Plitvice lakes and park, Croatia
Virgin forest, verdant green, lush waterfalls, milky cascades at every turn, pristine pools that change from turquoise to teal to aquamarine, miles and miles of undulating, shaded pathways, salubrious weather with mild and cool breeze to embrace – this is Plitvice Lakes.
One of the main reasons for our Croatia vacation was to visit the famous Plitvice Lakes – a UNESCO heritage site- known for its unique chain of 16 terraced lakes dotted with waterfalls, big and small, in a sprawling 300 sq. km limestone canyon amid verdant forest reserve.
We left Zagreb on a sunny and bright morning to catch the bus to Plitvice- a 2 hours journey. Checked into Plitvice Hotel located pretty much next to the lake/park entrance. It was around 2 pm and so without wasting much time we headed to explore and explore the lakes.
The vast lakes and forest is basically divided in to two parts for the convenience of the visitors- the upper lakes and the lower lakes. We had already planned our walks – the upper lakes for the afternoon and the lower lakes, next day. But if you are hale, hearty and strong and have the whole day, you can also do both at one stretch.
Bought the entrance ticket (24 Euros each), a glossy route map and a couple of water bottles and began our upper lake adventure. Walkways and hiking trails – sometimes on dirt pathways, sometimes on wooden planks – wind around and across the water huge water body and are well signposted to guide visitors.
Emerging from the dense, green mountains the waterfalls were sliding gently into the placid lakes below … just picture post card scenes! As we walked along the lake shores, we could see the water colour changing from blue to teal to turquoise –probably due to the blue-green-algae and the porous dolomite rocks.
Every turn and every nook presented a photo opportunity. We would have walked over 5-6 kilometres but we never felt tired due to the cool breeze made cooler by calm water and pristine woods. The sun was slowly coming down and the pregnant clouds were getting ready to pour down anytime.
We hurried back to the exit point where a mini coach was waiting to take and drop us near the entrance. As we were walking towards the hotel, drizzles started. The whole atmosphere was so inviting that I decided to get drenched in the unpolluted showers from the clouds! We ordered some Croatian cheese and wine, grilled meat and fish in sumptuous portions and retired for the day!
Next day, after a good breakfast we headed early to explore the lower lakes as we had to return to catch the 3 pm bus to Zagreb.
The lower lakes are a series of tiny waterfalls and cascades flowing all over the place through every crevice, porous rocks and thick vegetation except the most dramatic waterfalls of all, a 78m-high Veliki slap (Large Waterfall). The lakes were again in varied colours and to add little bonus to the experience there is a cave too!
After a winding gradient uphill walk for about a kilometre, we reached the highest point of the lake region that presented us a drone’s view of the vast vista of the sprawling park from above.
Reached the exit, took the mini tram back, checked out and promptly got in to the bus back to Zagreb.
Plitvice is a photographer’s paradise! If you are not into photography, even better; just relax in the lap of nature and cleanse your soul.
You will fall in love with the indescribable beauty of Plitvice.