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A First-timer’s Guide To Hiking The Highlander Velebit


by Kim Bischoff



Welcome to the breathtaking world of adventure hiking! If you’re a nature lover looking for a thrilling and invigorating experience, hiking the Highlander Velebit should be on the top of your bucket list. Situated in the enchanting Velebit mountain range in Croatia, this hiking paradise offers a myriad of trails that will leave you in awe of its natural beauty.


The Highlander Velebit is not for the faint of heart – it’s a challenging trek that demands physical stamina, mental resilience, and a passion for exploration. But rest assured, the rewards are beyond measure. From stunning panoramic views of rugged peaks and deep valleys to encounters with diverse flora and fauna, this adventure promises an experience like no other.


But before you embark on your quest, it’s essential to be well-prepared. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make the most of your hiking adventure in the Highlander Velebit. From planning and gear selection to safety tips and trail navigation, we’ve got you covered.


So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your backpack, and let’s embark on an unforgettable journey through the Highlander Velebit!


Planning for Your Hike

Proper planning is crucial for a successful hiking experience in the Highlander Velebit. Here are some important steps to consider:

  • Research the Trails: Start by researching the different hiking trails available in the area. Consider factors such as difficulty level, distance, and elevation gain to find a trail that suits your fitness level and experience.
  • Check Weather Conditions: The weather in the Highlander Velebit can be unpredictable, so ensure you check the forecast before heading out. Keep in mind that the climate can vary significantly at higher altitudes.
  • Create an Itinerary: Plan your route and estimate the time it will take to complete each section. This will help you stay on track and ensure you have enough time to reach your desired campsites or rest areas.
  • Pack Properly: Packing the right gear is essential for a comfortable and safe hike. Make a checklist of essential items such as a sturdy backpack, a reliable tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment, and sufficient food and water supplies.
  • Permits and Permissions: Some areas in the Highlander Velebit may require permits or permissions, especially if you plan to camp overnight. Check with local authorities or park rangers to ensure you have the necessary documentation.
  • Communicate Your Plans: It’s crucial to inform someone about your hiking plans, including your planned route and estimated time of return. This way, if any unforeseen circumstances arise, help can be alerted in a timely manner.

By taking the time to plan and prepare, you’ll increase your chances of having a safe and enjoyable hiking experience in the Highlander Velebit. Remember, the more prepared you are, the more you can focus on appreciating the breathtaking beauty of this incredible destination.


Essential Gear for Hiking

When it comes to hiking in the Highlander Velebit, having the right gear is essential for your comfort, safety, and overall enjoyment. Here are some must-have items:

  • Hiking Boots: Invest in a pair of sturdy and well-fitting hiking boots that provide ankle support and have a good grip on various terrains. Break them in before your hike to avoid blisters and discomfort.
  • Backpack: Choose a backpack that is large enough to carry all your gear, yet lightweight and comfortable to wear for long periods. Look for features like padded shoulder straps and a hip belt for proper weight distribution.
  • Tent and Sleeping Bag: Ensure your tent is lightweight, waterproof, and easy to set up. Invest in a high-quality sleeping bag that suits the expected temperatures during your hike.
  • Navigation Tools: Bring a map, compass, and/or GPS device to help you navigate the trails. Familiarize yourself with the trail markers and any potential points of confusion.
  • Water and Food: Carry enough water to stay hydrated throughout your hike. Depending on the length of your trip, bring lightweight and high-calorie snacks or dehydrated meals.
  • Clothing: Dress in layers to accommodate changing weather conditions. A moisture-wicking base layer, insulating mid-layer, and waterproof outer layer are essential. Don’t forget a hat, gloves, and extra socks.
  • First Aid Kit: Pack a comprehensive first aid kit with essential supplies like bandages, antiseptic ointment, pain relievers, blister pads, and any personal medications you may need.
  • Headlamp and Extra Batteries: A headlamp is essential for navigating in low light conditions or during early morning or evening hikes. Always carry extra batteries as a backup.
  • Emergency Essentials: Include essentials such as a whistle, multipurpose tool, emergency blanket, fire starter, and a fully charged mobile phone or satellite communication device.

Remember, the Highlander Velebit offers rugged terrain and varying weather conditions, so it’s crucial to come well-prepared with the necessary gear. Additionally, don’t forget to pack a positive attitude and a sense of adventure!


Training and Fitness Preparation

Hiking in the Highlander Velebit can be physically demanding, so it’s important to be adequately prepared. Here are some tips for training and fitness preparation:

  • Cardiovascular Exercise: Engage in activities that improve your cardiovascular endurance, such as running, cycling, or swimming. This will help build stamina for long hikes and strenuous ascents.
  • Strength Training: Incorporate strength training exercises into your routine to build muscular endurance. Focus on exercises that target your legs, core, and upper body.
  • Hiking Practice: Gradually increase the duration and difficulty of your hikes to mimic the conditions you’ll encounter in the Highlander Velebit. Incorporate varied terrain and elevation gain to build strength and endurance.
  • Hill Training: If possible, include hill or stair workouts in your training regimen. This will help prepare your muscles for the steep ascents and descents you’ll encounter on the trails.
  • Weight Management: Maintain a healthy weight to reduce strain on your joints and improve overall fitness. Incorporate a balanced diet into your training plan to provide the necessary fuel for your hikes.
  • Flexibility and Stretching: Include regular stretching and flexibility exercises to improve mobility and reduce the risk of injury. Focus on stretching your legs, hips, and back.
  • Hydration and Nutrition: Proper hydration and nutrition are crucial for your performance and recovery. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your training sessions, and fuel your body with nutritious foods.
  • Rest and Recovery: Allow for sufficient rest days in your training plan. This will give your body time to recover and adapt to the physical demands of hiking.
  • Mental Preparation: Hiking in the Highlander Velebit can be mentally challenging. Practice mindfulness and develop a positive mindset to overcome any obstacles you may encounter on the trails.

Remember, it’s important to gradually build up your fitness level and listen to your body throughout the training process. This will help reduce the risk of injuries and ensure a more enjoyable hiking experience in the Highlander Velebit.


Safety Tips for Hiking

While hiking in the Highlander Velebit is an exciting adventure, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Research and Plan: Thoroughly research the trails you plan to hike and familiarize yourself with the area. Obtain maps or guidebooks, check trail conditions, and be aware of any potential hazards, such as river crossings or unstable terrain.
  • Check the Weather: Always check the weather forecast before heading out. Be prepared for changing weather conditions and be aware of the risks associated with thunderstorms, heavy rain, or extreme heat.
  • Inform Others: Let someone know about your hiking plans, including your route, expected duration, and contact information. This way, if you fail to return as scheduled, help can be alerted.
  • Stay on the Trail: Stick to the designated trails to minimize the risk of getting lost or encountering dangerous terrain. Deviating from the marked path can lead to accidents and damage fragile ecosystems.
  • Carry Adequate Supplies: Bring enough water, food, and essential supplies for your hike. Pack extra layers of clothing, a first aid kit, a compass or GPS device, a flashlight, and a fully charged mobile phone or satellite communication device.
  • Hydration and Nutrition: Stay hydrated and fuel your body with nutritious snacks to maintain energy levels. Drink water regularly, especially in warmer weather, and avoid relying on natural water sources for drinking without proper treatment.
  • Watch for Wildlife: The Highlander Velebit is home to various wildlife, including bears, wolves, and snakes. Research the local wildlife and know how to respond in case of an encounter. Keep a safe distance, store food properly, and never approach or feed wild animals.
  • Use Sun Protection: Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Consider using a lip balm with SPF protection as well.
  • Hike with a Partner: Whenever possible, hike with a buddy or a group. Having someone with you adds an extra level of safety, as you can look out for each other and provide assistance if needed.
  • Trust Your Instincts: If you encounter an unsafe situation or feel uneasy about the trail conditions, it’s important to trust your instincts. Don’t push yourself beyond your comfort level and be prepared to turn back if necessary.

By following these safety tips, you can have a safer and more enjoyable hiking experience in the Highlander Velebit. Remember, your well-being is the priority, so always prioritize safety in all your outdoor adventures.


Choosing the Right Trail

With so many spectacular trails to choose from in the Highlander Velebit, it’s important to select the one that best suits your preferences and experience level. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right trail:

  • Difficulty Level: Assess your fitness level and hiking experience to determine the appropriate difficulty level. Trails are typically graded from easy to difficult, with varying elevations and terrain conditions.
  • Distance: Consider how long you want your hike to be. Most trails in the Highlander Velebit range from shorter day hikes to multi-day treks, so choose a distance that matches your time availability and physical capabilities.
  • Scenery and Points of Interest: Think about what kind of scenery you want to experience. The Highlander Velebit offers a stunning variety of landscapes, from majestic peaks and deep canyons to lush forests and crystal-clear rivers.
  • Trail Conditions: Research the trail conditions, including elevation gain, steepness, and any technical sections. Be honest with yourself about your abilities and choose a trail that matches your comfort level and skill set.
  • Time of Year: Consider the time of year you plan to hike. Some trails may be more challenging or closed during certain seasons due to weather conditions, such as heavy snowfall or high temperatures.
  • Access and Logistics: Take into account the access points and logistics of the trail. Consider the distance from your starting point, available parking, camping areas, and any permits required.
  • Local Knowledge: Talk to locals or experienced hikers who have explored the Highlander Velebit. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on their firsthand experiences.

Ultimately, the right trail for you is the one that aligns with your fitness level, interests, and time constraints. Whether you prefer a challenging ascent to a summit or a leisurely stroll through lush meadows, the Highlander Velebit has a trail to satisfy every hiker’s wanderlust.


Setting Up Camp

Setting up camp in the Highlander Velebit is an integral part of the hiking experience. Here are some tips to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable camping adventure:

  • Choose a Suitable Campsite: Look for designated camping areas or open spaces that are flat, away from water sources, and at a safe distance from wildlife habitats. Follow any guidelines or regulations set by local authorities.
  • Pitch Your Tent Properly: Before setting up your tent, clear the area of any rocks or debris that could cause discomfort or damage. Ensure your tent is securely staked down to withstand strong winds and adverse weather conditions.
  • Consider Weather Conditions: Take into account the weather forecast when choosing your campsite and setting up your tent. Position your tent to maximize airflow during hot weather or provide protection from wind and rain.
  • Organize Your Gear: Set up a designated area for your gear, keeping items like your backpack, cooking utensils, and food organized and easily accessible. This will help you stay organized and save time when you need to find something.
  • Prepare Food and Water: Follow proper food storage guidelines to minimize the risk of attracting wildlife. Use a camp stove or designated fire ring for cooking, and ensure you have a sufficient supply of potable water for drinking and cooking.
  • Practice Leave No Trace Principles: Respect the environment by adhering to Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all trash, minimize campfire impact, and avoid damaging vegetation. Leave your campsite in the same condition (or better) than when you arrived.
  • Be Mindful of Wildlife: Store your food securely and away from your sleeping area to prevent wildlife encounters. Follow guidelines for proper disposal of food waste and avoid feeding or approaching wild animals.
  • Stay Hygienic: Practice good hygiene in the backcountry by using biodegradable soap and disposing of waste properly. Keep a safe distance from water sources to prevent contamination.
  • Respect Quiet Hours: Be considerate of other campers by observing quiet hours during designated times. Keep noise levels to a minimum to ensure everyone can enjoy a peaceful and restful night’s sleep.
  • Leave No Trace: When it’s time to break camp, thoroughly inspect the area to ensure you haven’t left anything behind. Remove all traces of your presence, leaving the campsite as pristine as you found it.

By following these guidelines, you can have a positive camping experience in the Highlander Velebit while minimizing your impact on the environment and respecting the natural beauty of the area.


Navigating and Trail Markers

Proper navigation is crucial when hiking in the Highlander Velebit. Here are some tips to help you navigate the trails and follow the trail markers:

  • Study the Trail Map: Before hitting the trail, familiarize yourself with the trail map and route. Understand the key landmarks, intersections, and any potential points of confusion.
  • Trail Markers: Pay attention to the trail markers along the route. These can range from painted blazes on trees to cairns (stacked rocks) and signposts. Follow these markers to stay on the correct path.
  • Pay Close Attention: Stay alert and look for trail markers at regular intervals. Keep an eye out for faded or worn markers, as they could be misleading. If in doubt, backtrack to the last confirmed marker.
  • Carry a Compass: Bring a compass and learn how to use it effectively. A compass can help you orient yourself and navigate when the trail markers are not clearly visible.
  • Use GPS or Navigation Apps: Consider using a GPS device or navigation app on your smartphone to track your progress and ensure you stay on course. Make sure to have backup battery power.
  • Be Aware of Landmarks: Take note of prominent landmarks along the trail to help you navigate. These could be distinctive rock formations, rivers, or mountain peaks that can serve as visual markers.
  • Stay on the Trail: Straying off the designated trail can lead to dangerous situations or damage fragile ecosystems. Follow the established path and avoid taking shortcuts or creating new trails.
  • Travel in a Group: If possible, hike with a companion or a group. Multiple sets of eyes can help ensure that everyone stays on the correct path and can assist in navigation.
  • Be Mindful of Weather: Weather conditions can impact visibility, making it more challenging to follow trail markers. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
  • Learn Basic Navigation Skills: Take the time to learn basic navigation skills, such as map reading, compass use, and orienteering. These skills can be invaluable in case of emergencies or when technology fails.

By practicing and honing your navigation skills, you can confidently explore the trails of the Highlander Velebit, ensuring a safe and enjoyable hiking experience in this stunning mountain range.


Dealing with Wildlife Encounters

Encountering wildlife while hiking in the Highlander Velebit can be an exhilarating experience. Here are some tips to help you safely and respectfully handle wildlife encounters:

  • Stay Calm: If you encounter wildlife, remain calm and avoid sudden movements or loud noises. Keep your distance and observe the animal from afar.
  • Give Animals Space: It’s essential to give wildlife ample space and avoid getting too close. Use binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens to observe animals without disturbing them.
  • Never Feed Wildlife: Feeding wildlife is prohibited and can lead to dependence on human food, alter natural behaviors, and even create safety risks. Keep your food securely stored and dispose of waste properly.
  • Store Food Properly: When camping, ensure your food and scented items are stored securely in bear-resistant containers or hung from a bear hang. This helps minimize the risk of attracting wildlife to your campsite.
  • Make Noise: If you’re hiking in an area known for larger predators, such as bears or wolves, it’s a good practice to make noise as you hike. This will alert animals to your presence and help prevent surprise encounters.
  • Respect Their Territory: Remember that you are a guest in the animals’ natural habitat. Respect their territory and avoid disturbing nesting sites, burrows, or dens.
  • Stay with Your Group: Hiking in a group can help deter wildlife encounters. Animals are less likely to approach larger groups, so stay close together when hiking in areas known for wildlife activity.
  • Know How to React: Educate yourself about the specific wildlife in the area and learn how to react in different scenarios. Research appropriate responses for encounters with bears, wolves, snakes, and other potentially dangerous animals.
  • Keep Pets Under Control: If you’re hiking with a pet, keep them on a leash and under control. Uncontrolled pets can disrupt wildlife and pose a risk to both animals and other hikers.
  • Report Sightings: If you have a wildlife encounter, report it to local park authorities or wildlife conservation organizations. This information can help monitor wildlife populations and ensure their protection.

Remember, observing wildlife in their natural habitat is a privilege. By following these guidelines, you can minimize your impact on wildlife and enjoy the beauty of the Highlander Velebit responsibly and safely.


Leave No Trace Principles

When hiking in the Highlander Velebit, it’s essential to practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve the natural beauty of the area and minimize our impact on the environment. Here are the key principles to follow:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare: Research the area, understand the regulations, and anticipate any challenges or risks. Plan your trip to minimize resource damage and be prepared for emergencies.
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Stick to established trails and campsites to avoid damaging fragile vegetation. Avoid creating new trails or shortcuts, especially in sensitive habitats.
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack out all trash and waste, including food scraps and toilet paper. Leave no trace of your presence by properly disposing of waste in designated areas or by carrying it out with you.
  4. Leave What You Find: Do not disturb natural features, historical structures, or wildlife habitats. Leave rocks, plants, and artifacts as you found them for others to enjoy.
  5. Minimize Campfire Impact: Follow local regulations on campfires and use established fire rings if available. Only use dead and downed wood, keep fires small, and ensure they are completely extinguished before leaving.
  6. Respect Wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and avoid feeding or approaching them. Do not disrupt their natural behaviors and habitats. Be aware of local regulations regarding wildlife encounters.
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Respect other hikers’ and campers’ right to enjoy the outdoors. Keep noise levels to a minimum, yield to others on the trail, and maintain appropriate distances when passing.
  8. Minimize Your Impact: Be mindful of your actions and strive to leave the smallest possible footprint. Stay on designated trails, avoid trampling vegetation, and use biodegradable and eco-friendly products whenever possible.
  9. Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about the local flora, fauna, and cultural history of the area. Share your knowledge with others to promote responsible outdoor practices and help protect the environment.

By following these Leave No Trace principles, we can ensure that future generations can also enjoy the pristine beauty of the Highlander Velebit. Let’s leave the natural environment as we found it, or even better, for others to experience and appreciate.



Embarking on a hiking adventure in the Highlander Velebit is a thrilling and awe-inspiring experience. The rugged beauty of this magnificent mountain range offers a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. To make the most of your journey, it’s crucial to plan, prepare, and adhere to safety guidelines throughout your hike.


By conducting thorough research, selecting suitable trails, and packing the necessary gear, you’ll set yourself up for a successful and enjoyable expedition. Prioritize training and fitness preparation to ensure you’re physically prepared for the challenges that await you on the trails. Familiarize yourself with wildlife encounters and practice proper navigation techniques to enhance your overall safety.


When hiking in the Highlander Velebit, it’s imperative to embrace the principles of Leave No Trace and respect the natural environment. Minimize your impact by following guidelines for waste disposal, camping ethics, wildlife observation, and considerate behavior towards other visitors.


As you breathe in the fresh mountain air and marvel at the remarkable landscapes, remember to cherish and protect the Highlander Velebit. By leaving the trails as you found them and sharing your knowledge and love for this pristine wilderness, you contribute to the preservation of its beauty for future generations to enjoy.


So, lace up your hiking boots, embark on your adventure, and immerse yourself in the unparalleled magnificence of the Highlander Velebit. Happy hiking!