© Adrian Chan
This wonderful limestone gorge is popular with Croatian walkers and climbers alike as it offers everything from a gentle stroll to a seriously strenuous trek and pitches for rock climbers of every level.
Situated halfway between Karlobag and Zadar – an hour from either, by bus – is Paklenica National Park, a pair of wonderful limestone gorges running up from the sea, deep into the Velebit massif. Popular with Croatian walkers and climbers, it’s also one of my favourite places in the whole country, offering everything from a gentle stroll to a seriously strenuous trek, and pitches for rock climbers of every level.
Walking is possible from sea level up to the top of the massif. Most of the lower reaches are heavily forested with deciduous trees, while higher up mountain pastures support sub-alpine flowers and herbs. One of the most attractive features of the park, however, is the more than 80 species of butterfly found here, making it a lepidopterist’s paradise.
There are also lots of beetles and several reptiles (you’ll see snakes slithering off the path as you approach) and amphibians, and an extraordinary 209 species of bird to watch out for.