Friday, 15 October 2021

Grabovača Cave Becomes the First Cave for Speleotherapy in Croatia

October 15, 2021 - Respiratory therapies within caves, called speleotherapy, have thousands of years of practice dating back to the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Now, for the first time, the first cave for speleotherapy in Croatia has been opened in Grabovača Cave Park.

Although Croatia is rich in caves, which are in large numbers in the tourist offer, there was no speleotherapy until last week, reports Turističke Priče. Namely, for the first time in Croatia, in the Grabovača Cave Park, a cave for speleotherapy is being opened. Last week, on the premises of the Institution, the Agreement on granting a concession approval for Medina Cave was signed. The concession approval was granted to the trade "SIGA" from Perušić.

Speleotherapy is a type of respiratory therapy that involves breathing inside a cave. The benefits of this type of therapy were known as far back as ancient Greece and Rome, and modern use began in Germany.

The history of modern speleotherapy dates back to the fifties of the last century. At that time, speleotherapy hospitals were established in several countries of Eastern and Central Europe. In its classical form, speleotherapy was the use of underground minerals and hot springs.

The goal, as they say from the Grabovača Cave Park, is to encourage as long a stay in nature and caves as possible, ie to combine speleotherapy with educational content in the Park area, and to contribute to better promotion of the area. The official opening will be soon, and the interested public will be informed about everything.

By the way, the Grabovača Cave Park is the only cave park in Europe and is located in the area of ​​the Perušić Municipality in Lika. Water enriched with dissolved carbon dioxide with its mechanical and chemical power destroyed and dissolved carbonate rocks on the surface of the relief and in the depths of the Grabovača underground. Thus, countless ravines, oysters, sinkholes were formed on the surface and many pits and caves in the underground.

On a relatively small area of ​​only 1.5 square kilometers, there are eight caves and one pit, which is a set of diverse and rich in calcite formations valuable speleological phenomena, and a quarter of the total number of protected speleological objects in Croatia - five caves are protected in the category of geomorphological monuments nature, and the cave Samograd is the most famous speleological object of this cave park and the only cave that is open to visitors.

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Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Major Tourism Analysis for Lika in 2019: A Boom without Much Promotion

February 12, 2020 - The development of continental tourism is a mantra that keeps getting repeated, but not many people realise how thoughtfully and thoroughly tourism is being developed in one region of Croatia - Lika.

The Lika Club website published their yearly tourism analysis for the region, which includes tourist workers from Karlovac County (Aquatika aquarium from Karlovac, Baraćeve Špilje and Ivana's House of Secrets from Ogulin) and Lika-Senj County (two national parks: Plitvice Lakes and Northern Velebit, the Museum of Gacka in Otočac, the Museum of Lika in Gospić, the Nikola Tesla Museum in Smiljan, Grabovača cave park in Perušić and the largest surprise of this survey, the Church of Croatian Martyrs in Udbina (Crkva hrvatskih mučenika u Udbini).


lika turizam 2019.jpg

(Screenshot from; columns mean the institution, the number of visitors in 2018, number of visitors in 2019, and the relative change in the number of visitors)

The biggest tourist spot in Lika is, of course, Plitvice Lakes National Park, which has had a one and a half percent reduction in the number of visitors in 2019, compared to 2018. Ognjen Borčić, Plitvice's PR representative says that it's their intention to turn towards quality instead of the number of tourists. That way, the natural beauty will be preserved, the tourists would enjoy their stay more and that would lead to them staying longer. They are very satisfied with the introduction of the online system for ticket purchases which was introduced in May of last year, which helped reduce the crowds. Margarita Markušić Kulaš, the director of Karlovac's Aquatika aquarium says that they are extremely satisfied with the growth in the number of visitors, and in 2020, their focus is on numerous events which are to be held in the aquarium.

The Museum of Lika in Gospić and the Nikola Tesla Museum in Smiljan are a couple of kilometres away from one another and have the same management. Their manager, Tatjana Kolak, explained that, while the Museum of Lika had a large reduction of the number of visitors in 2019, their overall numbers have improved. For the first time ever, they have crossed the number of 50 thousand visitors, and they're very proud of that record.

The neighbouring museum with similar characteristics, the Museum of Gacka in Otočac, saw growth in their numbers of around 10 percent. They're getting ready for the new year, they printed a promotional brochure with neighbouring sites to visit and they have an audio guide which they plan to translate into English, to make it more accessible to foreign visitors. Baraćeve špilje (caves) has maintained the same number of visitors, but soon they'll start building their visitor's centre dedicated to the underground heritage SPELEON, financed by the EU. The only cave park in Croatia, Grabovača in Perušić saw the biggest relative growth of over 30 percent. Jelena Milković, the manager, talks about their plans to expand their promotional activities, and open a garden with edible herbs. They also plan to invest more in educational activities and determine exactly how many visitors can come into the Samograd cave without devastation to life within the cave.

Northern Velebit National Park is very satisfied with their growth of around 10 percent, and especially proud of how many people want to visit their House of the Velebit. They are investing a lot in promotion, and they have plans to expand that promotion to foreign markets.

The biggest tourist growth happened in the Udbina Municipality, in a large white stone building, the Church of Croatian Martyrs. Josip Šimatović, a priest from the church says that they're not supported by the Tourist Board or the municipality, but they're attracting more and more visitors, pilgrims, associations, hikers, school groups, etc.
The church is very active on social networks and most people go there as they've heard it be recommended. Although they weren't able to produce the exact numbers, Josip says that they saw around 40 thousand visitors in 2019. One of the problems he highlights is the lack of capacity for visitors to stay overnight in or around Udbina, and it's even difficult to find a restaurant for a couple of hundred people to have lunch! There's a lot of history to be discovered in Udbina, and many people visit because of the history and nature. Maybe just translating their website to English might help with their promotional activities.
Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Grabovača Cave from Lika Offers Visitors Unusual Souvenir

At first it seemed like an April Fools' joke, but then it turned out there's nothing funny about it: Grabovača cave, located near Perušić in Lika region of Croatia, has started selling little bottles filled with the air collected at the bottom of the cave, and they sold the entire first series of the souvenir!

Tanja Šimundić Bendić wrote about that for Slobodna Dalmacija, how she has received the news about the new souvenir from the Grabovača Cave Park and decided that she needed to investigate if it was a joke or not. But to do that, she decided to take a bottle of ripe Split air, and made her way to Lika, to see the cave and the tourist story that is being created in one of the poorest counties in Croatia.

The bottles are filled with air from the bottom of the Samograd cave in the Grabovača cave system, and it's perfectly clean air: no allergens, no smog, just pure cave air. Tomislav Špehar, one of the park attendants explains that they don't want to bottle too much air, as it needs to stay deep in the cave. So the journalists and the people in the park exchanged gifts, the bottle of air from Split (with added pine needles from Marjan!) and the bottle of perfectly clean Lika air. After some consideration of the dangers of potential infestation with bark beetle (which has wreaked havoc on Marjan in recent years), they've decided that there is no real danger in letting some of the Split craziness into their cave. And out of the blue, came an idea: let's have a museum of air in Grabovača! So, if you decide to visit Grabovača, bring a little bottle of air from back home, to be exhibited at the Park!

The original idea for the bottled air as a souvenir of Grabovača came last year when they had over 6,5 thousand visitors. So last autumn they put the bottles inside the cave, where they sat all winter, getting filled with cave air, and in March they were closed and the original souvenir was offered to the tourists. And that souvenir took off, much better than expected. People are asking for the cave air (just like the journalist did), and it's a remarkable marketing tool. Once the visitors come, in addition to some bottled air, they also get to see the caves, the nature around them, they get to learn from the crew working at Grabovača Cave Park about the nature, caves, behaviour in caves, nature conservation etc.

And if there's one thing you can be sure of, it's that the nature in Lika is spectacular. Lush green all around, with wonderful footpaths with lots of information ready for tourists, eco playgrounds, vistas, picnic zones... There are nine caves in the park, which has around 600 hectares of surface area, and ambitious plans to expand to over 6000 hectares and to almost 40 speleological objects. The temperature in the Samograd cave does not change much, it is constantly between 7 and 10 Celsius.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Photo of the Day: Samograd Cave