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Gorski Kotar - The Lungs of Croatia

Gorski Kotar

Think of the Lake District in the north west of the UK and you have an idea of what Gorski Kotar is all about. The literal translation of Gorski Kotar is, in fact, "Mountain District". So, picture glorious mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes, rich green forest woodland, clear air and almost clearer fresh-water babbling streams - interspersed with small picturesque villages and several larger, equally picturesque towns - Gorski Kotar in all its splendour! The entire region radiates an unspoilt peace and quiet, perfect for that escape from busy city living.

Situated in the north-west of Croatia and bordering Slovenia, Gorski Kotar is only 45 minutes drive from the Adriatic coast and about an hour's drive from Croatia's capital Zagreb, making the whole region easily accessible. The nearest airport is Rijeka airport located on Krk Island.

Gorski Kotar is actually a large plateau between the Adriatic's Kvarner Bay and Croatia's Karlovac region, with an average height of about 800 metres above sea level. From the Adriatic coast the approach to Gorski Kotar is a steep climb, whilst the northern end of the region gently descends through rolling hills and valleys, eventually merging with the Karlovac plain. More than half of the region is covered with forests, deciduous trees dominating the plains and evergreen pine forests abundant in the higher areas.

The climate is typical of many mountainous areas around the world - relatively short and fresh summers, with snowy winters.

Wildlife, wildlife, wildlife ...

For animal lovers, the region offers a plethora of species including dear, boar, otter, fox, rabbit, dormouse and badger. Bird life to be found includes pheasant, owl and eagle and wild duck. Risnjak national park is also home to brown (plant-eating!) bears, wolves and lynx. The rivers and lakes are rich with fish life including salmon, pike and carp.

A nature reserve playground

Gorski Kotar has an abundance of nature reserves. Some worth mentioning and certainly worth a visit include the National Parks of Risnjak, Bijele Samarske Stijene, Vraziji Prolaz ("Devil's passage"), and Zeleni Vir ("Green Whirl"); as well as other forest parks such as Japlenski Vrh and Golubinjak.

The entire region features glorious lakes such as lake Bayer adjacent to the town of Fuzine, and lake Lokve, a beautiful panorama of clear fresh water surrounded by pine forests and mountain peaks in the distance.

Kupa River
Photography courtesy of Ornela Kostic

Croatia's Kupa river springs from a small turquoise lake in Gorski Kotar's Risnjak national park, where it starts its 296 kilometre journey, eventually merging with the Sava river. About half of the river flows through Gorski Kotar, winding its way through the small towns and villages of the area. The Kupa river is best known for its range of activities such as fly-fishing, rafting, kayaking and canoeing.

The mountain peaks are breathtaking, providing scenic views of almost white bare rocky tops contrasting with deep green pine forests just below them. The highest peak is Bjelolasica at approximately 1,533 metres high whilst the observation post at the top of Risnjak, at 1,528 metres, offers one of the most stunning views in Croatia.

Caves that can be explored can also be found in Gorski Kotar. Two worth mentioning are the Lokvarka caves, with a length of 1200 metres including a glorious underground lake and the 300 metre long cave of Vrelo which has a clear stream running through it. Both caves feature numerous stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Gorski Kotar is divided into nine administrative districts with centres in the following towns: Delnice, Cabar, Lokve, Fuzine, Mrkopalj, Ravna Gora, Skrad, Brod Moravice and Vrbovsko.



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