May 1 – 3, 2006
After a forgettable few days in Split, we were ready to head north to the Plitvice Lakes. The drive, not including some minor detours and a late lunch along the way, took around four hours. We settled down at a B&B near the lower park entrance. Hoping to take a short walk into the park just before dusk, we were forced to turn back by a sudden heavy downpour.
The weather continued to be uncooperative the next morning. Croatia is still quite wet in late April and early May, and we had not seen the sun much since landing in Dubrovnik one week ago. It was disappointing to see the overcast sky causing the lakes’ supposed emerald green water into a drab gray.
We began our hike at the Upper Lakes, a 40-minute ride from the lower entrance by the park’s free shuttle bus. The park has a generally well maintained system of wooden pathway, but at some sections the pathway was washed away by the heavy rain. At a particularly long stretch of muddy trail the lady in front had both of her legs submerged in the mud. After some pulling and shoving by her companions, she came out unscathed but without her shoes.
Our mood wasn’t dampened at all despite the unrelenting rain – we were too in awe by the numerous waterfalls and lakes all around us. The national park’s sixteen lakes form a system of cascade waterfalls; water flows into one lake onto the next one by a network of rivers and waterfalls.
The sun was still nowhere to be seen in the afternoon as we had reached the Lower Lakes. Thankfully the rain had finally stopped. While the lakes and waterfalls at the upper level are relatively small, their counterparts at the Lower Lakes area are much larger. The trail system is particularly extensive in this area; some route to the base of waterfalls while others lead to the top of the cliffs.
In the morning of May 3rd, before heading for Zagreb, we entered the park one last time. At last the sky opened up a little and some sunlight broke through the thick layers of cloud. The turquoise water finally revealed its true colour under the sun. That’s when I took one of my favourite photos, a shoot of the Large Waterfall, even though I was entirely clueless with a camera.
When Croatia is mentioned people usually think of the Dalmatian Coast, but it is a pity if anyone misses out on Plitvice Lakes when they are in the country.