South from Senj, the Magistrala picks its way beneath the rocky slopes of the Velebit, the mountain chain which follows the coast for some 100km. A stark, grey, unbroken wall, the Velebit is a forbidding sight when seen from the coast, although there are patches of green pasture and forest just below its string of summits. Two areas, Northern Velebit and Paklenica, have been designated as national parks. Offering some of the most exhilarating hiking in southeastern Europe, the Velebit can also be a dangerous place for the unprepared. Weather can be very unpredictable – it may seem sunny on the coast below, but a storm might be raging on the mountain once you reach a certain altitude. Avoid hiking alone, pick up weather forecasts from the relevant national park offices, and announce your arrival in advance if you’re planning to stay at any mountain shelters.

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