Your horse riding adventure starts at our ranch (700 m elevation) taking roads up the mountain, through valleys and canyons. Our wranglers at the Ranch are well versed in Natural Horsemanship and love sharing their passion for horseback riding with guests of all different experience levels.
We will match you with a horse according to your riding abilities, teach you our style of horsemanship, riding and horse safety, and how to saddle your horse and pack the gear. We will have a test ride and answer your questions before setting out onto Velebit.
Our rides take guests through the stunning Velebit Nature Park characterised by spectacular views, stream crossings, and riding through gorges and meadows. Inhale the glorious scent of saddle leather mingled with wild flowers and sun-warmed pine. Delight in the simple luxury of experience—the power of a strong and willing horse beneath you, the freedom of the frontier—and satisfy your yearning for adventure.
Whether you are a seasoned equestrian or an absolute beginner, we offer a horseback riding experience that will greatly surpass expectations.
Other equestrian activities include:
- Bareback horse riding
- Horse wrangling
- Grooming and stable care
- Wagon rides
- Rodeo and barn dance dinner
Linden Tree Retreat and Ranch and Worldwide Experience are supported by Rewilding Europe. Rewilding Europe is an initiative of WWF-Netherlands, the ARK Foundation, Wild Wonders of Europe and Conservation Capital. It aims to rewild 1 million hectares of the European landscape across 10 different multi-national sites by 2020, making Europe a wilder place, with much more space for wildlife, wilderness and natural processes.
Velebit is a priority area for Rewilding Europe. Currently the initiative is working on a number of conservation activities on Velebit, some of which Worldwide Experience groups participate in.
Rewilding Europe appreciates the voluntary commitments that both Linden Tree Retreat and Ranch and Worldwide Experience make towards supporting ongoing rewilding activities on Velebit.
Country & Area: Croatia, Velebit
Nearest Airport: Zadar, 105km to the reserve
Nearest Airport: Zagreb, 200km to the reserve
Nearest Airport: Split, 200km to the reserve
Nearest Town: Gospic, 23km to the reserve
Duration: 1 week
Minimum Age: 17 years* An Indemnity form will be required at the time of booking for students under the age of 18
Covering over 2,000km2 Velebit is the largest protected natural area in Croatia characterised by dramatic karst limestone cliffs and forested landscapes boasting some of the richest wildlife habitat in Europe and an abundance of flora and fauna biodiversity including many species that can rarely be seen elsewhere in a European setting in such healthy numbers and in such proximity to each other.
Velebit is part of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme and contains three protected areas – the Velebit Nature Park (200,000 ha) centring around the town of Gospic, within which are two national parks – Sjeverni Velebit (11,000 ha) in the north and Paklenica (9,500 ha) in the south.
These areas boast a high ecological value that riders and guest experience and absorb, including:
- Habitat biodiversity: The landscape, ecology and biodiversity of Velebit changes significantly along the mountain escarpment. Northern Velebit hosts an interesting spectrum of ecosystems from Dalmatian oak and hornbeam forests to black pine, Illyrian coastal beech forests, alpine grasslands, Dinaric beech/fir forests and mountain spruce forests supporting key species such as Capercaillie and Ural owl. South Velebit has a more ‘Mediterranean’ aesthetic where the topography is lower and is characterized by a hilly landscapes with a mosaic of mixed oak forests, hornbeam and other deciduous tree species;
- Endemism and wildlife: More than 1,800 plant species and sub-species have been identified in the Velebit area with 79 being endemic. There are few, if any, parts of Europe where one can track wolves with as much success (the Lika region is calculated to support as many as 100 individuals), as well as see lynx, brown bear, mouflon, Balkan chamois, boar, and red and roe deer in addition to many marine species.
- Work is planned to increase wildlife numbers by decreasing hunting pressure through policy and field conservation. Wild life watching is proving to me more valuable than the unprofitable hunting.
- Velebit National Park boasts one of the best places in the world to see European brown bear and European wolves in their natural environment in the world.
- Hunting forms a big part of the Croatian History and crucial for wildlife management but the establishment of hunting free zones give wild life the opportunity to breed and therefore a balanced conservation system is created.
- The study of the historical distribution of other grazing mammal species will reveal opportunities for their reintroduction.
Day 2 – Sunday
Morning: Natural horsemanship day: silent language of horses, joining with horses, self-confidence, communication, saddling and riding, body language. Our wranglers will show you the gear, its history and function.
Afternoon: Introductory riding lesson and 2-hour trail ride
Evening: Talk around the camp fire
Day 3 – Monday
Morning: Full day ride (8-10 hours)
Afternoon: Full-day ride where you will have an opportunity to put into practice what you learned the previous day. We will visit an old ghost village, preserved in time.
Evening: Movie night
Day 4 – Tuesday
Morning: Full day ride (6-8 hours)
Afternoon: You will ride up the mountain, through the valleys and canyons, retracing an old trade routes used by merchants and caravan robbers alike. High chance of spotting bear, deer, or wolf on this day.
Evening: Star gazing
Day 5 – Wednesday
Morning: Interpretive hike to Vila Velebita cave led by founder and owner of Linden Tree. This very unique experience, topic of several newspaper and magazine articles, will allow you to discover new dimensions of nature and life itself.
Afternoon: You will learn how to gather your own food and prepare delicious dinner in open pit fire from what you collected and gathered in nature.
Evening: Barn dance
Day 6 – Thursday
Morning: Another full-day horseback trip (7-9 hours)
Afternoon: Ride explores the valley and its hidden springs and watercourses. This is an intensive ride, covering some rough terrain, often going through bush and unmarked territory. A real adventure for real cowboys and cowgirls!
Evening: Talk around the fire
Day 7 – Friday
Morning: We will start with a bareback riding lesson followed by the final test: nonverbal communion with the horse that trusted you for the past seven days.
Afternoon: We shall go in our restored horse wagon for a drive through the village.
Evening: Talk around the fire
Day 8 – Saturday
*Please note that the above itinerary is to serve as a guideline only and changes may at times be unavoidable*
The lodge and accommodation site is spread across a number of new and historical buildings. Accommodation is provided across chalets, mountain huts, a studio dormitory for groups and three tipis. Current occupancy stands at 24 pax with a further 8 beds planned for 2014 to bring total capacity to 32.
All the food is sourced locally, is organic and is self-prepared. Hot meals are prepared in the evenings often around an open fire. Breakfasts are continental with fresh juices, organic cereals, free range eggs and freshly baked bread. Lunches can either be prepared at the ranch and typically consist of soup, cold meats and salads, or packed lunches are provided for excursions.
WI-FI is available and there is also a direct landline. Contact telephone numbers for the accommodation and its project coordinators there will be sent through at final documentation stage which is approximately 4 weeks before departure.
Voltage is 220V, plugs European twin prong – International adaptors are required.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for group rates