Gorski Kotar - The Lungs of Croatia
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.