Plitvice National Park – Heaven on Earth

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Travelling – The best part of travelling is to take the road with no clue of where it is leading to and be super excited to see the little surprise it holds in for you. The pleasure of travelling is to relive those days again and again through memories and pictures. One such memorable trip was to Plitvice National Park in Europe.  Here is my experience on how this national park gave surprise after surprise to me.
The trip was for two weeks and before deciding to go on the trip, I wanted to make sure that it is worth spending the bucks. Because the moment I mention to anyone about going to Europe the first question was, “Oh London is very expensive, right?” or “Are you covering Switzerland too?” And I was coyishly replying back, “I am going to Croatia.” In return I would get a big smile, “What? Where is it?” “In Europe, of course!” So I started having my own doubts of the trip which does not include Paris, London, Switzerland or Germany. I started googling out each place and this one in particular caught my eye big time! Sounds exaggerating? Just google out for Plitvice National parks images, you will go aaaaaawwwwwww!! But are these pics real? These days the technology is awesome, the camera lenses are awesome, the different modes in the camera are awesome and the photographers are awesome. All the awesomes combine together and make an awesome picture. With all these questions pondering in my mind I  start my journey. Oh one more thing. Did you see the picture? It is green green everywhere and so I pack a special pink colored top. It will be contrast to green and the pics will look bright, you see 🙂
Plitvice National Park
View of the waterfalls and lakes

Plitivice National Park is in Croatia. It is one of the oldest national parks and it is famous for its lakes. The drive to Plitvice itself is scenic and you can start feeling the chillness of the mountains. You can see streams flowing here and there on the way. There was one particular spot on the way which I would say must do if you can stop and have the time. Unfortunately we could not. There were couple of restaurants little down the road; it was set up just above the stream. So you get to sit at a table close to the stream and sip coffee with water gushing down. We reached the park sometime in the evening and we could hear the distant sound of waterfalls. We were all so excited on hearing the sound and were trying to catch a sight of it. The hotel was at a walkable distance to the park. We freshened up and decided to take a walk. It had become dark by then and there were hardly any lights. This was a national park, we have to maintain silence and not disturb any flora or fauna. As I walked with my buddy through the darkness, with some creeking crocking sounds from insects and the distant water fall going shuuuussshhhhh, suddenly there was a flash in front of my eyes. Was I dreaming because of the travel tiredness? And then went another. A fraction of second the flash appears and disappears. And then two turned three and four and five and so many!! Fireflies!! So many of them. How magical that moment was! I have never seen one before and now I was surrounded with fireflies. Pitch darkness and glittering lights around me as though the stars have come down to twinkle around me. In spite of the darkness, the kid in me made me running behind the flies to catch one. Caught none, they kept disappearing in the dark. 🙂 The night passed with such memories and we were to wake up the next day early morning to trek the park.

Follow me 🙂

The morning sun was peering through the window. I got ready and went on to have the breakfast. The trek path is around 13km. Somewhere down in my mind the thought of 13km was ringing again and again. I am not an active trekker. The last time I went on one such trek was to Gangothri in Himalayas. I troubled my friends pretty much to complete the trek. So the beauty of the lakes and the 13km trek path were both dancing in front of my eyes. Scrambled eggs, toast, fruits, cakes, coffee everything had gone in to give enough energy! The time came and we were off to the trail, it was walkable from our hotel.

Trail through the lake

The lady incharge explained us that there are different trails. One for 5km this covers the big lakes, the second for 9km, one exploratory trail which usually students opt for, one into the forest for which you need a guide. We were a mixed group of ladies and we decided to settle down for the 5km trek. Easy right? The trek path was so meticulously planned. They had few steps cut out of wooden logs, then come the mud path, then comes wooden steps and then few carved out steps. With the distant sound of waterfall and a similar eager rush in me to catch the first sight of it, I started walking fast. There comes the first clearing! A view point! From the view point, it was just magic. Pure magic! Different shades of green, blue, turquoise, you just cannot name those colours, such is the nature’s palette. The waterfalls our cascading and they form into lakes, there are 16 such lakes. It seems some kind of mineral deposits have led to the formation of pools. So there are waterfalls, lakes, pools, huge lakes, all might read the same but they mean different in terms of their beauty! From the top of the hill you can see that the trek path goes through the middle of the huge lake. The trek path was now going down the hill so it was not very tough. It might be slippery during rains, the day we went was a bright sunny day. As we approach closer to the lakes you realise how clear the water is. You can see the different kind of fishes, the algae, there was a small boat sunk in the river. Everything! Everything under the water you can see with no difficulty! I was so lost in its beauty. Actually you know what; the pictures cannot do justice to the place! However awesome be the technology or the photographer, what you see is totally different from the pictures.
The foliage adds more beauty to the colors of the park. If you keenly notice there are lots of flowering plants which you would have never seen. The bees were buzzing around my head, shooing me away from taking pictures of its flowers, thank God they did not sting me. Within couple of hours we reached a refreshing point and hey 5km trek is over!!!! It is also the point where a ferry takes you to the other end of the lake. 5km trek is over? Even before I could realise!! I was standing by the shore of the lake, sipping some hot chocolate and the fishes were eagerly looking at me hoping they would get some share of the hot chocolate. What a vast water body! Huge, clear one! I wanted more of it. In fact I was seriously considering the idea of walking back the trek path! 5km is too short right! I wanted to discover more and more! The ferry came to this end of the lake, we boarded the ferry and wow! Absolutely no sound of the engine, no wobbling, no disturbance to the water, how do they even manage this? It is very ecofriendly right! The fishes might have thought is as huge cloud moving above and the shadow is falling beneath.  So cool. The ferry reaches the other end of the lake and the trail again shows four different directions. I ask a guy in charge where this trail leads and he mentions, “This is the 9km trek path. You can see around 10 more lakes here!” What? The bigger part of the park is on this side of the park? Yippeee, I get more to explore.

Some of us decide to trek the remaining of the park. We had enough time and energy!  The wooden logs used as steps are built above the streams. So you are actually walking above the streams, bend down and the streams are gushing down under you! This trail was more beautiful with small lakes, fishes walking along with you, plants brushing you and the trail takes you close to couple of waterfalls, close enough for the waterfall to sprinkle water on you. With all the sweat and sun that sprinkle of water was very much welcoming! Now we were climbing up the hill as this was leading to the other exit of the park. The walk up the hill gets tiring, the paths get rugged but your spirits get refreshed again and again by the surprise that each turn the trail brings you. Towards the end of the trail, as we walk away from the lakes and water falls, we walk through huge trees. Watch out for the different colored leaves, wild mushrooms popping out of their barks, birds making different  sounds.. After a point we can see the buses moving from the park and we push ourselves hoping the exit is close by but! but! but! We keep on pulling and pushing ourselves and it goes never ending! Finally the end of the trail comes! The end.. As I turn back, the path curls and curls down with my footsteps going zig zag, was i drunk?! I was dripping with sweat but the happiness of having walked the 13km and the satisfaction that I managed to cover all the lakes and waterfalls made, my day and life happier. Be there to experience it. Oh one more thing, in Croatia waterfalls is called Jezera and lakes are called slaps 🙂 I got to see 16 slaps 😀

Some tips. Stay close to the park. Start early so that the sun does not drain out your energy. Good shoes are a must or you might slip and fall down or hurt your feet. No swimming or littering. The trails are very easy to follow, there are sign boards guiding you, so no worries even if you venture out by yourself. Check the flowers, trees, squirrels, mushrooms, small streams. Take a good camera with you. The trek is easy to moderate so if you can, cover the complete stretch. At many places the park is deserted, so take your time, enjoy the calmness, peace and tranquility around.  


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4 comments on “Plitvice National Park – Heaven on Earth
  1. Great write up of an awesome travel experience, Chittra!!.. and what an amazing place.. 🙂 Cheers

  2. Chittra says:

    Thanks Prashant 🙂

  3. Ashwini says:

    Finally, I found someone who echo my thoughts!! I had been to Croatia last June and these were the exact words that people asked. Switzerland? France? And I was like ‘Nope! Croatia :)’ They were like ‘Cro what??’ 😀

    And now that I’m back, I can’t stop raving enough about Croatia and why not? The country is so beautiful !!

    • Chittra M says:

      Very true!! I would like to do one more trip of searching for smaller countries, towns and villages in Europe and do a trip. They are much prettier than the regular tourist destinations..

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