Discovering Plitvička Lakes in Croatia

The lowest of the Plitvicka Lakes is seen first as you enter the national park’s east entrance.

The lowest of the Plitvicka Lakes is seen first as you enter the national park’s east entrance.

Telling about Plitvička (pleet-VEECH-ka) Lakes National Park in Croatia is sort of like telling of one’s experience visiting the Grand Canyon in the United States, a place well known for its unique geological formations and natural beauty.  And yet, why not share the story, because both locations are worthy of being talked about again and again given that there is no other place on earth quite like either one.

What constitutes a waterfall is a matter for speculation.

What constitutes a waterfall is a matter for speculation.

Although there are streams that empty into the Plitvička Lakes, their primary source of water is from underground springs.  The string of sixteen successive lakes is like a giant necklace of turquoise jewels strung together with a series of waterfalls.  Visitors often ask the obvious question, ‘How many waterfalls are there?’  The answer is, of course nobody knows, partly because the definition of how much water constitutes a waterfall is a matter of speculation.  Also, the water level changes with the seasons.  The underground aquifer feeding the lakes increases in volume with the spring thaw and seasonal rainfall.

Fish swim alongside our path.

Fish swim alongside our path.

Schools of trout follow along as we walk the pathways bordering the lakes.  I imagine that a number of tourists have fed bread crumbs to the fish over time so that they are now naturally attracted to the movement of people.  That may be the only thing added to the water which maintains an amazing purity that makes it possible to see to the bottom of the lakes.  The government of Croatia has recognized the importance of the natural beauty of the area and has protected it as a national park since 1949.

Calcium deposits perpetually change the shape of the lakes and falls.

Calcium deposits perpetually change the shape of the lakes and falls.

The springs feeding the lakes contain calcium carbonate.  The calcium solidifies over time to create the rock formations that have given the lakes their unique shapes.  While this calcification typically produces rock at the rate of a few millimeters per year at locations around the world, at Plitvicka the rate of rock formation is 30-50 times that rate.  Scientists have not been able to fully explain this rapid rock formation.  It is a phenomenon exclusive to this one place in Croatia, which contributed to Plitvicka Lakes being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Natural Site.

Other features of the park are worth noting.  The highest falls in Croatia can be viewed as one enters the east entrance to the park.  Veliki-Slap Falls are nearly 300 feet tall.  Visible from across the canyon from the falls is a wood cabin, the remnants of the last watermill in the area used by settlers to grind their wheat and corn.  There are also campgrounds, motels and a luxury hotel near the park to provide a vacation experience for any budget.  The entry fee to the park is 110 kuna, less than $20.00.

Seasonal changes provide tourists with ever-changing scenery.

Seasonal changes provide tourists with ever-changing scenery.

Given the amenities, the beauty and the affordability, a visit to Plitvicka Lakes is too good to pass up.  When you take into account the warmth of the people, the great food, the enjoyment of wine country in the north and the Dalmatian Coast to the west and you can see the country beckons with open arms for you discover Croatia for yourself.

19 comments on “Discovering Plitvička Lakes in Croatia

  1. What striking photos! Looks like a wonderful place to visit. Now they just need a vegan restaurant or two and maybe I will visit! Celeste 🙂

  2. amamic1 says:

    110 kuna is actually 20 dollars. 🙂 Not that cheap, but definitely worth every penny.

  3. nantubre says:

    That incredible beauty can very well be a peek inside the generous heart of a loving God. No words to describe it.

  4. Mike and Florence, What a stunning place! Your photos make me want to jump right in, but I suspect it’s a bit chilly this time of year! We weren’t able to get there when we were in Croatia, so now it’s back on my “must see” list. I’m fascinated by the fast rate of rock formation. Thanks for a great post. ~Terri

    • Mike Lince says:

      Thank you, Terri for the kind words. It is true there is nothing quite like this national park. It is a source of great pride to the citizens of Croatia, and rightfully so. It is quite cold, since it is spring fed, and you would not want to get caught swimming there anyway. Fishing and swimming are both prohibited. I hope to get back there in the fall and again in the winter. I am told each season holds something new for tourists.
      In case you wish to see more images, here is a link to a slide show video that Florence developed earlier this week:

  5. reocochran says:

    I loved this post all around, immensely! The blue of the waters reflecting the sky was extraordinary and the music quite nice, too! I would love to explore and see the waterfalls, too! You are great at “selling” us Croatia. Mike and Florence!

    • Mike Lince says:

      Thank you, Robin. We love Croatia – the food, the people, the beautiful countryside. We have moved Croatia to the top of our list of countries in which we wish to live for six months. It is easier to get by than we thought it would be considering how many people speak English here. – Mike

  6. […] parks and I have posted only one related story to-date, the story about Plitvička Lakes.  This series continues with the following story about two of Croatia’s beautiful […]

  7. blade3colorado says:

    Excellent photos, video (thanks Florence!) and commentary. What a stunning, beautiful place!

    • Mike Lince says:

      Thank you, Steve. Florence appreciates the kind words on her behalf. Plitvička Lakes NP is definitely a high point for any visitor to Croatia, which has been flying under the tourism radar for awhile. That is going to change quickly in the next few years. I am glad we visited when we did. – Mike

  8. Jess says:

    When I mention Croatia’s Plitvicka lakes to my mom, she told me there’s a similar lake/waterfall area in China as well. I was surprised to see she was right!

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