Velebit and Kuterevo

Kuterevo village and the internationals

Hidden in the stunning Velebit mountain lies Kuterevo, typical-looking Balkan village (or maybe not so typical?).

40 years ago, something unusual started happening here. In 1978, a couple of enthusiasts started making gatherings of international youth in this small village. Their aim was to get young people explore life outside of a city, to learn about and from nature, to experience simple and traditional lifestyle and to learn about themselves.

Velebit Association Kuterevo and the Bear Refugee

In 1995, a non-governmental organization called Velebitska Udruga Kuterevo – VUK (Velebit Association Kuterevo) was founded. Just to mention “vuk” in Croatian means wolf! As the organization grew, so did the number of people coming to the village. In 2001, the organization started a very specific program, which became the reason for thousands of guests, volunteers and visitors to come to Kuterevo. The Bear Refugee became home to 8 bears. Most of them were orphans who lost their mothers too early and couldn’t survive on their own in wilderness. Now these bears are ambassadors for bears in the wild. The Refuge was founded on the principle of awareness rising and education of visitors and the preservation of brown bears and their habitat.

VUK and volunteering

Today, VUK mainly works on preservation of cultural and natural heritage and protection of bears’ habitat, which promotes nature conservation and sustainable lifestyle. The organisation has no full time staff; all the activities are coordinated and carried out by voluntary activities of the members. There more than 20 members actively involved in the organization, local and international people, in general activists of all generations. The whole project is based on volunteering, which presents difficulties sometimes, but gives an amazing Spirit to the place.

Velebit the mountain

Velebit is a mysterious mountain, with vast landscapes and many endemic species. In the mountain there are 2 National parks – Northern Velebit and Paklenica, the whole mountain was proclaimed a Nature park and is under UNESCO Man and Biosphere programme. It is home to three (and only) large carnivores in Croatia – brown bear, wolf and lynx. Velebit has distinctive geomorphologic diversity due to karst that forms different phenomena. Its forests are as well outstanding, mostly beech, oak, pines, etc. some of which are relict species and parts that are virgin forests.

All of this – the mountain, the village, its people and traditions, bears, volunteers, forest, karst and landscapes are what gives Kuterevo its unique Spirit.