Nominated for World Heritage Site status, Lonjsko Polje is a 506-sq-km stretch of swampland (polje means ‘field’) in the Posavina region, between the Sava River and Mt Moslavačka Gora. Situated along Lonja River, a Sava tributary that gives the park its name, this huge retention basin is famed for the diversity of its flora and fauna. Surrounding villages are home to traditional 19th-century wooden architecture, and birdwatchers (well, stork lovers) can have a field day here during spring and summer.
The area is divided into several villages. Čigoć is a world-famous 'stork meeting point' – the white storks nest on top of Čigoć's lovely wooden houses. The birds flock here in late March and early April, hanging around and munching on the swampland insects up until late August, when they start their two- to three-month flight back towards southern Africa. Čigoć is home to the park's information point and ticket office, and a small ethnographic collection owned by the Sučić family (5KN).
The heritage village of Krapje is known for its well-preserved traditional wooden houses and rich fishing and hunting areas. Check out the covered external staircases, porches and pillars, and various farm buildings with their barns, drying sheds, pigsties and hen houses. The Palaić family has a small ethnographic collection you should see (and a couple of apartments to boot). From April through October an information centre in one of the wooden houses has a guide who will be happy to enlighten you about the cultural heritage of the area. Look out for the posavski horse, a local breed that grazes in the oak forests of Lonjsko Polje. Also worth a visit is the village of Mužilovčica, known for its swallows. Don't miss a meal at the Ravlić family farm here.
There are three entrances to the park: at Čigoč, Krapje and Repušnica. The visitor centres at Krapje and Repušnica offer bike and canoe rentals (80KN per day for bikes, 50KN per canoe for up to three hours).
Lonjsko Polje is 50km southeast of Zagreb. The best way to visit is with your own transport or on a tour, as public transport is poor and makes moving around the park quite difficult. Private accommodation is available in various wooden houses inside the park; more information is available on the website. Our recommendations for hideaways that feature both lodging and food include Tradicije Čigoć, Etno Selo Stara Lonja and Ekoetno Selo Strug.