From Zavižan to Rožanski kukovi using the Premužić trail
The diversity of karst forms, plants, animals and landscapes on such a small area make the peak part of northern Velebit one of the most attractive mountain havens in the Croatian Dinarides. The Northern Velebit is the youngest Croatian national park. Within the park, there are four areas under special protection regime – the strict reserve Hajdučki and Rožanski Kukovi, the botanical reserve Visibaba, the area of the Croatian endemic species - Croatian Sibirea, and the Velebit botanical garden.
For the purpose of preserving and further exploring plant species, the Velebit botanical garden was established close to Zavižan, pursuant an initiative by Fran Kušan, PhD. It is located 1480 meters above sea level and its central part is the sinkhole Balinovačka, which is encircled by a 600-meter-long stone trail. There are 500 plant species here; some are wild and others have been brought from different parts of Velebit. Various rare Velebit species are among these too.
A stay on the Northern Velebit is not a stay without an ascent to some of its prominent tops. From almost all its sides it is possible to admire beautiful views of the Kvarner islands, other Velebit summits and Lika. It is the views from the mountaintops of Zavižan that leave visitors breathless on clear days. Accessing these is not difficult, as there are roads and well-developed mountain trails leading from the bottom of the mountains.
The main starting point for mountaineers are the mountain lodges Zavižan, Alan and Mrkvište. From the basin of Zavižan there are blazed mountain trails leading to the summits Veliki Zavižan (an hour’s ascent), Balinovac (a half an hour’s ascent), Vučjak (above the mountain lodge), Zavižanski Pivčevac and Mali Rajinac (2-3 hours of climbing). Still, the most beautiful tour is the one along the Premužić trail towards the heart of Rožanski and Hajdučki Kukovi. This unique rocky landscape is protected as a strict reserve, which is the strictest form of nature protection in Croatia. The Premužić trail is, undoubtedly, the most beautiful walking trail in Croatia and is known for permitting those with a lower level of physical fitness to find their way easily through the most beautiful parts of Velebit.
The main feature of the Northern Velebit is its karst relief with many round peaks, larger and smaller, regular and irregular sinkholes, mountain grassland and bays. However, the richness of the underground karst world remains virtually hidden from the eyes of the more curious ones. Up to now, three pits deeper than 1000 meters have been discovered and partially explored in the heart of Rožanski and Hajdučki Kukovi. This area is considered to be one of the most interesting speleological parts of the world.
Besides the area of Zavižan and Rožanski and Hajdučki Kukovi, the most attractive locations in the national park are Alan and Veliki Lubenovac. The area along the saddle Veliki Alan (1414 m), one of the most significant Velebit saddles, thrills with its beauty of grassland, wooded valleys and slopes above which picturesque mountaintops rise proudly. Close to Alan there is Mirovo – once a summer mountain settlement and today vast grassland with visible remains of stone walls and old summer huts. A similar idyllic scenery is offered by the karst valley Veliki Lubenovac, above which one can admire the white rocks of Veliki Kozjak.
Due to its particular beauty, diversity of landscape and views, Northern Velebit leaves unforgettable memories to all its visitors.