‘There is nothing in the world worth of exploring more than nature’– Nikola Tesla
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is set between Zagreb and Zadar at the heart if northern Croatia. It became a UNESCO National Park in the mid-1970s in order to keep it protected and pure. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful places in the world with ‘its sixteen lakes, inter-connected by a series of waterfalls, and set in deep woodland populated by deer, bears, wolves, boars and rare bird species’ (quote taken from visit-croatia).
Travelling to the Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb took us somewhere between 2-3hrs and it was along the way that the rain set in. Our guide had hoped that the rain would let up before we arrived, however those hopes were dashed because as we drew closer the rain got heavier. We didn’t let that deter us though and, after a couple of our group popped to the shop to buy some plastic macs – we headed off up the path in the pouring rain to begin our tour.
The lakes themselves are very hard to describe and the photos barely do them justice. It is truly one of the most beautiful sights you will ever come across in your life. In total, the park covers around 300km of natural lakes and woodland. The only evidence of human presence being the walking trails, wooden fences and the wooden lunching hut set up between the two main areas of the lake.
Whilst the weather did nothing to distract the from the visual impact of the lakes, the rain did seep through my waterproof and completely soak my clothing in seconds. Still, I was enamoured with what lay before me. The forestation and water were flush with colour, vibrant greens and blues I am yet to experience in England.
The lakes natural waters are “out of bounds” for everyone and anyone in order to avoid possible pollution from products such as sun-cream. This is due to the lakes being the local water supply for the nearby areas. In fact, the water is so clean that you can dip a bottle in the lakes as you walk by and drink it.
The limestone – which makes up the lakes “bed” – is constantly growing and changing the landscape, leading to some beautiful waterfalls forming over the centuries. It is these waterfalls that are Plitvice Lakes real ace in the hole.
To see the main waterfalls you have to cross one of the lakes on a wooden boat (unavailable in the winer) to a different section of the national park and start walking up a trail. Unfortunately it was at this point that the already terrible weather took a turn for the worst. However, the tour guide was kind enough to provide me shelter with his umbrella as and when I wanted to take photos.
Note: As I mentioned at the start of this post, photos do not do this place justice, they really don’t. And the weather didn’t help the pictures either.
After passing the waterfalls we started back to the coach on the last leg of the walk. By this time we were all getting cold and tired due to being in the rain for around 5hrs, so we made quick work of the walk. I wouldn’t change my experience for anything though – it leaves me with an excuse to go back.
After all, I am yet to see it in the sun. And when it is covered in ice and snow, apparently the Plitvice Lakes looks like a true winter wonderland. I am looking forward to seeing that, I really am.