National and Nature Parks close to Zadar
By being situated in northern Dalmatia, Zadar is close to basicly anything you'd wanna see. It's just a few hours away from 5 National parks and 3 Nature parks. From mountains to lakes, riverfalls and islands, there's something for anyone.
Plitvice Lakes National park is a complex of 16 lakes of various sizes that pour one into another, divided by travertine barriers. The algae, mosses and plants create extraordinary palette coloring lakes in all different shades of green and blue. Travertine formations are one of the most important natural phenomenon as it is the main creator of the lakes and it takes centuries for its creation. It takes a year for creation of 3 mm of travertine. Furthermore, all these natural processes still take place today and continue on changing Plitvice Lakes even today.
Rich flora and fauna make Plitvice a living nature that will welcome you in its forest paths, meadows and caves. The most interesting inhabitant of the park is famous Brown Bear, as well as various species of fish, birds and other smaller forest animals. Endemic species of plants make the Lakes even more valuable.
All these reasons were more than enough to declare Plitvice Lakes National Park in 1949 and for inscription at the UNESCO World Heritage in 1979.
Krka Waterfalls National park is a stunning collection of well preserved nature and historical sights. The river and waterfalls continually produce natural phenomena, such as travertine formations that are a slow process of calcium-carbonate sedimentation. In addition to that, rich and endemic species of plants and animals revive the nature with every new day and invite you to join the fun. Need for preservation of this richness resulted in creation of Krka Waterfalls National Park in 1985.
The ethno-village pull you into the traditional lifestyle of Croatians of Šibenik-Knin region and take you through their everyday work and life. The life in harmony with the nature continues even today as hydroelectric power plant provide ecological power for the region. The effort put into reconstruction of ethno-village was recognized and awarded with Bronze Flower of Europe in 2006.
Kornati Islands National park is one of the most indented archipelagos on the Mediterranean, a unique cluster of 150 islands, islets and cliffs spread over the central part of the Adriatic Sea. It is the bluest corner of the Adriatic. With its exceptionally clear sea, torrents of sunshine, numerous inlets, bays and small ports, Kornati are a must-see destination for boaters on their wanderings over the Adriatic and the right choice for modern Robinsons.
Since establishment of the national park in 1980, Kornati Islands are protected and guarded from the man and for humanity as the prettiest part of Croatian Adriatic Sea. One of the most impressing natural phenomena on Kornati are cliffs that face open sea. Since ancient times cliffs have been called crowns (crown – korona) and that is probably the etymology of the name Kornati. The cliffs reach as high as 161 m, and as deep as 90 m underwater. The crowns of the park offer amazing spots to enjoy view of the Adriatic and its islands.
Paklenica Canyon is a mountainous National park established in 1929, but for historical reasons it was disestablished and reestablished in 1949, only few months after Plitvice Lakes. This part of Velebit mountain is crowned with rich forests hiding Croatia's greatest treasures - original nature with flora and fauna. This park will take you into deep underground; the caves with its specific animal life offer the dark side of this park. Don't worry, this dark sheds a whole new light on this park as it is well preserved from within. The karst landscape is characteristic of this whole region which can survive only unpolluted.
Hiking through forests and meadows, into the cave and then back to the light seems like an imaginary Disney cartoon, but this fantasy is real. This beautiful park overlooks and spreads down to the Adriatic, which we visit at Starigrad. There we will have time to walk, shop and take a few photos before getting back to Zadar.
North Velebit Mountain
Established in 1999, Northern Velebit is the youngest of eight national parks in Croatia. This part of the Velebit Mountain is a true patchwork of the most diverse habitats that are home to countless plant, fungus and animal species – a wealth that is yet to be explored in its entirety. It is this diversity of kart formations, wildlife and landscape, to a large extent created by man, which was the main reason for setting up the Northern Velebit National Park. Northern Velebit National Park encompasses several areas protected earlier: Hajdučki i Rožanski Kukovi, strict reserve, the Visibaba botanical reserve – home to the endemic species Croatian sibirea, and the Zavižan-Balinovac-Velika kosa botanical reserve which houses the well-known Velebit Botanical Garden, which has been listed as a monument of landscape architecture.
Travelling along the Adriatic coast towards the northern Dalmatia, between two historical cities of Zadar and Šibenik, you will come across a natural phenomenon – the two equally beautiful and yet so very different shades of blue. On one side you will see the well indented Adriatic coast, famous for its alluring beauty and clear sea, and on the other side you will see the largest natural lake in Croatia. Because of its rare natural habitats, fresh water springs and biodiversity, Vransko Lake and its surroundings have been declared a Nature Park on July 21st, 1999. The Park limits are between Pirovac and Pakoštane. It stretches across 57 km², 30,02km² of that being the lake area itself, which stretches in direction north-west to the south-east, parallel with the sea coast, from which it is, in some places, less than a kilometre apart. The lake is unique because of its position and characteristics, not only in Croatia, but in other parts of Europe too. It is, in fact, a karst valley filled with brackish water as well as cryptodepression, which means that a portion of the lake lies below sea level.
Velebit is one of the largest mountains in this area of the Dinarides, and stretches about 145 km in northwest-southeast direction from the Vratnik pass above Senj to the River Zrmanja valley. Its average width from the coastal belt to its continental foothills in Lika averages 14 km, and varies in places from 30 km in its northern parts to 10 km in its most southern parts. Over a surface area of about 2,270 square kilometres are scattered various karst ridges and sinkholes, barren karst peaks, valleys, and foothill peaks, of which 130 rise above 1,370 m above sea level. On a clear day, the entire mountain is visible from an altitude of 8000 m. It appears as a huge, craggy arch protruding into the sea. Its slopes are steep, and its crest wide. The coastal slope of Velebit that sweeps toward the sea is much higher than its inland slope. The difference in altitude from the coastal slope to the lowest pass is about 700 m, and to the highest peak even 1757 m. On the inland side, Velebit rises from 150 to 1150 m above the plateau of Lika, which itself lies 500 to 600 m above sea level. Both slopes also differ greatly in landscape. The coastal slope is very rocky and bare, moon-like in some places and grey or yellowish-grey in colour, speckled with short plant life. Although steeper, the inland slope seems gentler. It is almost completely covered in forest so that it is dark-green in colour. The coastal slope is characterized by two more or less distinct longitudinal terraces (the foothill plateau and the longitudinal coastal plateau), which like stairs spread along the entire Velebit ridge.
Telašćica Bay is located in the central part of the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, in the south-eastern part of the island of Dugi Otok. For its extreme beauty, richness and importance, this bay surrounded by 13 islands and islets, together with 6 islets inside the bay itself, was proclaimed a Nature Park in 1988. Telašćica acquired the status of a protected area already in 1980 because of its valuable flora and fauna, geological and geomorphological phenomena, versatile sea bottom life, and interesting archaeological heritage. The area of Nature Park Telašćica is a distinctly contrasted area with quiet and peaceful beaches and a laid down coastline on one side, and wild and steep cliffs on the other, an area of Aleppo pine and holm oak forests on one side, and barren karst on the other, an area of cultivated fields covered in vineyards and olive groves, but also an area of degraded forms of vegetation covering dry habitats.