Plitviče Lakes, Croatia. Mother Nature’s vibrant assault on the senses. Idyllic shades of stunning turquoise and blue lakes, waterfalls great and small, a winding foot trail through them and beautiful rolling surroundings.
My experience in brief…
I heard about this place from a friend of mine, something I’m eternally grateful for. Living in Scotland, a country most know has no shortage of stunning scenery, I looked Plitviče Lakes up on google. Having done so I immediately decided it was a must see and factored it into my 2015 Euro Road Trip. I’m so glad I did.
For the record, before reading on, all photographs here were taken using a simple point and shoot camera and have had no editing.
I can say with absolute confidence, this has to be one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth and the surrounding area in Croatia, Grabovac, was a stand out highlight of the trip.
Established in 1949 it’s a 295 sq.km. forest park in central Croatia. It comprised no fewer than 16 lakes, linked with waterfalls and a limestone canyon. There are electric ferry boat rides across a lake and a strange bus type train on the outskirts – it’s possible to walk to one end and get a ride back to the park entrance. Especially useful for those less mobile, you should have a reasonable standard of fitness if you intend walking it. Especially if you walk it, as I did, on a blistering hot summers day.
The winding hiking trails I mentioned earlier stretch around and over them. In 1979 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register.
I will say this though, one little caution. Don’t wander too far off the trails unless you know really what you’re doing and where you’re going. Aside from the obvious dangers, snakes and the likes, there are areas nearby still littered with land mines. A grim reminder of mankind’s destructive qualities starkly contrasted with nature as its best.
The Croatians have caught on to the tourism value this place holds. As a result you can expect a lengthy queue to enter. During summer it’ll cost 180HRK (£19/€23/$25 US) to enter. I spent around an hour queuing. It was time and money well spent.
Initially having entered the narrow trails are full of people. It all seems very busy. So narrow are the trails and so inconsiderate some people I think it’s a wonder I didn’t see anyone fall into the water. It must happen! On that note, to protect nature you cannot swim or bathe here. There are also a couple of shops inside the park where you can buy water or ice cream. They’ve done a nice job of blending them into the surroundings like log cabins.
As you get further into the park the people become fewer. As with so many places it was a battle between absorbing my surroundings with my senses and the compulsion to try and frame the perfect picture.
The best camera is the eye though. Awe struck, or awesome (if you’ll forgive me an Americanism) is a term regularly over used. This place is awe-inspiring, it is genuinely awesome. It’s a calming oasis. Paradise. There are quiet spots to sit and take that in.
This is a place I could have spend day after day hiking around. It doesn’t get better than this.
One final thought, is it better, more beautiful, than the scenery at home here in Scotland? Better? No. Probably not. Different? Yes. It’s left me with a real thirst to see more of the Balkan countries.
If you love nature, if you love our planet – you will love this place!
I stayed at the nearby Kamp Turist, situated in the village of Grabovac. It was a short drive, around 15 mins, from the park entrance and also has a bus connection. It offers a swimming pool, various outdoor activities and a variety of accommodation options. It’s a lovely park, with two excellent restaurants on its doorstep.