Velebit Nature Park is the most important endemic hub of flora and terrestrial fauna of Croatia. It covers 2,200 square kilometres of forests, valleys, reefs, sinkholes and peaks, and includes two National Parks - Northern Velebit and Paklenica.
Of the 1854 plant species that inhabit Velebit, as many as 79 of them are endemic. The most famous is certainly Degenia velebitica. Strictly protected low perennial lives in extreme conditions, and has only three sites that are all next to mountain springs. The mountain is mostly covered with forests with occasional meadows and pastures that preserve biodiversity. Climbing Velebit, almost all the way, we are followed by beech forests, and on the snow-covered peaks we are waiting for mountain maple trees bent under a strong wind. Unlike the Medvednica Nature Park, where, regardless of the name, we can no longer find bears, Velebit is still their home. In addition to the European brown bear, there are two other large Croatian beasts - the European lynx and the gray wolf. All three species are very strictly protected. Due to as many as 18 bird species that meet strict criteria, the park area is included in the European Natura 2000 network. Among them are ortolan bunting, wood grouse, Eurasian pygmy owl and mountain woodpecker.
The magic of Velebit is not only in its peaks and forests, but also in the underground. The largest complex of caves in Croatia is in this area. Cerovac caves consist of 3 separate caves - Upper, Middle and Lower. So far, 5.5 kilometres have been explored. In the Lower Cave, in a hall called Medvjeđa, a large amount of remains of a cave bear were found. The cave bear lived there during the ice age, and erect on its hind legs, it reached up to 3 meters in height. In the cave it is possible to see the so-called "grinding", traces on the rocks created by the movement of bears.
Like animals and plants, people have long called the mountain their home. The remnants of their presence, such as old settlements, epigraphic monuments, tombstones and mills, tell us a lot about their life in this beautiful, but also inhospitable terrain.
Velebit Nature Park really offers everything to tourists, from snow-capped peaks to the miraculous underground, and if we turn to the sea, we will find many beautiful bays. Undoubtedly, the most famous is Zavratnica, near the small village of Jablanac, which also has its own legend. She says that in ancient times there was a strong earthquake that caused as many as three Roman cities to sink in one night, and Zavratnica was built in their place.