We have found that sometimes places which are really famous and hyped a lot fail to live up to that hype. Fortunately, Plitvice Lakes National Park was not one of such places. It promised plenty and delivered even more than what it had promised.
In the previous post we wrote about how, after an adventurous drive to Plitvice and a walk along the magnificent lower lakes, we reached the first upper lake – Kozjak. Close to 2.5 km in length and covering an area of 82 hectares, Kozjak is by far the largest lake of the park. The trails offered by the park include an 18km long option that allows one to walk along the shores of the entire Lake Kozjak but fortunately, our trail involved an electric boat ride across the lake. We joined a short line for the boat and soon got on one. Engrossed in the mesmeric scenery around us, we didn’t even notice when we reached the other shore of the lake. We got down from the boat, took a few more pictures of Lake Kozjak and began our tour of the upper lakes.
EXPLORING THE UPPER LAKES
Just a few minutes after leaving Lake Kozjak behind, our eyes fell upon a spectacular waterfall. Semicircular in shape and consisting of multiple streams of water, Veliki Prštavac Waterfall is the second highest and one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the park.
As we continued with the exploration of upper lakes, the difference between the lower and upper lakes quickly became evident. The lower lakes, set against the backdrop of steep limestone cliffs, had a distinctly pristine look about them while the upper lakes, surrounded by forest and dense vegetation, felt more wild and untamed. The upper lakes were also less crowded which, in addition to the forested landscape, made this section of the park more tranquil and thus, more enjoyable. The lack of crowd could be attributed to the vastness of the upper lakes and also the fact that most tourist buses from Zagreb and Split leave by late afternoon. Another point of difference was the colour of the lakes with blue being the dominant hue of lower lakes and green that of upper lakes. But frankly, this is just a generalization. Each lake is of a slightly different shade and often the water in the same lake swirls between many different shades. All this made me realize that Plitvice is a great place to learn about the shade chart, especially the blue-green region.
The next highlight of our route was the splendid Galovački Buk Waterfall where we stopped to take a few photos. Some of the lakes in this section of the park were quite small and shallow, and the crystal-clear water gave us an unimpeded view of the submerged trees and plant life in these lakes.
The final part of our route involved some breathtaking views of the lakes from high vantage points and walking through the beautiful woods which had some really photogenic spots.
We reached the end of our trail by 6 p.m. From there, a multi-wagon bus (they call it panoramic train) was supposed to take us back to a point near the entrance 1. The bus pulled out of the station just as we reached it, so now we had some extra time to contemplate about the magic we had just witnessed while waiting for the next bus. We realized that we had been walking for almost four and a half hours but the time seemed to have flown by and our bodies did not even feel tired. Eventually, after 30 minutes the next bus arrived and dropped us at the designated spot. As we walked back to entrance 1, we got one last glimpse of the majestic lower lakes spread out below us in all their glory. When we reached the parking lot we found it almost empty. We paid for the parking, which is on an hourly basis, and left the park by 7:30 p.m.
Our apartment – House Mara – was located about 18 km away from the park, just off the main road. We reached the apartment by 8 p.m. and were welcomed by the owner. We were quickly shown to our two cosy rooms on the first floor and given directions to a restaurant about a km away from the apartment where we had an ordinary dinner. By the end of the dinner, we started feeling the effects of the long drive to Plitvice and an 8 km hike. Thus, we retired for the night as soon as we returned to our apartment.
When we woke up in the morning, it felt like we had been transported overnight to Switzerland. The scenery outside our window was absolutely stunning. What had looked like the middle of nowhere in the night seemed like the setting for paradise now. After enjoying the views, we had a nice breakfast prepared by our hostess. By 9:20 a.m., we bade goodbye to the family of our hostess and left for Croatia’s world-famous Dalmatian Coast.