Waddy thinks that Plitvice Lakes is the most pristine and beautiful natural wonder that he has ever seen. I would like to be a smarty pants and say he has not travelled enough, but I have to agree that this is an area of extraordinary natural beauty.
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is around three hundred square kilometres. We have concentrated our attention on the eight kilometre string of sixteen lakes, linked by a series of waterfalls and cascades.
Our host at our private house accommodation in Korana was formerly a guide in the national park, and he has worked out a route for us to follow. He warns us that Tuesday is popular with coach tours, and that we should get an early start.
We follow the ‘C’ route, which will be meaningful only to readers who are also planning a trip to the lakes. The lakes are marked with alphabetically labelled trails. Some trails are shorter components of a larger trek. The ‘C’ trail covers many of the lakes and waterfalls and should take us around six or seven hours.
The walks are serviced by three car parks, as one can gain access to the national park from several different aspects. We park at the main entrance and set off on our day hike. The walk descends down into a valley, and as we descend we see the vivid turquoise of a lake, and the Veliki Waterfall ( the big waterfall) in the distance. It is easy to follow the marked trails, and wherever there is wetland, lakes or marsh areas, timber boardwalks have been installed so tourists can walk over the top without doing any damage. I am still a little hazy in the head from being on a boat for a week, so at times I find the repetitive pattern of slatted timber a little disorienting and run the risk of losing my balance – but that is just me, the boardwalks are plenty wide enough and very well maintained. They blend in well with the surrounding environment.
Every twist and turn brings you to the next lake, the next cascade, the next forest view. Back home in Australia, we may make a picnic day to go see ‘The’ waterfall. Here, they cornered the market on them. Just so beautiful. As well, because it is a slightly cooler and dampish day, the birds are singing brightly. You can hear them everywhere, even though you cannot catch sight of them. What we do see is iridescent blue water insects.
Every so often one reaches a staging area with restaurant and bistro, picnic areas and toilet facilities. Electric boats ferry passengers across one of the larger lakes. We use this to position ourselves higher up the chain. Then it is back to the trek. You can go along as slowly as you like, and rest every so often on benches or rocks. All the same, as the day goes on and the hours pass, we are starting to drag our feet. It is only the beauty that keeps us going on and on – that, and that we need to reach the final staging post so that we can catch a panoramic bus back to where we started. According to our map, once we get there, we should only be a matter of short steps from the car park.
“Ten minutes,” is the standard answer whenever we ask for advice. It becomes our codeword for whenever we need to fool ourselves into thinking we are ‘nearly there’. The walk to the car park seems to be one of the longest of the day. Maybe we are just exhausted.
We are all agreed however, that we have had a spectacular day. It has been very difficult to choose which photographs belong on the blog. I suspect we snapped off more than one hundred. I hope you enjoy this selection.
Tuesday 9th July 2013, Garrulous Gwendoline, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia