The early bird catches the worm, or in this case makes it to the national park before the throngs of tourist buses arrive. An early morning start was therefore necessary for the visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park, the oldest and largest nature reserve in Croatia and also a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. A quick breakfast was gobbled up at Vila Velebita and the entrance of the park was reached by 8:30 a.m., just slightly early enough to not get stuck in the worst crowds, although the pathways and viewpoints were far from deserted even at this early hour.
The park covers quite a large area, but the main attraction for most visitors is naturally the walk along the 16 “falling lakes”, a cascade of lakes interconnected by waterfalls of varying shapes and sizes. Hattivatti and friends were no exception, following the winding trails from one beautiful waterfall to another for close to 5 hours.
Although the water amounts weren’t at their peak, the sound of rushing and falling water was present pretty much everywhere, creating a soothing soundscape.
In addition to the waterfalls, the lakes themselves were quite a sight as well. The water was so crystal clear that it was at times hard to even believe that it was actually water, although the fish swimming about were a good reminder.
The lakes and ponds came in all kinds of incredible shades of blue, green, and turquoise, dazzling in the sunlight. Really a magical place that is hard to fully describe in words, so there’s quite a lot of photographic evidence this time for readers to enjoy!
Plitvice Lakes is definitely worth a visit, even though it’s a bit far from any of the major cities and therefore easily takes up a whole day or more with travel included. Apparently Krka National Park near Split is similar but smaller and even more crowded, so going a bit further inland can be worth the hassle. It’s a good idea to spend some time planning your trip (the visiting programs on the park website are really useful), as there are several different routes ranging from 3.5 to over 18 km. Hattivatti and companions managed to cover both the upper and lower lakes in less than 5 hours, mainly by foot but also by boat and bus for some parts, but during the peak tourist season this might take an hour or two longer. There are day trips organized to Plitvice Lakes from Split and Zagreb, but renting a car and spending a night or two in one of the many nearby guest houses is highly recommended, especially if one wants to really enjoy the sights of this enchanting place.