It has its own little micro climate
And so, it begins… our first full day in Croatia and we have chosen to start at Plitvice Lakes, if this was a taster to the scenery for the rest of Croatia, this road trip was going to be amazing.
We had been given some great tips and advice from Lily, our host at the Grand Lakes Rooms. Just a short drive to the main entrances of the National Park. These handy hints made our experience a lot smoother.
A helpful guide
If you've yet to discover the delights of Croatia you're in for a treat. While planning our road trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Croatian road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.
Now which entrance, One or Two?
We followed Lily’s advice and opted for entrance 2, and I think this is a wise choice if you want to discover the upper and lower lakes in the park.
Essentially once you have parked at entrance 2 and bought your ticket, head towards the National Park entrance at St2.
Catch the shuttle bus to St3, hop off at the top and this is where the fun begins. By starting here, you are gradually walking down through the lakes and waterfalls, rather than making it harder for yourself and ascending through them.
We were at the upper Prošćansko lake at about 9am and although there was a very heavy mist and it was drizzly, the scenery was spectacular. We’d let the rest of the people on the bus walk on ahead, so we were on our own in the eerie serene atmosphere.
Although we were thankful we’d packed our waterproof coats and walking shoes, our enthusiasm certainly hadn’t diminished.
As you step onto your first wooden elevated walkway you are slightly sceptical that the surface will be slippery, it's not, but caution is needed. As given the beauty of the landscape, it's easy to be distracted.
There's also fear from Gary that the camera may go into meltdown, as he goes into clicking overdrive.
Hovering above the lakes
The stroll through the upper reaches is beautiful, as you would imagine. As you turn every bend through the woodland, there is another striking scene. Either meandering streams & rivers, expansive blue lakes or a towering waterfall pushing through crevices.
You have a feeling the weather today has reduced the crowds, and on a warm day in the height of the season, progress could be much slower.
However, today it's not so challenging to pass the slower groups, but still, take time to marvel at the path the water takes to descend.
Even a boat ride
As we have been gradually descending through the park passing the 12 upper lakes. Arriving at Kozjak Lake (P2), we jump on a boat to take us across the lake to (P3). The journey takes a little over 10 minutes, where we disembark and now continue to discover the lower lakes.
The crowds were beginning to increase from the visitors that had started at St1. We were pleased we had started earlier and from the top.
Where it went a bit wrong…
By error, we failed to follow Lily's advice, and we headed along the trails towards St1 and the Big Waterfall.
Not that this route was entirely wrong, the scenery was once again spectacular, stunning expansive clear blue lakes, and mesmerising waterfalls, but not quite the path we had anticipated.
Failing to follow Lily's advice leads to another error on our part. We should have ignored the signs to the bat caves, (it seemed intriguing at the time) but it's steep & slippery, and as it turns out unnecessary. It takes you to a high path that heads one way towards St1 or the other way to the Big Waterfall.
The views from high above are amazing, and you get a great shot of the snaking boardwalks crossing the opal lakes & how they intersperse with each other.
Once we had got to St1 to catch the bus back to St2. We had covered about 8-9 miles of fantastic scenery across the mixed terrain, and our legs were feeling it. But who cares, at the end of the day we had experienced a natural wonder of the world.
Our little bit of practical advice, based on a September visit;
A final piece of advice is, that if you have difficulties with long walks, then take a trip to Rastoke. It is about 20 miles (32km) from Plitvice Lakes and also has some stunning waterfalls.
We met a British couple at Rastoke that couldn’t manage the hike through Plitvice, so were thrilled that there was a more accessible smaller option.
Where we stayed
Our accommodation for the two nights at Plitvice we were in Jezerce at the Grand Lakes Rooms. Its location for the park was fantastic, and so was the room & the parking.
Lily was there to greet us and tips she gave for visiting the park were invaluable. The Grand Lakes offered a traditional meal in the evening which was optional. However, we had it on both occasions and was extremely good.
Would you like a little more?
We have created a little YouTube video of our day
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