The entry to the canyons of Mala and Velika Paklenica (Small and Large Paklenica) are truly a phenomenon due to their geological and hydrological particularities, the abundant karst, and the wealth of flora and fauna. The creeks Mala and Velika Paklenica give great value to the entire region, enriching it, and in the spring and autumn, the sheer power of the creeks erodes the limestone walls of the canyons, thus deepening them further every year.

Both, the Velika Paklenica Canyon, 14km long, and Mala Paklenica Canyon, 12km long, are deeply cut into the massive south face of the Velebit Mountains.
The geological particularities of the National Park are seen in the sharp karst formations in the regions of Bojinac, Vidakov kuk and on the plateau between both canyons. Here, many varying karst formations are visible, from cracks in the limestone, channels, basins, fissures and caves, which arose from the intensive activity of flowing water and from the large temperature differences during individual seasons.
Basins with cracks and channels are particularly well developed in the Bojinac region, where the karst formations were created during glaciations, evident in the numerous moraine deposits.
The park boasts some 70 caves, among which the most spectacular are the Manita Peć cave and the Vodarica pit. Only the Manita Peć cave is open for viewing. The water impermeable sediments are located under the porous and layers of carbonate rocks in the extended regions of Velika Paklenica, Brezimenjača and the source regions of Mala Paklenica and in the temporary flow of the Orljaca River.

In the region stretching from the seacoast to the highest peaks of Velebit, there are some 800 species of flora. Of these, some 40 species are endemic, plants of limited distribution, mostly located only on the Velebit Mountains or the Dinaric Mountains.

The only species, which grow exclusively in the canyons of the Mala and Velika Paklenica creeks and nowhere else in the world, is a specific species of sandwort (Arenaria orbicularis).

The most well known endemic species in the canyons of the Mala and Velika Paklenica creeks is the window bellflower (Campanula fenestrellata). Within the national park, several species of bellflower grow; the most worthy of note is the chimney bellflower (Campanula pyramidalis). On the slopes of the canyon, a commonly found species is Waldstein’s bellflower (Campanula waldsteiniana). In the early spring, among the first to bloom is the sweet violet (Viola odorata).
The phenomenon of the forest is one of the primary reasons why the region of South Velebit was proclaimed a national park. The steep cliffs of the park are covered with black pine (Pinus nigra) forests.
Due to the specific climate and the rocky foundations, the trees are frequently dwarfed, and are interesting and unusual in appearance. Within the park boundaries there are 20 different habitat types.

The most common animals in the park, by number of species and the number of individuals are certainly the insects, with many endemic and protected species.

Of the butterflies, which include 82 species in the park region, the most common is the scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius). Of the endemic subspecies, Vagan’s silky ringlet (Erebia gorgae, ssp. vagana) must be noted in the peak regions above 1400m. In this region, one of the most beautiful Croatian butterflies, the Apollo (Parnassius apolo) is also found. There are 31 species of amphibians and reptiles in the park, including 12 snakes. The most commonly found in the park are the Balkan whip snake (Coluber gemonensis), the Leopard snake (Elaphe situla) and the Aesculapian snake (Elaphe longissima). The Nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes) and the very rare Orsini’s viper (Vipera ursinii ssp. macrops) are the only venomous snakes in the region.

Birds are the most abundant vertebrates in the park, with 212 species recorded to date. The bird population is widely represented throughout the park by 97 species of nesting birds. Of the nesting birds, the cliff populations in the canyons of Mala and Velika Paklenica, represented by 18 species, must be noted. The most common species are the rock nuthatch (Sitta neumayer) and the blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius). The Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) was represented in 1999 by only three mating pairs. Unfortunately, the declining numbers of animals in the Velebit region and the increasing attempts to poison predators, particularly the wolf, have lead to near extinction in the park. We have also witnessed decreasing vulture populations on the Kvarner islands of Krk and Cres, and as such, the Griffon vulture is becoming a very threatened species, on the verge of disappearing from Croatia. The sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) is a nesting bird in the pine forests. The European robin (Erithacus rubecula) is a common songbird found in the coastal regions of the park during the winter months. In the summer, it nests in the beech and beech-pine forests.

There are 47 species of mammals in the park. Throughout the park, one can see game species such as roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), red deer (Cervus elaphus), chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) and wild boar (Sus scrofa). Large predator species include the brown bear (Ursus arctos), the wolf (Canis lupus) and the lynx (Lynx lynx).

Official Website of Paklenica National Park

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