Plitvice Lakes National Park

Dobro došli u Hrvatsku!  (Welcome to Croatia!)  So as you can tell, the Croatian language sounds nothing like/looks nothing like English or Italian.  The road signs were thus a little difficult to manage, not to mention the fact that our trusty-go-to-must-have-iPhone-maps were not in our cell phone plan in Croatia.   We ended up using the not-so-trusty Garmin GPS which led us to an unpaved logging route in the rain/thick fog for the longest 12 miles of our lives.  We were pleased we a)  didn’t get stuck in the one of the multiple football field-sized mud ponds/puddles b) didn’t blow a tire bouncing off one of the many submerged rocks and c) didn’t plunge over the non-guardrailed “road” to our deaths.  Our Iphone and Garmin love providing us the “opportunity” to off-road in our VW Golf and thus this wasn’t our first rodeo.  In our first off-roading adventure on an island near Grosseto (in Italy), we were certain that if we ended up destroying the car or going over one of the many precarious cliffs, there would have been someone to help us (or at least see us go over the edge!)  This time, we were in the middle of the rugged Croatian forest, on an abandoned road, with zero cellphone reception or any semblance of civilization.  Despite the “scenic detour,” we managed to arrive at our first destination – Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Plitvice (pronounced plit-veek-say) National Park is breathtaking.  I frequently read National Geographic’s travel magazine online and this park was listed as one of the “20 Best Trips of 2011.”  I read this article about 8 months ago and it has been on our “must do” travel list ever since.  It is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia.  Founded in 1949, it sits in central Croatia, on the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  In the 1970s, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, drawing over 1.2 million visitors a year.

Plitvice National Park (not my photo!)

The park is a series of 16 lakes and a vast network of waterfalls, divided into 2 parts – Upper Lake and Lower Lake areas.

Map of the park showing network of lakes

Section showing the lake/waterfalls (We are in the lower lakes section, near the bottom)

Tourists are able to wind through the park (115 square miles of land/water) by raised wooden paths.  It literally feels like you are walking on water.

Beautiful lake/marsh land – beginning of the “Lower Lake Hike”

These elevated walkways were everywhere

Walking on water

Walking on water part 2

Walking on water part 3

The blue of the water is bluer than Greece (crazy, I know) and the leaves are a brighter green than I’ve ever seen.  The water is so clear that you can see all the way to the bottom.

These colors are natural – the green is the bottom of the lake

One of the turquoise lakes

Even the moss is neon!

This park is incredibly green

The waterfalls range from small 1 meter drop offs to the largest waterfall (on the Lower Lake side) that measures 78 meters tall.

One of the small waterfalls

This one was a little larger…

Looking over one of the larger falls

The “Veliki slap” is the largest waterfall.

Largest waterfall in the background

Veliki slap

Veliki slap

When there was not enough relief for a waterfall, the lakes were extremely still – almost like glass – and it made for some beautiful reflections of the fall foliage.

Fall is coming!

Crystal clear water

Peaceful

Every once in a while, these guys would splash around to stir things up a bit.

:)

After taking 2 water taxis, one bus to the top of the lakes, and hiking for about 6 hours, we were pretty beat.  Bobby was carrying his backpack and I was loaded down with my 20 lb (not really, but it feels like it!) camera.  This was our last view though, and I think it was well worth it!

At the end of our hike, this was the view!

After a long day with a heavy backpack

The entire day, we kept saying this is quite possibly the most beautiful natural park we’ve seen.  I know America has a lot to offer, especially the parks in southern Utah that we were fortunate enough to see when we were stationed there, but this was absolutely breathtaking.  On our way back to our hotel, we found several overlooks that gave us a bird’s eye view of the park as well and those really cemented the park’s beauty.  I mean, check out these colors!

Overlook of the Lower Lakes

Another overlook view

I spy with my eye……

And our new friend Bernie says if you ever come to Croatia, you MUST visit him and the Plitvice Lakes National Park!

Bernie (Bear-knee) – He’s only 6 months old!

Comments

  1. tonya evans says:

    I know I have said this many times on your blog but I have never ever seen such beautiful sites and pictures! What a wonderful life you two are enjoying!

  2. Elaine Clements says:

    Plitvice looks fabulous….where did you stay?

    • TheFlammias says:

      Hi Elaine,

      We stayed at a really cute place called the Ethno Houses Plitvica Selo. It was close enough to walk to the park as well!

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