Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
An amazing set of 16 interconnected lakes
See also: FAM (Familiarization) tour of Croatia
Plitvice Lakes in Croatia is a set of 16 amazing lakes interconnected by a series of waterfalls, rivulets and subterranean channels. They are separated by natural dams or travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae, and bacteria.
The travertine grows at the rate of 1 cm per year creating a dynamic environment. With the travertine development numerous magnificent waterfalls are created. Over time, the water changes its course, leaving some travertine dry, but simulating travertine growth in other places. This phenomena makes the Plitvice Lakes are ever changing and creates the feeling that the Plitvice Lakes are never the same from one day to the next.
The 16 lakes are are located at different altitude and descends from 636 m to 503 m in the south – north direction (left to right in the map). Water exists from the lowest lake to form the Korana River.
Plitvice Lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green and from grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.
The 16 lakes covers an combined area of 2 Km2, but the two largest lakes Prošćansko Jezero and Kozjak (marked in map) cover over 80% of the total area.
The Plitvice Lakes along with the surrounding region have been brought under the Plitvice Lakes National Park and covers an area of about 300 Km2.
The Plitvice Lakes National Park was founded in 1949 and happens to be one of the oldest National Parks in south eastern Europe. It is the largest national park in Croatia.
It is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. More than one million tourist visit the Plitvice Lakes National Park every year.
The lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park are divided into upper lakes and lower lakes.
The upper lakes consisted of the 12 lakes in the southern section. The lower lakes consisted of the four lakes in northern part.
There are two entry gates to the Plitvice Lakes National Park G1 & G2 (see map). G1 is located at the northern end of the park. G2 is located at the central region, near the junction of the upper and lower lakes.
We started from Zagreb after breakfast and reached the gates of the Plitvice Lakes at about 9 am and entered the Plitvice Lakes Nation Park through G1.
As we entered the Plitvice Lakes National Park we are greeted by an amazing maze of cascading water. Water flowed in every direction forming waterfalls and lakes amidst the tick vegetation.
Plitvice Lakes can only be explored on foot, but the park authorities provide battery operated eco-friendly bus and ferry service in selected routes. Maps sold at the entry gate provide various options of exploring the lake, ranging from short hour long leisurely walks to day long rigorous hikes.
We followed the well marked wooden trail past the northern most lake and headed to towards the Large Waterfall. There are signage all through the way and each lake is provided with a wooden signage, showing the position of the lake in the cross sectional diagram along with its altitude, area and maximum depth.
The Veliki Slap or Large Waterfall (in Croatian veliki means large and slap means waterfall), one of the prime attraction of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, is technically not a part of the Plitvice Lake system, but part of the Plitvica River.
The Plitvica River descends via the Large Waterfall to join the Plitvice lakes at its northern end to form the Korana River.
The Large Waterfall, with a height of 78 m, is a grand site with the water thundering down the steep rock face.
From the large Waterfall, we headed back to the banks of the Plitvice Lakes and started moving southwards with the lakes on our left.
The water flowed through a series of water channels and small water falls, connecting one lake to the other. Also numerous water falls joined the lakes from western side.
The colour of the water changed from one lake to the other. The water was crystal clear and fishes swimming in the lakes were clearly visible.
We walked along narrow wooden trails along the edge of the lakes. There were tourists from all over the world and the narrow trails were often congested with tourist, crating human traffic jam.
We crossed over the other side of the lakes along a natural barrier and continued south wards with the Plitvice Lakes on our right hand side.
Here again numerous waterfalls and channels creates an amazing maze of water. We walked past the Milke Trnine Slap, this is one of the smallest but scenic water fall of the Plitvice National Park. The 6 m high water fall, named after one of Croatia’s best known drama artist, actually consists of a series of smaller cascades.
Next was the Milanovacki Slap, a 10 meter high picturesque waterfall, it flows out of the Kozjak Lake, the southern most of the lower lakes and the largest of the Plitvice Lakes. Kozjak Lake is the only lake in Plitvice Lakes National Park where battery operated eco-friendly boats operate.
We made our way along the banks of Kozjak Lake to the ferry point F3, the ferry took us took us along the length of Kozjak Lake to F1 via F2 (see map).
Ferry stop F2 is located very near to the entry gate G2 and there are several restaurants serving good food. After a fantastic lunch of trout fish, we were read to explore the upper lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park.
The second leg of our Plitvice lake exploration started with a bus ride from bus station B1 (see map, there is another bus route in Plitvice Lakes national Park, which is not shown in map).
The huge three coached battery operated bus made its way up the meandering roads to bus station B3. It is located on the banks of Prošćansko Jezero (Jezero means lake in Croatian) the highest and the second largest lake of Plitvice Lakes.
We started on our down hill hike with the lakes on our right hand side. The water seemed more blue in the upper lakes and there were lesser number of tourist. There were numerous waterfalls with a lush green backdrop.
We descended to the Galovački Buk waterfall, consisting of a series of falls. This 25 m high water fall is the second highest water fall in the Plitvice Lakes National Park. The trail continued past another spectacular waterfall consisting of series of smaller falls, draining into a beautiful lake with azure coloured water.
We kept moving downhill, with the lakes on the right hand side till we reached the ferry terminal F2. A short ferry ride took us to F3 followed by a short uphill walk to gate G2, which marked the end of our Plitvice Lakes National Park exploration.
- Plitvice Lakes is located 140 km from Zagreb, capital of Croatia and it is 130 km from the nearest airport in Zadar. Regular transport is available from both the cities.
- The entry fee to the park varies according to season,during peak season it is 180 kuna (1 kuna = 10 Indian rupees)
- Guides are available in the park but the park have good signage and Plitvice Lakes National Park can be best explored independently
- There are hotels and restaurants located at both the entry points.