From the Netherlands to Nature Park Žumberak: Meet Humanitarian and Photographer René Pronk

Daniela Rogulj

Source: Pronk Pictures

René Pronk and his family moved to Croatia via the Netherlands almost four years ago, settling in to the area of Nature Park Žumberak and Samoborsko gorje (Samobors’s surrounding hills). A humanitarian, photograher, and facilitator of good for Nature Park Žumberak, here is René’s story.

René embarked on a journey to Croatia with his wife and young son nearly four years ago. Settling into the tiny village of Gorniki Vivodinski in Nature Park Žumberak, René and his family are humanitarian workers in the most poor and remote parts of Croatia – visiting the elderly and encouraging them with their friendship and food. 

In addition to being a humanitarian, René is also a freelance photographer. With the Žumberak region being a focal point to his photography, René hopes to share his wealth of knowledge about the park as it is still unknown to many, including Croats. 


René claims that the Žumberak Nature Park is a stunning place where many who belong to the older generations live an authentic lifestyle. 

“It is my aim during the coming years to photograph both the beautiful nature and the lifestyle of the ancient inhabitants and bring it together in a book and exhibition scheduled for 2020,” says René. Some of René’s photographs of Žumberak have already been published in the Dutch copy of National Geographic magazine, and some of his other photos have been awarded on the National Geographic website. 


The honorable achievements do not stop there. A few years ago, René came up with the idea to have walking trails within Žumberak park – with the area around Vivodina, especially, being very suitable for moderate walks. As there were no signs or maps, René was forced to explore the forests and vineyards of the area. His inquest ultimately resulted in the implementation of three fantastic marked walking trails for Žumberak. 


The walking trail project cost a little over 8,000 euros, and to add even more of a kick to the story – the famous Heineken Brewery supported the project with 7000 euros. And so the story goes, a Dutchman living in Žumberak received funds from a Dutch beer brand in an area that is famous for fantastic wine. 


René expressed that the area around Vivodina is very suitable for village tourism due to the excellent and unspoiled nature, the numerous fine and delicate wine cellars, and the fantastic viewpoints and close proximity of the Kupa river. 

In the near future, René’s goal is to have the implementation of more walking trails which he believes is the first step to attracting tourists from Zagreb and abroad.


You can download the walking trails from TZ Ozalj



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