No words can fully describe the natural wonders at the Plitvice National Park and no photos will do justice to the breathtaking views of the lakes and waterfalls in the park.
One main reason for visiting Croatia is to fulfill our dream of visiting the Plitvice National Park which in our part of the world is known as the JiuZhaiGou of Croatia ( please see my previous posting: A Wonderworld of Water – JiuZhaiGou). Both Plitvice lakes and JiuZhaiGou are known for their many multi-level waterfalls, the pristine and the inviting blue - green waters, the karstic formation and the travertine dams.
Once we checked in to our hotel within the park, we wasted no time and immediately set out to explore the lower section of the lakes. We were awed by what we saw even when crossing the lake in the boat towards the park. The atmosphere was so serene and the water so pristine with schools of fishes swimming. For much of our walk, we strolled on timber board walks which brought us in close proximity with the many waterfalls.
While both Plitivice Lakes and JiuZhaiGou are UNESCO World Heritage sites, however, they do have different settings and appeals. In Plitvice, the highest lake is Prošćansko jezero with 636 m of altitude, and the lowest is Novakovića Brod with 503 m of altitude. Whereas, Jiuzhaigou which stretches over 72,000 hectares has elevation ranges from 2,000 m to 4,500 m. In terms of size, it is 2 to 3 times the size of the Plitivice Lakes and has an Alpine feel.
Both places seem to have their own legends. The Plitivice legend says that the good and merciful Black Queen came down from her beautiful castle on mountain Velebit , and created the Plitivice Lakes to save the poor and hardworking peasants from prolonged droughts. For JiuZhaiGou, legend has it that long long ago, a beautiful Goddess received a mirror gift from her lover. The goddess was so excited that she dropped the mirror, smashing it into 108 small pieces which now form the clear and reflective lakes. To me, both places seem to be legendary and come out of this world.
The 16 blue-green lakes are separated by natural dams of travertine, waterfalls connect the lakes, cascading from the upper ones to the ones below. The tallest waterfall is Veliki Slap at 70 meters (230 feet) tall. On our second day in the park, we also covered the upper section. We were fortunate to see colored foliage in front of the waterfalls at this time of the year.
We love the lush and extraordinary flora and fauna of Plitivice but also love the Alpine and snow capped mountain backdrop in JiuZhaiGou. One good thing with Plitvice is that the boardwalk bring you so close to the water and the waterfalls; so close that you feel you are part of the whole watery garden of Eden.
With every walk of several metres, the park transforms itself, throwing up a new picture which you couldn’t stop admiring and taking more pictures; the sheer drama of the sight is enough to last you a lifetime.
The cliffs and the glorious waterfalls in Plitvice and JiuZhai Valley are the results of tectonic movements and karst landform. Water running through the karst formation dissolves the rock and deposits calcium carbonate that build dams creating the lakes and waterfalls . With such beautiful views in front of us, who really cares about the geological and natural process behind their formation!
We walked several kilometers on board walks which encircle the lakes, and have a close look at some of the more spectacular waterfalls and interesting land formations. High up on the hills we took this classic photo of the Plitvice lakes showing a curvy board walk. For two days, we were surrounded by a world of water. . . . . .we were thankful for this Giver of Life.