The Stunning Natural Beauty of Plitvice National Park and Its Amazing Lakes
When preparing the itinerary for your Croatian trip, you can’t afford to leave Plitvice National Park out. It is the best-known natural park not only in the country, but in the whole of Southeastern Europe. While it has beautiful forests buzzing with life, it is most famous for its 16 interconnected lakes formed in the rocks. They are simply breathtaking and totally worth exploring.
How the Lakes Are Formed
You don’t have to be a scientist to notice the way in which the lakes in Plitvice National Park are connected through small waterfalls with cascading white water and how their colors change. This is all due to a unique combination of altitude, rock and microorganisms. The lakes are on a plateau, which stands between two mountains. Mountain water naturally travels down the slopes and gets collected on the plateau to form the 16 lakes.
While the distance between the highest and lowest points of the lakes is not large, just over 130 meters, they spread out to an area whose length is 8 kilometers. What makes them special is that they are formed in karstic rocks, primarily limestone and dolomite. As the water keeps carving the rocks, the lakes constantly change their shape. The gorgeous water colors, ranging from azure to turquoise and green, are the result of the presence of moss, bacteria and algae. The moss and bacteria, in particular, are responsible for the formation of the travertine walls of the basins. They grow naturally at a very low rate and also help to change the shapes of the lakes over time.
Exploring the Lakes
The 16 lakes in Plitvice National Park are roughly divided into two clusters – the upper lakes and lower lakes. The upper ones are smaller and more closely packed together. That is why the best way to explore then is on foot. No, we’re not talking about walking on water. There are scenic wooden pathways that go around the lakes. They are wide and sturdy so the only thing which you will focus on will be the beauty of the splashing water and the lush green bushes and trees.
The lower lakes are much bigger and the best ways to enjoy their beauty is to take a boat ride. Just sit back, relax and take your camera out. The crystal-clear waters and the surrounding rocks and forest are simply enchanting. Look down the water and you can see fish moving around. The cherry on the cake during the boat trip on the lower lakes is Veliki Slap, the tallest waterfall in Croatia. The water drops from a height of 78 meters. The view is more than spectacular. There is another waterfall complex accessible through a cave which is worth exploring as well.
If you are more adventurous, you can decide to explore the entire Plitvice National Park on foot. The pathways are 18 kilometers long and wind around the lakes and the forest. They can give you one of the most memorable hiking trips ever.
How do you get the best pictures of the lakes in Plitvice National Park? Just ask your guide and you will get the directions and tips that you need. Your tour will certainly cover the most scenic spots. You just need to get that frame right.
More to Enjoy
The park is home to magnificent breech, fir and spruce trees and to some 126 species of birds. There are also gorgeous butterflies which often fly over the lakes. Large animals such as wolves, bears and wild cats inhabit the park, but you are unlikely to meet them up close and personal as they stay away from the areas popular with tourists.
You can have a small picnic in the section of the park which has been especially designed for this. There are various food stalls offering all kinds of refreshments. A hearty meal will be well deserved after the exploration of the lakes on foot.
When is the best time to visit Plitvice National Park? The lakes are beautiful at every time of the year, but during the spring, summer and early autumn, the vegetation makes the place spectacular. Many people prefer to visit the park on a hot summer’s day to enjoy the cool breeze created by the splashing water.