Marko Posavec Photography

Papuk: Early Spring

Papuk is a mountain in Slavonia, eastern Croatia. It’s quite vast, though not particularly tall – the highest (eponymous) peak stands at 953 meters above sea level. The western part of Papuk, near Daruvar, is a well-preserved forest area and also rich in water, which makes it a great destination for some light hiking. The entire area of Papuk was proclaimed a Nature Park in 1999. It also has some incredible geology – all kinds of rocks can be found there.

So, anyway, April was long past time to open the hiking season, but things-to-do and poor weather interfered with earlier weekends. Fortunately, this Saturday was warm, sunny, and in many ways perfect for some wandering through the forest in the sun. A bit too much sun, actually, as bare trees provided no shelter.

Our destinations were Crni vrh (865 m) and Petrov vrh (614 m). In total, about five-something hours of walking.

We start in the morning on a forest road not far from Đulovac. A local hiker briefs us on the route ahead.


Immediate obstacles.


A large part of the hike actually takes us on the roads.


We climb about 400 meters up in a short time. Good for waking up.


There was still snow up there, in the shades of the northern slopes.


Here we had a close encounter with a young doe. There was a sudden rustling in the forest (a sound you definitely do not want to hear up in the mountain) and the creature swooped by us, disappearing in a matter of seconds. We just stood there in shock for a while.


Not long afterwards, we got atop the ridge and from there it was a short walk to Crni vrh. A simple shelter was built up there in case hikers get caught up in a storm or something.


Resting. The route is far from difficult, but for most of us this was the first serious walk of the year.


There are reptiles lurking in the cracks.


Whatever this trumpety thing may be. A moss or something.


This is us. Actually it’s them as I’m behind the camera.


Crni vrh is translated as Black Peak.


The route now takes to the lower altitudes, as the next peak is 250 meters lower than the first one.


A forest… thing. Actually an uprooted tree. The wind was really strong up there several days earlier, so scenes like this were common.


While the forest on the 800-meter ridge was mostly barren, here in the lower parts, better protected from the wind and cold, signs of spring are much more obvious.


This is, of course, ramsons (also known as bear garlic – in Croatia, we call it bear onion).


You really can’t ignore its smell. I don’t mind it.


Forest springtime 101.


On we go.


Lots of ramsons everywhere.


It’s a beautiful path, really.


A geodetic mark or something, probably of military origin back in the days of Yugoslavia.


It’s a funny thing to see in the middle of the forest.


The trees are waking up from the long winter’s sleep.


The famous primroses of Papuk.


The rest was an uneventful walk to Petrov vrh and a brief visit to Daruvar.