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Plitvice Lakes National park

Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been!

sunny 25 °C
View Slovenia and Croatia Wanderer 2015 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We are up early again this morning, so that we can be in the park just after it opens at 07:00, hoping to be there before the main part of the masses. One of the benefits of staying in the hotel within the park area, is that you get your one-day ticket extended for the duration of your stay, at no extra charge, through the hotel reception.


Today we start at the bottom and work our way up – walking down those pesky 214 steps again to the jetty, where we see a nesting Housemartin.


On the ferry we bump into Homer and Eddie who set off some time before us this morning.


Coming out early has paid off, as for a long time we are almost alone on the paths.



I prefer walking up as opposed to down, for three reasons – it is much easier on my knees, I feel less vulnerable for falling down the steps and I am facing the waterfalls rather than having to constantly turn around to look at them behind me.



Around every bend of the boardwalk is a beautiful new vista. The whole place is almost unreal - the colours, the clear water, the pristine nature - like it belongs in a Disney fairytale.



The path meanders, following the contours of the lakes – sometimes out in the open, other times surrounded by thick forest with dappled sunlight forcing its way through the leaves. Plus of course the ever-present waterfalls, cascading over rocks and roots, making their way to the lake below.




In many places – where the terrain makes it feasible – there are strategically placed rustic benches, where you can sit and envoy these wonderful views.



After yesterday's problems with the bouncing boardwalks, I try a different approach today: placing my tripod outside the path, actually in the lake/waterfall. This obviously only works where the water is very shallow, and it does feel pretty precarious; from the perspective of either the camera falling in the water, or me as I reach out to set it all up.




So far we have really only seen small groups of two, three or four visitors, and a few have asked us to take their photo in front of the falls. Most want to return the favour, and eventually we agree.


Here the elevated walkway is just a few inches above the tumbling, bubbling, gurgling water – I feel so in awe of the way they have laid out the paths here, and there are so many “wow” moments. The boardwalks obviously require a lot of maintenance, we see a number of brand new planks having been recently replaced. Not surprising that they rot, being partially submerged at all times.


We've been seeing this waterfall – or rather series of falls – for quite some time now, and finally we are up close.



Then more steps up and more waterfalls.



Most of the steps are quite shallow thankfully, as there are a lot of them. I am counting the steps and it will be interesting to see just how many we will have walked today by the time we get back to base.


There are a number of small pools, or dams, created by the action of moss, algea and bacteria, accumulating on top of each other to create a sensitive travertine barrier, which grows at the rate of around 1cm per year.



The path follows the contour of these dams, meandering for miles around (and sometimes across) the many lakes.


The national park is home to around 50 different species of animals, including the brown bear, but we knew we were quite unlikely to see many, if any. We spot a little frog in amongst the vegetation, that's all.


We meet our first large tour group of the day, a group of mostly Asian women, complete with selfie sticks and face masks. Face masks? Really? In this pristine nature? What on earth are they afraid of catching?


I have also seen a girl in high heels, a couple of mothers with babies in buggies and an elderly gentleman using a rollator. That's a challenge on these uneven paths with all the steps! Good for them!

The boardwalk is made out of roughly hewn logs rather than smooth planks, to blend better into the nature surrounding them. I think it works wonderfully. I am so taken with this place!


From a distance you can hardly notice the paths unless there are people on them.



In reality the boardwalk is only wide enough for two people to pass each other. Most people stay in a single line when they meet other hikers, but we come across two German ladies who are hell-bent on walking side by side while talking, so they push me off the edge as they pass. This even though I am using a walking stick and obviously hobbling along really carefully. Charming. Thankfully there is solid ground there, not a lake, or even worse, a waterfall with a steep drop.


Here are some more pictures from the park. Just because I think it is soooooo beautiful!








The sun is blaring down and walking up from the lower lakes is hot work, so we stop for a while on a bench in the shade at one of the larger lakes, admiring the amazing colours of the water, the stunning waterfalls, the iridescent damselflies, delicate dragonflies and generally just soaking it all in.







From here the path leaves the main lakes and climbs up through the forest to reach the exit, still passing small pools with cascades of water tumbling into them.





From the exit at the top, a bus runs back to the main gate by our hotel. The bus, which is basically a tractor with two trailers, ferries passengers between the three exits from the park and the two gates; all included in the price of the entrance ticket.


Once back at the gate, we have lunch at the little café there, consisting of a cheese and ham roll, apple strudel and a bottle cider. David is in heaven! Finding cider in Croatia more than makes up for the fact that the roll is incredibly stale. The birds seem to like it though.


Song Thrush

Back at the hotel we catch up on some sleep with a much welcome siesta, after which I go for a coffee and cake, while David wanders in to the park again.


The following account and photos are courtesy of David:

I know Eddie wanted to join me, so I go and knock on their door. No reply. I check the café and the bar, no sign of him. Oh well, they've probably gone out exploring.

Taking the bus down to the Lower Lakes entrance, I take a different route to the one we did yesterday – instead heading downwards through a cave with lots of steps. There is no way Grete would have been able to do this with her bad leg. I say cave, but it is more like a tube or a diagonal tunnel, open both ends.





The steps leads to the boardwalk we were on yesterday and continues on to the largest waterfall in Plitvice.



Behind me I notice a series of steps rising up on the cliff face, and climb through another tunnel to the top where there are various viewing galleries over the gorge.





The path continues to the middle lake where the boat takes me back to the bottom of the 214 steps, which I ascend to get back to the hotel.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, I (Grete) am joined in the café-bar by Homer and Eddie. It appears that Eddie was asleep and Homer sitting on their balcony when David knocked, so they missed his call.

When David later comes back and joins us, we all have a few beers on the terrace before dinner while Eddie and I try to make sense of the politics in the region post-Yugoslavia.



Steak with Gorgonzola sauce

Posted by Grete Howard 03:46 Archived in Croatia

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I entirely agree with the sentiments - the most beautiful natural wonder that I have seen! Would love to return, perhaps in a different season.

by David

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