With its most beautiful northern section tucked between our 2Parks, the second longest mountain in Croatia of amazing biodiversity awaits you in the heart of the GWT2P destination.
It is always good to remind ourselves what we have on our magnificent blue planet - mountains for example! We are connected to them and affected by them in ways many of us have not yet fully become aware of. Yes they are majestic, their serenity brings us peace and their stunning ecosystems give us pure energy - but in addition to these values, here's why they matter so much:
- they provide most of the world's freshwater (80%);
- they harbor 50% of the planet's richest biodiversity hotspots;
- they are home to a quarter of the world's forests;
- they are home to 12% of the human population;
- around 2 billion people depend on food produced in mountainous regions;
- they cover approx. one-quarter of the world’s surface - and are simply beautiful.
Mountains have always been a source of wonder and inspiration for us humans, so learn at least a little about our beautiful massif and then come and collect your new dose of inspiration while enjoying the beauties of the Licka Pljesevica Mountain and other mountain gems in our destination such as Medvjedak (Plitvička jezera NP), Mrsinj (Korenica), and Ljutoc (Una NP).
Link: Mountains matter
The United Nations General Assembly designated 11 December as “International Mountain Day”.
Once known as the most inaccessible mountain in Croatia, our natural gem Licka Pljesivica belongs to External Dinarides and has a Dinaric orientation NW to SE. With its natural extensions, Medvjedak on the north and Kremen and Postak on the south, this impressive mountain range has a surface of 453 square kilometers and a length of over 100 km, stretching from the Plitvice Lakes National Park to the River Zrmanja in the South of Croatia.
The view from the Plitvice Lakes National Park on the peak Gola Pljesivica
Like many places around the world, Licka Pljesivica has also undergone name changes. It was known as Gvozd, in the 16th century it was called Hortus Diabolicus or the Devil's garden (probably out of spite because the mountain of amazing biodiversity was so inaccessible it simply couldn't be conquered), and the contemporary name was written for the first time by the Venetian cartographer Forlani in 1560 in the “i” form of Croatian dialect - Plisva.
On a small part of the mountain that was given to neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1946, a common name for the mountain is Pljesevica, and the autochthonous Lika population from Croatia still living in mountain villages above the town of Bihac continues to nurture its Croatian Ikavian dialect and the name Pljesivica.
The first description of the mountain was given by the bishop from Senj, Sebastijan Glavinic in 1669. Thanks to its opulent natural wealth, Pljesivica was researched in many areas by a great number of scientists and ecologists; we will name some of them:
- In 1789, Balthasar Hacquet (French naturalist, ethnographer, surgeon and one of the founders of hiking) described the mountain in his book "Oryctographia carniolica";
- In 1802, the mountain became famous in scientific circles thanks to botanical findings collected by Pal Kitaibel (Hungarian botanist and chemist) and Franz de Paula Adam von Waldstein (Austrian nobleman, soldier, researcher and naturalist). The findings, accompanied by color pictures (K. Schultz), were published in "Descriptiones et icones plantarum rariorum Hungariae";
- In 1845, Pljesivica was explored by Saxon King Friedrich August II;
- In 1852, the mountain was explored by Dr. Josip Schlosser (Croatian botanist and zoologist) and his associate Mr. Ljudevit Vukotinovic; their study was published in the famous "Flora Croatica";
- In 1863, it was researched by Johann Zelebor (Austrian Zoologist and Naturalist);
- Since 1894, the mountain had been studied for a longer period of time by Arpad von Degen (Hungarian botanist);
- In 1896, the mountain was explored by famous and renowned botanist amateur Ljudevit Rossi, one of the pioneers of Like & Velebit flora research;
- In the 20th century, the Croatian botanist of world renown, Dr. Ivo Horvat, had been exploring Pljesivica for quite some time.
A scientific interest in Pljesevica’s opulent biodiversity was, and still is, the best confirmation of its great natural values that deserve to come out of a deep isolation which threatens the extraordinary web of life that the mountain supports. With our joint efforts all world's mountains can get adequate attention!
Our main GWT2P green trail leads across one of the most impressive Dinaric limestone plateaus, the 15 km long and up to 3 km wide Una-korana Plateau, which is located half way between our 2Parks, at the foot of the majestic Licka Pljesivica Mountain!
The original relief elevations date back to the Oligo-Miocene period. Later tectonic movements caused faults, and the current relief of the mountain, in addition to powerful tectonic movements in the Earth's interior, was shaped by various external, exogenous tectonic processes (fluviokarst and slope processes, corrosion, periglacial as well as glacial processes).
Licka Pljesivica is even more interesting and special thanks to its discintive symmetry, namely its highest points are not in the central part, but at the beginning and at the end of the mountain range with the highest elevation in Ozeblin Peak at 1657 meters above sea level.
The northern part of the mountain has a sharp and prominent reef, rocky peaks and two steep slopes protruding from the reef. Beautiful northern section of the mountain reaches its highest altitude in Gola Pljesivica peak (1649 m) from where the uppermost part of the Pljesivica mountain ridge starts, defined by three peaks: Mala Pljesivica (1576 m), Gredoviti vrh (1429 m) and Suputov vrh (1403 m).
Gola Pljesivica is an impressive bare stone peak which attracts admiring attention - in winter thanks to its white snow-topped peak and in summer thanks to its white shiny limestone. The peak is also one of ours main attractions because it offers one of the most beautiful lookouts in Croatia with splendid views of the mountains in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, and faraway Italy. The starting point for Gola Pljesivica ascent is Korenica and you can find more info about it under our Experiences (interactive map) and in our Events and Activities Calendar! Another natural beauty awaits you nearby; relentless exogenous geodynamic and fluvial processes are responsible for the creation of one of the most impressive limestone plateaus in the Dinarides - the beautiful Una-Koran Plateau on the NE edge of Licka Pljesivica.
In the southern part, from the Pljesivica stone peak (1616 m), the main ridge gradually disperses and spreads in a plateau from which peaks and sinuous slopes rise, and among them riverbeds and bays with beautiful high altitude pastures: Veliko and Malo Kamensko, Paljenica, Poljana, and Karblovica korito.
The relief of Licka Pljesivica has several interconnected ridges, slopes, and isolated peaks. Some peaks rise above the limits of the forest and stick out as rocky summits. There are also five interesting interconnected mountain units: Gola Pljesivica group, Trovrh group, Ozeblin group, Javornik, Orlovaca & Brusnica group, and Lopate & Ticeva group.
Further south of the Šuputov Peak (1403 m), the ridge gradually descends to the Skipine Gorge (1212 m) from where the ridge rises again, reaching its highest elevations at Trovrh Peak (1620 m) and Zestikovac Peak (1333 m). The Skipine Gorge is known for its strong atmospheric appearance - this is one of only two spots on the mountain where the famous bura wind has the most powerful gusts.
The impressive geologic age of the mountain also indicates its natural value - the oldest deposits are of Triassic age (245 to 202 million years old) and we find them in the narrow area of the Melinovecka draga (velly) in Campiler deposits from the Lower Triassic period containing gray laminar and marl limestones, and in places the Werfenian schists.
The highest peak of the northern part of the mountain, the robust ridge of the Gola Pljesivica, is built of bright limestone blocks whose deposits date from the Upper Cretaceous Period (about 70 million years ago); these tightly bound blocks of great physical resistance are extremely rich in fossils, especially hippurites.
In the immediate vicinity of the Gola Pljesivica peak, a massive and more resistant part of the otherwise soft rocks, an elongated rock called rocky outcrops resisted strong geomorphological processes and the dissolution of limestone over millions of years that eventually led to the formation of a dramatic landform. Our limestone rocky beauty is called Klanjalica, a frequent "target" of photography lovers because it’s truly impressive and strongly dominates the landscape (mountaineers also call it the Lika Cap because of its interesting shape, which resembles the tassels on the traditional cap).
Licka Pljesivica is also significant because of its two types of faulting (fractures in Earth's crust where rocks on either side of the crack slid past each other):
- NW-SW faulting that formed impressive bays; these elongated karst formations, which are very often beautiful wooded areas, are found at an altitude of about 1100 m parallel to the direction of the main ridges. One of them, simply named the Bay, is especially characteristic of the area of Gola Pljesivica. This beautiful bay is about 8 km long and varies in height from 1050 m to the NW, then rising gradually to 1102 m and 1196 m to the SE from where it descends to 1109 m. The bay has a mostly rocky bottom covered with massive blocks of collapsed rocks which are presumed to have formed during the last ice age when smaller, short-lived glaciers were formed on the top of the mountain. The bay is also adorned with numerous karst sinkholes of various sizes.
- NW-SWE faulting that formed deep V-shaped valleys - a distinctive characteristic of the mountain with very steep slopes and a stream running along their bottom. Four of them stand out, Bijela valley (draga) in the northern part, and in the southern part three larger ones: Zavalje, Skocaj and Melinovec valleys. The direction of the valleys was conditioned by the once powerful tectonic movements - faulting, and it is very likely that they were formed by the stream-related processes (exogenous fluviokarst processes).
The mountain is also adorned with diverse karst forms:
- numerous pits, caves, abysses;
- and sinkholes - these cavities in the ground created by erosion and the drainage of water are distinctive karst forms on Licka Pljesivica and can be found almost everywhere on the mountain, particularly on the beautiful stair-step, the Una-Koran Plateau. Around the Gola Pljesivica summit we can find another type of above-ground karst depressions called kamenice which are commonly up to 2 m in diameter and almost always hold some water.
Mountains are crucial to life, yet despite their importance, mountain resources and local population are still under great pressure. Environmental degradation, exploitation of natural resources by private interests in ruthless pursuit of profit threatens extraordinary mountain ecosystems and the future of communities who live in or near them.
We all need to breathe, drink and eat - and these are all benefits that are fundamentally provided by nature and its biological diversity. Let us never forget that!
The mere fact that the mountain belongs to the Dinaric system means that it is predominantly made of limestone and, therefore, very scarce in water resources.
The occurrence of Pljesivica's water sources is related to the presence of water-bearing Triassic werfenian schists, and the fact that they are rare and fragile, calls for adequate attention and protection.
Just like any other limestone mountain, Licka Pljesivica has no surface water system developed, but a lot of water passes through its underground network. In addition to the rainwater generated by the mountain itself, which is carried into its underground by the force of gravity, the mountain also accepts subterranean rivers from the west side that flow under the mountain on the edge of the Korenica and Krbava fields in Croatia. These combined underground flows are then discharged into springs on the opposite, 300 m lower eastern foothills in the form of strong karst springs. In rainy seasons, for example, sinkholes often cannot accept all the water, which results in the periodic appearance of freshwater lakes on the Korenica and Krbava fields. The directions of the groundwater flows have yet to be determined, but the amount of water and springs that appear on the eastern side of the mountain from Zeljava Air Base to Lohovo hills are undoubtedly in close connection with subterranean rivers on the western side.
Among the most important water sources are Zivulja (Živulja) and Klokot on the eastern (Bosnian) side of the mountain. Zivulja is characterized by uniquely fresh water with a specific taste, and represents a special phenomenon on the mountain because it is the only source of surface water in the wider area, which makes it especially valuable and important for conservation. It is highly probable that the water comes from meltwater originating in several icy pits at the northern summit of Mount Licka Pljesivica, Gola Pljesivica. When it comes to the quality and quantity of spring water, the important karst spring Klokot stands out. Powerful Klokot emerges at the junction of the Una-Koran plateau and the Una river valley and forms a little river already at the source; after a short flow Klokot pours into the Una River adding it a much needed strength.
The powerful Klokot groundwater discharge emerges from two springs, the first of which is one of Bihac's most important water supply sources, and the smaller one provides fresh water to a nearby fishpond.
Fascinating underground streams of Klokot
This beautiful karst river has all the characteristics typical of the mountain river with an average temperature of 7.5 - 10 ° C. The bottom of Klokot is rich in aquatic plants and river algae that provide a perfect habitat for freshwater crabs and juvenile fish, especially indigenous fish species, such as the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and the grayling (Thymallus arcticus), but distinctive river features which put Klokot on the natural phenomena list are its underground waterways and the morphology of underground cave systems.
This extremely challenging and potentially dangerous cave dive has so far been successfully conducted by several domestic and foreign experts who have first discovered an impressive system of underwater tunnels and large galleries that branches off in three directions and steeply descends to 104.5 m depth. In 2014, researchers from the Una Aquarius Center Bihac and their colleagues from the French city of Marseille conducted a new dive and discovered a side opening at 104.5 m with a spacious gallery descending steeply even more into probably the main gallery at the end of the underwater cave system that awaits further extensive research.
Our main GWT2P green trail passes by this beautiful spring, so enjoy Klokot's natural beauty with care and if you are an avid scuba diver, then contacting our top experts and guides from the Una Aquarius Center should be on your bucket list - check our interactive map and summer Events and Activities offer for info and contacts!
Klokot - fragile ecosystem worth protecting!
Other stronger springs on the eastern side of the mountain include springs in Zavalje, Skocaj and Melinovec valleys whose watercourses also struggle with the porous karst terrain, and like all other local larger or smaller streams end their journey in the Una River.
Old Spoon Watermills
The life in all villages was, of course, very tied to their water sources and streams where dynamic life took place. On the streams Geginovac which flows from its source on the mountain through Zavalje valley (draga), wooden spoon watermills were built. The mills were equipped with spoon-shaped wooden blades in the turbine and built by either village cooperatives or individuals. Local farmers brought their grain to the mill for grinding according to an agreed schedule. The mill operated without the supervision of a miller; farmers knew how long it took for the mill to do its job and they only came later to take their full baskets. The streams were used for bathing, laundry, dishes, or to fill a special basin to supply cattle with fresh drinking water. Cold drinking water straight from the spring was brought home in wooden water buckets, and so on until 1884, when the water supply system was built to satisfy the needs for sanitary and medical control in the historic Rastel complex.
Watermans of Zavalje
Ever since the very beginning of the operation of the water supply system (meaning for centuries), residents of the mountain villages have been paying special attention to the water supply during the dry summer months. To this day, a local waterman from the village of Zavalje closes the reservoir outlet valve every evening for the tank to be filled over night, and opens it again at dawn. Now imagine how much the construction of private swimming pools or any other unsustainable form of water management threatens the secure supply of this vital resource to the local population in such water-sensitive karst areas.
The forest wealth is the main characteristics of Licka Pljesivica and its highest value that occupies nearly 85% of the total surface area of the mountain. The ecosystem above the upper tree line (1450 - 1550 m.a.s.l.), a transition zone between closed forest and treeless parts of the mountain, is dominated by grasses and low-growing shrubs, mountain pastures, and rocks in the summit regions.
Until not so long ago the forests were classified as virgin forests!
Unfortunately, they were devastated by the excessive deforestation in recent history. Considering they were positioned far from the public eye, very little attention was paid to their care and to the protection of the natural resources, but things are slowly changing for the better.
A big part of the forest on the Croatian side is protected:
- 122 ha of the forests Kriva Lisica;
- 4,18 ha on Debeli vrh peak;
- the area Javornik - Tisov Peak has been protected as a special reserve of forest vegetation from 1962, with mixed stands of beech and fir trees of the virgin type;
- the area of Bijeli potoci - Kamensko has been protected by the Croatian Parliament from 1972 as a memorial nature monument and natural area reserve.
Bijeli Potoci - Kamensko is located at Donji Lapac (700 ha) and Udbina (513 ha) municipalities in Croatia. The area of great landscape value is adorned with beautiful pastures, glades and, in the not too distant past, with an exceptional artwork.
From the late 1950's until the Homeland War and the occupation of this areas (1991-1995), Bijeli Potoci - Kamensko Reserve was additionally enriched with truly amazing sculptures „Tifusari“ (people suffering from Typhus fever) by one of the most prominent Croatian artists Vanja Radauš. Sadly, today you will only get to see bare concrete plinths - magnificent sculptures were separated from their pedestals by the aggressor and stolen.
Vanja Radauš (1906., Vinkovci - 1975., Zagreb), a great Croatian sculptor, painter and writer, worked on the “Tifusari” Master cycle from 1956 until 1958/9. Six deeply impressive bronze sculptures that superbly portrayed diseased, weak and skinny images of men and a woman with a child wrapped in shabby drapery, were set up in the impressive forest landscape of the Bijeli potoci - Kamensko Reserve. Sculptures were marvelously incorporated into this protected area, creating together with nature a unique ambience of contemplation and repose.
The art was once, and hopefully it will be again, nicely incorporated into the beautiful forests of Mount Pljesivica, of which the mixed fir-beech forests cover about 75% of Pljesivica’s forest area. European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is the most widespread tall tree on Mount Plješivica. This extraordinary long-lived hardwood is slow-growing (120 to 150 years), loves calcified, acidic, well drained, and fertile soil and in this conditions lives up to 200 - 300 years.
Besides beech trees, Licka Pljesivica is dominated by two other species which are Silver Fir (Abies alba) and Norway spurce (Picea abies).
In addition to these three dominant species, the mountain boasts a high diversity of tree species: sessile oak (Quercus petraea), turkey oak (Quercus cerris), European Black Pine (Pinus nigra var. austriaca), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), European or common hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus).
Other tree species represented in slightly smaller numbers, but no less valuable, are: elm tree (Ulmus campestris), traditionally known as a sacred tree on which the fairies live and evil spirits cannot approach. Once planted, elm trees were not cut due to the belief that the doom will follow the destruction of a portal between the human realm and the fairy realm. Then there are also the species of common ash (Fraxinus excelsior), wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis), known as a natural diabetes medicine, has edible fruits which are either eaten or made into marmalade, or milled into flour (dried fruits); and whitebeam (Sorbus aria) also well known for its edible fruits which are used for juice or marmalade; and other tree species.
Among many small trees and bushes that offer a variety of edible fruits, leaves, and seeds that have always been sources of nutrition and health for the local population, these tree types stand out:
- common hazel (Corylus avellana);
- field maple (Acer campestre L.);
- common dogwood (Cornus sanguinea);
- cornelian cherry (Cornus mas);
- hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha);
- blackthorn (Prunus spinosa);
- black elderberry (Sambucus nigra).
Flora and Fauna
Although many old studies focused on a rich diversity of the mountain flora, animals on the mountain are no less diverse and rich in species. Nevertheless, the ecosystems of Mount Licka Pljesivica are also highly vulnerable to the impacts of various human activities, more frequent and intense extreme weather anomalies, just like many mountain ecosystems around the world, and let us not forget to mention the impacts of a terrible regional war of aggression not so long ago.
The mere fact that the northern part of the Pljesivica Mountain is surrounded by our 2Parks, is a good indication that its natural wealth is equally impressive and in need of adequate attention.
The mountain had attracted attention of the researchers due to its valuable composition of diverse Alpine flora and a wealth of endemic species. Its rocks and heaths abound with a richness of the vegetation of grasslands and rocks, and high altitude meadows had been recognized as special landscape value land. Conditions with milder temperature extremes, weaker winds, and earlier melting of snow provide ideal growing conditions for juicy mountain grass that was used in the past by local residents for high altitude grazing of cattle (oxen).
Mountain cattle breeding is a long and specific traditional practice related to Licka Pljesivica Mountain, especially for the villages on the Una-Koran plateau. Lack of essential pastures of adequate quantity and quality near villages was the primary reason for seasonal and altitudinal displacement of livestock, lowland in winter and upland in summer where herders tended the livestock for 2-3 months, during which time they lived in temporary wood huts. In the northeastern part of the Licka Pljesivica Mountain, three beautiful high altitude pastures and meadows stand out: Duga Luka, Prsina uvala and Dzakulinka.
Numerous alpine species and glacial relicts were found on the mountain, and noteworthy representatives are:
- Wulfen's Primrose (Primula wulfeniana);
- Carnations (Dianthus);
- Lady’s-slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus);
- Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum);
- Daphne alpina (the family Thymelaeaceae);
- Lesser club moss (S. selaginoides) - a small forest and bog-side plant trails along the ground with the upright yellow-green strobili, loves moist mountain meadows and grasslands and is one of the rare and still insufficiently researched species in the Republic of Croatia.
Although equally diverse with a number of animal species, the fauna of Mount Licka Pljesivica was somewhat less in the focus of the scientist. Large carnivores are without doubt a special feature of the mountain, though other animal species do not lack importance. Sadly, due to the global ecological changes and the tragic regional war events in the late 20th century, as well as the long-standing and deeply rooted local hunting tradition, large mammals and a wide variety of birds and animals on the mountain are in a vulnerable position.
Most of the major invertebrate groups are represented on the mountain, and we will highlight:
- numerous insects (class Insecta) - like butterflies, caterpillars and moths (order Lepidoptera), beetles (order Coleoptera), grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (order Orthoptera), dragonflies (order Odonata), earwigs (order Dermaptera), plant bugs, bed bugs, cicadas, aphids (order Hemiptera), and others;
- and the Chelicerata division - like many spider species (order Araneae), ticks, mites (class Arachnida), and many others.
Vertebrate animals also leave an impression of diversity, but considering the global state of vertebrates that are declining rapidly around the globe, and of course without detailed scientific research, it is hard to determine the exact status of species on the mountain.
Even though majority of wild animals will flee before you can see them simply because they can hear, see or smell us long before we hear or see them, you will still experience many harmless species as you hike through the area. We will highlight some well-known representatives.
The mountain supports a high diversity of large mammals, specifically large carnivores (Carnivora) that you should avoid in all circumstances:
- brown bear (Ursus arctos)
- gray wolf (Canis lupus)
Bears and wolves are considered a keystone species, immensely important to maintaining the health, structure and balance of ecosystems, with a power to increase populations of countless species of animals and plants in them!
- Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx)
- European wildcat (Felis silvestris).
All four species of large carnivores represent EU rare, threatened or endangered species (Natura 2000 important species) and planet's natural world heritage protected species - listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Carnivorans are the most diverse in size of any mammalian order, we will highlight some other members present here: the beech marten (Martes foina), the European polecat (Mustela Putorius), the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) the least weasel (Mustela nivalis), the European badger (Meles meles) and others.
Endangered species - wolf
Ungulates or hoofed mammals are a large and diverse group of terrestrial mammals. We will mention three representatives of the order Artiodactyla or the even-toed ungulates that stand out on the mountain: the wild boar (Sus scrofa), the red deer (Cervus elaphus) and the European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus).
The present wild boar population on the mountain is large and they've been increasingly seen searching for food in mountain villages. Very intelligent, secretive and a highly mobile species able to cover between two and 15km a day, has been in a lot of conflict terms with the humans.
It is also worth noting several species of rodents (order Rodentia): the wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), the European hare (Lepus europaeus), the edible dormouse (Glis glis), the bank vole (Myodes glareolus) and others.
Out of insect eating mammals (order Eulipotyphla), several species of these small secretive creatures stand out: the hedgehog (family Erinaceidae), the mole (Talpidae) and the common shrew (Sorex araneus) - all valuable creatures that provide biological or natural control of insect pests.
In addition to the above mentioned butterflies, there is one more useful bioindicator species worth mentioning - bats (order Chiroptera) one of the largest orders of mammals that is today showing signs of recovery!
Licka Pljesivica is also notable for its population of reptiles - lizards and snakes (class Reptilia). The order of scaled reptiles (order Squamata) is a very diverse group on the mountain of predominantly nonvenomous and absolutely harmless representatives.
The nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes) is the best-known venomous snake of the mountain, reputed to be the most dangerous snake of Europe. It is also highly likely that species of the European adder (Vipera berus) and the meadow viper (Vipera ursinii) are present on the mountain; both highly endangered in Europe.
The avifauna of the mountain is characterized by the presence of many rare species that began their slow process of ecological recovery from the trauma of war. The avifauna now present on the mountain boasts some rare and endangered species:
- the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) - a critically endangered species;
- the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) - when in its hunting dive flight, this endangered species can reach the speed of 250 km/h, and the record speed, which was able to be measured, was 389 km/h (National Geographic);
- family hawks (Accipitridae)- thanks to strict ban on hunting, this bird species is no longer critically endangered;
- the western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) - highly endangered in many Western and Central European countries;
- true owls or typical owls (family Strigidae) - these endangered species are very sensitive to environmental conditions and excellent indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem health;
- the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) - a threatened species just like the vast majority of migratory birds;
- and around mountain villages we can see: the common starling (Sturnus vulgaris), the common blackbird (Turdus merula), the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) and others.
The threats to birds today are many and varied and the most severe are: habitat loss (logging, modern agriculture), food shortage, and invasive species whose importation and further spread is driven by the globalization of trade, transport, and travel, all of which cause direct degradation of ecosystems, habitats, and the loss of indigenous species (biodiversity)!
At this moment, thorough scientific research and the assessment of the overall status of species and the ecosystem condition is just a dream and a sincere desire of professionals and nature lovers, but with education and raising of public awareness, particularly among the local population, we can achieve a lot.
Raising public awareness on nature conservation issues and gaining new knowledge and a better understanding of the critical importance of mountain ecosystems is the best way to stop the ruthless exploitation of mountains, and the only way to learn, adapt to change, and apply sustainable development practices.
This way we also provide the opportunity for nature to regenerate and recover her natural beauty and wealth of life.
This whole area is characterized by rather harsh and rough climate with mountain tops often hidden by clouds and long-lasting snow. Severe snowstorms accompanied by strong winds used to be a regular winter occurrence on the mountain, but today the amount of snowfall grows scarce due to more frequent and pronounced weather anomalies we are witnessing. Summers are generally warm and pleasant with moderate temperatures, but often quite dry.
The mountain is also characterized by interesting temperature fluctuations, not just diurnal (day vs. night), but also fluctuations along the foothills, so the Korenica side is on average colder than the Bihac side. Before hitting the trail, it's important to know that the weather can change quite quickly; keep in mind that in summer temperatures cool down quickly after sunset with often present mountain breeze.
The temperature conditions on Pljesivica are very similar to those at higher altitudes in the Alps!
It is interesting to note that Scabiosa Silenfolia and Potentilla Clusiana of the alpine vegetation can be found on Pljesivica at 1,500 m.a.s.l. while at the same time in the Alps we find the same species above 1,800 meters!
The atmospheric circulation along the eastern and the western foothills of Licka Pljesivica is also interesting. In Korenica, winds tend to come mostly from the northwest while the Bihac side has winds of the primarily western directions. When it comes to local winds, the famous bura wind stands out. This dry, very cold northern wind characterized by violent gusts is the most important climatic element of the region. Due to its force and gustiness, bura hits different parts of the mountain with different intensity because its speed depends on the mountain relief.
Licka Pljesivica is the birthing place of the powerful bura wind, with the highest wind gusts between the peaks of Gola Pljesivica and Mala Pljesivica, and in the Skipine Gorge!
Another important local wind is jugo; the vagarious south wind can reach storm force and cause varying degrees of damage to homes and trees.
In addition to data about the climate we add yet another interesting historical fact - one of the first meteorological stations in Croatia was opened in the mountain village of Zavalje, a former municipality in the Austro-Hungarian Empire! Measurements of air temperature and precipitation started back in 1852, and later the air pressure measurements. Unfortunately, this old meteorological tradition has been extinguished!
Throughout the history, Mount Pljesivica was a natural defense against the assaults of numerous invaders due to its height and steep slopes, and this was particularly evident during the invasion and the absorption of the Balkans by the Ottoman Turks.
The Peace Treaty of Sistova, which was signed in 1791 between the Habsburg Monarchy (Austria) and the Ottoman Empire was, in fact, the division of the spoils of war after the last conflict.
Division between two powers in which the primary victims were "smaller" countries and nations which served as cannon fodder in centuries-long bloody wars. Thus the area around Plitvice Lakes, Korenica and Mount Licka Pljesivica (Lika region) became part of the Military Frontier under the direct control of the Habsburgs, while Bihac and Una became part of the Ottoman land.
Much of the old Croatian territory became part of the sultan's domain, and a substantial part of the remaining territory had long served as a Habsburg outpost in the defense of central Europe against the Ottomans. The whole male population of the Military Frontier was forcibly recruited into the armed forces, often with little choice but to remain and fight as professional soldiers on several fronts and through many European wars - a terrible fate!
Life for people living in mountains has always been difficult, a real challenge, and in this period on Mount Pljesivica so difficult that more than a few residents emigrated to Bihac (then part of the Ottoman Empire) where living and working conditions were better.
During this period, after the peace of Sistova, Mount Licka Pljesivica gained a new role and became the border area between the two empires.
During 18th and 19th century, an important border area was established in then municipality district Zavalje under Austro- Hungarian Empire, with a trade and customs zone at the Rastel Complex.
Rastel Complex - late 19th century, Stipe Tomljenovic, ink, 1992.
Rastel (Raštel) consisted of several stone buildings, surrounded by a 2.5 meters high wall. The first building was built back in 1795, and the main one-story cross stone building presumably in 1877. The officers, customs officers, and the municipal adjutant who lived and worked there, used the first floor, while the ground floor of the building was used for warehouses for commercial goods and a beerhouse.
Rastel was a veterinary-sanitary control station and the medical control headquarters for people and goods between the two empires!
The border area on the plateau above Bihac was a place of intense trading. Everything that was bought or sold at Rastel went through custom and supervision control of the disinfectant supervisor; for example in a time of great infestation all purchased cattle had to spend several days under the veterinary supervision at the Rastel.
Also, to benefit the enhanced veterinary control, a 20 m long and 5 m wide bathing area was built, a deep plunge dip tank through which all purchased cattle had to swim for disinfection. Virtually all goods, even the mail, had to be disinfected and subjected to strict sanitary control.
The Zavalje Municipality Office was in Rastel until 1926/1927. Unfortunately, this historic complex suffered the same fate as more or less all the other historical sites in the region, it was completely destroyed; the last blow was made in 1942 when it was completely burnt down.
In addition to the above-mentioned historical facts, it is highly worth noting that one of the oldest and leading Croatian cultural institutions took an active role in establishing educational and cultural institutions and in preserving local communities' cultural heritage.
In 1890, a branch of the renowned Matica hrvatska was founded in the Zavalje Municipality and influenced the cultural life of the parish for over half a century, until the beginning of the Second World War, and even partially during the war.
The founder and the first trustee was Mr. Stjepan Ritz, landed gentleman and a postman from Zavalje. Mr. Ritz owned postal carriages that were operating on the route between Split (a coastal town in Croatia) and Vienna (Austria), via Kordunska cesta and Una-Korana plateau - today, this section of the ancient road is part of our main recreational trail.
And now, a little digression to touch upon the topic of small numbers, sizes and nations: Earth, Nature, and Humans in sizes!
Of the eight currently recognized planets of the solar system, our Earth is amongst the smallest, but, our Earth is also the true gem of the solar system, the only planet known to harbor amazingly diverse life. Biodiversity, that enormous variety of life on Earth, involves around 8.7 million species of plants and animals, and one extraordinary form of life - us humans. In purely numerical terms, our planet is a world of small sizes and numbers.
The number of species that are small sized generally far exceed the number of species that are large in size and the same applies for us people and our bonds, relationships, and various communities. Around the world, we are of average (medium) height, we like small households of 4.9 people, and more than half the globe's sovereign states have populations of less than 5 million, and about fifty have populations below 1.5 million. Mother Nature and humans like it “small”, so to send a positive and encouraging message to all small nations, we will say this:
Look at small nations as being a Ferrari or Audemars Piguet watches, think of us as being a rare, exclusive, and luxurious brands - we are "limited editions" with ancient cultures and a strong sense of identity and pride! ;)
We believe that you share our feelings that our small communities and our magnificent mountain deserve warm attention!
Sources: “Croatian Mountains” by Dr Zeljko Poljak / ”The history of the Zavalje diocese" by MA Ivan Dujmovic.
Detail from the mountain village Zavalje - The Hečimović Family
Give yourself some time to enjoy the views; you can climb the mountain from both sides of the border and all routes are worth the effort:
- on the side of the Republic of Croatia from the direction of Korenica - ascent to the highest peak of the northern part the Mountain, Gola Pljesivica Peak, with the most beautiful bird's eye view in Croatia;
- on the side of the Republic of Croatia from the direction of Udbina - ascent to the highest peak of the Mountain, Ozeblin Peak, with beautiful pastures and vistas;
- on the side of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the direction of Bihac - ascent to a mountain home and an excursion site; routes with nice vistas and impressive natural features (high altitude pastures, pits, springs).
While there, explore ancient Bihać, Korenica, and Udbina with the historic Krbava Field, it's worth it; check our Events & Activities for inspiration and useful tips for different routes!
Find your route and a guide:
Guided tours: go to our Experiences and scroll down to the interactive map. Select Sports Activities - Guided Mountaineering tours and find your guides on both sides of the border.
Self-guided tours: go to our Experiences and scroll down to the interactive map. Select Sports Activities - Mountaineering tours and select your route.
Check safety rules: make sure you get familiar with important safety rules you will find under our Rules and Regs. Safety First!!
Just a short reminder before you go:
- explore the mountain on foot, on a bike, or a horse - help reduce harmful car emissions;
- please take litter with you - never leave garbage in nature;
- rare and endangered plant and animal species are important - respect and protect Earth's wildlife;
- take care to place all recyclable items in proper receptacles - recycle;
- bring reusable water bottles - avoid highly detrimental plastics;
Join our Green Mission, our partnership plays a key role!