Direct encounters with nature and opportunities for nature to be your teacher, is also one of the most powerful weapons in maintaining health.
Vransko Lake is the biggest natural lake in Croatia and one of the last Mediterranean wetlands. Its location, between the cities of Zadar and Šibenik in the Dalmatia region, is separated from the Adriatic Sea by a karstic ridge, which provides numerous attractions and rich biodiversity. It is an ornithological heaven and a paradise for wildlife lovers.
The importance of the lake has been recognised internationally. In 1983 its northwestern part was declared a special ornithological reserve as one of the few natural bird habitats with sources of drinking water and an area supporting a wealth of biodiversity. Then in 1999, the Vransko Lake Nature Park was declared. In 2013 it was included in the Ramsar list of world wetland habitats of great importance for many endangered and rare bird species in Europe. Today, the Nature Park is part of the European Natura 2000 network – areas important for the conservation of target habitats and species – and is one of 12 nature parks in Croatia, including eight national parks. It is a refuge for more than 260 species of bird that nest, overwinter or rest here during spring and autumn migrations. Over 100,000 waterfowl overwinter in the ornithological reserve. The lake’s importance has been valued throughout history. There are archaeological finds in its vicinity from the time of the Liburnians, Romans, Ottomans and Venetians. Today it is an oasis for sport fishermen and all nature lovers, especially birdwatchers. In a relatively small area, there are different types of habitats – from the lake and its wetland to rocky pastures, macchia, and the coast, which all give visitors a unique experience.
The Vransko Lake Nature Park has held several European projects for some years now and the project, ‘Revitalization and connection of attractions of Vransko Lake Nature Park’ is particularly interesting. This project has been successfully implemented for the fourth year now with finance from European Structural and Investment Funds, within the Operational Program Competitiveness and Cohesion. Through this project, the visitor infrastructure has been heavily invested in and improved and numerous equipment for visitors has been procured to help engage people with the natural and cultural heritage of the Park.
The first tourist electric train in Croatia was introduced here along with ways for visitors to get active in the landscape and watch the wildlife: kayaks and a range of bicycles (electric and MTB) are now available to rent, as well as telescopes and binoculars for bird watching – and the boardwalk educational trail in the ornithological reserve was extended. An adrenaline park, suitable for families, was set up for those wanting more high-energy activity. Solar boats will soon be introduced on the lake, which will require no fuel for the engines, so will not pollute the water or make a noise to disturb the wildlife. Enjoying the view of the entire lake from the Kamenjak viewpoint allows people to take in a landscape-scale impression and the beautiful sunsets over the Kornati National Park archipelago can have a profound effect on you. Local delicacies can also be enjoyed at tavern Kamenjak to experience the full local culture.
To improve communication, a new promotional film was created and a new Info Centre was opened in 2020 at Biograd na Moru in order to further recognise, protect and preserve this Park’s heritage. The Info Centre holds different promotional events on sustainable development and nature protection. Various biological research is conducted through the project, as well as educational programmes for children of local schools, the public and also employees of the Park. The aim of the project is to connect the attractions of the Vransko Lake Nature Park and the sustainable use of natural heritage sites and educational facilities.
The Nature Park can be visited throughout the year with the now three info centres open from spring to late October. The picturesque port of Prosika is a favourite location of sport fishermen and nature lovers. Throughout the Park visitors can explore nature all year round, exploring the hiking trails and more than 50km of panoramic bike trails around the lake, that require good fitness to complete. For all those who wish to observe birds, it is possible to organise programmes for individuals or small groups with the professional services of the Vransko Lake Nature Park expert associates.
Vransko Lake Nature Park is a place of direct encounter with nature and provides many opportunities for nature to be your teacher, as one of the most powerful weapons in maintaining health and wellbeing.
Vlatka Pehar Matić has been a member of Interpret Europe since 2020. She has experience working in agencies and has worked as a licensed tourist guide in Croatian, English, German and Italian. She is currently employed as an expert associate for promotion and presentation in the Vransko Lake Nature Park. She can be contacted at: [email protected].
To cite this article: Pehar Matić, Vlatka (2021) ‘Vransko Lake Nature Park – A place you’ll always return to’. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 1-2021, 24-25.