Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Plitvice National Park

One of the highlights of my European trip is the day trip to Plitvice National Park, one of the two national parks I've been in Europe the other being Cinque Terre. I would say any visit to Croatia would not be complete without a stop at the park. 

There's lakes, cascading waterfalls and trees throughout the park. Simply breathtaking, stunning, awesome, unbelievable and all the superlatives you can possibly think of.
I think if heaven was a place on earth then it would look like Plitvice.

The natural phenomenon that shaped the lakes thorugh sedimendation of limestone only occurred in few other places around the world, the most famous being Pamukkale in Turkey. It was said the landscape changes everyday. It is recognised as a World Heritage site and the following is a brief desciption from the site:

"The waters flowing over the limestone and chalk have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams which in turn have created a series of beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls. These geological processes continue today. The forests in the park are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species".

There are buses from Zagreb's main bus station. I reached the station around 7.00am but the tickets for the earliest bus was sold out so I had to wait for the second bus. I noted the last few buses back to Zagreb so that I would be mindful of the time. I brought some sandwiches and drinks for lunch in the park at the station in case the price there is expensive and to avoid being stuck in a long queue.

The sitting arrangement in the bus was very messy. A seat could be assigned to 2 people. My seat was actually taken by another person, so I went to sit at another empty seat. Halfway another person who boarded the bus was suppose to take the seat I was occupying so I went to reclaim my original seat. In the midst of all these mess I met a Korean gal. When we reached the destination she introduced two other Korean gals whom she met in the bus station while waiting for the bus. These 3 Korean gals were each travelling solo and together we formed a travel group. Power to gals solo travellers.

The entrance fee is 110 Kroner (discount would be given to ISIC holder). There are a few routes detailed at the ticket centre, each take between 2-8 hours and each can be covered within a day. There are 4 places where you can stop each called Station 1, Station 2 and so on. Each has washrooms, food stalls with eating area and information centre.

The route we chose started at Station 2 (main entrance) and the duration is estimated to be 4 hours.  We begun with a bus ride to Station 4 then followed by a walking trail to P2 where we wait in line for a ferry ride across the biggest lake in the park to P3 before continuing on another walking trail all the way to Station 1. However this time the path would get steeper. Then we took a bus from Station 1 to get back to Station 2. The bus ride and the ferry ride are included in the entrance ticket. I would highly recommend this route if you are like me who like to save the best for last. P1, P2 and P3 are places where you board ferry and only P3 has the same facilities like the stations.

We had early lunch once we reached Station 4. We sat at the eating area and ate what we brought. The line to buy food was rather long. Along the walking path we stopped for numerous photo sessions as Koreans they love to take pictures (of various poses and angles).

We often walked on wooden walkways along the walking trails and at some point the lake was just below our feet. The lakes are in the most beautiful and gorgeous shade of blue/green and turquoise. Swimming is not allowed but you can dipped you feet in the water.

The most breathtaking sight are found at the end of our route on the last walking trail with cascading waterfalls.

If heaven is this beautiful then I want to go to heaven. I imagined myself as a pixie with wings flying around Plitivce as my playground.

The route we chose.

Pictures courtesy of my Plitvice travel buddy.

Check out more pictures in google image here.

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