is no way to reach this place by car or any other mean of transportation since no vehicles are allowed inside park. There is one man taking care of this hut and he is carries things needed for normal functioning of house by mule or backpacking.

If you need any further information about staying in mountain hut, you can contact person who is in running this place directly, his name is Walter and can be reached by phone +385(0)95 803-41-14 (he speaks English) - number published with permission.

Just a quick note, if you are planning staying inside park for more than one day, you can purchase 3 or even 5 day tickets at the Park entrance. They are quite cheap - 3-day ticket is only 120 kn (that's around 20$) and one night at the mountain hut is 65 kn (that's app.11$). And if you follow this link, you can find more information about: PAKLENICA NATIONAL PARK ENTRANCE FEES FOR 2009.

Look at the Mountains! - The area of Paklenica National Park has an exceptional diversity of geomorphological forms.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Canyon of Big Paklenica.Mountain tops are pretty sharp! :)Further to the east, this zone of wilderness transforms into an area of milder forms around Malo Libinje and Veliko Libinje, karstic plateaus with numerous pits, the bottoms of which were mostly treated.The east part of the Park is very differentiated geomorphologically, inaccessible and wild.At the top of Vaganski Vrh (mountain peak).Panorama of Velebit mountain
Canyon of Big Paklenica.
Canyon of Big Paklenica.
Mountain tops are pretty sharp! :)
Mountain tops are pretty sharp! :)
Further to the east, this zone of wilderness transforms into an area of milder forms around Malo Libinje and Veliko Libinje, karstic plateaus with numerous pits, the bottoms of which were mostly treated.
Further to the east, this zone of wilderness transforms into an area of milder forms around Malo Libinje and Veliko Libinje, karstic plateaus with numerous pits, the bottoms of which were mostly treated.
The east part of the Park is very differentiated geomorphologically, inaccessible and wild.
The east part of the Park is very differentiated geomorphologically, inaccessible and wild.
At the top of Vaganski Vrh (mountain peak).
At the top of Vaganski Vrh (mountain peak).
Panorama of Velebit mountain
Panorama of Velebit mountain

Famous Climbing Cliff - Anica Kuk - Free climbing to 400 meters

Paklenica National Park is the most important alpine climbing center in Croatia with a recognized international reputation. The latest trend in alpine climbing in Paklenica coincides with the beginnings of free climbing. A strong foothold was made in 1984 when free climbing became popular in Europe. Since then, interest for the cliffs in Paklenica has grown immensely, primarily for the Anica kuk cliff (400 m).

source: Zadar Region

Rock Climbing Rocks!

For those who love adventure!

Paklenica National Park is the most visited climbing center in Croatia, also popular outside Croatia. The close proximity of seawater gives this climbing site a special charm, making Paklenica Riviera an ideal place to combine climbing and water sports.

Today, there are over 360 equipped and improved routes of various difficulty levels and lengths within Paklenica's climbing sites, so each climber can find to their liking. The main climbing season begins in spring and goes on until late autumn.

Climbing Competition in Paklenica - Taking place every year from May, 1st until May, 3rd!

The Big Wall Speed Climbing is a climbing competition that has taken place in Velika Paklenica canyon since 2000. This is combination of speed climbing and big wall climbing and the first competition of its kind in the world. It comprises a roped alpine ascent following all the normal climbing rules (clipping all the protections, not allowed to climb simultaneously, ascend with alternate leaders, etc.) but in the shortest time possible.

Each year this competition is taking place from May, 1st until May, 3rd. By clicking on banner above, you can find further informations about this event, including requisitions and rules of participation and applying forms.

Even Kids Can Compete in Speed Climbing!

If you're bringing your kids with you, they can watch or even participate in speed climbing competition that is specially designed for kids who are under 14 years old. This competition is taking place on May, 1st and you can find more information about participation and application by clicking on a banner above.

Manita Pec - Inside The Mountain Belly - Beauty lays beneath mountain surface.

One of the tourist attractions of Paklenica is the cave of Manita Pec. It is a magnificent natural structure in the belly of a mountain, 570 meters above sea level. The ascent to the cave is hard and long - it is on the sunny side of the mountain - but once you get inside, you will be rewarded for your effort. The lighted and tourist-friendly cave has stalactite and stalagmite cathedrals of stone rising all around you.

The area of Paklenica National Park is one of the most completely explored areas in Croatia in terms of speleology. 76 speleological objects are known and have been explored in the Park, namely 39 pits and 37 caves.

Pictures of Manita Pec Cave

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Biking Tours

Special thanks to a Croatian student of Biochemistry and Biotechnology studies at Food technology and biotechnology faculty at the Zagreb university. His name is Borislav Dopudja and he was kind enough to let me use his words and photos on this page - all pieces of text that are on brown background are from his blog. Thank you for your kindness!

... I would love if you decide to visit National Park Paklenica or any other part of my beautiful country!

Would Love To Hear From You! - And much more...

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    • Brookelorren LM profile image

      Brookelorren LM 

      8 years ago

      Looks beautiful!

    • squid-janices7 profile image


      9 years ago

      Stunning lens! The caves look amazing.

    • piedromolinero profile image


      9 years ago

      An amazing place. If I would not already have decided for the Island of Aphrodite, Croatia would be on the top of the list.

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 

      9 years ago

      Beautiful lens about a beautiful place. Awesome.

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image


      9 years ago

      I live in a National Park as well and the same sorts of sports are popular here, with skiing in the Winter months, but we have nothing as spectacular as the cave or the mountain goat of a young man in the first climbing clip LOL What a fabulous lens 5* and a sprinkling of Angel Dust

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Absolutely stunning place. Wonderful lens!

    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 

      9 years ago


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, this is a beautiful place!


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