A Brief History:
This blue-green landscape woven out of 16 interlinking lakes and lush trees is regarded as the largest natural park in Croatia. The lakes occurring as waterfalls form a ribbon of network around the Mal Kapela and the Pljesevica mountains making for a visual treat. Plitvice also takes pride in manifesting itself beautifully to the world as the oldest national park in Southeast Europe. It was founded in April of the year 1949 when it was open to public viewing. Within 30 years of its inception, it garnered itself a place in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Each of these lakes has a historical relevance and a story to tell behind their names adding a mystical touch to this isolated dreamscape. Historically, the Plitvice Lake area is said to have homed the Illyrian tribe (a sect of Romans) from 1000 BCE. They found the settlement first leading to many other sects such as Celts, Avars and Slavs to subsequently find home in its banks. The area has not only an ecological but also a cultural relevance as generations have walked upon this land that now is buzzing with fluttering sounds of footsteps and camera shutters.
The first thing one can notice upon casting eyes on the Plitvice national park is the majestic waterfalls that by natural course seems to take two separate clusters. It appears in form of an upper shelf and lower shelf divided by the coarse terrain of the mountains. There are 12 of these ‘upper lakes’ and 4 ‘lower lakes’ that look marvellously like molten turquoise.
Over several thousand years these flowing lakes that run through these limestone and chalk laden hills have sieved it out creating travertine barriers. These ‘Travertine’ are created due to the force of these waterfalls creating a rift in the physical structure of the bedrock. This water carrying calcium carbonate has left trails of sediments in these orifices which we now view as barriers. Taking a walk, dipping your feet in these cool waters makes you realize that these damns are nature’s handiwork. They have, over the centuries sprung as a series of splendid caves, lakes and waterfalls.
The total area seen through a bird’s eye view is a canvas of blues, greens, teals and subdued greys that glint in the morning sun and beholds a wonderful almost a picture book-like view in the evenings.
Thousands of people flock to the rare attraction quiet and picturesque nature that Plitvice National Park holds. There are 3 hotels and a campsite to accommodate the ever growing crowd that wants to beat the heat and escape into the wilderness. For all the adventure seekers, the park is a challenge to go on a run around. Roughly taking around 4-5 hours to explore, it is best done via and bus service offered to the tourists that throng the park.
Although swimming is a strict no-no, the park provides plenty of crevices to explore and slopes to trek and hike around. Its heterogeneous attractions are inviting to almost everyone from children to adults. The local cuisine that revolves around a plethora of variety in wine, cheese and coffee also catches the tourists’s eye. The paprika sausages and Croatian lamb (Janjetina) are some of the mouth watering recipes that are work their magic in the eat outs found around the Park.
Families and groups are often found spreading a picnic basket at the mouth of the dry meadows with a view of the falls. The convenience stores that line the leading road, is the go-to place for those who wish to stock up for a private picnic. For a fee that is basically peanuts, this park is graciously open from 7 in the morning till 8 in the evening. The curfew is maintained strictly as there are has been sightings of wolves and bears lurking the forest at nights. This is indeed a rare nature-site that entwines aquatic, air-borne and terrestrial creatures beautifully in its landscape without letting the movement of humans disturb a thing.
This blue and green paradise also is home to a diverse variety of ecology. Due to the overwhelming quantity of dolomite networks found here, there is plenty of fresh pine, fern and beech-fir lining the falls and open up into small forests.
At each altitude of the park, widely different varieties of flora are found making for an interesting sightseeing experience. Beyond the water lilies and willow reeds are meadows that stretch like a manicured lawn inviting one to tread onwards.
Almost 126 peculiar bird varieties are spotted perching here around the seasons. Among those are the Eurasian Eagle owl locally called the ‘Bubo bubo’, the Eurasian otter called ‘Lutra Lutra’ and the curious long fingered bat or the ‘Myotis Capaccinii’ that only occurs in parts of Asia and Europe. One can also spot the track marks of the European brown bear while trekking. This is probably the one of handful of places around Europe where sighting a brown bear is possible. The little nips at our feet upon touching the cool water makes us notice the multitude of aquatic varieties that dot the lakes. The greys and orange translucent shapes rushing beneath the film of water in the middle of the swaying green trees is an experience to behold. It is indeed a visceral treat for the eyes.