Plitvice Lakes National ParkNovember 26, 2016 in Croatia
Plitvice Lakes had been recommended to us by several people. It is the largest National Park in Croatia and follows the course of a river valley over numerous waterfalls.
The day was blanketed in a very thick fog, so some views weren't quite as spectacular as they may otherwise have been and others were non existent. Autumn entry prices were cheaper than summer but we were given no information about the land train and ferries that transported visitors within the park and we assumed that like so many things, they had stopped for winter.
From the entrance high up on the valley side, we could hear the roar of water. As we decended the zig zag track, a view of a waterfall feeding into a small, clear green lake emerged. We were able to cross over the lake and waterfalls using a boardwalk that ran close to the water surface. Once we were within the valley, the fog gave the place a mystical atmosphere. The route taken by the downriver boardwalk was incredible. It led us along the side of a vertical cliff face and over the head of a high waterfall. We could almost reach out and touch the water as it bubbled and splashed up, before dropping tens of meters into the plunge pool created by it and several other waterfalls. Around the corner we found ourselves at the foot of three long thin falls, the white water the same colour as the fog obscuring the clifftop over which it spilled.
Turning upstream we crossed a wide section of river, past a shallow cave and up steep stone steps cut into the rock. To our right we found the entrance to a far deeper cave. Luckily Will had a torch because otherwise it would have been pitch black. Inside, a narrow track led around large stalactites and stalagmites to a depth of about 25m. Shining the torch around, the surroundings seemed really quite alien, with the deposits left behind from water flowing down the walls, forming bulbous projections from every side, above and below.
Back in the open air, we climbed up the cliff track and along the top of the valley which was covered in beautiful Beech forest. Either side of the path was thick with rich brown leaves and dead wood that supported small bracket fungi of a similar hue.
Dropping down ready to return along a riverside track, we found our way barred without any explanation. There was no other direct route back so we retraced our steps, only to be overtaken by a shuttle bus. We caught up with it where it had stopped but there was no room and the driver was shut in a separate cab so it was difficult to ask when the next one would be along. As Will's plantar fasciitis was beginning to hurt his feet, we just walked back to the van instead of seeing any more.
On reflection we were a little disappointed by the lack of information and closed path had restricted what we saw, but we certainly weren't disappointed with what we did see. The park is unique and magical; we'd definitely recommend a visit!
As we left we kept our fingers crossed that tonight's stopover would be open and have the water we needed. Camp Korana was at the end of a 1km gravel track down the side of a valley. Our hopes rose as we saw there was a car with its lights on outside the log cabin. Our arrival was greeted by 5 cats who leaped from the cabin's 1st floor windows and trotted up to the van mewing. The owner said the stopover was closed but that we could stay for free and take the drinking water we needed from his log cabin. As Will was filling our water bag from the tap in his bathroom, he offered us schnapps so we joined him in his living room and were introduced to the 5 cats!
When he left for the night, his cats came over to the van. They were very friendly and Vicky fussed 3 outside while a fourth sneekily evaded Poppy's detection on the van step. When Poppy went out later, the same cat snuck in and stealthily explored her bed! When they were shut out, one cat took up residence on the bonnet, staring in at us through the windscreen and another climbed on the roof, giving Vicky a real start when it mewed at her through the fly screen of the open roof vent in the toilet!
Apart from the feline antics, our last night in Croatia was very quiet and still. The loudest sound was that of the river and its small waterfall a little way upstream. The sky was clear and the stars bright - lovely!Read more