Velebit and Plitvička National ParksEurope
The exquisite Plitvička Lakes National Park would probably be right at the top of any list of the most beautiful in Europe. Limestone mountains are dissected by deep canyons filled with turquoise lakes and pools, all cloaked in forests. Waterfalls cascade down cliffs draped in greenery. Fortunately National Park staff in Croatia have overseen a very careful development of Plitvička over the past decades. Slatted paths have been built that allow us to walk through the most beautiful canyons, alongside waterfalls, around and even across lakes. And everywhere shining green forest frames the turquoise and blue.
Extensive stands of Beech, Fir and Spruce cloak the slopes rising from the glittering canyons. These are home to Wild Boar and Red Squirrels, Fire Salamanders and Balkan Green Lizards, Black Woodpecker and Goshawk. Siberian Iris and Grass-leaved Iris flower by the waterside and back under the trees are Lily-of-the-Valley and Herb Paris. White-letter Hairstreaks and various Fritillaries visit bramble as we admire Helleborines, Orchids and no less than three lily species, Lilium bosniacum, Lilium carniolicum and deep wine-red Lilium (martagon) cattaniae. Hawfinch and Collared Flycatcher are quite common in this verdant landscape.
For the second part of our tour we’ll head to the coastal ranges of the Dinaric Alps, protected in the Northern Velebit National Park. The Velebit is famed for its endemic plants, and especially for its beautiful Silver Fir forests. In places such as the remarkable Velika Plana there are significant stands of undisturbed old-growth forest and a walk through these is a delight, the huge trunks draped in lichens and mosses, the ferny understory rich in fungi. There is a very rich mammal fauna and though this is not a dedicated mammal tour we’ve still a very good chance of seeing Brown Bear. Wild Cat and Pine Marten are sometimes seen. White-backed Woodpecker is tolerably common in the old growth and both Capercaillie and Hazel Grouse are likely, Wrynecks and Crested Tits are common.
Amongst the subalpine meadows Balkan Copper, Apollo and Assmann’s Fritillary float above rocky slopes adorned with Pedicularis brachyodonta, Aquilegia kitaibelii and delicate Primula kitaibeliana. The Croatian subspecies of Sibiraea laevigata is a tertiary relict here, this species is also found in Central Asia and China, quite a disjunct distribution! Rocks are festooned with Campanula fenestrellata and superlative clumps of Edraianthus graminifolius. The Velebit is remarkable for another reason. On one side of the range you drop rapidly to the Adriatic. So just an hour from temperate forests and alpine slopes we can be sunning ourselves by the sea with Hoopoes, Red-backed Shrikes and Eastern Subalpine Warblers, and a strikingly different flora!
Dates and Prices
11th June - 18th June 2024 (8 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Everything – the Flora and Fauna of two of Europe’s most beautiful landscapes
One leader for a group of up to 6, two leaders up to 12 and a third leader up to the maximum group size of 15.
All flights. All transport and meals in Croatia. Services of your leaders. Please note: Drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
Flower, butterfly and bird checklists are available.
We start our visit to Croatia’s premier national parks with three nights at the Lakeside Hotel Plitvice set right in the heart of the national park. This hotel, though large, manages to merge quite well into the forest and the grounds offer excellent birdwatching and many of the best walks start from right by the hotel entrance. Rooms are large and comfortable. Next we’ve four nights in the characterful Hotel Meduza in lovely Senj, a charming little town on the Adriatic shore. Senj has a very long history. The Meduza is in the perfect position. The fishing harbour lies just across from the front door and Senj’s iconic Nehaj Fortress is sited just a few hundred metres away. The rooms themselves are very pleasant and the restaurant serves fine Mediterranean dishes. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities.
Fairly easy. No more than three or four of miles in any one day, and always at a relaxed pace, ideally suited to photographers. Sometimes though we’ll be on steep paths, and on rocky ground.
UK flights are direct flights from Heathrow (or other UK airports but not Gatwick!) to Zagreb, returning from Rijeka to London Gatwick. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*these routes may incur a supplement.
Warm and sunny with blue skies for the most part, pleasant in the mountains, but getting quite warm down in Senj. There may be some rain and cloud in the mountains.
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back to us. You will receive confirmation of your place, and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.