The Plitvice National Park in Croatia is a unique natural landscape that seems to be painted and designed on a canvas rather than seen in reality. The 16 lakes that fall in successive series of waterfalls forming a continuous water chain is one of the most amazing sights to behold.
The Plitvice National Park is the largest and oldest national park of Croatia and is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Founded in 1949 the park stands bordering Bosnia and Herzegovina. Located in the karst mountain areas the topography and subsequent features created are not only unique but wonderfully beautiful.
WHAT TO SEE
About the lakes
Sixteen lakes can be seen on the surface and are formed as a result of the meeting of several rivers and subterranean karst streams. The beauty lies in the fact that all the lakes are interconnected and flow from one to the other forming waterfalls and cascades on the way. The moss, algae and bacteria help create natural dams of travertine or tufa, a limestone deposit. These natural barriers grow at about 1cm every year.
The lake waters are runoff from the mountains at a height of 630 to 500m, with the water exiting from the last lake forming the Korana River.
The lakes are known for their fantastic shades of water, ranging from Azure, to green to grey to teal to blue. The colors keep changing based on the mineral content of water, the organism in the water and the sunlight angle.
Things to do
The park is home to an ensemble of 16 lakes and about 90 waterfalls. The lakes with their brilliant color schemes, clear waters and sheer splendor along with the magnificent waterfalls are the main highlights of the park. However, the natural setting of the landscape gives rise to a number of wonderful flora and fauna in the area, making Plitvice also a biodiversity hub.
The park is huge and difficult to be discovered on foot alone, though one can walk on the 18km wooden footbridges and paths around the lakes amidst the fluttering butterflies and watch the lake and water systems unfold. With separate entrances, one can traverse the park with the help of boats, bus and trains that are scheduled by the park authorities.
However, there are various hiking trails within the park, such as, Trail H, Loop K and Trail E. Trail A, B is for the lower lakes, whereas Trail F, H and K cover the whole park.
The lakes have been divided into upper and lower lakes, with Kozjak the largest lake of the entire system. Some of the other lakes include Proscansko jezero, Okrugljak, Ciginovac, Batinovac, Vik, Bur which are the upper lakes, and the Gavanovac, Milanovac and Kaluderovac which are some of the lower lakes.
Some of the popular breathtaking waterfalls include, The Big waterfall called Veliki Slap which is 78m high, is the largest waterfall with a viewpoint on top of the canyon for a closer look. Some other waterfalls are the Sastavcj Waterfall, Ciganovac waterfall and Galovacki buk.
The Barac Caves and Supljara caves are excellent examples of kart topography exuding coolness even on summer days.
Flora and Fauna
The park area is forested with mainly spruce, birch and fir trees. However, there are a varied number of plant species out of 75 are endemic to the park alone.
The park is home to a wide biodiversity of water, land animals and birds. The brown bear, wolf, owl, eagle, lynx, wildcat are often spotted in the forests. Amphibians and reptiles, such as the European green lizard, viviparous lizard, European pond turtle, dice snake and more are also a part of the forests of the park.
157 bird species abound within the park and is especially known for the many different kinds of bats.
However, the water system is home to a number of fish species, such as common minnows, rainbow trout, common rudd, European chub, crayfish and olms.
The Plitvice National Park is a priceless gem in Croatia’s valuable scenic landscapes. The park is not only an opulent stage of waterworks set to mesmerize you but also, home to important flora and fauna, some of which are not found anywhere else in the world.
How to reach
Zagreb is the 140km away from the park and the best airport to fly into. From Zagreb buses as well as private vehicles are available.
Zadar Airport is 130 km from the park and also well-connected via road to Plitvice.
One can also reach the park from other cities of Croatia, such as Split and Varazdin.