There aren’t many places in the world where nature lovers can truly enjoy themselves like on Plitvice lakes in Central Croatia. Combination of turquoise water, green forests, cliffs and wooden trails will enchant everyone. This stunning place was declared a national park back in 1949, while UNESCO put them on their list as one of the first natural attractions in 1979. This national park is the largest and most visited in Croatia, with about one million visits per year.
There are 16 connected lakes in the park divided into Upper Lakes (12 of them) and Lower Lakes (remaining 4). The lakes formed as a result of travertine deposition which dammed the river, so the lakes descend into each other, creating beautiful foamy cascades. The altitude difference between first and last lake in Upper Lake group is 100 meters.
Kozjak is the biggest and the deepest lake in the park and the next one is Proscansko Jezero. These two lakes take up around 80% of the water area in the park. East side of Galovac Lake is known by numerous waterfalls that are distributed on the east side of the lake in the length of 200 meters.
Kozjak used to be divided into two lakes about 400 years ago, with a 40 m height difference among them.
However travertine dam at the end of the lake grew faster than the one that was separating them, leading to rising water level, which led to merging of two lakes into one.
There is also an island which you can visit if you rent a boat and row there, because the usage of motor boats is not allowed, nor is the swimming in any of the lakes.
The highest waterfall in Croatia is situated in this park. It is called Veliki Slap (Great waterfall) which is 78 m tall. It is the only waterfall that is created by water from the stream while all other waterfalls in the park are created by the water that overflows between lakes. One of the most beautiful ones is the “Milka Trnina Slap”, named after Croatian prima donna, which is situated between two lakes in Lower Lakes group.
However, the Plitvice Lakes are not only rich in lakes and streams, but also with forests that all the biggest mammals of Europe inhabit – the brown bear, lynx and wolf, along with 160 species of birds and many other rare animals. The local forests are rich in endemic plants, such as. narrow-leaved bell and sagebrush buttercup. Also the water is full of fish that live in clear waters. Fishing here is, of course, prohibited.
The park is surrounded by kilometers-long wooden trails, marked and well maintained. You can walk, hike and ride a bike, but in order to not disturb the natural balance of the park, visitors are allowed to use only special vehicles – panoramic trains and electro-powered boats.