In the fields of the former Pannonian Sea, lies a historical region that was once a rich agricultural area, Croatia’s main source of nourishment and tradition. Slavonia, located in the east of Croatia, largely bordered by the Danube, Drava and Sava rivers, is mostly overlooked by travel agencies although it has a lot to offer.
Slavonia’s soul is in its vast fields of grain, monumentally tall oak trees, spacious marshes, calm wide rivers, and beautiful horses. There are two Nature Parks in Slavonia – Kopački rit and Papuk, and they could not be more different – a marsh and a mountain! There is also the recently founded (in 2011) Regional Park Mura-Drava, and a bunch of other smaller natural phenomena scattered across the 4800 square miles of Slavonia’s area.
Nature Park Kopački Rit is located on the outmost north-eastern part of Croatia, in the County of Osijek-Baranja. It is a flooded area that incurred from the effects of two major rivers – the Danube and Drava. The relief of Kopački rit is the result of the rivers and flood waters that flood the area. The rivers form shelves and islands called ada, and give the area its wavy appearance. The whole flooded area looks like an estuary, and the Danube in its middle flow, with the help of the river Drava, forms a so-called inner estuary. That kind of phenomena cannot be found anywhere else in Europe, and gives the area worldly significance.
In 1993, Kopački rit was listed as a Ramsar area, areas protected with the Wetlands Convention of international significance, especially as habitats for Charadriiformes – birds that live in or near wetlands, and was also listed in the Important Bird Areas programme that developed Birdlife International – a global association for protecting birds, their habitats and global biodiversity. It is also listed as an area of international importance in the Natura 2000.
The Nature Park Kopački rit offers panoramic tours of the park and it’s biodiversity via boat (with a guide included in the price), visiting the castle Tikveš, educational paths, canoe rides, bird watching tours, photo-safaris, junior ranger programmes and much more. Be sure to call ahead and see what interests you so the guides can suggest what’s best! Enjoy!
Nature Park Papuk is located in the area of two counties: Požega-Slavonia and Virovitica-Podravina. It encompasses 336 square kilometres, mostly on the mountain of Papuk and partly on the mountain of Krndija. Those two mountains are parts of the Slavonian mountain range that is located in the Pannonian, lowland area of Slavonia. They are not higher than 1000 m, but their presence in the landscape is highly noticeable – the surrounding alluvial plains are set at around 100 m above sea level and the hills average at 100 m above the plains. The mountain range is covered in forests, with genuine native trees that are well protected – Pannonian beech and fir trees.
There are a number of areas with a higher level of protection inside the Nature Park than the Nature Park itself. Those areas got their status because of its unusual characteristics that manifest as unique in the area, region, and country or even wider. Those areas are geological monument of nature Rupnica, park forest Jankovac, special reserve of forest vegetation Sekulinačke planine, monument of nature Dva Hrasta, monument of nature Stanište tise, and special florist reserve Pliš-Mališčak-Turjak-Lapjak. The Nature Park offers various educational trails depending on your interests – history, geology, botany, and more. For more information, please visit their webpage.
Regional Park Mura-Drava was the first founded regional park in Croatia, in 2011. It encompasses the flood areas along the river Mura and Drava and the transition area to the estuary of Drava to the Danube. It has a vast area of more than 87000 ha, expanding through the counties of Međimurje, Varaždin, Koprivnica-Križevci, Virovitica-Podravina and Osijek-Baranja.
The rivers Mura and Drava are highly biologically and geologically diverse – its wetland habitats are ones of the most endangered in Europe. They are also protected in the national level: flooded forests, wet pastures, dead effluents, abandoned basins, meanders and shelves and steep sliding river banks. The whole area of the Regional Park has been listed in the ecological network of the Republic of Croatia and will probably become a part of the European ecological network Natura 2000, as well as the future biosphere reserve Mura-Drava-Danube.
You can visit the Park from anywhere in the five counties, the management is divided between them and you can contact their tourist boards or talk to the locals for tips on the best locations.
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