Plitvice Lakes National Park – The Watery Eden

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.

200 thoughts on “Plitvice Lakes National Park – The Watery Eden

    • This is indeed one of the most beautiful places I have ever been; the lakes really make Croatia worth visiting. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting! Regards, Michael

  1. Absolutely breathtaking views.What an incredible place to explore. Thanks, Michael. Knowing this place was so photographically special and of legendary stories, I bet you couldn’t wait to share these lovely photos. Nice presentation.

    • Hi Lynne, you are absoultely correct. I couldn’t wait to post this but was trying to present the posts in the order of our travels so it did create some anxiety. Thanks for stopping by! Regards, Michael

    • Hi Rita, the weather was nice and cool too when we were up in the lakes, quite a contrast to the heat we experienced in Budapest in our previous stop.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Regards, Michael

  2. I never dreamed that Croatia would be so beautiful. Thank you for these beautiful photographs – If I can’t travel, at least I can get a view of what the rest of the world looks like. You’re a good writer, too, Michael.

    • This trip to Croatia has convinced me that it is worth going back again. I hope I will be able to share more photos with all my readers.
      Thanks for the very supportive comment! Regards, Michael

  3. Great photos and overview, and what a fantastic boardwalk, seems like a perfect way to explore an otherwise in accessible aquatic area. I once drove from Montenegro to Switzerland through much of Croatia, it’s a beautiful country. Slovenia took me by surprise as well…

  4. From your travel pursuits, two days in Croatia is a bit of a rush. The shots are stunning and I wonder whether swimming is allowed near the water-falls which would make the holidays complete(leisure and sport)

    • Hi Kong, We spent 2 days in Plitvice Lakes and travelled on to Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik in Croatia. I was lucky enough as the rain was pouring on the second day in Plitivice and I did not manage to take a lot of photos that day.
      Swimming is not allowed and not a lot of life, except maybe fishes, survive in the lake water because of the minerals deposition.
      Thanks for following my blog and commenting! Regards, Michael

  5. How fortunate you are to have been able to travel to Croatia! These photos and the scenery are stunning. Thank you so much for stopping by and liking my recent post on the Appalachian Trail. Hope to see you back soon!

    • Hi Lynn, I am very much impressed by your paintings. You surely have the talent and the skills. Hope you will be able to visit Plitvice one day. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting! Regards, Michael

  6. Hello Michael Lai,

    Good morning from Vietnam.

    Your pictures and trips’ notes keep my mood good and warm with adventurous senses.

    There is no VIETNAM as destination on your travel list.

    I would love to share you some tips for VIETNAM trip as our hospitality.

    Kind regards from Danang, Vietnam

    Hai Sontra,

    • Hi Stevan, HaLong bay and Hanoi etc are on my wish list; hope I will visit them one day. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting! Regards, Michael

    • It is my pleasure to share those photos with my friends and readers. Thanks very much for stopping by my blog and commenting! Regards, Michael

  7. I am speechless by the beauty! I have been many places, but Croatia is now in my list of MUST sees! Thank you for the fabulous post!

    • Hi, the parks are both lovely and not rivals, they are also located in different part of the world with a different setting. The Plitvice lakes have skilfully used long lengths of board walks to bring tourists close to the water features, this should be commended. Great that you like the parks and hope that you will be able to travel to those places soon. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting! Regards, Michael

  8. Your photographs are amazing! Do you get tired of hearing this? Thanks for stopping by my blog to check out some of my amateur photos. I wish I had your talent for photography … maybe once I’m a retiree? I love your blog title, too, by the way, and I think it shows that you have a better command of the English language than you claim in your “About” page. I look forward to seeing more spectacular posts from you.

    • It is good to know that some people from all over the world do read and like some of my photos. On photography, I am still a learner. I was born, raised and educated in HK, so my English is learned locally. I like your blog on Hope. Maybe, have Hope, will travel! Regards, Michael

  9. I must admit that I’ve never had an interest in seeing Croatia, until now. Your pictures are stunning and like globalanni, it’s now on my list of must sees. Thanks for this preview.

    • I heard of Dubrovnik and only when I came to know of Plitvice lakes that I finally decide that we should visit Croatia. The coastal areas, which I will post soon, are also pictureque and have lot of sunshine. I think you will enjoy it. Regards, Michael

  10. G’day Michael, this is a truly magnificent area of the world and you capture the splendour with your photos. I enjoy your traveloques and I am nominating you for a versatile blogger award you can visit my site to find out more about it. I look forward to more of your photos

    • Hi, thanks for nominating me for the award. However, I have promised myself not to pursue or receive any award during my retirmenet. I have also declined two similar nominations. With regret, I also have to decline this nomination. Thanks very much for considering me for the nomination and your always inspiring comments! Regards, Michael

    • Yes I understand, the award process is quite time consuming and retirement is a time for doing as much as we can. I’ll be looking forward to your next photo journey

  11. I really look forward to your posts. They’re so well written, I feel like I’ve been there and the photo’s are well executed too. Weren’t they smart to build the boardwalks? You’re close to nature without disturbing all the natural beauty…Like Heaven on Earth

    • Hi, while the JiuZhaiGou lakes also have boardwalks, they are not as extensive as those provided in Plitvice which are indigeniously designed to bring visitors near to the waterfalls. Thanks very much for your encouraging and kind comments! regards, Michael

  12. I so badly want to go to Croatia. My husband and I are so close here in Germany. It is just a matter of stretching our resources, especially since we try to go back to the US every other year. There are just too many beautiful places to see near us and we come from too far away. Its all about balance though right. Thanks for sharing your photos, I hope to eventually have some of my own, maybe sooner than later. Perhaps when we do decide to go, I will write you again to pick your brain about Croatia. You seem like you might be a valid quality resource, you’ve definitely got a good eye!

    • Croatia is lovely, drop me a line if you want extra information. Thanks for stopping by my blog and sending me the kind comments! Regards, Michael

    • Hi Carol, it is difficult not to include the Plitvice lkaes into the list. I’m sure you will enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Regards, Michael

  13. What a gorgeous place and such wonderful photos! Thank you for stopping at my blog- I thought I would do you the same courtesy.
    I’m glad I found it; you are travelling to some very beautiful places.

  14. Your pictures are gorgeous! We were in this park with a Rick Steves tour 10 years ago – before I had a digital camera. I’d love to return one day. It was one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever visited. Thanks for the memory!

  15. Goodness! I know it’s all been said before, but I’m going to say it again: Your pictures are breathtaking! Stunning! Enchanting! (more adjectives you say? Mind blowing, eye-candy, earth-shattering are a few that come to mind…)

    This is a pleasure to see, thanks for the vicarious vacation! Also, as a side note, which type of camera do you use, and are these photos retouched, or au natural?

    I’m excited to continue perusing your blog!

    • Hi Kathleen, I like the many ways you are able to describe things; you must be a terrific writer. I use a Fuji Finepix X100 fixed lens camera. As I don’t like cropping pictures, the photos are not cropped. For some of the photos, I have increased the saturation a little. Basically, I don’t need much touch up on the Plitvice photos at all. Thanks for perusing my blog! Regards, Michael

    • Thank you! I appreciate the compliment!

      I figured that they we’re mostly natural photos – they truly do look otherworldly! Regardless, you certainly have a natural eye for photography – each is well balanced and the lighting and framing is fabulous. It’s a nearly impossible feat to attempt to condense a beautiful panorama into a minuscule photo frame, but you have the ability to capture the beauty of a scene in that small space. I’m delightfully impressed!

    • Many thanks for your kind comments!
      I like your articles on ships / boats. Not sure whether you are aware that the Chinese made big ships ( see Wiki, for instance, Zheng He’s long commander ship of 416 feet in his 1406 expedition) centuries ago.
      Vessels are fasicnating, aren’t they? Regards, Michael

  16. Thank you! It’s an exciting little research project I’ve decided to embark upon. I am vaguely aware of the Chinese history of big ships, but that is certainly a topic I hope to look into more!

    I’ve been very interested in the study of Chinese culture lately (I have been taking Chinese language courses for the past year or so and I picked up this wonderful big book of Chinese history at the library today!) so that is something I would LOVE to learn more about! Thank you for the tip!

    • Hi Kathleen, glad to learn that you have such diverse interest in other cultures, especially the Chinese language and culture. Hope you will enjoy it. Regards, Michael

  17. What a gorgeous, gorgeous place! Pristine, beautiful colors, serene… Looking at your photos, I already feel how amazing that place is. I don’t know what I’m gonna feel if I see it myself. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post Michael!

    • Hi Robin, it surely is a gorgeous place. I was eager to write about it immediately after the trip but as I wanted to do it in the order of the places I visited, I only wrote it recently. That was a very long and anxious wait. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Regards, Michael

  18. You just brought back forgotten memories! I travelled to Croatia with my mom and dad when I was 13 and Plivitce was one of the places we visited. Thank you for the trip down memory lane and the evocative photos

  19. Awesome to discover your blog. Makes me want to start a travel blog on top of my already running 3 blogs! The falls is amazing, more reason to visit Croatia. The Langkawi pictures you took is just as awesome, makes me homesick! big thanks.

    • It is amazing that you run 3 blogs. Just wonder where you got the time and the energy! Great to discover your blog too. Thanks for the comment and the “like” on the post. Regards, Michael

  20. For a water lover, this place looks like heaven! Your photos are excellent – I had no idea this existed. Will have to visit!
    Thanks too for coming by my site!

  21. Hi Michael! Thanks you for liking my photo posts “Weekly Photo Challenge: Create” and “One Way to Rock and Roll (the speed way): Jim Morrison”. You have great pictures over here, a fantastic travel.
    Kind greetings,

  22. It looks like it was nice and quiet when you went. We looked around in August 2011, it was very crowded but still beatiful. We ended up walking around all the lakes in a day with our daughter. Eventually it got much quieter.

    Great pictures by the way!

    • Hi Dan, we were there May this year and it wasn’t that crowded. We only have two half days. We thought it was a better arrangement for my 80+ father in law who may not be able to do a full day climbing . It worked out quite well. Unfortunately, it rained very heavily the second day, so the place was more deserted. Regards, Michael

  23. Your photos are fantastic and the lakes and waterfalls are wonderful. What a wonderful world, there is so much beauty, it is impossible to go and see it all thank you for those superb pictures so well presented and described.

    • Hi Jack, thanks for your kind comment. It is my pleasure to share the posts with you. I like the postivity you expressed in your blog. Regards, Michael

  24. AGREE…”With such beautiful views in front of us, who really cares about the geological and natural process behind their formation.” Beautiful photos. (Thanks for the Like, Michael)

    • Plitivice was my reason for travelling to Croatia, but along the way, I found Hvar in the journey. Hope you will enjoy your trip soon! Regards, Michael

  25. What an incredibly beautiful place. Your photography is excellent. Thanks for sharing and for visiting my blog: artifactsandfictions. Cheers

  26. I am looking forward to travel to Croatia in August and would love to know the name of the hotel you stayed at inside the Park. I do believe I may actually need to spend a few days here. Your photos are so stunning. Great history and background too. Very fascinating.

    • Hi Anita, there are 3 hotels with the Park and near to Entrance 2. I think the one we stayed was Hotel Jezero. There are pros and cons of this hotel.
      Pros: near to the Park, good green view from the hotel.
      Cons: service at front desk not impressive, no elevators, have to drag the luggages one or two floors up ( it has a couple of storeys, I suspect the other hotels are just the same).
      Hope you will enjoy the trip and safe travels! Michael

    • Thanks Michael. I started to look around and found many places booked. I will be there in August – very much peak season. A number of places were already booked out for the dates I was looking at, but I managed to get 2 nights at the Hotel Plitvice. I am guessing many are about the same – will certainly share a review once I have been! Can’t wait to go – your photos are certainly helping with my excitement levels!

    • Hi Anita, glad that you managed to book a hotel for August. We were out basically for the whole day in Plitvice so which hotel didn’t matter, as long as it is not too far from the lake. Safe travels and regards, Michael

  27. Absolutely amazing photos! Thanks for stopping by one of my blogs, the REmissionary one. Now that I’ve found yours, I will be checking back soon. We also love to travel, but since we’re not retired (yet!), we don’t get to as much as we’d like. Our dream, Lord willing, is to some day travel to Israel and the Mediterranean, but probably not in the same trip! 🙂 I take lots of photos, to keep some record of the fun we have together. Some are posted at my other blog, Lovin the Trip (I won’t put the link here because this may get marked as spam. LOL)

  28. Michael if you ever go to Guatemala (or go back), make sure to visit Semuc Champey. It is EXACTLY like this place you visited in Croatia. Pools, waterfalls, great swimming, all in a tropical jungle environment. It’s beautiful.

  29. I absolutely cannot wait to get to Croatia. My grandfather came to America from there and it’s been years that my siblings and I have been talking about seeing the homeland. Your pictures are inspiring!

    • Hi Joe, the difficulty was that it rained heavily and unless you have an umbrella you wouldn’t be able to take any pictures! Thanks for the kind comment, Michael

  30. You know something Michael…you’ve inspired me to go to Plitvice again, after all it is only two-hours drive from here 🙂 Thank you for this beautiful post and words… have enjoyed it as always 🙂

    • Hi Paula, I would have visited it often if it is just two hours drive. Now I envy you living so close to these great national lakes and park. For me, it will be years before I come this way again. This is the reason I blogged about this so as to imprint this firmly in my mind and of course to share it with others. Many thanks for your comments! Michael

    • Hi, you must be having a wonderful year away from work; enjoying your time like I am doing in my retirement. Have not yet been to Wellington, thanks for sharing the photos / writing. Regards, Michael

  31. Thank you for stopping by and liking my posts. Your travel pix are fabulous. Croatia is beautiful! Like your Chinese saying…walking a thousand miles…happy retirement!

  32. Great post and gorgeous photos. We wanted to visit here when we were in Croatia last year, but we didn’t have the time, so we settled for the falls at Krka National Park, which are beautiful in their own right, but this place looks spectacular. I look forward to reading more of your experiences in Croatia and seeing how they compare with my own. Oh, and thanks for liking my recent post about Venice.

    • Hi Michael, Plitivice is a bit outside the usual tourist path. I understand Krka is also beautiful. Glad that you like my Croatia post. Reagrds, Michael

  33. Hi, Michael. Your photos are gorgeous and capture the grandeur and unique quality of the lakes. We were there in early July this year and it was awesome. We visited Plitvice towards the end of our 4-week trip in Europe, so it was a treat and a nice contrast to busy cities like Madrid, Florence and Venice. Check back on my site in a few weeks (I see you liked the post on the Cinque Terre) and I should have our photos of Rovinj and Plitvice posted. You seem to travel a lot. I am also a travel consultant, so let me know if you ever need help.

    • Hi, will check back on your site to see what other people like in Plitvice. Will also love to see your pictures on Rovinj which I haven’t been yet. Would contact you for advice if I need help. Safe travels! Michael

  34. This place is unbelievable. I saw photos of this in another of your posts and often revisit. I’m a big waterfall enthusiast so to see so many falls in one place is mesmerizing. If I ever get the chance again to leave the US this park is first on my list.

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