Parks, Rivers and Canyons


Velebit is Croatia's largest mountain range. Over its entire length of 150 kilometres Velebit has been protected as a nature park, together with two national parks and a series of smaller specially protected areas. With more than 2,000 square kilometres, Velebit Nature Park is by far Croatia's largest protected area. This magnificent mountain range offers two faces, bare rocky slopes on the coastal side and vast forests on the continental side. The range abounds in natural values as unusual rock formations, wild canyons, deep pits and caves, and it is particularly rich in endemic species of plants and animals. Due to its special natural values, in 1978 UNESCO included the Velebit mountain range in its international network of the Man and Biosphere Reserve (MAB).


Lake Vrana Nature Park represents a unique wetland area of the Croatian coast. Its vast reed beds and narrow belt of floodplain grasslands that spread throughout the ornithological reserve are most valuable in terms of biodiversity and present very important bird habitats. A total of 234 species of birds have been recorded and 102 species nest within the park boundaries, so the area is of international importance as a resting and feeding ground for migratory birds. According to some estimates, each day during the autumn migration 200,000 migratory birds inhabit the park area, while occasionally this figure increases up to 400,000!


The stunning landscape of the Channel of St. Anthony, publicly protected since 1974, encompasses the area from the Šibenik Bridge to the Venetian Fortress of St. Nicholas and the surrounding sea. No one has yet passed through the Channel of St. Anthony without experiencing awe at this rare sight of beauty. The channel is just over 2000 m in length, 220 m in width and 40 m in depth. During earlier times the channel had strategic importance, so an iron chain was strung up from one side of the strait to the other to prevent enemy boats from entering large Škar Harbour.


The significant landscape of the Krka River from the Skradin Bridge to its mouth has been protected since September 1968. The town of Skradin, Lake Prokljan (Croatia's second largest lake with 11.5 km2) and the Channel of St. Joseph that is connected to Šibenik Bay are among the most valuable entities of the area. The locality is a typical sub-merged river valley, so people have frequently wondered where the mouth of the Krka River really is, with answers ranging from Skradin to St. Nicholas Fort, but the entire area from Skradin to the Fortress of St. Nicholas actually forms the mouth.


Upstream from the national park boundaries the Krka River flows partly through the canyon and partly through lowlands, so the diverse types of relief have created interesting geomorphological forms within this protected landscape. The Krka springs under the base of the "Topoljski buk" waterfall and flows for 10 km before the boundaries of Krka National Park, collecting the waters of numerous tributaries on its way. The meandering of the Krka in the lowland section of its flow is of special note, as this is an exceptionally rare occurrence in karst landscapes.


The Krčić River has been protected since 1964 and together with the Krka River forms a unique hydrographic system. Over its length of about 10 km from its spring to the "Topoljski buk" waterfall (where it drains into the Krka River), the Krčić River stands out with its deep and picturesque canyon. Along its course and leading from the spring of the Krka River there is a charming 15 km bike trail. The trail was built while Napoleon had ruled the area and was later reconstructed under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The bike trail runs through the pleasant canyon landscape and along the course of this beautiful karst river that dries up during the summer months, creating a fantastic travertine track.


The panoramic canyon of the Čikola River, the largest tributary of the Krka River, has been protected as a significant landscape since 1965. The stunning canyon is up to 170 m deep at some places and the area stands out as an extraordinary geomorphological and hydrological phenomenon of the karst landscape. The locality is exceptionally important as the traces of human presence dating from Palaeolithic (around 18,000 years B.C.) have been found in the canyon's caves. The flora and fauna of the canyon includes 298 plant species, 4 fish species, 4 species of amphibians and 22 species of mammals, of which the most numerous are bats.