There are places where the mountains seem to touch the sea, and Velebit is just such a place.
Get closer to the wild
Gospić – Lika-Senj County- Croatia
The Velebit Mountains on the Croatian Adriatic coast, together with some surrounding marine and lowland areas, are considered one of the wildest areas in the entire Mediterranean. The Velebit Mountains are one of the most important wilderness areas in the Balkans.
It is home to two national parks, a biosphere reserve and several beautiful ancient forests, deep gorges, ancient grasslands and rugged cliffs that provide an ideal habitat for species such as Chamois, Red Deer, Wolf, Lynx, Ural Owl, Black Woodpeckers and many others.
The protection of this area makes it possible to maintain the ecological integrity of the mountain ranges of the Dinaric Arc (which stretches from Slovenia to Albania) practically uninterrupted.
These wild landscapes are crossed by only a few roads, mainly forest roads, often used only by forest managers and a few enthusiastic hikers. But thanks to special vehicles, we can reach extremely remote areas (so much so that they are inaccessible in winter), small mountain gorges or clearings where our pioneering hides have been built. These pine-roofed structures blend seamlessly into the environment and provide a prime shooting location in these forests inhabited by brown bears. All hides are designed to provide maximum comfort and are equipped with beds and a bathroom should you wish to take longer photo sessions.
The hides are located in different valleys and offer views of different environments. They are designed so that you can observe at close range almost all the species living in the area, thanks to the feeders for large predators and deer, the rotting logs that attract woodpeckers, and the watering holes used mainly by passerine birds such as the Blue rock Thrush, Sombre Tit, Collared Flycatcher, Western Subalpine Warbler, but also the Eurasian Sparrowhawk and the Northern Goshawk. A project for all nature lovers, so spectacular that you can find yourself swimming with dolphins in the morning and watching majestic bears in the afternoon.
The many habitats that characterize Velebit allow for a unique ornithological diversity. The queen of the peaks is undoubtedly the Golden Eagle, but other birds of prey such as the Western Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, and Peregrine Falcon are also found here. At nightfall the Eurasian Eagle-Owl, Barn Owl, Tawny and Ural Owl, and little owl leave their daytime quarters in search of small mammals.
Among the old trunks of the beech forests, you can hear the rhythmic drumming of the Black Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, European Green Woodpecker and Eurasian Wryneck, while among the rocks sing species such as the Rock Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Blue rock Thrush, Western Black-eared Wheatear, Western Rock Nuthatch, and Rock Bunting.
Many passerine birds live in the bushes and trees, some of which are common in these areas, such as the Sombre Tit, Collared Flycatcher, Western Subalpine Warbler, Western Orphean Warbler, Barred Warbler, Spotted Nutcracker, and Black-headed Bunting. In the areas dominated by the Mediterranean scrub, the Lesser grey Shrike and the Woodchat Shrike can be found in the bushes. A variety of species can easily be encountered during hikes or photo sessions at the hides.
The inaccessibility of some valleys and the large forest areas have made this place a perfect refuge for the large mammals of Europe. Croatia is one of the rare countries inhabited by three large carnivores: the Brown bear, the Eurasian Lynx and the Gray Wolf, which have disappeared in most Western European countries.
The Velebit nature park is home to four species of medium-sized beasts, the European Wildcat, the European Badger, the Golden Jackal and Red Fox. When night falls, the howling of wolves and jackals can be heard in remote areas. Chamois live among the rocks, but if you descend to the valley floor, you may encounter deer, Wild Boar, and Roe Deer. Many species of bats have been identified in the park, which is also home to many rodents such as the Dormouse, the Yellow-necked Mouse, and the Alpine Shrew.
However, the most interesting species is undoubtedly the Balkan Snow Vole, which is considered a living fossil and can be found here among the high karst rocks. On the dense forest floor you can spot Hares and Beech martens, while Pine Martens lurk on the higher branches.
The undisputed star of this area is the Brown Bear, which lives in these forests and can weigh up to 300 kg. In Croatia, the population is stable and it is not difficult to meet large adult bears or females with cubs playing among branches and rocks. This lord of the forest can be scary, but thanks to special photo hides you can observe him in all his glory in complete safety.