When a bunch of native and authorities organizations received collectively to create a pilot portion of the Through Dinarica—a community of long-distance climbing trails connecting the Balkan nations of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania and Macedonia—in 2010, chances are high that nobody fairly realized this now 1,200-plus miles of mixed pathways would quickly turn out to be of the world’s most epic treks. The Through Dinarica brings collectively a system of centuries-old buying and selling routes, navy circuits, former shepherd paths and new corridors to type a devoted artery that not solely highlights a singular historic crossroads, but in addition introduces wayfarers to a slice of native life in addition to a spectacular panorama of mountain peaks, alpine lakes, evergreen forests and shoreline.
Nat Hab’s Wild Nature of Croatia & Slovenia presents vacationers an opportunity to expertise a small stretch of this mega-trail, together with a number of the most beautiful nationwide parks in two numerous Balkan nations: Croatia and Slovenia. From the turquoise waters of Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes Nationwide Park to the 6,167-foot-high summit of Slovenia’s Mount Sija, get able to don your climbing sneakers for a deep delve into one among Europe’s lesser-known—although each extremely scenic and culturally important—corners.
Collectively, Croatia and Slovenia are house to 9 nationwide parks, a few of which sit in shut proximity to the breathtaking Dalmatian coast alongside the Adriatic Sea and others located inside Europe’s easternmost Alps, rugged mountains through which beautiful wildlife thrive. In case you’re a nature lover, listed here are 4 of them which can be absolute musts to go to (and in addition occur to be a vital a part of Nat Hab’s Croatia & Slovenia journey).
Plitvice Lakes Nationwide Park
At almost 75,000 acres, Plitvice Lakes is Croatia’s largest nationwide park: a UNESCO-listed web site identified for its outstanding karst panorama and pure travertine dams. Positioned about 73 miles northeast of Zadar, Croatia’s oldest inhabited metropolis, the park will get its title from the 16 interconnected lakes, subterranean rivers and calcium carbonate-rich waterfalls flowing over limestone rocks that make up this extraordinary pure surprise. The colour of the water continuously modifications from inexperienced to deep blue to clear turquoise, the results of various mineral deposits and the reworking skies above.
Caves and sinkholes are additionally par for the course right here, together with resident wildlife similar to wild boar and martens. The park’s even house to some 50 or so European black bears, in addition to 321 butterfly species flittering amongst a forest of fir and birch timber that cowl the majority of its panorama. So far as vegetation go, Plitvice Lakes hosts greater than 1,400 flora species and subspecies: almost 30% of all of the flora in Croatia. This contains the whole lot from wild woman slipper orchids to carnivorous frequent butterwort.
Paklenica Nationwide Park
One other park inside straightforward driving distance to Zadar is Paklenica, a favourite amongst hikers for its 100-plus miles of marked trails, whereas climbers flock to its dramatic karst rock formations. A part of the bigger Velebit Mountain UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the park occupies a part of the Velebit Mountains’ southeast slopes—a pristine wilderness carved by two vertical-walled gorges: Velika Paklenica and the smaller Mala Paklenica. It’s additionally the place you’ll discover a forest of uncommon and endemic black pine timber, in addition to stands of seashore, fern, oak and oriental hornbeam.
Guests can wander among the many stalagmites and stalactites of the park’s Manita Peć cave on guided excursions, trek among the many lofty peaks of the Velebit Vary for spectacular coastal views, and preserve a watchful eye for golden eagles and peregrine falcons circling overhead, in addition to hearth salamanders navigating the grounds. Wolves, lynxes and foxes roam the park’s forests and meadows.
North Velebit Nationwide Park
Velebit is Croatia’s largest mountain vary—a craggy and wild panorama brimming with edelweiss and European mountain pine and a bevy of mountaineering trails. In truth, all of Velebit is a nature park, with North Velebit Nationwide Park occupying the mountains’ northern stretch. Together with Plitvice Lakes and Paklenica, it additionally occurs to be one of many nation’s six nationwide parks that the Through Dinarica passes alongside. Strolling alongside the path right here, you’ll have unbelievable views overlooking the Adriatic Sea and a few of its many islands. These embody Pag, identified for its distinctly flavored sheep’s milk cheese, and Goli, with its haunting jail ruins.
Brown bears, eagles and wild boar are typically noticed on this distant place, together with a variety of flora that features alpine sea holly, Carniolan lilies and peonies.
Triglav Nationwide Park
Established in 1924, Triglav is the second-oldest nationwide park in Europe. It’s additionally Slovenia’s solely nationwide park. Named after the nation’s highest mountain, to not point out its nationwide image—a 9,400-foot-tall, “three-headed” peak that’s inside park boundaries, is understood to have impressed poets, writers and painters and seems on each Slovenia’s flag and its coat of arms—Triglav is beloved nationwide.
Hikers take to the well-marked trails winding among the many park’s japanese Julian Alps and glacial valleys, wander amongst steep river gorges, and occur upon magnificent alpine lakes, together with the crystal clear Lake Bohinj, Slovenia’s largest everlasting lake, with waters ripe for swimming throughout summer time. The park’s Triglav Lakes Valley boasts almost a dozen lakes that sparkle in hues of teal and turquoise, because of the massive quantities of limestone rock that line their beds.
Chamois (a short-horned sort of goat-antelope) and ibex are typically seen climbing the park’s steep slopes, similar to these on 6,305-foot-tall Mount Vogel and 6,167-foot-tall Mount Sija. Every of their peaks is accessible to hikers by way of chairlift, one which climbs by means of dwarf pine forest and ends at a panoramic plateau providing great views of Lake Bohinj beneath. From right here, you merely trek upward.
What’s extra, the park is bursting with distinctive options, just like the fallen boulders which have fashioned a pure walkway throughout streaming waters and a wealth of memorial and historic websites, together with castles, farmhouses and church buildings. Don’t miss The 4 Daring Males, a formidable sculpture that pays homage to the 4 native residents who first scaled Triglav on August 25, 1778.