Monday, 3 January 2022

Dog Protects Injured Mountaineer on Velebit's Vaganski Vrh, HGSS Saves the Day

January 3, 2022 - HGSS members performed a complex and challenging rescue operation on Sunday night. After almost 13 hours, they pulled out an injured mountaineer, who slipped with his Alaskan Malamute North to a depth of 150 meters on Vaganski Vrh.

Fortunately, two friends were with the injured mountaineer, who immediately called for help and were in contact with the rescuers at all times, report 24 Sata

The head of the HGSS Gospić, Josip Brozičević, states that the mountaineers were experienced and had all the necessary equipment, but a combination of unfortunate circumstances led to this accident.

"The mountaineers climbed the Velebit hiking trail to Vaganski vrh. When descending, the dog was afraid to cross the icy surface. Its owner received it to pass it on. The moment he wanted to lower him to the ground, the dog began to slide on the icy ground. He was on a leash and tied to the owner, and as he slipped into the pit, he dragged his owner behind him," said Brozičević.

HGSS members received a report at 6:30 pm, and 27 rescuers from Gospić, Zadar, Split, and Istria reached the injured mountaineer and dog that had been in the pit for five hours. Unfortunately, the action on the inaccessible terrain, on the highest peak of Velebit, was hampered by snow and ice, and landslides and broken trees blocked the trails.

"The dog was curled up next to the owner in the pit the entire time; he warmed his owner with his body, thus preventing the mountaineer's significant hypothermia who suffered a severe fracture of the lower leg and ankle when he fell. In addition, he looked quite sober mentally and physically," stated Brozičević.

After rescuers pulled the victim and the dog out of the pit, the hypothermic mountaineer was first warmed, and his injured leg immobilized. His dog North, who passed without injuries, did not want to be separated from the owner for even a moment. Instead, he curled up on him while on a stretcher, while rescuers lowered him from the mountain on steep and icy terrain Transportation began at 0:20.

"When we started with the transport, we saw that it would not be possible to transport the victim and the dog together. Since the dog was unharmed, he was taken over by one of the rescuers, but even then, he was near the owner," said Brozičević.

After more than seven hours of transport, the injured mountaineer was taken to the ambulance, to the Gospić General Hospital, and then to the Zadar Hospital, where he underwent surgery.

HGSS members warn that hiking is dangerous in winter conditions, regardless of how experienced the mountaineer is and how well they prepare for the route. This accident has shown that only one wrong step is enough, after which there is no going back. Vaganski vrh is visited almost daily by mountaineers. The only exception is when the most severe winter conditions prevail on the mountain.

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

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Sveti Rok MTB Tour by Heart of Velebit Celebrates 5 Years of Cycling

May 26, 2021 - This weekend is surely a special one for the heart of Velebit. The Sveti Rok MTB Tour bicycle competition through the fields of Lika and the area of Velebit around Cnropac will celebrate five successful years of organization with several races, exhibitions, and a Matej Meštrović concert.

As reported by turistickeprice.hr, Sveti Rok MTB Tour is the name of the traditional, fifth in a row bicycle race through the fields of Lika and the area of Velebit around Crnopac, Tulovi Gredi and Zira. This is the first activity this year out of a total of seven that will be held under the common name ‘‘Srce Velebit’’, or ‘‘Heart of Velebit’’. Every day, as part of the Sveti Rok MTB Tour, three cycling or cycling-hiking tours with guides from the Heart of Velebit will be offered. One of them will be an easier, family route through the Lika fields, while two will be more demanding on Velebit.

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Credit: Heart of Velebit

On the first day of the cycling race, on May 28, the new bike & hike Staza Malog Princa (Trail of the Little Prince) will be presented. It is intended for the most prepared, and this very difficult trail is covered by 40 kilometers by bicycle, and participants will then have another four hours of walking on very demanding terrain. Due to the complexity of the terrain and the safety of the participants, the number is limited to 30 participants.

For participants with less driving experience on difficult terrains, a light route, Suvajski bunari (Suvajski wells), with a length of about 35 kilometers with an altitude difference of 350 meters has been prepared. The third route offered on the first day of the cycling race is the Velebit šišmiši (Velebit bats), and it is a night bike ride through Velebit for participants with previous experience and equipment for night driving, who should expect 25 kilometers of forest roads.

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Credit: Heart of Velebit

Tulove Grede - bike & hike is the first route in Saturday's offer of cycling. The lighter version via Mali Alan is 42 kilometers long with 2 and a half hours of ascent and descent from the top, and the more advanced one goes along the Road to Hell route through Male Jasle, 60 kilometers long with 2 and a half hours of ascent and descent from the top. The Heart of Velebit Epic is very heavy, fitness, and technically demanding. Perhaps the most beautiful route in Croatia. It is 62 kilometers long, from 553 to 1211 meters above sea level, and a descent to the starting point. Winnetou - from Lika to the sea, is medium and technically demanding, 37 kilometers long. The reward for the effort is a descent from 1050 meters to the sea, for swimming.

On Saturday, May 29, a special program was prepared to mark the first five successful years of the Heart of Velebit. A celebratory concert of the famous pianist Matej Meštrović (author of the album Sounds of Velebit) will be held for all participants at the Cvituša Excursion Site, with video recording and millennial photography with a camera and drone.

On the last day of the Sveti Rok MTB Tour, on Sunday, May 30, participants can expect Zir - bike & hike, an easy route that everyone can ride, 40 kilometers of Lika fields with springs and rivers, then the Mile vode / River Deep Mountain High, which is a difficult route of 65 kilometers and Mali Epic, a shortened difficult and technically demanding bike route. From the initial 553 meters above sea level, there is an ascent along the Master Road to 1001 meters, then to 1230 meters, followed by a descent along a forest road to 580 meters above sea level, rewarding the cyclists with a road descent to Sveti Rok through the forests and paths of Velebit.

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Credit: Heart of Velebit

As part of the cycling race, Lika family farms will also present themselves. In front of Hostel Sveti Rok, there will be a sales exhibition of delicacies and souvenirs before leaving for home.

Those interested can participate for one, two, or all three days. You can find more about the cycling race and how to register HERE.

Velebit Nature Park is one of the 12 natural parks in Croatia, and you can learn more about them in Total Croatia's Guide to National and Natural Parks in Croatia, HERE. Now you can find Total Croatia articles in your language!

For more information about cycling in Croatia, go to Total Croatia's dedicated page.

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

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Croatian Couple Completed Via Adriatica Trail in 54 Days, Liked Dinara Most

February 24, 2021 – TCN recently interviewed Josipa and Matija on their 1,100 kilometers long journey, and now this Croatian couple completed the Via Adriatica trail with success... but not without the headache of the demanding Croatian mountain regions and changeable and unpredictable weather conditions.

Josipa and Matija set off on the Via Adriatica trail on January 1, 2021, starting from Prevlaka, the southermost peninsula in Croatia. The last time we talked to them was one month ago when they were at Svilaja mountain, not even half of their journey. Yesterday, after 54 sunny, rainy, snowy, foggy, and windy days, this Croatian couple completed the Via Adriatica trail.

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In the meantime, the Dinara mountain, a newly declared Croatian 12th National Park, amazed them the most, while Velebit mountain showed all of its natural power and broke them with snowstorms. However, after successfully overcoming all the climbs, peaks, sections, weather troubles, they finished their journey at Cape Kamenjak in Istria.

Lost in a minefield

Since Svilaja mountain, when we last heard from each other, the weather conditions created many problems for Josipa and Matija. First, due to the heavy rain, they could not move from the shelter for three days, and the weather forecast was getting worse and worse. They had to move on because there was no point in waiting anymore.

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On the Dinara mountain, on the way to a shelter called "Vjetre s Dinare" ("Wind from Dinara" meaning Croatian stormy wind bura), they went through the fog, rain, icy rain, wind, and finally – through a minefield.

"We followed the markings, which at one point got lost because there was snow. It was a thick fog. We didn't see anything; the GPS didn't work either. So we went on our own about 200 meters. We saw a board in the distance, turned backward on us. We thought we would see something written on it, some marking! We climbed up, turned, and looked – 'caution, minefield, please don't pass this way.' I can't describe how we felt at that moment, without a trace, in the middle of nowhere. Besides, we were followed by a dog, a Turkish Kangal, which normally eats wolves," describes Josipa the moment when her whole life passed before her eyes.

Still, they somehow managed to get to that "Wind from Dinara" shelter, apparently so named for a reason. However, that's where another struggle started – lighting a fire.

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Real Himalayan conditions on Dinara

All the wood was wet, and Matthias struggled to light the stove. Due to the rain falling for the previous three days and over which the snow was falling, their boots were completely wet. Wood splitting and lighting a fire caused them many problems on the way, which, they admit, took a lot of energy and nerves.

"This whole heating situation was forcing us day after day to pick up bags and warm-up, so we went to bed around 7 pm every day," says Josipa.

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Mountain lodging Rupe on Dinara

On Dinara, they felt the power of the bura wind for the first time, which even extinguished the fire during one night in the shelter. All the smoke entered the small house, and all attempts to ignite the stove failed.

"It was freezing, minus 10 degrees Celsius, and the feeling reached minus 20 degrees with 110 km/h of gusts of wind. We experienced real Himalayan conditions on the Dinara," says Josipa.

Fortunately, they had warm sleeping bags with them – that were even too hot! Josipa and Matija couldn't believe that they were lying in a room while it's minus degrees while being hot in feathered bags. That's what it means for a mountaineer to have the right equipment. Still, they took advantage of those windy days to take photos and enjoy.

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Mountain lodging Pume on Dinara

In the end, they had to leave the shelter and, despite a strong bura wind on which was difficult even to stand, let alone walk, they moved on. As the sun always comes after a storm, the weather finally calmed down, and it was beautiful.

Dinara – idyllic, fascinating, special, spacious, beautiful

The path towards Lišanjski Peak, the highest peak of the southern Dinara, they say, is a magical place that cannot be described but must be experienced. It is also the furthest point from civilization on the entire route.

"You are in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing in sight, no city, no roads, and everything around you is white. Everything is full of white peaks and hills. Idyllic. If someone threw me here and asked where I was, I would certainly not say that I was in Croatia," says Josipa.

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Josipa on Dinara

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Matija on Dinara

And Lišanjski Peak itself is fascinating – you can see Bosnia, Dinara, the Cetina River source. In those hours and 15 minutes of climbing, they saw many fresh traces of bears, but (fortunately) no bear jumped out in front of them.

That part of the trip was the most beautiful, they agree. The weather was good. They even walked in short sleeves, though the snow had not yet completely melted. This incredible experience will remain in their memory forever. And when they descended to the source of the Cetina, Lišanjski Peak seemed so far away. An exceptional experience, unique energy, and a special ambiance, they say.

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The source of Cetina River

For Sinjal, the highest peak of Dinara and Croatia, they have no words. Now that they saw it under the snow, it seemed ten times more magical than in September when they first experienced it.

"We were standing up at the top, watching, and we couldn't believe where we had come. On one side, you see Biokovo that we passed. On the other side, you see Velebit that's waiting for us. We were proud of each other and ourselves. I get little chills when I think of that part," admits Josipa.

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Dinara

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Dinara

"Dinara is so spacious, so beautiful. Of all the mountains on this road, the Dinara has remained most etched in my heart and memory," says Josipa.

Velebit – almost giving up

They walked an average of 25 to 30 kilometers a day to the Dinara, and since they came to Velebit, they had been moving like snails. The weather conditions did not allow them to move faster than 10 kilometers a day.

On Velebit, they again got in a minefield, more precisely a demined area, also due to fog. The fear from Dinara returned. Everything around them was white – down because of the snow, up because of the mist, or clouds in which they were. They were disoriented. Then they realized that it was too dangerous to continue the journey.

Apart from the weather – alternating rain, south wind, bura, minus – their problem was every arrival at the next shelter. There were tears in those moments, they admit.

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Šugarska Duliba on Velebit

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There were some challenging days along the via Via Adriatica trail for this Croatian couple

They could not continue in the rain, especially in the thunder, because it is common knowledge that many mountaineers die due to thunder. However, luck was on their side. One friend drew their attention to a shelter that was not marked on the map, making their journey and planning easier.

On Velebit, they experienced a storm of all storms, with bura gusts of 150 km/h. In places where it pounded them, they barely adhered to sticks, arms, and legs. In one part, the bura even lifted them off the ground.

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Josipa on Velebit

"Right in front of Baške Oštarije, where a warm bed and meal was waiting for us, the bura was blowing so much that it lifted us off the ground. If we were a pound lighter, we would probably fly into the air," says Josipa, adding that bura and cold take the most energy.

On the famous Premužić trail, cut into the slope, they thought it would be easy. However, when the snow fell, everything froze, and the track did not exist. It cost them time, energy, and nerves. It was a mental and physical breakdown, a difficult period.

"When the weather is great, the terrain is a disaster, and when the terrain is great, the weather is a disaster. Eternal struggle on our path. We were both sad and disappointed after Velebit because of that. Biokovo and Dinara got along so well, then we came to Velebit, and we thought it would be great because it's familiar to us," says Josipa.

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Josipa on Premužić trail on Velebit

Generous help from friends, family, and even strangers

Just before the end of the Via Adriatica trail, in Gorski Kotar, they could barely make their way through the fog, which is why they could not even enjoy the beautiful views. By then, they were slowly fed up, on the verge of giving up, but then, as always in life, friends jumped in. Unselfish support from friends, colleagues, but also strangers came from all sides and gave them extra wind in their backs so that they would not give up when there are already so many successfully traversed sections behind them.

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Josipa and Matija on Vojak – the highest peak of Učka mountain in Istria, at the very end of their journey

At Cape Kamenjak, their final destination, they were greeted by family but also by a few unknown people who were supporting them online. Friends couldn't welcome them because of work, but they're preparing a party on Saturday to frame and mark this whole story.

Although they hoped to finish the trail in mid-February, the weather proved to them to be patient and that sometimes things had to go according to nature's plan, not human's. They became patient with each other as well.

"When you spend so much time together, 0-24, you have to make some compromises. As a couple, we function very well, and we support each other when it is hardest," says Josipa.

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Josipa and Matija on the Sinjal Peak – highest peak of Dinara and whole of Croatia

Except for roe deers and a few lynxes, they didn't see any wild animals along the way, only a multitude of wolves' and bears' traces, small and large. Also, they were mostly alone along the way, occasionally accompanied by a group of other mountaineers, as well as some beautiful and lovely dogs. However, as they say, they would not survive this trip without the generous help of their friends from Mountaineering Association Vrlovka, who would come and wait for them along the path to give them food and equipment. The fearless team of that mountaineering association even walked with them on Velebit's part while a strong bura wind was blowing, providing Josipa and Matija immense support.

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'We wanted to promote the beauty of Croatia, Via Adriatica trail, and active lifestyle'

When asked whether they would dare to retake this path, they agree they wouldn't after all the troubles they faced along the way. But, if asked that question in a week or two, they would definitely say yes, but only under better weather conditions.

Winter has its charms, but it is also exhausting. It requires a lot of hiking equipment, and it is much more dangerous to go in winter than at any other time of year. If Josipa and Matija could choose, they would go in the spring or late fall. When in the mountains in Croatia, one should be humble and patient.

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View of Croatian islands from Velebit

"Our goal was to promote the beauty of Croatia, to promote Via Adriatica, and to promote an active lifestyle, especially now at this time of the corona when we are all locked in our homes. I think that hiking is a wonderful hobby, both for the body and for the mind, whether in a company, in a couple, or alone," says Josipa.

Although Josipa and Matija are experienced mountaineers (Matija is even a member of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service – HGSS), the tour was very demanding for them, both physically and mentally. Considering that they only got a chance to set off on Via Adriatica now, during winter, because Matija's work has been banned and Josipa is having a vacation, the winter conditions did not favor them. But regardless, they enjoyed the inexplicable natural beauties of Croatia and met many generous life-long acquaintances along the way.

"It's hard to describe all those feelings that go through your mind and heart along the way. To understand what we are talking about, it is the best to set out on such a journey on your own," advise Josipa and Matija.

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All the photos are from interlocutors' private archives.

You can follow Josipa and Matija and their other hiking journeys on their Facebook page.

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Saturday, 21 November 2020

One Man and His Dog: Outdoors Croatia Explores Velebit with Kids (VIDEO)

November 21, 2020 - While many kids are glued to their phones and other gadgets, the team from Outdoor Croatia offer a more natural way to spend a day - Velebit with kids. Stunning!

It has been a while since I checked out one of my favourite YouTube channels promoting Croatia, and it is great to see it going from strength to strength. 

Longer-term followers of TCN might be familiar with the series of articles we did on the man and dog team from Outdoor Croatia, whose efforts are quite simply the best video promotion of The Great Outdoors in Croatia that exists on YouTube. I hope they are being supported and rewarded for their efforts. 

I first came across the channel a few years ago when I came across this mesmerising winter run through virgin snow at Plitvice Lakes, a reminder that Croatia's most famous national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site is very much a four-season destination. Since that video, I have toured some of the most beautiful nature spots in Croatia vicariously through the camera of the outdoors Croatia crew - by kayak, hiking, bike and running, all year round. 

And in this era of social distancing and avoiding crowds, Croatia's endless natural beauty and stunning open spaces are ever more attractive, providing a very different family experience for those who can leave their gadgets behind and go out to explore. 

The latest episode from Outdoors Croatia was uploaded yesterday, entitled Velebit with Kids. Not a soul in sight for much of the day, and you would be hard pressed to find better views than this in the region. 

We spent the holiday on Velebit, on Premužić's path south of Alan and back along the path that goes along the ridge over Buljma, altogether a little more than five kilometres. 

You can follow the latest from Outdoor Croatia on their YouTube channel.

For more from the TCN One Man and His Dog series, click here

Monday, 3 February 2020

Three Reasons Why You Should Visit Zavratnica - The Blue Gem of Velebit

February 3, 2020 - Plitvice National Park, Dubrovnik, or islands Brač and Hvar have become sights synonymous with Croatia. Alas, they have also become overused, turned into cliches, and have, sadly, lost their initial appeal and dare I say, even some beauty, because of tourism and greed. But, there is a lot more to Croatia than a few locations tourists mostly visit. Despite its small size, the country of thousand islands has a few more tricks up its sleeves. This one is snuggled way up in the interior, in the shadow of the largest Croatian mountain - Velebit

Welcome to Zavratnica, an unusual cove, part of Velebit Nature Park and a protected landscape.

Although it is (obviously) not a fjord, it sure resembles one, and part of Zavratnica’s popularity rests on its similarity to these natural phenomena native to Norway.

Just one photo of Zavratnica should be a reason enough to visit. But, there are even more breathtaking things about this place that make it worth visiting. So, without further ado, here are three reasons why you should visit enchanting Zavratnica.

But first…

How to get to Zavratnica?

Walk the promenade

Drive up to Jablanac, a picturesque seaside village, a 2-hour drive away from Zadar. From there, it takes a 20 to 30-minute walk along the Jablanac promenade to get to Zavratnica.

Walk down the hiking trail

The more adventurous ones can drive up to the village Zavratnica in the mountain and walk the marked hiking trail that’ll take you to a viewpoint with an amazing view of Zavratnica.  

1. Origin story

There’s a legend about the origin of Zavratnica that tells of an earthquake in the Middle Ages, destroying three cities. However, the real origin story of Zavratnica is less catastrophic but amazing nonetheless (at least for geology buffs). According to the Velebit Nature Park website, it dates from the Cretaceous period and is a result of tectonic movements that submerged the surrounding cliffs, thus creating the fjord-like look.

2. Interesting history

The Austro-Hungarian aristocracy discovered this natural beauty at the beginning of the 20th century and have used it as a location for their summer holidays. 

Right at the beginning of the cove, If you take a good look into the crystal clear water, you’ll see the rusty remains of a sunken battleship from the Second World War.

Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear - who knows, maybe there’s some treasure hidden inside that ship. 

3. Untouched nature

Although every year there are more tourists,  Zavratnica is still not endangered by tourism. The sea is clean, clear and splendidly blue - ideal for a refreshing swim. Also, the area is home to 129 plant species, most of which are native to the area. 

Bonus tips:

Bring some cash. To get in, you have to pay an entrance fee of 30 kunas (as of last tourist season).

If you’re planning to visit island Rab (it’s just across Zavratnica), include Zavratnica into your itinerary. 

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

Monday, 8 April 2019

Croatia to Gain New Tourist Destination with 68 Million Kuna Project

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 8th of April, 2019, the Cerovac caves are some of the most interesting geomorphological attractions nature has to offer in Croatia, and the caves were originally set up for visitors back in 1951.

The ''Cerovac caves'' centre of excellence deals with the sustainable management of natural heritage and karst underground, and this new tourist project should be able to get completely off the ground in two to three years, writes Večernji list.

The Cerovac cave project is being carried by the the Velebit Nature Park public institution (JUPP Velebit) and the project's partners, which include the Zagreb Speleological Association, Zadar County and the public institution for the protection of nature of Zadar County, Natura Jadera.

''The total value of the project stands at 68.5 million kuna, out of which approximately 53 million kuna of non-refundable money is being granted by EU funds, and the rest of the money, along with that of the project's partners, will be provided by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy and the Environmental Protection Fund,'' stated the president of the Zagreb Speleological Association and historian Stipe Tutiš, who was immediately followed by architect Roman Šilje, who went on to explain the meaning behind and the ultimate goal of the whole project.

''In southeastern Velebit, in Crnopac just above Gračac, the largest natural speleological sight in the Dinaric karst, the Cerovac caves, can be found. So far, only the ipper and lower Cerovac caves were visible and accessible, but owing to the passage of time and to the Homeland War, they remained neglected. Therefore, Croatian speleologists, as the initiators of this project, have begun with all of their other partners to return to this unique karst phenomenon and give it the importance it deserves, so, back in 2010, we started with the development of this project. Five years later, the project documentation got started, which was funded by the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund.

In October 2016, the project was submitted to the Operational Program for Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020. The evaluation lasted from October 2016 to April last year, and on April the 4th, 2018, around one year ago, an agreement was signed with the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds,'' concluded Šilje.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more information on current projects in Croatia and much more.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Kvarner the Injured Griffon Vulture Found and Treated in Germany

As Morski writes on the 5th of January, 2019, back in October, German rescue workers in Kaditz near Dresden came across an unwell nine-month-old griffon vulture from Kvarner in Radebeul vineyard.

The injured and sickly bird was simply lying exhausted on the ground. Although his wingspan stood at a massive 2.8 feet wide, the unwell bird was exhausted and his weight was a mere kilograms. On his leg he wore a ring labelled "Kvarner", from which his German saviours determined that his country of birth was Croatia, according to a report by Fenix ​​Magazine.

The rescuers collected the unlucky young bird and took him to receive immediate medical attention, in a location at which numerous other sick and wounded bird species are treated.

Over time, the young and rather unfortunate griffon vulture from Kvarner slowly recovered, and his German rescuers named him ''Kvarner'', owing to the ring on his leg. With the proper care and time to heal, Kvarner got better day by day, accumulating extra strength for his return to his native Croatia.

''Now he weighs twice as much than when we first found him. At first he was only eating crumbs, and thanks to the hunters who supported us, he eventually took to eating meat from wild game, and wild boar meat. Now he's even become a little gourmand because instead of eating entrails, he now loves to eat hearts and livers from game animals,'' stated Saskia Keller of the German facility currently treating young Kvarner, who is growing stronger with each passing day.

This young bird of prey from Cres, which is the closest relative of the eagle, will remain in Kaditz until March. He will then be released back to his native Croatia, more specifically in Kvarner bay.

Since a few colonies of such birds can be found on the island of Pag and in the Velebit mountain range, it is estimated that in the Republic of Croatia there are between 110 and 140 pairs of these predatory birds in total.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated lifestyle page for more.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Intangible Heritage of Croatia – Cheesecloth Cheese – Sir iz Mišine

December the 7th, 2018 - The intangible heritage of Croatia is complex and varied, so let us take a look at yet another one, which involves cheese. The preparation of cheesecloth cheese, locally called sir iz mišine, is a long tradition in Dalmatian inland, Dinara, Velebit, Lika, and the western Herzegovina area.

When the initial production of this piece of intangible heritage of Croatia first began isn't known, but even the ancient Illyrians prepared this type of sheep cheese. One of the theories says that production began when milk stored in sheep paunches accidentally started the fermentation process. This kind of milk had whey and cheese, which during that time, became a tradition to make.

The way of making the cheese hasn’t changed much from the beginning. Back then, the cheese was made from whole sheep milk but today it's done with skimmed sheep, goat, or cow milk too. It is preserved in sheep or goat paunches which gives it its typical smell and spicy flavour. It is usually produced during summer from extra sheep milk and it can be consumed from autumn onwards.

In order to make this cheese, one should follow several procedures. First, the paunch should be appropriately prepared, then the milking should be done and milk preparation should follow right after it. The whey should be prepared too. Making and preparing the sheep or goat paunch is important as it ensures good cheese making. The paunch should be properly washed, disinfected and dried from 15 to 30 days.

Knowledge and skill with regard to this craft is traditionally inherited from generation to generation. When everything is ready, the brewing process can start and the product can be stored in the paunches. Finally, the stored cheese needs to age, and then it is ready.

The brewing begins right after the milking and the brewing time depends on the temperature (ranges from 31-35°C to 35-40°C) and the strength of the whey. When the mixture forms a certain structure, the first layer is turned over to even up the temperature of the whole batch, then, it is cut into cubes and should rest until the whey turns into a greenish – yellow colour.

This cheese mass is then put in cloths and subsequently pressed.

After pressing the cheese, salt is added until there is enough cheese to be put into the paunch. If the paunch is filled with cheese one-time only, this ensures better quality. When the paunch is filled, the cheese is shredded and then crumbled. It is important to remove all the air from the paunch to ensure that it matures in controlled conditions (12-15°C). It takes 2-3 months to achieve its specific characteristics and to be ready for consumption.

To produce one kilogram of cheese, you'd need 7-8 litres of skimmed milk or 7-9 litres of fresh sheep or mixed sheep/cow milk. To produce 12 to 15 kg of cheese and 7-8 litres of slurry, you would need 100 litres of whole sheep's milk. The mature cheese is then taken out of the paunch and stored in low temperatures with the appropriate humidity and level of hygiene.

The area where this cheese is made is usually agricultural regions where you can find livestock like sheep, lambs, and goats. To keep this tradition going and in order to continue this type of cheese production, it is important to help to preserve small family businesses and agricultural estates which are involved in making it.

Nowadays, there are some differences in production as the sheep and milk used are different from the traditional type. In addition, technology is used to produce the cheese which makes it higher quality in the modern day.

Despite technology's influence, it is important to preserve most of the traditional ways of making the cheese active by passing down knowledge of this tradition. The final product is often a very rare find on markets and in stores but it can be found on agricultural estates and villages where they still make it.

Make sure to follow our lifestyle page for more information on the intangible heritage of Croatia and much more.

 

SOURCE(S) (text and photos): HAH, Agroklub

Monday, 27 August 2018

In Dramatic Operation, HGSS Rescues Two Hikers on Velebit

The Croatian Mountain Rescue Service helped the hikers on the best-known Croatian mountain.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Blossoming Tourism for Senj!

The tourism flower is beginning to blossom in Senj!

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