Plitvice Lakes is one of the most beautiful European parks, protected by UNESCO since 1979 as a World Natural Heritage. From Zagreb en route to Zadar this area of 16 natural lakes connected by marvellous waterfalls is an iconic must stopover.
Enjoy the guided walks through the parks wooden paths and relax in the boat ride across the biggest lakes- Kozjak.
Plitvice Lake is a priceless natural treasure of Croatia. I stopped by here on a weekday and the park was crowded, it’s one of the most popular tourist destination with both local and international travellers. The ticket counter has many restaurants to energize before the long walk to cover the 295 sq. km of the national park.
Ideally one should spend an entire day here, but for the pending apartment booking in Zadar, I had to rush through. More reasons for a second visit to Lake Plitvice. It is impossible to go through the overall experience of the Lakes in a single day.
I had not done any prior discoveries on Plitvice Lakes, expected it to be just one of the beautiful parks that abound in Croatia. I was greatly mistaken, it was more than spectacular.
What I saw at the entrance of the Upper lake area, a bird’s eye view from the top made me hasten down a flight of steps deep into green coverage besides the lake. The lake from the top was a lovely blue, set among verdant green cover and series of waterfalls appeared like lace frills.
Plitvice National Park is predominantly divided into Upper and Lower area. There are vans and buses that ply to and fro at regular intervals from both locations and are included in the ticket fee. The Upper Plitvice is made up of 12 lakes, of which Proscansko and Kozjak are the two largest lakes in the whole Upper system.
The boat ride to the Upper lake park had the guide repeatedly telling us to look out for these lakes pointing out to the beauty of flora and fauna around. It’s a birders paradise. Wildlife must have existed here, many species of mammals and amphibians are documented but it’s the plant kingdom that shines, some rare orchids and carnivorous plants are found here.
The lakes pristine waters, amazingly crystal clear have strict rules to maintain and respect the abundant ancient eco system and bio diversity. Signage at lake area reminds tourists not to swim, wade or even touch the waters.
According to a news board at the entrance, Plitvice is a geological marvel, the entire area in the largest lake were two entities before it merges as one by series of waterfalls.
Bat Caves is also one of the high points in this area, it has neither ceiling nor floor, and neat steps lead to the source of numerous dispersed cascading waterfalls.
The path through the hollow limestone caves is slippery and the roar of the thundering waterfall gets louder as you reach the secret passage leading to Kaluderavac Lake.
The steps are steep on return, the narrow wooden platform pathways skirting waterfalls safer but the route is longer. To hop over to the lower lake area one needs to catch the bus at the end of this scenic route.
The Lower Lake area consists of 4 lakes and is absolutely breathtaking. Lower Plitvice is basically water from the Upper area that powers its way through high canyons and rocks, some of them as high as 40m.
Some of the most magnificent waterfalls are here. The lower lakeside is picture postcard perfect and portrayed in many brochures. The lower Plitvice area is actually a trajectory through a canyon interspersed with waterfalls.
The Great Cascade, Cave Sulpjara, the smaller waterfall series between the two lakes is a sight to behold. Do ensure good footwear, a steady supply of snacks, and do not replenish your water bottle from any of the side streams, which is so tempting. There are many hotels nearby, and it is advisable to stay over than trying to finish both the lake area in a day.
The Plitvice Lakes National Parks has so much to see within the thick-forested boundary walls of limestone Mountains. The ancient Lake Park has documented evidence of an ancient settlement here. Consisting of the most incredible 16 crystal clear lakes, the scenic view is comforting.
The tumbling waterfalls, cascading series of similar falls between the natural bridge like barriers across the lakes are simply mind-blowing. Plitvice Lake is one of the oldest parks in Europe and the largest national parks in Croatia. I plan to revisit Plitvice Lake for more.
Text and photos- Jyoti Shetty.