Sunday, 25 September 2022

Medieval Knight Tournament Returning to Jankovac Forest Park

September 25, 2022 - After three years, we are bringing good news for all fans of one of the most visited events in Slavonia – the Medieval Knight Tournament! It is returning in all its glory to the Jankovac Forest Park on the slopes of the Papuk mountain. Is there anything more relaxing than crisp air, crunchy leaves, and battles between knights in metal armour?

As reported by SiB, over ten knight associations will stage an authentic medieval atmosphere on the weekend of October 1st and 2nd (Saturday and Sunday) and provide content that children and adults will find equally interesting and entertaining.

The prices of tickets for visitors will be HRK 30/EUR 3.98 for adults and HRK 20/EUR 2.65 for children. Transportation will be organised in buses departing from information points in Slatinski Drenovac and at the Veterans' monument located on the pass between Velika and Jankovac. All personal vehicles will have to be left there, given that a very limited number of vehicles can be parked at the visitor parking premises of the Jankovac Forest Park itself.

The organisers of the tournament this year include the Papuk Nature Park, the Municipality of Čačinci, and the Order of Knights of Ružica Grad from Orahovica.

"I am glad that after two years, we can once again organise this event that gathers several thousand people in Jankovac, and this is a wonderful promotion of the municipality, the Park, and our region, and the only thing left that we can still wish for is good weather. Thank you to everyone who has worked hard to prepare this historical story, because, without these people, none of this would be possible," said Alen Jurenac, director of the Jankovac Forest Park.

The medieval knight's tournament is the most beautiful introduction to autumn, which is the most beautiful season on the slopes of Papuk.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

New Geo-Information Center in Voćin Opens Its Doors

December 19, 2021 - The interactive multimedia center, 3D halls, projections, and presentations on screens are just a part of what the new Geo-information center in Voćin on Papuk offers.

From the first day of the new year in Virovitica-Podravina County, visitors at the new Geo-information center will be able to discover how our planet came to be, experience the Papuk underground, feel the atmosphere of caves and pits, meet rhinos, Miocene saber cats, or Miocene sharks in the former Pannonian Sea and find out all about the historical and geological development of the most famous Slavonian mountains, reports HrTurizam.

Models, sculptures and photographs of interesting living beings and stories about seven historical periods in biology and archeology will introduce you to life on Papuk, which is mostly a nature park, and due to its exceptional geological importance and a UNESCO geopark.


Photo: Kristijan Toplak/Virovitica-Podravina County Official Website

"Papuk, along the Drava River, is one of our strongest assets, and both areas are under the protection of UNESCO. Voćin is annually visited by about 100 thousand guests whose main motive for coming is the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Voćin. The opening of this new Geo-information center in Voćin with all its facilities will be the reason for the arrival of many new visitors, which will ultimately have a positive impact on the development of tourism entrepreneurship," says Martina Jakelić, director of Virovitica-Podravina County.

The director of the Papuk Nature Park, Alen Jurenac, points out that the construction of the Geo-information center worth around 40 million kuna is part of the "UNESCO Geoparks Geopark" project.


Photo: Kristijan Toplak/Virovitica-Podravina County Official Website

"The geo-stories of the UNESCO Geopark have so far been the largest project proposal approved in this part of Croatia. The investment is worth more than 90 million kuna with 85 percent support from the Ministry of Regional Development and EU funds, while the rest of the funds were invested by the Papuk Nature Park. The Geo-information center in Voćin, which is one of the two official entrances to the Nature Park, is an excellent starting point for getting to know the geological, biological and cultural heritage of Papuk", says Jurenac.

Papuk Nature Park is the first UNESCO geopark in the Republic of Croatia, a place that is very popular among mountaineers and recreationists, and from year to year it is surrounded by modern houses with swimming pools and camp Duboka, an adrenaline park, and Aquapark Shhhuma in Velika. Also, Papuk is surrounded by Kutjevo and its famous wine road, Požega, Slavonski Brod, Našice with various additional tourist facilities, which makes the whole area extremely attractive for tourism. By the end of September this year, PP Papuk was visited by about 50,000 visitors.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Friday, 22 October 2021

Papuk Nature Park Will Have Two New Instructional Trails Until Spring

October 22, 2021 - In the heart of the Papuk Nature Park, 475 meters above sea level, is located the jewel of the Slavonia mountains: Jankovac, where its visitors can now enjoy two new educational trails.

By the end of September this year, the Jankovac Forest Park was visited by almost 50,000 visitors, and will soon be richer for two more educational trails, reports HrTurizam. These are two projects co-financed entirely by the European Union from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, approved by the Agency for Payments in Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, and refers to the type of operation 8.5.2. "Establishment and arrangement of educational trails, lookouts and other smaller infrastructure".

In one of the projects, the investment is focused on the establishment of an educational bike path with educational and recreational elements in the area of ​​Slatinski Drenovac. Existing forest trains and six-kilometer-long roads will be used for tracing, so the vast majority of the trail passes right through the forest area. The educational trail will connect the Jankovac Forest Park and the Slatinski Drenovac settlement, in which the Papuk Nature Park Public Institution plans to invest in the future Visitor Reception Center. The youngest ones were also meant because a playground will be built in front of the mentioned center as part of the mentioned project. The total value of the project is HRK 743,480, and work is expected to begin next spring.

The second project carried out by the Municipality of Čačinci, and refers to the continuation of investments in the area of ​​the Municipality and the Park, is a new section of the educational trail with a total length of four kilometers. The trail starts from the Jankovac mountaineering picnic area and continues on a slight slope to the canyon of the Kovačica stream and along with it at the foot of the old Klak fortress. The trail passes completely through the forest area and will interpret the context of the rich history of the Jankovac area and the Klak fortress, which was determined by the richness of the forests and the natural resources of Papuk.

The educational trail will longitudinally connect two existing facilities - the Jankovac picnic area with the nearby cultural and historical site of the Klak fortress, ie with Slatinski Drenovac. The total value of the project is HRK 743,342.75. The start of work on the tracks is expected in the spring of 2022, so the relief of Jankovac in terms of cars is expected as early as next summer.

"Jankovac Forest Park attracts more and more visitors every year, and judging by the number of visitors during this year's winter months, Papuk has become the most visited winter destination. Therefore, the Municipality of Čačinci and the Papuk Nature Park did not want to miss the opportunity to invest in the tourist infrastructure of Papuk. I am especially happy to announce an investment worth almost one and a half million kuna, which will make the Jankovac Forest Park even more attractive to cyclists and pedestrians. With their length and characteristics, the trails are suitable for all ages, so they will be ideal for family walks ", said Alen Jurenac, director of the Papuk Nature Park and mayor of Čačinci.

Check our full guide on all Croatian National and Nature Parks HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Slavonia Tourism: Papuk Nature Park Experiences 300% Growth

March the 9th, 2021 - Slavonia tourism isn´t something that is booming, living in the shadow of its coastal cousin of Dalmatia and indeed other parts of continental Croatia such as Zagreb, but an increase has been seen...

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, proving to be the only choice for coronavirus travel for Croatian guests, destinations in continental Croatia during the pandemic were given a unique opportunity to be promoted live on the local market. They were also provided with the chance to finally impose themselves as an equal player in national tourism policy and promotion.

This year, and especially in 2022, which could be much more upbeat for tourism, they plan to capitalise on Slavonia tourism, which has been promoted for years as a joint cluster on the foreign market, and since last year they have been together here on the domestic market. Their goal is guests who are looking for much more than sun and sea when on holiday.

This was revealed by Rujana Busic Srpak, director of the Vukovar-Srijem County Tourist Board and the coordinator of the Slavonia tourist cluster, into which five counties in eastern Croatia joined last year through an informal association.

"Our goal is to more strongly recognise ¨green Croatia¨ on both domestic and foreign markets, areas that do not have the sea to boast of but have so much else to offer, providing real value for money to travellers who are looking for such an offer, and their number has increased due to these new circumstances.

This year we´re still addressing the domestic market, made up of people who were more or less unable to travel abroad, and it what we have to offer and what it is worth returning to has finally been given the spotlight. As soon as the pandemic subsides, we will invest more in the promotion of Slavonia tourism across foreign markets that have great potential, but we will need more help from the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) and travel organisers, because our advertising budgets are very limited,¨ explained Busic Srpak.

She also pointed out that 2020 brought completely new trends in travel to Slavonia, with the biggest growth in the otherwise dead season - in the first few months of the year, and in the summer when only her county achieved 68 percent of the traffic they saw back in pre-pandemic, record 2019. Papuk Nature Park recently announced that the winter saw 300 percent more guests arrive than came last winter, which prompted them to invest in a new toboggan run.

"When it comes to domestic guests, in addition to showing them what we offer, a good part of our task is to break the prejudice that everything east of Zagreb or far away has tied to it, or the social case, which is that the area is underdeveloped. Foreign markets are looking for a different promotion than the just the Croatian Adriatic, partly because a good part of our guests come by the Danube. As such, river cruisers are on an upward trend, and we traditionally attract guests from Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, but also the USA and even Australia.

In the French market, Slavonia tourism promotions were realised in cooperation with the Croatian National Tourist Board representation there, and a more intensive presentation for the British market was planned in 2020. However, it seems that things will hang on a bit and wait for the overall launch of foreign promotional activities,¨ said Busic Srpak.

A good part of the year is already behind us, and things are still being decided on a weekly basis, there is a lot of uncertainty and that is why the view of the Slavonia cluster is focused more on 2022. Thematic packages are currently being designed for agencies that will sell it.

The informal association of five county tourist boards from Slavonia was accompanied by a strategic plan until 2025, on the basis of which projects and joint packages are nominated - Slavonia wants to use the strength of the Croatian brand, but also its own strengths. Slavonia tourism has infrastructure, about 2100 tourist beds that need to be filled first, then we can think about building new ones, this sort of thing is partly funded by the EU.

"The support system in Croatian tourism should be focused on underdeveloped areas that need support in order to strengthen their market position(s) and thus strengthen the destination itself. The development of underdeveloped areas should be our goal, but according to the criteria of quality and importance for the overall development of the destination,¨ concluded Busic Srpak.

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Sunday, 7 February 2021

Papuk Nature Park Logs Record Number of Visitors in January

ZAGREB, 7 February, 2021 - A total of 4,452 people visited Papuk Nature Park in January, which is an increase of 400 percent compared with the same month last year when 882 visitors had been recorded, the park's management said earlier this week.

This year's increase was due to weather conditions and snow which provided an excellent opportunity for outdoor family gatherings.

Papuk has until now been referred to as a destination offering attractions for active summer holidays, while this winter it has become an increasingly sought-after winter destination, the park's manager Alen Jurenac said.

These figures oblige us to make further investments to attract visitors to Papuk all year round, he added.

He noted that the number of visitors had increased despite coronavirus restrictions because of which the Jankovac mountain lodge was shut down.

Papuk Nature Park is located about 200 kilometres east of Zagreb.

Learn more about Papuk Nature Park in the official video below.

For more on travel in Croatia, check out the dedicated TCN travel section

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Papuk Nature Park Striving to become Generator of Tourism Development in Slavonia

February 4, 2021 - Croatia's first UNESCO Geopark, Papuk Nature Park, strives to become a generator of tourism in Slavonia.

HRTurizam reports that fascinating news came from Papuk Nature Park last year. Although 2020 was very difficult for many tourist destinations in Croatia and the world, Papuk was a favorite destination for visitors. The increase in the number of visitors in the period marked by the pandemic, epidemiological measures, and bans is something that not everyone can boast about. But this result, or success, did not come by chance. This is the result of investments in the development of Papuk as a tourist destination - and not just financial investments.

“We want to be a generator of tourism development in this area. We have invested and will continue to invest in the future, but the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the whole process, so we can say that the future is happening now. Visitors recognized our efforts and gave us confidence. This motivates us to further enrich the content, especially for families," said the Papuk Nature Park director, Alen Jurenac.

And it was the family visits to Papuk Nature Park that marked the past year and the beginning of 2021.

Namely, in January alone, the number of visitors to the Jankovac Forest Park increased by an incredible 400% compared to January 2020, or 4452 visitors this year compared to 882 last year. The weather and the snow, which both children and adults equally enjoyed, were certainly in favor. It is important to note that the increase in the number of visitors occurred despite the epidemiological measures due to which the Jankovac Mountain Lodge was closed.

"So far, in terms of tourism, we have mentioned Papuk as a destination that offers all the facilities for an active summer vacation in which we can match the Adriatic, and since this winter, Papuk has become an increasingly sought-after winter destination. Cold winter days have thus become an opportunity for the most beautiful family gatherings. These figures oblige us to make additional investments to bring Papuk closer to visitors through all 365 days of the year," said Jurenac.

However, in addition to the announced investments in year-round tourism, it is necessary to motivate the local population to engage in tourism and monitor the development of Papuk as a tourist destination. The fact is that Papuk is developing in a good direction, and statistical data support it. Namely, from year to year, there is an increase in the number of visitors, as well as the content in the Papuk Nature Park.

"Our wish is to become a destination where tourists will spend a few days. The whole story is heating up. A weekend settlement with luxury villas has already grown in Zvečevo, for which there is great interest. The villas are constantly full over the weekend, and interest in buying real estate in this area is growing. Now we want to achieve even better cooperation with the local population. This would increase the number of accommodation capacities and enable tourists to stay longer in Papuk," says Jurenac.

In times of limited possibilities, Papuk has become a destination where you can enjoy the unique gift of nature all the time. 

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Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Two Bodies Found By The Road, Frozen On Papuk Mountain

January 26, 2021 – Multiple harrowing questions are posed by the tragic discovery yesterday of two bodies found frozen on Papuk mountain. They were at first suspected to be those of migrants. It is still not yet known how they came to be there, if they were travelling together or alone.

Famous for its wealth of covering forest, cascading streams, picturesque views and wildlife, Papuk is the largest mountain in Slavonia, eastern Croatia. It's actually a stretch of mountain range with an eponymous peak and the whole area is designated as a Nature Park. It draws thousands of visitors each year who come to enjoy its natural beauty and the opportunities for walking and hiking it provides. But, in a place we associate with the fullness of life, it is death that yesterday came to Papuk Nature Park.

Two bodies have been found frozen on Papuk. On a section of the Velika - Jankovac road, which runs north-south right through the heart of the Nature Park, winter service employees found the first body frozen on Papuk on Monday at around 9.45 am while clearing snow on the route with a plow. At around 3pm on the same day, a second body was found frozen on Papuk by a 41-year-old man working in the area. Both were bodies of young men. Details were provided by the Virovitica-Podravina Police Department.

Though the two bodies found frozen on Papuk were not discovered simultaneously, they were located quite close together - within 3 or 4 kilometres of each other. It is not currently known if the two persons were associated with one another, were travelling together or of what nationality they are. On the evening of Monday 25 January, it was suspected and being widely reported in Croatian media that the bodies found frozen on Papuk were those of migrants. 

If the persons were travelling through the area and were not alone, anyone alive and remaining within the mountainous area will be in a precarious position. Over recent days, temperatures within the park have reached daytime highs of -2. At night, the temperature has dropped to below -8. The snow is currently up to half a metre deep in some places on the Nature Park. As with many mountainous regions of Croatia at present, the snow continues to fall.

139805761_10159222223838324_401411676191381434_n.jpgThe snow is up to half a metre deep in some areas on Papuk at present. Over recent days, the nighttime temperature has dropped to below -8 © PP Papuk

If the bodies found frozen on Papuk are ascertained to be migrants, many will wonder just what they were doing there and how they came to be there. The area in which they were found is some 70 kilometres from the nearest border with Bosnia and is not on any existing route popularity attempted by migrants for passage into more westerly-lying countries in Europe. From Papuk, the next nearest European border is Hungary, just short of 50 kilometres to the north. The crossing of the border into Hungary again is not one presently chosen by migrants.

Croatia_location_map-2011-01-02.jpgMap of Croatia © NordNordWest derivative work: Southpawphilly (talk), adapted by TCN

“It's a very strange route,” TCN was told by a man who has spent extensive time with migrants in the Bosnian camps which lie just across the border from Croatia. He preferred not to be named in this article. “If they are migrants, it is possible that they wandered off route. But, in my opinion, that is highly unlikely because most of them use mobile phones (for navigation) even more than we do.”

“I'm really only guessing, which is all that anyone can do for now, but I think it is more likely that, if they are migrants, someone drove them halfway and just left them there, telling them that it was a place that it was not. That's very much something that some of the smugglers are capable of. They could have been driven across the border from Bosnia, taken to the edge of the mountains and told that Slovenia was just on the other side.”

For now, the identities of the bodies found frozen on Papuk remain a mystery, as do the circumstances of how they came to be there. Croatian media is reporting that they have unofficially learned that no documentation was found on either of the bodies. This has lead many to believe that the bodies found frozen on Papuk may actually be locals who had become trapped there by severe and deteriorating weather conditions. The immediate area in which the bodies were found experienced a snowstorm on Sunday, with up to half a metre of snow being deposited.

By the late morning of 26 January, some Croatian media were reporting they had learned that the men were not migrants but were, in fact, local men. The matter is under investigation by the police. A search of the area was undertaken and a survey of the surrounding terrain assessed in order to decide whether other services were needed to be called on for any continuing search.

By order of the County State's Attorney from Bjelovar, both bodies were transported to the Department of Pathology in OB Virovitica, for autopsy and identification. A brief police statement said the public would be notified after an autopsy was performed.

UPDATE: In the mid-afternoon of 26 January, police confirmed that the bodies were those of a 26-year-old and a 38-year-old, both from the local area. The men's families had performed the sad task of identifying their bodies. Later in the day, it was confirmed that the two men did in fact know each other - they were brothers-in-law.

TCN will be updating this story as and when we receive more and relevant details

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Papuk Nature Park has UNESCO Status Extended for Four Years

March 26, 2020 - Papuk Nature Park, the first UNESCO Geopark in the Republic of Croatia, has retained its status as one of the world’s geoparks.

Namely, HRTurizam reports that part of the regular revalidation process, a two-member UNESCO Geoparks Commission visited in July 2019. During their four-day visit to the Papuk Geopark, they were presented the progress made in the past two years, from infrastructure to new projects, and met with stakeholders and representatives of local government.

The UNESCO World Geoparks Council, based on the report of the revalidation, has decided to extend its status in the UNESCO World Geoparks by four years, with recommendations for future work. 

“We base the entire future of the Park on the signature of UNESCO. And our biggest project, Geostories, bears its name. Therefore, the whole progress of the Park's tourism offer, carried out for the benefit of the local community, is also due in large part to the status of a UNESCO geopark. We are thrilled and proud that our membership in the World Geoparks Community has been extended for another four years,” said Alen Jurenac, the Papuk Nature Park Director.

Thanks to its lowland plains with large cultivated areas, Papuk Nature Park is one of the main features of Slavonia. The Papuk Nature Park is located in the mountain forest areas of Papuk and was declared a nature park on April 23, 1999. Its exceptional natural value encompasses a great diversity of habitats and species of plants and animals, but also geological diversity represented in numerous geological formations created in different periods of Earth's past.

Of particular value are the numerous fossil finds of organisms that lived 16 million years ago in the "Pannonian Sea".

The Papuk Nature Park, near Vocin, houses the first geological nature monument in the Republic of Croatia, protected in 1948 because of its unique morphological occurrence in Croatia - the columnar secretion of volcanic rocks.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Thursday, 6 February 2020

New Tourist Facilities at Slavonia's Amazing Papuk Nature Park

The renovation and equipping of the "Pannonian Sea House" is part of the praiseworthy "UNESCO Geopark Geostories" project at the incredible Papuk nature park, which was once in the middle of a sea.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes on the 6th of February, 2020, sixteen million years ago, Papuk was an island in the Pannonian sea inhabited by rhinos and being swum around by a now extinct species of shark. This is extremely difficult to imagine today, given that the modern day Papuk nature park is located in Slavonia, far from any sea.

Numerous fossils of now extinct living organisms, mostly marine animals, testify to the ancient past of this "Slavonian archipelago", located in Velika, within Papuk nature park. The popular continental Croatian nature park has now received a new, impressive exhibition - the Pannonian Sea House.

This visitor-education centre was opened back in late 2019, is part of the already existing Visitor Centre in Velika, and covers an area of ​​158 square metres. Along with impressive exhibition halls, there are multi-purpose lecture rooms for interactive lectures, a gift shop and even an outdoor classroom.

The renovation and equipping of the "Pannonian Sea House", worth almost five million kuna, is an important part of the "UNESCO Geopark Geostories" project, which is co-financed by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds. In addition to the Pannonian Sea House, the project also purchased electric and mountain bikes for rent in Velika and in the Jankovac Forest Park.

The adrenaline park was built in Velika last year, and the first eco-park, Duboka, was opened three years ago, powered by solar panels and which has its own recycling yard and biological water purifier. This has made Pozega-Slavonia County, which is otherwise almost entirely overlooked by tourists, a top Croatian destination for anyone considering the environment, as well as for lovers of walking, hiking and recreation.

Otherwise, Papuk nature park had a record number of visitors in 2019, with 52,485 tourists visiting it - almost 50 percent more than a year earlier. There is no doubt that the Pannonian Sea House, as a testament to life as it used to be in the area, will attract new visitors, especially schoolchildren, who will learn about the geological story of this region in both an original and in a technologically advanced way.

In addition to the new tourist attraction, at the end of the year, the directors of five tourist boards gathered in Croatia to jointly promote the beauty and the tourist offer of this often forgotten region, namely Slavonia, and work together to promote and present Slavonia as Croatia's new tourist destination.

The Slavonia destination project will have an impact on the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as it implies a greater use of new technologies and communication platforms in the promotion and marketing of tourism products, and therefore the greater involvement of local businesses.

Make sure to follow our travel page for more information on Papuk nature park and much more.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

GeoStories of the UNESCO Geopark Papuk Project Started

Nature Park Papuk is the first (and only) Croatian UNESCO Global Geopark, selected to the prestigious list in 2015, and various activities are taking place, with the aim of promotion and conservation of the UNESCO Geopark Papuk. UNESCO says on their website that "Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development." Currently, there are 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 38 countries.

One significant activity in the conservation and education of the Papuk Geopark is the GeoStories of the UNESCO Geopark Papuk project, which was awarded as a part of the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014 - 2020. The large project, worth over 90 million kuna (over 65 million to be funded by the EU) includes creation of the infrastructure for the visitors (Geo-info Centre Voćin, House of the Pannonian Sea, Adrenaline Park Duboka, road reconstruction and improvements on several belvederes), and creation of numerous types of educational and promotional materials and activities. The goal of the project is to improve the tourist infrastructure of the UNESCO Geopark Papuk, through the introduction of the innovative ways to present the historical, cultural, geological and biological wealth of the park, which should result in the increase of the number of visitors to the Park and to this part of continental Croatia.

Yesterday, one major step in the project was taken: works have started on the building of the Geo-info Centre Voćin. The Centre itself is worth 38 million kunas and will include a multidimensional movie theatre, where the visitors will be able to travel back in time. And they will no be making a small leap backwards, no, no, they will be able to travel 23 million years in time (!), but also to see what lies beneath Papuk, what's the experience in the caves and pits in the mountain, but also enter the atmospheric niche of the Miocene land and meet the rhinos that lived on Papuk back in the day.

Suzana Lepan Štefaničić writes for the about the opening ceremony, where Alen Jurenac, the manager of the Papuk Nature Park explained that the opening of the Geo-info Centre in Voćin is expected in the spring of 2020, and it be devoted to biological, geological and cultural heritage, through innovative interaction with the visitors. One of the things he mentioned is that the visitors will get the chance to sense an earthquake and meet the Miocene sharks that swam around Papuk!

In 2018, the Park has had a record number of visitors, but even more people are expected to visit as the road to Jankovac has been reconstructed, so access is much easier these days.

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