WHS: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Well, here’s a change from the last half-dozen of our stops in Croatia: Today we are not visiting a Game of Thrones filming location. Nope, today it’s the backdrop of a completely different series, Emerald City — is there anywhere in Croatia that isn’t a film set? — that is our World Heritage Site visit:


Plitvice Lakes National Park

WHS: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

 

The waters flowing over the limestone and chalk have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams which in turn have created a series of beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls. These geological processes continue today. The forests in the park are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species.

They didn’t write very comprehensive descriptions waaaay back in 1979 when the park was listed, did they? Let’s add the Wikipedia description:

The national park is world-famous for its lakes arranged in cascades. Sixteen lakes can be seen from the surface. These lakes are a result of the confluence of several small rivers and subterranean karst rivers. The lakes are all interconnected and follow the water flow. They are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae, and bacteria. The particularly sensitive travertine barriers are the result of an interplay between water, air and plants. The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm (0.4 in) per year.

The 16 lakes are separated into an upper and lower cluster formed by runoff from the mountains, descending from an altitude of 636 to 503 m (2,087 to 1,650 ft) over a distance of some eight km, aligned in a south-north direction. The lakes collectively cover an area of about two square kilometres (0.77 square miles), with the water exiting from the lowest lake forming the Korana River.

The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight…

Yep, that covers them nicely, this by all accounts ranks as one of the most beautiful national parks in the world,

WHS: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

and we figure there’s a pretty solid case it’s the most accessible of any park of its caliber, there’s trails along all the lakes:

WHS: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

And most of it is well-maintained boardwalk that leads up along the falls,

WHS: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

and beside the falls,

WHS: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

and directly through the middle of the falls, look at the boardwalk in the center there!

WHS: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

The comprehensive hiking trail Loop K is 18.3 kilometers long, so it’s going to take you a full day to get through that; we arrived after lunch, so we did the about half that trail H, which at least visits briefly every lake, and grabbed the electric tram back.

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p dir=”ltr”>There’s boats as well, and smaller trails, so at least parts are reasonably accessible if long hikes aren’t really your thing … but even if they’re not usually, Plitvice Lakes get our vote for the Likeliest Place In The World for non-hikers to enjoy hiking, can’t think of anywhere else that has a mostly boardwalked hike switching back and forth through a constant stream of lakes and waterfalls like this. Definitely an AAA+ natural site you should be sure to put on your Croatia itinerary!

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Alex Curylo

Alex

I go places.

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