Slovenia and Croatia
Bear trail bikepacking

A sustainable approach to cycling that has minimal impact on the environment. With the help of experienced guides, your animal watching will be friendly to nature and its inhabitants.

The programme is intended for all enthusiastic wildlife observers, photographers and bikers who would like to experience the magic of unspoilt nature and the power and appeal of the Slovenian and Croatian forests and their inhabitants first hand, by biking in nature.

Although the programme is more than just about observing animals, since it requires the participants to cycle almost 400 km in total, it allows enough time for activities where one can learn many interesting facts that will place wildlife in a wider context, all with the help of experienced guides, and by watching bears from an observatory adapted for photography.

The trip boasts remarkably well maintained routes, gorgeous landscapes and lush green nature. In the course of one week, the seaside and wild mountains resonate in an amazing symphony through the dense forests of Notranjska region and Gorski Kotar, the rocky Velebit mastiff, and beautiful beaches of the Croatian coast.

A WILD WEEK EXPLORING BY BIKE

Day 1. Divača – Ilirska Bistrica. Distance: 67 km. Elevation: 1550 m. The day starts at the UNESCO site, the world famous Škocjan Caves with the educational trail offering wonderful views of the deep collapse dolines, steep walls, the disappearing Reka river and the surrounding hills.The highlight of the day is Mt Slavnik with its fabulous views over the sea. From there, concrete and gravel roads take the tour through the forest to Ilirska Bistrica. 

Day 2. Ilirska Bistrica – Grad Snežnik. Distance: 62 km. Elevation: 1370 m. The route starts climbing to Mountain Snežnik. The route from the beginning offers views towards the Adriatic Sea and Brkini Hills. Descend towards Snežnik Castle. The area around Snežnik is known by the highest density of brown bears so bear watching from the hides will be organized in the evening. 

Day 3. Slovenia to Croatia. Distance: 65 km. Elevation: 1250 m. We cross into  Croatia's Gorski Kotar. The rest of the day is spent biking through the heart of National Park Risnjak. The day is wrapped up at Fužine, a beautiful little highland town in the midst of unspoiled nature, which has a long-standing tradition in tourism.

Day 4. Forest to the Adriatic Sea. Distance: 64 km. Elevation: 1180 m. The route first runs through the shady area of the mountains just above the coast, and then a single track descends directly to the charming coastal town of  Novi Vinodolski. From there, it is headed to Senj situated at the foothills of the Velebit mountains. The symbol of Senj is the Nehaj Fortress dating back to 1558.

Day 5. Velebit mountains – the ascent to heaven. Distance: 38 km. Elevation: 1800 m. Biking up to the mighty Mount Velebit  is rewarded with the most beautiful views over the Northern Adriatic coast and its islands. This is a short but rather hard ascent that starts from the sea level and heads directly towards Velebit. At the Oltare mountain pass, the trail joins the road leading to the entrance of the Northern Velebit National Park from where it continues on gravel to the Zavižan mountain hut, the highest-positioned meteorological station in Croatia, which serves as the overnight base on the tour.

Day 6. The heart of the Velebit mountains ridge. Distance: 70 km. Elevation: 920 m. One of the highlights of the tour is the trail running along the main Velebit mountains ridge, where participants can explore the lush forests and meadows and enjoy the amazing nature-created shapes of the karstic relief in the Dinaric Alps. After reaching Alan, the area offering the most impressive vistas over Velebit, the trail continues towards village Baška Oštarija where in the evening, bear watching from the hide will be organized. 

Day 7. From the mountains back to the Adriatic Sea. Distance: 20 km. Elevation: 200 m. The last day there is just a short descent towards Croatian coastal town Karlobag where cold beer and the warm Adriatic Sea will wait for all of those who will finish this epic cycling journey. 

Day 8. Departure


Trip Details

  • Days: 8 days/7 nights
  • When: Late spring, early summer and early autumn
  • Accommodation: Local accommodation and one hut. 
  • Guide: Matic
  • How to get there: The “Bear trail Bikepacking” programme starts and ends at the town of Divača. There are 4 international airports (Ljubljana, Zagreb, Trieste, Venice) within a maximum distance of a 2.5-hour drive from Divača. Transfers can be arranged from any of these airports and from Ljubljana, upon request.
  • Languages: English, Croatian
  • Others: Fitness level:Medium - High. Technical difficult: Easy - Medium. Length & elevation: 386km, 8090m

Price

  • €2775 for 2 people
  • €2375 for 3 people
  • €2125 for 4 people
  • €1975 for 5 people
  • €1875 for 6 people
  • €1815 for 7 people
  • €1750 for 8 people
  • Single room supplement: €210

Rates per person are based on double occupancy. In the case of the hut we use dormitory rooms. 

The price includes: 7-nights accommodation. 7 breakfasts and 7 dinners; all meals include typical local food. Fully qualified and experienced guide for the entire trip. Navigation pack: GPS track, maps, tour booklet. Transfer from the route ending point to the route starting point. A bear watching activity from a hide. Entrance fee to Northern Velebit National Park

The price does not include: Flights. Transfer from airport/train station to Divača. Bike, e-bike and other accessories rental (can be arranged upon request).Travelling and activity insurance, personal safety and cycling equipment, lunches, beverages, any other items not listed in the price.  Personal extras

What to bring: We recommend you to dress in layers. Biking pants/shorts. Hiking shoes, sun hat, water bottle, daypack, long pants, hat and wool gloves, jacket, raincoat or poncho, sun protection cream, non smelling mosquito/tick repellent and camp shoes (sandals). Binoculars, personal toiletries/medicines and a sense of adventure!


OUR RESPONSIBILITY

Rewilding Levy: 5% of your booking fee goes to the local Rewilding Program

Due to the huge growth in coastal tourism in Croatia over the last 10-15 years, many local inhabitants have moved out of the Velebit area towards the coast. As a result, many areas of this beautiful region are now characterised by land abandonment, rural exodus and fading cultural tradition. Rewilding Europe is working with local partners to transform these challenges into opportunities. This has seen the establishment of the 23,000-hectare Velebit Nature Reserve.

A new wildlife watching venture saw the construction and opening of two wildlife hides in this reserve in 2016. These will benefit the local community through job opportunities and boosted tourism income. They represent the first step in developing the area’s vast potential as a sustainable nature tourism destination.

Two unique forests in the Rewilding Velebit area were recently added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Rewilding Europe is working to promote this model across Europe.

Read more about our work in the Velebit Mountains here.

CONTACT OUR SAFARI EXPERT


Aukje Van Gerven

OUR LOCAL PARTNER

Meet Matic

Being a geodesist by profession, Matic had been active in the field of cartography and marine hydrography for a long time, he made a decision to start his own business (and later on to join the GoodPlace team).

Partly connected with primary expertise of spatial informatics and gradually more and more with mountain bike guiding and the growth of tourism products related to it.

During his youth he was active in sports, particularly in athletics at the beginning, but later on he was more devoted to mountaineering challenges. As climbing and expeditions took a lot of time, the passion for alpinism was progressively replaced by cycling. In recent years, mountain biking connected with guiding, which represents the basic form of spending free time, and gradually also working time actively, has stood out.

Matija Klanjšček

Mountain bike guide - Slovenia