Kopački rit – flood of life

Sep 21, 2015

Kopački rit is the most valuable zoological reserve in Croatia. It is the largest nursery and spawning area for freshwater fish in the Danube region, and one of the largest alluvial wetlands of Europe. Over 2,300 species have found their home in the Nature Park, and approximately 140 bird species are nesting in it.

This is an area where the mighty Danube decided to share its strength with the lakes, ponds, elevations and flooded areas. Nature Park Kopački Rit is located in Eastern Croatia, in the Baranja region belonging to the Osijek-Baranja County.

The name of the Park stems from two Hungarian words: kapocs, which means link, and ret, which means meadow in Hungarian. Today’s link between wetland meadows are the wooden bridges that are allowing visitors to enter deep into the area of the Park, which is a natural phenomenon of biodiversity.

The appearance of Kopački rit is never the same. In its perpetual changes, nature is shaping the face of this major European wetland; the entire area depends upon the intensity of flooding and the volume of water brought by the Danube.

The old castle Tikveš and game tourism

The land and waters of Kopački rit merge into a majestic and unique natural mosaic, which people decided to manage a long time ago. The stormy past of Eastern-Slavonia resulted in many changes of the names and managers of this area. The Tikveš Castle complex is a very interesting example of country architecture in the Nature Park. Located within the forest and parks the Tikveš Castle complex is consisted of the old castle Tikveš, the new castle with annex, chapel and outbuildings catering type. 

All the rulers and statesmen recognized Tikveš oak woods as hunting area rich with venison. Their comfortable and luxurious stay was also contributed by its coutryside beauty.

Never the same

Kopački Rit Nature Park as the oldest proclaimed Nature Park in Croatia was established in 1976. 

Located between the Danube in the east and the Drava River in the south, Kopački rit covers the area of 231 square kilometer. The area of the special zoological reserve includes approximately 70 square kilometers. The Nature Park is listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA), and, in 1993, it became a Wetland of International Importance in the framework of the Ramsar Convention. In 2012, UNESCO established the Mura-Drava-Danube Transboundary Biosphere Reserve, with Kopački rit as its extraordinarily valuable part. 

Unique appearance of Kopački rit is a result of constant flooding. Due to that phenomenon, water deepens the terrain in some areas, creating ponds. On the other hand, sedimentation of the material carried by the river results in occasional soil elevations, joining the ponds in creating a fascinating mosaic of submerged and exposed layers of the terrain. 

There are two major lakes in the Park – Kopačko jezero and Sakadaš. The latter is the deepest point of the Park area, at seven meters of water depth. On average, the area of the Park is flooded 99 days per year. 

The exceptional beauty of flora and fauna 

The value and beauty of the flora and fauna of Kopački rit is extraordinary. Entire hectares of white water lily cover the waters of the Park. They feed the visitors with their beauty and deer with their deep and lush roots in the wintertime. 

One outstanding feature of the fauna of Kopački rit are great cormorants, birds the survival of which is founded upon the abundance and quality of fish stock, given the fact that an adult bird eats approximately half a kilo of fish per day. Great cormorants certainly do not face hunger in Kopački rit, and yet they leave more than enough to nature, in the vibrant network of a complex ecosystem. 

Kopački rit is precisely that – a mosaic ecosystem with highly valuable and rare features. 

On top of that, the Park is richly mosaic in its tourist dimension as well. It is a place for rest and recreation, a source of many attractions, and a globally renowned destination for birdwatching. It is up to you, the visitor, to make your choice. Maybe you would like to go for a tourist boat tour through the wetlands, either as part of a group or individually? Or take the challenge of rowing in a canoe, joined by Park staff with their expert guidance? Perhaps you would like to cycle through the Park? Or maybe just to sit on tourist train, and have a look at the Park from that perspective? Whatever you decide, Kopački rit will certainly offer a lot of attractive choices. 

Kopački Rit as a place of harmony. 

It is a place where even the white-tailed eagle, a globally endangered species, can freely spread its wings spanning almost two and a half meters. 

In September, mornings are frequently marked by very thick fog. Watching as the fog rises, the view gradually opening towards the wetlands, is almost a mystical experience. And, as the fog rises, one’s eyes open to the magnificence of wetland nature.


Kopacki rit Nature Park is one of 19 national and nature parks included in the project PARCS which is from 2014 carried out by UNDP Croatia in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection. Resolving the disparities in the funding, improving human capacities, investment in infrastructure and energy efficiency of buildings in the parks, are the main objectives of the project PARCS that is enabled due to the grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in the amount of HRK 27 million. Preservation and protection of parks as national resources are important in order to provide drinking water, healthy food, clean environment and human health. Investing in their development will also contribute to the development of local communities and the creation of green jobs.