The northern part of the Dalmatian coast with its three millennium old and largest urban centre in the city of Zadar, is also called the "door to the national parks" because its unique geographical position literally opens to five national parks that can all be reached from it on a one-day trip. Paklenica, the Krka Falls, the Plitvica Lakes, North Velebit and the Kornati islands each for itself offer beauties that will leave you breathless. The canyons of the Grand and Small Paklenica, with its series of waterfalls and cliffs, ideal for free climbing, are a challenge to all nature lovers and hikers. Hidden among the flora and fauna of this area are numerous indigenous species like the griffon vulture for which this is one of two habitats in Croatia, but also a series of caves and fascinating Karst phenomenon, just as it is across most of this chain of mountain peaks, the North Velebit National Park, a mountain range that UNESCO has declared a World Biosphere Reserve.
The untouched nature of this protected area, the plant and animal species, caves and pot-holes of this forest-covered mountain and its foothills are in complete contrast with the view that shoots out from its heights to the lacework of islands that are the Kornati National Park. There are a total of 365 islands in the Zadar archipelago, with 150 smaller and larger islands and rocks making up the Kornati National Park, mostly barren rocks, and a sea of a unique blue and vertical cliff faces hanging above the sea falling steeply, often hundreds of metres, into its depths. A true nautical paradise chock full of bays, gentle coves and hidden beaches, it is an place not to be missed for every nautical tourist visiting the Adriatic, and also of modern-day Robinson Crusoe's in search of isolation and a chance to enjoy a pristine shoreline and a crystal clean sea.
Lake Vransko and its ornithological reserve is the largest natural lake in Croatia. It is located in the Zadar region and is in some parts only 800 metres from the sea. Here also is the only habitat of herons in coastal Croatia, with the lake having a multitude of fresh water species of fish and, on account of the waters mixing with that of the sea, eels. Visitors to the reserve can get a fishing licence for Lake Vransko and hire a rowboat.
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