Lake Louise. Niagara Falls, Yellowstone National Park: those are the names that come to mind when you think of natural beauty spots. The Plitvice Lakes? Never heard of them – but maybe you should. They’re as beautiful a place as you’ll find on this planet.
A chain of turquoise blue lakes winding down through green forests, connected by dozens of waterfalls and tranquil pools – it’s a sight that has to been seen. So on my visit to Zagreb, Croatia, I set aside a day for the two-hour journey to the Plitvice (pronounced PLEET-veet-seh) Lakes, to see the area’s only Unesco World Heritage site and Croatia’s most popular tourist attraction.
It did not disappoint. The 16 Plitvice Lakes are the centrepiece of a 300-square-kilometre national park, a giant area of woodland set on a bed of ancient, porous rock that forms a natural waterway through a mountain valley. It’s home to owls and woodpeckers, and animals like brown bears, wolves and lynx. But the animals wisely stay far away. For visitors, the pleasure is hiking the several kilometres of trails that wind along and around the lakes, viewing one spectacular vista after the other.
In the middle of the walk, there’s a boat ride across Lake Kojzak, the first of the upper lakes (or the last, if you start from the top end). And nearby, you can take a walk through a shady patch of woods where little freshets flow into enchanting green pools, creating a beautiful grotto.
Some people hurry to do the whole length of the trail in a day. But I preferred to linger a while, to take some photos and enjoy the deep green of the forests and the amazing blue of the water, created by naturally forming calcium. If I’d planned better, I might have stayed at one of the hotels located in and around the park, and sat out under the stars at night, listening for the wolves.
But there was only so much time, and a bus to catch for the ride back to Zagreb. Still, in my few hours at the Plitvice Lakes, I saw some amazing natural beauty. And I’ll share some of it with you here — perhaps some day you’ll have a chance to see it for yourself.
The photos in this post were taken with the Panasonic DMC-G7 and the Sony DSC-WX500 cameras.