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Sands of Đurđevac: An excursion that your children will enjoy

Sands of Đurđevac was the place I remembered when my friend with three children asked me what I would recommend as a one-day trip. Since we are dealing with children of different ages, it was important for her to find something that everyone would enjoy – her oldest teenager, elementary-school-boy and five-year-old. After a short thought, I remembered the town of Đurđevac, which is located in the Koprivnica-Križevac County.

On the right bank of the Drava stretches a belt of low sandy ground, which represents the largest deposits of aeolian sands in Croatia. Considering the area where the sand is located, the whole area is called Sands of Đurđevac and has become one of the most visited tourist spots in this part of the country. You will find out why I told my friend that this place would be ideal for a trip with children below, but first find out some scientific facts to understand how the sand came to this part of Croatia!

Sands of Đurđevac was the place I remembered

During the last Pleistocene glaciation, glaciers eroded the rocky alpine bedrock through glacial processes and accumulated material in lower areas. With the transition to the Holocene, the Alpine glaciers melted and the then incomparably larger and stronger Paleo-Drava river further crushed the glacial sediments during transport. Much stronger winds blow over the then steppe Podravina, which blow river sediments and accumulate them precisely in the area of ​​today’s Pijeski (eng. Sands), while forming desert relief forms – dunes. Yes, we also have dunes in Croatia!

"Bloody Sands" and "Croatian Sahara"

The names you see in the title are expressions that Croats still sometimes use when describing Sands of Đurđevac, and of course they have a symbolic meaning. Namely, the people of this region called the area by these somewhat “terrible” names, wanting to point out the former Saharan appearance of the area associated with the hard struggle of peasant farmers with shifting sand (we all know that dunes are known for moving and shifting – the wind carries grains of sand and little by little the entire sand mountain is moved to a completely different place) where they were forced to work and cultivate it. To reduce this suffering, people eventually began reforesting the area with scented pine to tame the sand.

This is one of the stories you will come across when you visit Đurđevac sands, and it will make you want to walk around the entire area trying to guess which of, now forested areas, sand once ruled. What I thought my friend and her children would like was a stretch of sand east of the town of Đurđevac. That part was declared a special geographical-botanical reserve in 1963 as an easily recognizable and unique habitat in which Pontic, Aral-Caspian, boreal, Central European, Atlantic, sub-Mediterranean flora elements intertwine with psammophyte vegetation and a large number of endemic species. In this area it is possible to see everything listed in one place – which you will not be able to experience everywhere. A particularly beautiful scene will be the view of about thirty species of butterflies that appear only on sandy soil in combination with the aforementioned vegetation.

You can see around 30 species of butterflies in this place
You can see around 30 species of butterflies in this place

Of course, it is unlikely that you will see all 30 species of butterflies in one visit, but if you see just a few of them – it will be worth it.

Sands of Đurđevac offers a visit to the Visitor Center and Borik Nature School

We have come to the part where we will convince you that this is the right place for a family trip!

Namely, the Sands of Đurđevac Visitor Center offers you and your children a look at the past and present of this area with the help of various multimedia content. The concept of augmented reality enables visitors to enter the world of the desert landscape and view the rich diversity of animal and plant life that lives on the sands, regardless of the season and weather conditions. The working hours of the Center are from Tuesday to Friday from 12:00 to 16:00 and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 to 17:00. The ticket prices are extremely favorable, so a visit to this cultural destination will not “spoil” you – an individual ticket is HRK 40 (a little more than 5 euros), students, pensioners and children have a discount, and you will do especially well if you come as a family, because you will get a family ticket for HRK 100 (13.27 euros).

School in Nature
School in Nature

Another attraction intended for children is the School in Nature. This is about the fact that in Borik Forest Park there is a hostel with accommodation facilities primarily intended for children of elementary school and kindergarten age. Creative workshops are also organized during which children get to know the natural heritage of Sands of Đurđevac and Borik Forest Park through work, and fun sports activities are also available. Within the hostel there is also a system for renting electric bicycles and an amphitheater – a natural environment for the realization of an outdoor school intended for learning in nature, holding lectures, panel discussions and public forums. 

An ideal place for a one-day family trip

Of course, if you do not come from Croatia and your child is not part of the group that travels to Croatia to participate in this School in nature – this place is still ideal for you!

Ideal family trip!

A family trip to Sands of Đurđevac will definitely make you happy, and what children will like most is the possibility of touching and playing in the sand and watching and studying the camels that will be seen on the property. The first three camels came to Đurđevac in 2016, a one-humped male and a two-humped female with their calf, and a year later another male. With the help of citizens, these wonderful residents were given local names: Tomica, Dina, Đurđica and Romeo. The camels came to Đurđevac from Germany, and they are housed at the foot of the Old Town fortress in Croatian Sahara’s dwellings, which were made especially for them. The animals are taken care of by a team of specially trained groomers who underwent special training at a camel farm in Austria. So don’t worry – even though they’re not from here, the expert team makes sure they never lack anything. In addition to the main stars, there are other cute animals that will delight your little ones: dwarf goats, sheep, horses, donkeys, native poultry and llamas.

Sands of Đurđevac Come and see donkeys, horses, camels and other beautiful animals!
Come and see donkeys, horses, camels and other beautiful animals!

When I told my friend and showed her what it was all about, she enthusiastically accepted the suggestion and said that she would definitely take the children to Sands of Đurđevac so that they could hang out with the animals and learn something along the way. If you, like her, are delighted with my idea, let our team plan your next trip to Croatia!

Your CTC Team, A. M.

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