Plitvice Lakes: Croatia's Finest

Somewhere halfway between the capital city Zagreb and Zadar on the coast, and in the mountainous region of Licko-Seniska county, lies Croatia's largest national park and the oldest national park in Southeast Europe. This lush valley of 16 turquoise interconnected lakes, laced together by a series of waterfalls, separated by natural dams of travertine, set in a deep woodland and miles of pleasant wooden-plank walks that follow the rumbling water is what makes this lake outrageously phenomenal. A place truly incredible and worth a million words... one of nature's finest – The Plitvice Lakes.

Discovered In 1949, Plitvice composed of 19.5 hectares of woods, lakes and waterfalls became the first national park of the Republic of Croatia. In 2000, the national park was expanded by a further 102 km². The Plitvice lakes are enclosed by the Mala Kapela mountain in the west while the eastern side are enclosed by the Plješevica mountain, which also represents the border to Bosnia and Hercegovina. The two largest lakes of the park Prošćansko jezero and Kozjak cover about 80 percent of the overall water body area. These lakes by the way, are also the deepest with a depth of 37 and 47 meters respectively. The 16 lakes that can be seen from the surface are clustered into the 12 Upper Lakes (Gornja jezera) and the four Lower Lakes (Donja jezera). Further, the lakes are renowned for their distinctive color ranging from azure to green, gray or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.

30 years later, Plitvice Lakes National Park was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in recognition of its “outstanding natural beauty” thus declared it with all rights as the World's natural inheritance. What sets Plitvice lakes apart from the other known lakes is the fact that they do not represent separated, stationary waters. “The lakes altogether have always been seen as one composed system of lakes.” And as a World Heritage Site, Plitvice maintains a pristine environment that is nearly primeval in its beauty. This is the reason why swimming in the lakes is strictly prohibited.

So when in Plitvice, you have three options for exploring the site - you can either walk through the park and look for wildlife as you hike, or take an electric boat to take you from one side of the lake to the other or ride on a shuttle bus (panoramic train) to take you to a particular route to the park. Whichever way you want it, they all offer different views and a different experience while in Plitvice. Best of all, Plitvice Lakes National Park is open all-year round.


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