We start moving further south and further inland this morning winding up and down some sculpted, terraced highway. The weather stays nice – in the high 60s-low 70s, sun and clouds. Perfect for the things we’re doing. Our destination today is Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of Europes’s most spectacular wonders. We pull into the parking lot, meet our local guide, cross a bridge and see this.
An incredibly lush valley of 16 terraced lakes linked together with some 90 waterfalls and miles of planked walkways.
Rick Steves says to imagine Niagra Falls diced and sprinkled over a heavily forested Grand Canyon. He’s right. The flora is also diverse and beautiful. A white birch stand, wild flowers, wild orchids. Fish abound, waiting along the water’s edges for a handout from visitors.
Some of the most amazingly blue, clear water I’ve ever seen. It’s filled with calcium carbonate from the limestone cliffs that settles on all the rocks and wooden dead falls for a ghostly look beneath the surface.
Bu the real attraction are the falls – very plural.
We walk for miles covering the lower section first. It’s the most accessible, and the most crowded. We take a boat ride over the largest lake and drop off the least adventurous members of the group. About 12 of us continue up to the more strenuous, but way less crowded upper lakes section. (More strenuous because the 300 plus steps to get back up to the hotel at the end – really not that bad). We spend about 4 hours wandering.
A short break to hear and feel the sound of the water and the birds (lots of them). Every turn of every corner brings a new vista and sound, ranging from a great roar of one of the big falls, to the soft quiet punctuated by an occasional song bird.
Near the end and 80 meter wall; widest falls in the park.
Very relaxed we climb the not so daunting ramp and steps back to the hotel for a dinner of scorpion fish. Off tomorrow for Dalmatia; Zadar, Split and finally, the next day, Dubrovnik. Dreaming waterfalls.