Saturday 28th April
We are parked at Auto-Camp Korana inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park and we are 5kms from the main park entrance and today that’s where we are heading, we were up early again! 7.30 am and made our picnic lunch for later. We got the free coach at 9am from the site to the park entrances choosing to get off at park entrance No.2.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is made up of 16 terraced lakes, the highest lake is 693 metres above sea level they are all linked by beautiful cascading waterfalls, the vegetation is lush and so many shades of green, there are Beech, Fir and Pine trees and the walkways consist of mainly wooden boardwalks with little gaps that you can see the water running below your feet, these take you from one lake to the other and from one heavenly site to the next.
We arrived on the free site run bus alighting at entrance No.2 as advised by Lonely Planet, on arrival we bought our tickets to the park and caught the bendy shuttle bus which took us to the top of the upper lakes from here you can choose a trail to walk down or hike further up, we chose to walk down on trail H, 8.9 kms in total, this route took us back down to the shore of Kozjak the parks largest lake at 4km length and from here we caught the electric boat down to the lower lakes, this boat ride was so serene and quiet no noise at all! We really enjoyed it, there was a nice picnic area and loos there, so we stopped for our picnic. After a little rest we realised it was getting really busy as most visitors arrive at entrance 1 and do the lower lakes first, we were glad we did it our way, we set off picking trail H up again to the largest waterfall in the park called Veliki Slap which is 78m high, firstly we viewed it from the top as we watched it literally falling from our feet! We then climbed up the pathways crossing a boardwalk over for some more views from the other side, we then continued upwards on trail H seeing more and more unbelievable sights and some of these areas had massive drops and no barriers, just signs warning you of the danger, this however was only for a short distance, we arrived back at bus stop No 2 but we are too early for the free bus back to the site so the Hotel orders us a taxi €15, it had taken us approx. 4.5 hours in total.
The Upper lakes lie in a Dolomite valley, the lower lakes are shallower and mostly they are fed by the black and white rivers Crna and Bijela but are also fed by undergrounds springs and we saw several holes where water disappears this is created by porous limestone and it reappears elsewhere and all of it empties into the Korana river, this river runs alongside the campsite Autocamp Korana which we are staying on.
The stunning beauty of the lakes has come about because the natural processes and deposits of calcium and travertine means that the landscape is forever changing and has continued undisturbed since the last ice age! The colours of the water are turquoise but sometimes appear Jade green like a jewel, depending on the mineral content and the changing light.
The National Park boundaries were set in 1951 and until the civil war started on 31st March 1991 when rebel Serbs took control of the parks headquarters it was a major tourist attraction, the Croatian army re-took it in 1995 restoring the facilities. In 1997 UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site.
We are glad we came in spring as the waterfalls were spectacular and gushing and the number of people was not too bad, in Summer we can imagine it would be less enjoyable due to the sheer volume of people, we also recommend coming as early in the morning as you can.
We’ve had a fantastic day and I believe the photos and camera lens cannot do justice to what the human lens saw, this has been a truly unforgettable experience.