It has always been said that the left bank of the river Kupa is in Europe, and the right bank is in the Balkans.
The journey starts from today\'s modern European Union, following the river Kupa from Slovenian border all the way to the Glina River, the border with Bosnia, the territory of former Military Frontier.
Croatian military history is rich and Croatian soldiers were feared victors of many battles with much superior invading armies. With the arrival of the Slavs and Croatian tribes in the area of the Roman province of Dalmatia and Pannonia together with colonization of the Illyrian tribes on this territory wars were inevitable. Continuous conflicts and wars with the Avars, Byzantines, Venetians, Franks, Bulgarians and Hungarians shaped Croatian mindset that is hard to find in developed world.
According to some legends, Mongol invasion was stoped in this region in the 13th century. Two centuries later the invasions and conquests of the Ottomans come as new disasters in the east.
Short break in wars with the Turks dispuresed Croatian soldiers accross European battlefields during the Thirty Years\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' War where they made a mark on an entire generation of army, the light caverly.
French Napoleonic wars weakened to the end the Croatian Krajina force defending the Habsburg crown.
The first and second world war leaves a big footprint in the region as an ominous prelude to the last war fought in Europe, the Patriotic War.
After neglected and overgrown, often impassable paths our journey with offroad vhieacles begins at a medieval castle Ribnik, and continues across the river Dobra with city of Novigrad, and Dubovac fort.
Upgraded Austro-Hungarian barracks in Karlovac and its surrounding Yugoslavian army becomes important garrison city. Today, several barracks were addapted as universities and countless abandoned military bases and underground facilities still exist. These locations are interesting not only to military history enthusiasts and adventurers but the sight and feel of them leaves person contemplating those times and soldiers that used them.
After the confluence of the Korana and Mre�nica path leads us to the Museum of the Homeland War, the history termed bulwark of Christianity, and the sparsely populated area to the ruins of ancient cities Sjeni?ak, Kloko?, Krstinja Perne and even the inevitable visit to the ruins of the Pauline monastery in Petrovac. We are then proceding to the top of Petrova Gora in which proximity is the King\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s grave. But this is not the end of our adventure.
After the green sea of Petrova Gora the view guides us to glittering falls of village Rastoka. An unique village known for mills at the mouth of the Koran and Slunj?ica. Locals are not concerned only with their daily activities, but also produce handicrafts, and a well-known, transmitted through the generations and perfected with each, the distillation of strong alcoholic beverages known localy as Rakija.
Plitvice, the most famed Croatian national park, emerges from the fog as we procede. It is a holiday for the eyes and soul, as the spirit of the landscape is actually palpable there.
A taste of the local cow and sheep smoked cheese we only on the top of Pljesevica, a lookout point on the border with Bosnia and location of yet another abandoned military base.
There are many legends about the battle on the Krbava field. We can visualize all the force of arms and armor in the vast field with the question the power of Croatian warriors that the ambushed and defeted 10 000 Turkish horsemen led the Bosnian Sandzak Hadum Jakub Pasha. This lead to freeing of all people enslaved by Ottoman devastation over Carinthia and Styria.
In Lovinac, close to the first slopes of Velebit, after a stop in the abandoned village of stone houses, whose layout is remenesant of huge amphitheaters we are not aware that climbing the mountain rugged dirt road soon with height and by clearing of storm clouds can make out the the Adriatic Sea. That big blue that started all the troubles for the first Croatian tribes.
Through the centuries, invaders lusted for that view and built a road. It was built in the early 19th century, then called Master of roads has become one of the first link of that part Like with Dalmacijom. When wind parts the clouds along the road bunkers on the surrounding peaks still stand as a testiment of the guards and the recent conquest of the enemy from the east. They stand as a silent witnesses of the latest generation of Croatian warriors, winner in defending secular dream of freedom and independence.
Next to Tulove grede, through Libinje, a herd of wild horses, whose ancestors were the only means of transport over this ruged terrain during the Homeland War, roam free and unmolested.
Lowering to the Adriatic Highway, we find the canyon of Small and Big Paklenica, the destination of climbers and mountaineers from around the world.
Here we can stock up on local products, fruit, cheese, ham, homemade wine, brandy and inevitable, Loza. Loza, the product of remains from ripe grapes after harvest which is destiled.
A winding road at the foot of the mountain town of Karlobag takes us drawn to the old Karolinska Road built during the reign of Charles III in the first half of the 18th century. That road takes us back in the wastelands of the Middle Velebit. Nearby, Baske Ostarije an old Austro-Hungarian road with its stone retaining walls and constant cornering poses a question whether it was, in this harsh area, created by hand of peacefull builder or is it a carving of prisoners of war under the vigilant watch of guards?
The jagged peaks of Kiza and Ba?i?a hook still do not give us any answers. Only there in Crnoj dulibi, where smells of old stumps and conifers remind us that we leave the Mediterranean climate may stop to think whether a Roman general sent his legions to break the way toward some gentle regions.
Kugina house provide us shelter on the way to Klepinoj duliba, a rainforest where trees remain where they fall. Only bird song disturbs the tranquility of the forest. Occasional sound of branches breaking indicates a presence of bear or wild boar. Passing under Kozjak over Begova?a reveals the valley of Malog loma as a harbinger of even greater valley of the Velikog loma. The valley is trapped between peaks Rajinac and Hajdu?ki kukovi.
Another hut, a shelter in the Veliki lom and stone barn near reminiscent of the time when the timber was transported by horses, and goods had to be safe from attack of bears and wolves. Here we are in the realm of chamois, with a sharp cry of a raven, which acknowledges that all is closely monitored.
There is no cellphone signal here, nothing to distract from the view and the history of this remote place. Even rock is food here, one for the soul.
Winding forest road just before the turning to Premu�i? view on Vukusic snjeznica, a place of eternal ice and snow gives an excuse to stop and to cool down some beer.
A valuable engineer Ante Premu�i?, enthusiast and visionary, built the track in just four years, starting in 1930, thus enabling access to the wildest and most beautiful parts of Velebit until then known only to a small number of residents from villages under Velebit. With over 300 plant species, Velebit Botanical Garden is a jewel at the foot of Zavi�an. Established in 1967, it boasts the title of a place with a number of plant species than in the entire United Kingdom, and its only 50 hectares.
As a reward shortly before the end, the mountain lodge at the foot of Vucjak Weather Station and the humble home of quiet and self-denying barbe Ante Vukusic, who with the help of diligent hands of his wife Mary over 40 years of working and living on Velebit dream welcoming hikers, adventurers, travelers and all people of good will around the clock in all weather conditions. In winter times you will be knocking at their door, a window on second floor, as snow is that high.
And do not forget, again with brandy, this time with renowned brandy Uncle Ante enriched by medicinal plants, our journey may not end here, because our views are open to the Gorski Kotar and back to Karlovac, the intersection of historical military roads. Who knows, the best adventures are the one you dont plan in detail. Join us on this journey.
4 x 4 vehicles
4 x 4 history tour