Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
The charm of Plitvice Lakes sinks into the soul and stays there forever. Absolutely clear water murmurs in countless waterfalls, the leaves of tall beech trees rustle, wooden platforms creak underfoot, the air is filled with birdsong, the smell of pine needles and an aura of endless peace. It seems that such beauty should cure people of anger and hatred forever. But this is not so, quite recently, Serbs and Croats killed each other in paradise glades. But today the fabulous forest is completely cleared of mines and weapons.
According to cachedhealth.com, the existence of the Plitvice Lakes is possible only due to the coincidence of several natural factors. The Dinaric Highlands, where a cascade of reservoirs stretched, consists of dense travertine limestone, which, however, is easily washed away by water. Calcium dissolved in it is extracted by calcephilous plants, after their death, flakes of a pure mineral are formed, which settle to the bottom of reservoirs. From time to time, sediments block the flow, but the water finds another way, forming new waterfalls. Lakes are like a living being, changeable and vulnerable. The preservation of this delicate natural balance is the main reason for the strict bans on swimming, fishing and overnight stays in the park.
How to get to Plitvice Lakes
The lakes are located 135 km from Zagreb – and this is only 2 hours away by a comfortable bus. Aeroflot regularly operates direct flights to the capital, the flight takes 3 hours. At the airport, you need to take the Pleso carrier shuttle. He arrives at the Central Bus Station, from where buses leave for Plitvice Lakes.
There are no five-star hotels near the lakes, more often people come here for 1-2 days and look for an inexpensive overnight stay. The Plitvice guest house is considered to be the best one near the lake Kozjak. A standard room will cost from 425 HRK per day. A more economical option is the Bellevue Hotel (7 km), which operates on a bed and breakfast basis. The price of rooms starts from 325 HRK. In the summer season, it is recommended to book hotels in advance, as the influx of tourists is very high.
The Licka kuca restaurant at the northern entrance to the park serves national dishes – baza cheese, lamb on a spit, river trout and pancakes with apple jam. A full lunch of baked or stewed lamb with a side dish, seasonal salad and beer will cost 240 HRK. For less demanding tourists, the Poljana restaurant is designed, there is a self-service hall, in other words, a dining room where you can have a delicious lunch for 100-150 HRK. The crossings have several bars, buffets and cafes selling fast food for 7-9 HRK.
Picnics are not allowed in the park.
Tourist routes along the Plitvice Lakes
The Matica River, formed by the confluence of the Crna and Bela, immediately falls into the first waterfall of the cascade of 12 Upper Lakes. The depth of Proshchansko reaches 37 m, the length is more than 2 km. It is separated from other reservoirs by the Labodovac threshold with a 20-meter drop. Below in the rocks is the Cave Garden with many grottoes. The cascade is completed by Lake Kozyak, 46 m deep, where water flows through Sparkling Waterfalls.
The lower lakes lie in a canyon up to 40 m deep. Hiking trails are built along the coast and on top of sheer dolomite walls. The rapids separating the lakes form the Great Cascades, the most spectacular waterfalls in the Plitvice region. Behind Novakov Brod, streams from a 25-meter height flow into the pool of Sostavchi and fall into the Great Waterfall from a height of 78 m. The Korana River originates from it.
Episodes of several films about Vineta, the leader of the Apaches and Chingachgook, the Big Serpent, were filmed on the Plitvice Lakes.
You can get to the national park through the Southern and Northern entrances from the side of the Upper and Lower Lakes (there are parking lots). A bus runs through the territory, ferries run through large lakes. On foot, it is allowed to move exclusively along paths, bridges and paths, without going deep into the forest. In the region of the Upper Lakes, not only harmless roe deer and hares are found, but also brown bears, they do not go to the trail, but more often they feel like masters.
At the entrance, detailed maps of the park with marks of places for photography are sold. The proposed routes are marked with letters from A to K according to their difficulty and duration. Since July 2017, tourist groups must be accompanied by a park employee.
If time is short, the simple route A through the most beautiful places of the Lower Lakes is the best choice. It lasts about 2 hours and passes by the Great Falls and then upstream along the canyon. The longest route K stretches for at least 8 hours and includes a complete detour of the entire lake district. It is better to split it into two days, so that fatigue does not interfere with enjoying natural beauties.
From July 1 to August 31, the ticket price for adults is 250 HRK, for teenagers – 160 HRK; 1.04 to 30.06 and from 1.09 to 31.10 – 100 and 50 HRK; from 1.11 to 31.03 – 60 and 30 HRK respectively. For children under 7 years old, admission is free.
The ticket entitles you to free use of intra-park electric transport. Detailed information at website (in English).