Špilja Manita Peć

Useful Information

Location: Paklenička ul., 23244, Starigrad.
In the National Park Starigrad-Paklenica. Motorway A1 E71 exit 15 Rovanjska, coastal road E65 toward Karlobag/Starigrad 6.5 km, turn right Put Jukića 1.3 km. 90 min walk to the cave.
(44.3143024, 15.4750108)
Open: Manita Peć: APR Sat 10-13.
MAY to JUN Mon, Wed, Sat 10-13.
JUL to SEP daily 10-13.
OCT Mon, Wed, Sat 10-13.
Fee: Park Day Ticket: APR to MAY Adults EUR 6, Children (7-18) EUR 3, Children (0-6) free, Mountaineers EUR 4, Students EUR 4, Vehicle EUR 2.
JUN to SEP Adults EUR 10, Children (7-18) EUR 5, Children (0-6) free, Mountaineers EUR 7, Students EUR 7, Vehicle EUR 2.
OCT Adults EUR 6, Children (7-18) EUR 3, Children (0-6) free, Mountaineers EUR 4, Students EUR 4, Vehicle EUR 2.
Manita Peć: Adults EUR 5, Children (7-18) EUR 2.50, Children (0-6) free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=175 m, VR=35 m, A=57ß m asl.
Guided tours: guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Dr Zeljko Poljak (2002): A Guide to the Mountains along the Croatian Coast on Foot and by Car, Skolsha knjia, Zagreb. ISBN 953-0-61547-7
Address: Javna ustanova Nacionalni park Paklenica (National Park of Paklenica), Dr. Franje Tuđmana 14a, HR - 23244 Starigrad-Paklenica, Tel: +385-23-369-155, Fax: +385-23-369-202. E-mail: E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1937 opened as a show cave.
1949 area declared a national park.
2007 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Javna ustanova Nacionalni park Paklenica (Paklenica National Park), Croatia. Public Domain.
Javna ustanova Nacionalni park Paklenica (Paklenica National Park), Croatia. Public Domain.

Špilja Manita Peć (Fools Oven) is located in a steep and narrow gorge of the Velika Paklenica river. It is sometimes listed as Manita Pećina (Fools Cave), but peć is not the abbreviation for pećina. As we do not speak Croatian, we actually made this mistake too and used Manita Pećina for listing this site, but we have corrected this mistake.

The cave consists of two huge chambers with few but impressive formations. This is what cavers call an "alpine cave", a karst cave which is located at a high elevation (though it is actually only at 570 m asl). This is not a scientific term, it's a way to describe the character of the cave, which has huge chambers, huge blocks on the floor, and rather few speleothems. But those few formations are quite spectacular, they are just dwarfed by the enormous chamber. There are stalagmites, stalactites, columns and flowstones.

The cave has a rich fauna. 52 taxa of invertebrates, 20 of which are true troglobites, where found so far. Several bat species, but mostly Rhinolophus spp., use this cave for hibernation during the winter. Endemic species of the caves in the park are the spider Histopona egonpretneri, the freshwater amphipod Bogidiella sketi, and the cave beetle Astagobius angustatus vukusici.

Two rivers cross the Javna ustanova Nacionalni park Paklenica (Paklenica National Park) in narrow gorges with up to 400 m high vertical cliffs. The mountains are limestone which is mostly bare, except for the valley floors, and karstified. This kind of landscape is called bare karst, where the soil has been removed by erosion, probably after man destroyed the original vegetation several thousand years ago. In the Dinaric karst the Romans cut down the forest to build ships, which started a massive soil erosion 2000 years ago. Humankind destroys nature for a long time, that's actually not a new development. The National Park has 120 known caves, only Špilja Manita Peć is open to the public. The first written accounts on the exploration of speleological objects in the Park date back to the 19th century. The research was generally concentrating on speleobiology at that time. It seems the research has intensified, as the number of known caves increased from 70 to 120 in the last 20 years. The deepest pit is the Ponor na Bunovac (534 m), the longest cave is Jama Vodarica which is 300 m long.

We added this cave to the SWHLSubterranean World Heritage List which is actually not correct, as this listing refers to the surface, not the cave. The listing is for the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests which are found in the Javna ustanova Nacionalni park Paklenica (Paklenica National Park), where the cave is located. So this is actually a "biological" listing which does not refer to karst features in the area. However, on your walk up the forested valley to the cave you will see this typical forest in abundance.

To visit the cave, some effort is required, another reason to classify it as an alpine cave. Visitor park at the parking lot at Velika Paklenica at the end of the road and then walk about 90 minutes. It's almost 5 km, but the main difficulty is the height, the parking lot is at 50 m asl, while the cave is at 570 m asl, so it's an elevation gain of more than 500 m. This requires some physical fitness, and probably more time depending on your fitness. So with walking up, the cave tour, and the way back you should definitely plan a half day, and go early enough. We strongly recommend starting the hike early in the morning, when it's still cool. The cave has no online booking and accepts only cash, tickets are sold at the cave entrance. After Corona this has unfortunately become quite rare. There is no need to reserve as the long walk keeps the visitor numbers low and the huge chambers allow big groups, in case. A drawback is the rather steep price, while the cave fee is not exceptional, it's additionally necessary to buy a day ticket for the park and for parking.

This landscape is really familiar to film fans of the German/Yugoslavian Karl May movies. This special form of western movies is based on the dozens of books of the German 19th century author Karl May. Karl May never visited America, although he wrote many adventure stories about cowboys and red indians. He invented what he did not know, but it seems he had read some rather good reports, so he was not too far from reality. And in the same tradition, the movies were not filmed in America but in the karst areas of Croatia. After the lost war, the German film industry had not much money, and to save travel expenses, they went to Yugoslavia. This was a country of the Warsaw Pact, but much closer to the west than the other communist countries and allowed tourism and the movies. And due to the strange money exchange rules, the country was quite cheap. They had international actors like Stewart Granger, Lex Barker, Pierre Brice, Mario Adorf and the young Terence Hill. This was possible because they saved a lot on other costs, and also because several actors were no internationally renown actors at that time. The country actually has no badlands, but it has bare karst which looks also quite barren.