Croatia // The Kvarner Gulf //

Paklenica National Park

The southern end of the Velebit massif culminates in a flourish of tortured limestone formations above the straggling seaside town of Starigrad-Paklenica. It constitutes the obvious base for the Paklenica National Park (Nacionalni Park Paklenica), the most accessible hiking area in the southern Velebit. At the centre of the park are two limestone gorges, Velika Paklenica and, 5km to the south, Mala Paklenica (literally, Big Paklenica and Small Paklenica), which run down towards the sea, towered over by four-hundred-metre-high cliffs. Velika Paklenica is a major tourist destination busy with hikers and rock-climbing enthusiasts from spring through to autumn, while Mala Paklenica has deliberately been left undeveloped in order to protect its status as a (relatively) untouched wilderness – paths are not well maintained and you’ll need good maps (available from local shops and the national park office in Starigrad) if you want to explore.

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