Plitvice (Plit-bish-ka) Lakes National Park

img_2251We visited this beautiful national park yesterday.  We could not have ordered better weather….thank goodness we went yesterday, as today it is pouring rain, which is why I am working on my blog and not out exploring Zagreb!

What a beautiful spot!  It became Croatia’s first national park in 1949 and is one of the oldest national parks in southeastern Europe.  It was at this serene and lovely area that the first casualty of the Croatia War with Yugoslavia happened.  On Easter Sunday, 1991 demonstrators blocked the road to the park.  Park police were sent to investigate and shots were fired.  Josip Jovic, one of the park’s police, was killed.

Our driver, Tonci (pronounced Ton-ski), shared that he fought in the war, as did his father.  In Yugoslavia when a young man turned 18, he was required to serve a year in the army.  Tonci was fulfilling this duty when the war broke out.  He left the army because he would have been fighting with the Serbs and against his country and joined the Croatian army.  Had they lost the war, he faced prison time.  Such a decision for a young man to make at 18 years old.

Until 1995, the Serbs held Plitvice Lakes National Park.  The local people fled to the coast and lived as refugees of the war.  During this time, the park saw very few visitors and nature had time to repair much of the damage of the previous visitors.  Today, with more than a million visitors a year to this park, I believe that the damage has happened again.

When I think of my visit to this special area, sadly it will be overshadowed by the huge crowds that we were among and we aren’t even in Croatia during the “high season”!! Tonci said that some days during the summer there have been as many as 15,000 visitors recorded.  He also said that there are discussions of limiting the amount of visitors in a day. I think that is a good idea!

In all, there are 16 lakes in the park.  You never know when you are going to happen upon some beautiful waterfalls.  To get through the park, there are miles of planked walkways , boat rides from a couple of stations and an electrical train.  As a side note, we found going around the trails very confusing.  Tonci was not a tour guide for us….he just drove the van from Zagreb.  He pointed out the best way to see the park in the 4 hour time period we were allowed.  Unfortunately for David and me, we missed the turn-off to station 3 where we were to pick up the boat to station 2 and had to backtrack, losing valuable time.

When we arrived at station 3 to take the boat, there was a huge line which we decided not to wait for and waste more valuable time.  We looked for a trail that was suggested by Tonci should the line at the boat be too long….well, long story short….we never found that particular trail, turns out it was flooded and not available.  We made our way to station 1 and took a short ride to station 2 but didn’t have enough time to complete the loop around Grandinsko Jezero (Landscape Lake according to “google translate”)…the most picturesque one.  I was disappointed but tried to remain grateful for all of the beauty that we were able to enjoy.

Below are some of my photos that do not begin to do the park justice:

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Velki Slap (The Big Waterfall)

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The water was a gorgeous turquoises blue!

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The leaves are just beginning to change.

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As you can see in the previous photo, the water is so crystal clear!  Here are some more photos to share with you to show you how pristine the water is…..img_2790img_2791img_2793img_2797img_2795

For me, four hours wasn’t enough time….David said that he was “waterfall out”!  If I had it to do over again, I think I would plan a full day at the park and spend a night at one of the hotels in the park.  That said, we are back in Zagreb and are able to fly to Dubrovnik on Tuesday, which we wouldn’t be able do if we had stayed overnight in the park.

If you plan a trip to Croatia, you must put this on your “to do” list and make certain to check to see if they are imposing a limit of daily visitors so you will be able to get into the park when you arrive.

Grateful to have spent the four hours there!

 

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