Truth be told, there are no exclusive hotels in this region, but its spectacular nature and different kinds of things to do will make you forget about the hotels. If you’re an athletic type of a tourist, then you must try cycling (in Perušić region alone there is 150 kilometers of cycling routes), hiking, horseback- riding, white water rafting, skiing, hunting and fishing and some new specialised kinds of tourism such as spelunking tourism (for those who like caves and pits) in case of which Lika is your top destination. Not far away from Perušić a cave park, Grabovača, has been opened. All the caves within the park are connected through two educational trails, ‘Man and Karst’ and ‘Following the Footsteps of Mirko Malez’, both of which pass through the forest, across the slopes and pass the ravines and have information boards along their way. Tourists may enter the Samograd cave with a guide. The temperature of an average 8 degrees makes it an ideal getaway during the hot summer days. You can also avoid high temperatures by hiding in Cerovačke caves located on the southern side of Nature Park Velebit, close to the city of Gračac. It is a complex of three caves and tourists may visit the first 700 meters out of the 4 kilometers that have been explored. In the last couple of years birdwatching has become popular as well, thanks to the 55 species of nesting birds such as the alpine swift (Tachymarptis melba). Lika’s animal kingdom is quite diverse and a proof of this is a number of 49 protected species, the most prominent ones being the bat, the wolf and the brown bear.
The first and most famous national park, Plitvice Lakes, attracts more than a million visitors a year, who admire a complex of 16 lakes, numerous bigger and smaller waterfalls, Šupljara cave and rich vegetation. The park consists of Upper and Lower lakes out of which 12 upper ones. The biggest and best known is lake Kozjak, which is 46 meters deep and on which electric tourist boats glide next to adventurers in rental boats. In the middle of Kozjak there is Štefanija’s Island, 275 meters long and 60 meters wide. The main attraction, however, is the Great Waterfall which is 78 meters high and listed as the highest in Croatia. Bears, wolves, lynx, owls, hawks and otters are just some of the animal species that live in the forests of Plitvice. This, however, is no reason for concern because wild animals do not leave the woods (unless the winters are extremely cold and they are looking for food, which can happen only when there are no tourists anyways). National Park Plitvice has been listed on the UNESCO Natural Heritage List. Northern Velebit National Park has been on the same list since 1999 and is the coldest Croatian region. Its highest peak, Veliki Zavižan, is 1676 meters high. Winter lasts for 7 months here, which is why warmer days should be used to explore the untouched nature. Bears, lynx, wolves, black cocks, chamois, owls and woodpeckers are not afraid of winter and live there throughout the entire year. In June every year the most famous event in the park, a cycling race called ‘Hillclimb to Zavižan’, is organised.
Aside from its natural beauty Lika is also known for potato growing. Potato growing is a matter of pride in Lika. When touring the villages you’ll come across many family cheese farms that produce all kinds of cheeses such as skuta or lički škripavac – a cheese that makes an unusual sound while eating it. In the clear lakes and rivers of Lika there is the trout that can be ordered in any restaurant. Horseback- riding through the forests of Lika, on top of elegant horses, is a special experience (all the more so since Winnetou, the chief, rode the same way in the movie filmed on these locations). Such an activity is available on the Linden Tree Retreat&Ranch estate close to Velika Plana.
Finally, Lika is probably best known for the fact that this is where Nikola Tesla, one of the most famoust inventors ever, was born. Tesla was born in a small village of Smiljan next to Gospić, on 10 July 1856. You can visit Nikola Tesla Memorial Center in Smiljan and find out all about the inventions that we still use in the everyday life.
Did you know…
that the river Lika is 78 kilometers long and the second longest swallet in Europe?
that the Lukina Jama in Northern Velebit National Park, which is 1431 meters deep, is the fourteenth deepest pit in the world?
that 58 orchid types grow in National Park Plitvice Lakes?