Plitvice Lakes National Park is a 295sq.km forest reserve in the County of Lika-Senj situated in Central Croatia. It was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979 & is Croatia’s most popular tourist attraction.
We entered Plitvice Lakes National Park from Entrance 2 which is at mid-points between the Upper & Lower lakes.
Pier 1 where we boarded the boat that ferried us across Lake Kozjak to the travertine cascades that separate the Upper & Lower Lakes section of Plitvice Lakes National Park.
We took one of these flat-bottomed, low noise & eco-friendly electric boats across Lake Kozjak.
This Wild Duck (Mallard) is surrounded by a school of Brown Trout (Salmo trutta lacustris).
Tiny Waterfalls like these can be seen all over Plitvice Lakes National Park & there is some semblance to China’s Jiuzhaigou in Szechuan Province.
We alighted at Pier 2 & followed the Boardwalk climbing up to this vantage point that looks across to this islet in the middle of Lake Kozjak, named Stephanie’s Island. Lake Kozjak is also known as Kozje Jezero (Goat Lake) as legend has it that 30 young goats escaping from wolves during winter drowned when the thin icy layer gave way beneath them.
There are altogether 16 terraced lakes in this park. 12 of them are found in the Upper Lakes section & 4 in the Lower Lakes segment. The 2 largest lakes are Prošćansko & Kozjak which cover about 80% of the overall water body area.
The 16 lakes descend gradually from an altitude of 636m to 503m, over an 8km stretch in a South to North bearing. Lake Gradinsko covers 8.1ha & stands at an altitude of 553m above sea level with a depth of 10m. It drains into many smaller ponds such as this pretty one with emerald green waters.
This Mallard drake nonchalantly struts Pier 2 in search for food. It would seem it is accustomed to Homo sapiens & shows no fear even as I approached it for a close-up shot.
This National Park is a Karst phenomenon comprising of mainly brittle or porous rock like dolomite & limestone which gives the lakes their distinctive feature. The availability of water influences the configuration of the terrain & impacts the biodiversity of the area in no small way & over a supremely long time it would eventually reshape the landscape.
Lake Kozjak is the largest lake covering 81.5ha standing at an altitude of 535m above sea level & has a depth of 47m. It is part of the Upper Lakes section of Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Our final stop at Pier 3 where our trek of the Lower Lakes began. Kozjačka Draga Buffet has a shaded veranda, wooden tables & benches where visitors can have a bite & enjoy a splendid view of the Lake Kozjak & watch the boats come & go.
Lake Kozjak – a picture of restfulness & tranquility! Plitvice Lakes National Park is forested mainly with Beech, Spruce & Fir trees & features a mixture of Alpine & Mediterranean vegetation.
Lake Milanovac nicknamed Milanovo Jezero (Milan’s Lake) as the legend goes was apparently after a shepherd called Mile who drowned in it or after the miller Mile Perišić who owned a mill at the lake.
Gavanovac Lake also called Gavanovo Jezero (Gavan’s Lake) allegedly because the treasure of a man named Gavan lies hidden in the lake. This lake stands at an altitude of 519m & covers about 1ha with a depth of 10m. You could technically dive & seek the treasure!
The lakes of Plitvice National Park are the result of century old processes of precipitation & the sedimentation of chalk which is in abundance in the waters of this karst region. The cascades of Milke Trnine is a fine example of these sedimentations known as tufa or travertine.
At the mouth of Šupljara Cave which is a subterranean cave with a constant temperature of 10.5ºC & moisture saturated air. The cave was formed by water seepage through fissures in the rock causing dissolution of the limestone. Since 1964, Šupljara Cave has been protected as a geomorphological monument of nature.
Walking pass the tufa barrier between Lakes Gavanovac & Kaluđerovac which is known as the Velike Kaskade. Mosses, algae & water plants play a major role in forming the unique landscape of the Plitvice Lakes & its tufa barriers.
Lake Novakovića Brod sits at an altitude of 503m & is smallish at 0.4ha with a 5m depth. The 16 Plitvice Lakes are renowned for their distinctive hues ranging from azure to green, grey or blue & the colours change constantly dependent on the quantity of minerals or organisms found in the water & the amount of sunlight.
Sastavci Waterfalls which originates from Lake Novakovića Brod fans out & overflows the travertine barriers falling some 20-25m into the canyon where River Korana flows.
The tallest waterfall in Plitvice Lakes National Park is this one – the Large Waterfall ‘ Veliki Slap’ which is 78m tall.
The ‘Veliki Slap’ at the end of the Lower Lakes is fed by the Plitvica River.
Sastavci Waterfalls & the Veliki Slap empty into this canyon and forms the Korana River.
Boardwalks hugging the sides of the Limestone cliffs, give visitors access to this national park of outstanding natural beauty. The entire park has an area of 29,842ha, out of which 22.308ha are forest(74.75%); 6,957ha are meadows(23.31%)in village areas & 217ha(0.72%) are water areas.
Spectacular Limestone formations, Crystalline waters & Turquoise pools bathed in beautiful colours of Autumn.
The Plitvice Lakes lie in a canyon between the Mala Kapela Mountain in the west & the Plješevica Mountain in the east amidst the Dinaric Alps.
Plitvice National Park, Lower Lakes Canyon in Autumn.
A close-up of the Velike Kaskade with tiers of pretty waterfalls overflowing the tufa barriers.
Magnificent view of the waterfalls & the Veliki Slap at the end of the Lower Lakes as seen from the Viewpoint at Entrance 1 of Plitvice National Park. Our trek took about 3 hours & though it was tiring, there was never a dull moment & the reward is this exhilarating scene & sense of accomplishment forever etched in my mind!