Holding official recognition for eight national parks and eleven nature parks, Croatia can rightly claim to be making the most of its incredible natural assets. And, very soon the country might be adding a twelfth nature park.
The Croatian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy has issued a proposal that the Dinara mountain and its surroundings be listed as the latest nature park. If successful, the Dinara massif, which consists of the Dinara, Troglav and Kamešnica mountains, as well as the upper course of the Cetina river and the Hrvatačko, Pašno and Vrličko karst fields, would gain a new level of governmental protection.
The Dinaric Alps are one of the most rugged and extensive mountainous ranges in Europe, stretching from Italy in the northwest through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo to Albania. The Dinara is situated in the hinterland of Šibenik-Knin County, with one side of the mountain existing across the border in Bosnia. It is wholly uninhabited. The area surrounding the mountain is the site of Glavaš, a spectacularly coloured rock pool which is the source of the Cetina river.
Other Croatian mountains, Biokovo and Velebit, already enjoy nature park status, but standing at 1831 metres, Dinara's peak is the highest in Croatia (the massif's other high peak, Troglav, is even higher, standing just across the border in Bosnia at 1913 metres). Although it lies just a few kilometres back from the seashore, temperatures here can be significantly colder than those enjoyed by people on the beach. The mountain is enjoyed by hikers and mountain climbers throughout the year, its unique climate allowing access even on some of the warmest of days.
Sights from the peak are stunning; it offers uninterrupted views of Peruća lake and the Svilaj, Promina and Troglav mountains. Although poor with vegetation the closer you get to the top, rich meadows full of wildflowers and forests surround the mountain at lower altitudes. The broader area of the Dinara massif is rich with flora; there are about 750 plant species in the area of which more than 110 are specially protected and 55 are endemic.
The absence of humans and water assets like Peruća lake and the Krka and Cetina river make this area a perfect home or stop-off point for many birds; pheasant, quail, woodpecker and black-striped reed warbler can all be found here, as can predators like the golden eagle, snake eagle, grey falcon and sometimes the griffon vulture.
Brown bears, wolves, lynxes and other wild cats, foxes, wild boars, badgers and rabbits are just some of the mammals which call this place home, sharing the plot with around 15 species of endangered lizards, snakes and amphibians. Sophisticated and delicate ecosystems exist within swamps and caves formed by the course of the Cetina and Krka rivers here. Another wonder is the 22-metre waterfall Topoljski Buk (Krčić waterfall), which can be found close to the small village of Kovačić, not far from Knin, beneath Dinara.
In the oldest maps mentioning the mountain, Dinara is recorded under the name of Adrion Oros. The name it holds today is believed to originate from the Ilyrian tribe of Dindari. It also has a special place in literary history; Petar Zoranić, who is regarded to be the first Croatian novelist (his The Mountains was published in 1569) wrote about the Krka river being 'Dinara's daughter'.