Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park, known locally as Nacionalni park Plitvicka jezera, is located in central Croatia near the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It covers an area of 114.6 square miles (296.8 sq km) making it one of the largest national parks in Croatia.

The national park is renowned for the brilliantly colored cascading lakes featuring a variety of shades of blues, greens, and grey. There is a total of 16 different lakes all connected together with the river system that flows through the park.

The cascading lakes are created by natural dams of travertine that develops from the algae, bacteria and moss. These travertine dams grow about .4 inch (1 cm) a year as the algae and bacteria accumulate atop the existing areas.

The lakes cascade down the mountain primarily broken into an upper group and a lower group. The majority of lakes are found in the upper region. The river and streams travel down the mountain for about 5 miles (8 km) changing elevation from 2,087 feet (636 m) down to 1,650 feet (503 m).

Most of the lakes are small and collectively cover an area of about .77 square miles (1.9 sq km). The water that leaves the lowest lake becomes the Korana River.

There are several different waterfalls that create some of the most inspirational landscapes. The largest waterfall occurs toward the end of the lakes and is called Veliki slap. It reaches a height of 255.9 feet (78 m). The second largest falls occurs in the upper group. It is called Galovacki buk and it reaches a height of 82 feet (25 m).

The park is situated between ranges creating a unique climatic area that is rich in biodiversity and unique to most of Croatia. The dense wooded area is comprised of beech, spruce and fir followed by Alpine and Mediterranean plant life. There are over 1,265 species of plants with 75 of them endemic.

There are 55 species of flowering orchids combined with the seasonal color changes of other plant life to make each time of the year something different. Each season comes with its own blend of colors and beauty.

Popular wildlife of the area includes brown bear, wolf, lynx, and the European wildcat. There are at least 321 species of butterflies which only add to the varying colors and intrigue of the national park.

Highlights:

  • 16 cascading lakes and the array of water colors

Plitvice Lakes National Park is a fairytale storybook type of place. It is renowned for the amazing colors of the various lakes that cascade down the valley. Differing shades of blue and differing shades of green combined with the waterfalls cascading over the travertine dams work together to create poetic landscapes.

It is impossible to not meander on the trails throughout the cascading lakes and falls and not stand mesmerized at the beauty. There are few places in the world where this natural phenomenon that is occurring in the Plitvice Lakes National Park exists, and it is arguable that Plitvice tops them all.

Sources:

Britannica, Plitvicka Lakes, https://www.britannica.com/place/Plitvicka-Lakes, retrieved August 2019.

Lonely Planet, Plitvice Lakes National Park, https://www.lonelyplanet.com/croatia/attractions/plitvice-lakes-national-park/a/poi-sig/1019024/358781, retrieved August 2019.

Plitvicka Jezera, Official Site of Plitvice Lakes National Park, https://np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/, retrieved August 2019

UNESCO, Plitvice Lakes National Park, https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/98/, retrieved August 2019.

World Atlas, Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia, https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/plitvice-lakes-national-park-unique-places-in-croatia.html, retrieved August 2019.