Otočac is the largest town between Mala Kapela and Velebit in the enchanting Gacka Valley. The Gacka area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The oldest site from this period is in a cave in Lešće. The beautiful Gacka river is famous for its clearness and trout. At its source in Sinac there are mills showing how people once lived.
On the other side towards Velebit there is the village of Švica with a beautiful lake and Kuterevo – a shelter for young bears, the Gacka valley and lower Velebit villages that you can get to know by going on the hiking and cycling trails. For adrenalin addicts there is the sports airport, hiking on the Otočac -Zavižan trails and horse riding at the rural homesteads.
The unique landscapes and the greatest wealth of flora and fauna are to be found in the area of Northern Velebit National Park. Located in the peak area of the northernmost part of the mountain and extending over 109 km2, the national park is rich in exceptional features: the cone like karstic formations known as Hajdučki kukovi and Rožanski kukovi, the botanical garden set in a natural environment, and the pothole Lukina jama (Luka’s pothole). That is why Croatian mountaineers regard this area as the most precious jewel among all of the Croatia’s mountains.
Hajdučki kukovi and Rožanski kukovi, an endless range of rocky peaks with diverse and bizarre forms (the meaning of kukovi is hips) of up to 200 metres high, are situated in the very centre of the national park. This amazing rocky landscape is protected as a strictly regulated reserve, the strictest form of the nature protection in the country. Located amid Hajdučki kukovi, at an altitude of 1,475 metres, is Lukina jama. With its base being a mere 83 metres above the sea level, its overall depth of 1,392 metres makes it the eighth deepest pothole in the world. Despite the harsh and hostile rock bound wilderness, in the 1930s a trail was masterfully built through the Rožanski kukovi by an engineer Ante Premužić, a dedicated lover of Velebit after whom the trail was named. The Premužić trail is considered to be the most beautiful hiking trail in Croatia. It is also known as the one that offers, even to those of modest physical condition, an opportunity to walk safely along the edges of massive cliffs and precipitous abysses. From the trail one can enjoy wonderful views of the sea and the Kvarner islands.
Velebit is the largest Croatian mountain and as such rich in natural phenomena. Protected as a nature park and extending over 2,000 km2 in area, it is by far the largest protected area in the country. Within the park there is a whole range of smaller protected areas, including two national parks: Northern Velebit in the Lika-Karlovac region and Paklenica in Dalmatia. Velebit mountain contains many natural sites which rank among the most precious in Croatia. Therefore, the entire mountain, in its full length of about 150 km, has been placed under UNESCO protection as a World Biosphere Reserve, presently the only one in Croatia listed as such. Velebit is not only significant for the total number of various species and its wealth of flora and fauna but for the significant number of endemic species as well.
The beauty of Gacka River is impassable and that is why even those who only se it once fall in love with it. A special pleasure is provided by the intact nature of the European Beauty, at the same time offering active, quiet and healthy holiday in nature, with clean mountain air, strolling, hunting and fishing for the autochthonous stream trout.
The stream trout in Gacka grows around five times faster than in other karstic rivers thanks to the optimal water temperature with very little oscillations over the year, plenty of oxygen and the mild alkaline chemical structure of the water.
Gacka still keeps some of its special features that have been slightly forgotten because few people known they still mill wheat in mills situated at the very river spring and that fabric is still rolled in mortar. Also, few people know that this area has several temples dedicated to the god Mitra and that this area was populated as early as the late Bronze Age.
Due to its geographic position next to an area of North Velebit densely populated with bears, Kuterevo has established the first Shelter for Bear Cubs in Croatia.
The "Velebitski medo" shelter employs a team of nature’s friends comprising experts in biology and ecology, as well as volunteers, motivated by their great love for bears. The Velebit shelter for bear cubs in Kuterevo will also be used as part of the visitor center and as an attractive spot for promotion of Velebit Nature Park.