Ecologist - Writer - Photographer

Crossing Croatia: National Parks, Castles and bear shit

Adonis Blue butterfly atop Alpine Sea Holly, Croatia
A year ago, I was road-tripping and hiking across Croatia (Republika Hrvatska), a country that I had spent some time in many years ago (1992), albeit with much restricted movements. In 1992 I was a Field Assistant on an Edinburgh University Research Project investigating the genetics and behavioural ecology of Bombina toads. On this recent visit, I had the freedom provided by a road map, guide book, sleeping bag, hire car and the open road.

My visit started in bustling Zagreb, a stimulating city of contrasts of old and new. Croatia is a busy tourism destination at this time of year. I did my best to stay as far away from the busy coastal beach resorts as possible. This is not easy. Take a look at a map and you will see that most of Croatia is coastal. There is good reason that most visiting tourists and Croats make for the coast and the beach: for the suntan and the cooling effect of the sea. However, the National Parks offer a peaceful, if hot and sweaty, alternative. Not many people are stupid enough to hike up hills in the sweltering heat of the Croatian summer... Alongside the aim to travel from National Park to National Park, I detoured to interesting looking villages to investigate their charmingly ramshackle wooden houses and stone castles.

The main narrative of my trip was one of forests, caves, castles and bears. Sadly, I did not see bear on my travels. However, one of the most memorable moments was, upon waking up in my sleeping bag in the forest one morning, happening upon fresh bear poo (scat) on the path within a kilometre of my sleeping spot. I also found lots of lynx poo. Golden jackal poo I did not find. However, one evening as I bedded down in my sleeping bag, I was serenaded by a surrounding chorus of howls. It was an unforgettably mournful and primeval sound. One strangely reminiscent (in that it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention) of chimpanzee hooting in the forests of Uganda. I did not see or hear any evidence of wolves although they are reputed to be about. Whilst sorry that I did not meet wolves, I am not sure how happy I would have been to have woken during the night to find a pack of wolves surrounding my sleeping bag...

Croatia is a vibrant and lush nation. Forestry and agriculture are the main contributors to the rural economy and landscape. Amongst that Croatia offers fantastic hiking opportunities via its National Parks. They also do very nice pastries in the village bakeries.

Scroll down to view photos from the trip. Click on an image to read more about it.

Moped and street graffiti, Zagreb

Moped on street. Urban graffiti. Zagreb.

Zagreb Cathedral

Zagreb Cathedral.

The Ribarnica fish market: Zagreb

Ribarnica indoor fish market. Zagreb.

Etno kuca 150m, Okic

Etno Kuca sign, Okic, Croatia.

Red tractor and washing line, Draguc

Red tractor and washing line, Draguc, Croatia.

Cat and window, Roc

Cat and window, Roc, Croatia.

Idyl: Torquoise pool with waterfall

Zeleni vir, torquoise pool with waterfall, Croatia.

Bee on sunflower, Risnjak

Bee on sunflower, Risjnak National Park, Croatia.

Adonis Blue butterfly on white

Adonis Blue Butterfly on white, Grnjac, Croatia.

A bear shit in the woods

A bear shit in the woods, Nacionalni Park Sjeverni Velebit, Northern Velebit National Park, Croatia.

The lead image (click Blog if you cannot see it) is of an Adonis Blue Butterfly on Alpine Sea Holly, Grnjac, Croatia.

To view my Republika Hrvatska: Croatia photo gallery click here. More images will post to the gallery: so check back later.

To learn more about nature and National Parks in Croatia visit the links below:

Croatia Nature

Biodiversity of Croatia