Weather you are a kind of a person who book an apartment or room in advance, or you like to encounter on an accommodation on your holiday tour, if you really want to see something exclusive, like Natural Park Papuk, you’ll have to make some plans. Although Nature Parks or National Parks are available in any time of year, the truth is that you should check climate conditions at the area in the time of your visit, entrances to the park considering your means of transport and goals, must see spots, possible danger (ex. land mines in Croatia), and, eventually, professional guidance.
If you are coming from outside of Croatian borders and heading towards Nature Park Papuk, you’ll probably get to the capital city Zagreb first, and than take a tour further by car, bus, or even by train where you can reach the centre of the Park, village Velika. It is possible to get there by car, driving at first with highway to Slavonija, and then by a state road through Požega. Travellers coming to Papuk from the direction of Hungary will probably enter on the north side passing through the towns Koprivnica, Virovitica, Donji Miholjac or Osijek. Although you can rent a holiday accommodation in some of those cities, the area of 336 square kilometres belonging to the Park has various options of lodging; mount lodges, private apartments, pensions and rooms.
The area under the protection covers mountain Papuk and a part of mountain Krndija. Papuk is the highest mountain in Slavonija region with the same name peak 953 meters high. What is so extraordinary about it? There is no one word or a sentence to answer that.
Papuk with neighbour peaks is like an island in an ocean. Slavonija is a great fertile valley, so plain that there is a saying that one should clime a pumpkin to see hundreds of kilometres around. The place used to be the part of Pannonian sea existed 8 million years ago. So Papuk and Krndija were indeed the islands in the sea, and they are still, figuratively. The place was pronounced as a Nature Park in 1999. and in 2007. it became one of European Geoparks, due to its biological and geomorphologic diversity, necessary for understanding processes and changes of the Earth. Today in Papuk live two thirds of animal and plant species which can be found in Croatia.
What are the phenomena you must see when in Papuk?
• The first is Jankovac forest park, the place dedicated to an earl, by the name Josip Jankovic. He was buried in a cave above the lake in the forest. The thick forest of beech trees hides streams and clean springs, which can best be viewed passing through educational path – Earl’s path.
• The second is Rupnica, which is a geological monument made of volcanic rocks shaped like some enormously enlarged keyboard. It was proclaimed as a geological monument in 1948.
• The third are Sekulinačke planine (Sekulina Mountains); this is a forest reservation of 150 years old beech and fir trees forest. The place is hard to approach and you need a guide to take you there. It was specially protected in 1966.
• The forth are the old oaks – old oaks is a forest reservation proclaimed as a nature monument in 2005. Some oaks are old up to 500 years.
• Next is another forest, larch biotope, the last of the kind in Slavonija today.
• And the last but not less interesting is Pliš-Mališćak-Turjak-Lapjak, floral reservation which is named after four peaks surrounding it. The place is known for endemic and jeopardised floral species, as well as a great number of picturesque orchids.
Even 96% of the area of Geo Park is covered by thick green forests. Ancient trees with their green hands striving towards the sky, are telling us stories about past centuries whose remains are still hidden in brushwood of the Park. There are more than few fortifications from Middle Ages, built for the refuges from Turks attacks, with the most preserved Ružica town. It is the old town near Orahovica, first mentioned in the year 1357. as a fort and king’s estate. It is one of the most beautiful of its kind in Croatia.
So, there are many reasons to visit this peace of wildness at the gate of modern Europe. Beauty hidden in greenish face of the forest, tame groves, misty meadows and never ending aria of birds, are the invitation to the memorable and complete vacation rest. There is another reason for visiting Papuk. In these contemporary lives, when everything seems to be wrapped in plastics and wearing a brand name on it, times when water comes in bottles shaped to fit our hands, Papuk abounds with drinkable water springs, shaped to immerse our hands and minds into it. Cold mountain brooks, sloping form the heights, make long shallow marking lines on the skin of the Earth, along with the deeper ones in our memory, reminding us on the Earth used to be.