5 Signature Adventures in Paklenica National Park

21. March 2023

Explore Paklenica National Park and witness the awe-inspiring site of dramatic canyons and karst rock formations of this natural wonder recently added to the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.  The park is only a 45-minute drive away from the Mediterranean Village of San Antonio.

We present you with 5 must-do activities such as 1. hiking along educational trails, 2. touring the awe-inspiring Manita Peć cave, 3. recreational climbing to the mountain peaks higher than 1,700m, 4. adrenaline based rock climbing and 5. exploring the underground secrets of Paklenica.

The park is essentially a 14,5 km long valley with the 400m deep and extremely narrow canyon, being it’s most distinctive feature. Paklenica canyon is partially enclosed due to the collapsed rock blocks which have also formed a series of rapids and smaller waterfalls.

1. Educational trails

Hiking is truly a great way to explore Paklenica National Park. More than 200 km of mountain trails stretch throughout the park and are marked with red and white markers for a better orientation.  The most iconic trail is Velika Paklenica-Anića luka-Lugarnica and it takes you from the main canyon in Velika Paklenica to the mountain lodge, while the trail Paklarić (550 meters) provides some of the best viewpoints ideal for taking beautiful photos. Pjeskarica trail (1.5 km) takes you to the Paklenica mill and is ideal for observing the unique plant and animal life. The trail A Short Journey Through History (8 km) includes cycling and hiking trails that pass through the charming rural farms and also tell a tale from the dinosaur era.

  • monitor the weather forecast and plan enough time for a descent before the dark.
  • a detailed brochure with printed maps is available at the tourist information office.

Photos by Paklenica National Park

2. Cave Manita Peć

Spacious and decorated with imposing sigas, Manita peć was first opened to the public in 1937 and is the only cave in the national park that is open for visitors.

Cave crags have interesting shapes which form differently based on the method of formation with the most common types being the stalagmites, stalactites, crag columns (stalagmites) and cave oysters (cascades). Some of these ornaments were named after their interesting shapes such as the helmet, the organ and the witch.

Animal world: Previous research so far has identified a total of 52 species of invertebrates out of which 20 live exclusively in the underground cave environment with no surviving chance outside the cave.  Such species compensate the absence of pigments and eyes with a strong sense of smell, taste and touch. A number of well-known European bio speleologists have recently discovered new species such as Chthonius radjai and Bogidiella sketi shrimp.

  • The entrance to the cave is located at 570 m above sea level, and the hike takes about 1.5 hours.
  • The tour lasts for 30 minutes and is accompanied by a professional guide
  • Layered clothing is recommended, due to the approximate temperature of 9°C
  • Dogs may not stay in the cave due to the sensitive cave ecosystem and group touring format
  • Tickets are available in front of the entrance while the only acceptable paying method is cash.
  • Availability for the visits are as follows:
    • April – Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m
    • May, October, June – Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
    • July, August, September – every day from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m

Photos by Paklenica National Park

3. Peaking Above 1700m

Vaganski vrh

Altitude: (1757 m/sl) – the highest peak in Paklenica National Park and the overall Velebit mountain

What to see: 150 km distant Risnjak national park, 110 km distant peak Klek and 105 km distant Troglav, the highest peak of the regional Dinara mountain chain.

  • Altitude: (1709 m/asl)
  • What to see: a beautiful view of the entire Adriatic archipelago of Central Dalmatia
  • Caution: the ascent is steep and demanding and is recommended only for experienced mountaineers in excellent physical condition.

Photos by Paklenica National Park

4. Rock Climbing Paradise

Due to its geomorphological attributes, the Paklenica National Park has become one of most attractive and sought after climbing sites in Europe.  Another distinctive feature is the park’s close proximity to the Adriatic coast thus enabling the inclusion of multiple water based to the overall set of sports activities.  Within the climbing area of Paklenica, there are around 500 climbing routes, equipped according to the overall length and level of difficulty (grades from 3 to 8b+) and thus appealing to various levels of recreational affinities and sports’ skills.

  • Climbers with small children: Klanci is the narrowest section of Velika Paklenica with the largest number of short climbing routes and an easy access
  • The most famous rock for climbing in Paklenica is Anića Kuk with routes totaling in length of 350m 
  • The main climbing season in Paklenica starts in the spring and lasts until late autumn, while  the most famous traditional gathering of climbers, the Big Wall Speed ​​Climbing, takes place in early May and is accompanied by a series of events and competitions.

Photos by Paklenica National Park

5. Underground Secrets of Paklenica

A long-kept secret until 1991 were the underground tunnels within the Velika Paklenica canyon. Popularly called “Bunkers”, the tunnels were built by the Yugoslav army in the period from 1950 to 1953 as part of a special protection program due to the political crisis with the Soviet Union.  The space had been completely renovated between 2000 and 2016 with the following facilities available for your visit today:

  • The Light tunnel – which evokes the story of the mountain using light and sound effects triggered by your movements
  • Visitor center is a place where you can explore, learn and experience the natural and cultural riches of Mt. Velebit and Paklenica

Little Climbing Center within the multifunctional hall contains an artificial rock on which your little ones can make their first climbing moves, while on the screens they get to know the techniques in a fun and interactive way and listen to the experiences of famous climbers.

Photos by Paklenica National Park

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by contacting us directly for a personalized booking service at info@sanantonio.hr or +385 91 2849152.

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