We have not heard from our friend Josko in the past few days and after a few quiet beach days we now want to go out and do something. It is a bit gray in the sky and after packing our bags and tent we drive north. The temperature is still very nice.
Soon we are at the Plitvicka National Park where we have driven by twice in previous years. The admission ticket is now more than € 13 (110 kuna), twice as many years ago. But now we have the whole day to enjoy it. We start on the north side at the big waterfall, the Veliki Slap.That this is the most visited national park in Croatia is soon clear to us. A narrow path leads us up and down and especially on the wooden ramps to the large waterfall it is difficult to pass each other. It's been half September and it's a Monday, what do all those people need here?
This park consists of 16 lakes that are connected by waterfalls and what is most striking is the clear blue color of the water, varying from turquoise to sea green. The water comes from a few rivers and mainly underground springs and is full of minerals. It will probably be very healthy but in contrast to the Krka national park you can not enter the water here.
The limestone, mainly travertine, is soft and accumulates in the water on and forms at the edge of a lake walls when it hardens, so that after a period of (much) time waterfalls arise to the next lake. The northernmost falls 76 meters down from the river Plitvice where the park is named after.
We are still lucky when we look at the waterfall because when we walk back large crowds of tourists come to meet us. A few miles away boats sail up and down between the lower and upper lakes and probably another boat has just landed. We are going to walk towards the landing place.
However, the walk to the boats takes much longer than we had thought, we are on the road for almost an hour. This is partly due to the large stream of tourists, but also because we often stop to admire the natural beauty.
This is certainly a place that you should not miss if you are in the area, but no matter how peaceful and serene the lakes look like, on the hiking trails that is not the case, sometimes we are just sucked into the stream of people and it is often difficult to find a place where you can enjoy nature and the scenic views.
When we finally arrive at the largest lake Kozjak from where the boats leave, we see a row of people that do not make us happy. A quick calculation tells us that at least 1000 people are standing in this 200-meter-long line. First we decide to have a drink and give our tired legs some rest.
There are a lot of boats going and we watch the lines to see how long it takes. The waiting is about 45 minutes and we have read that we can take a train back from the other side. Elisabeth lies down for a bit while I try to keep my place in the line. But many families have the same strategy: they alternate in queues and when they are almost at the boat there are suddenly 10 additional family members!
Once we are on the boat the trip is a bit disappointing. The Kozjak lake is the largest of the 16 and only when we are further south we see some waterfalls. The main attraction from the boat are the ducks that fly low to land right along the boats in the water in the hope of something edible.
On the south side of the Kozjak lake you can rent a boat to go on the water yourself. We still have to go with another boat (all included in the price) to get back to the east side of the lakes and then look for the train.
That brings us back a bit in the right direction, but after that we still have to walk a long way, from where we have a very nice view of the blue-green lakes from above. Eventually it is almost 6 hours later when we arrive at the car again, tired but very satisfied.
The trip to the campsite that we have found in the area takes only a few minutes and if we also see that we can rent a cottage for € 28 for one night (camping costs almost € 20) the decision is quickly made. On to our house and get some stuff to unpack and then enjoy the last sunbeams.
Before the sun goes down, we visit the bar of the campsite while we see campers and carvans pouring into the campsite. When we walk back to our house, we see that most of the houses have already been inhabited and that the paved parking spaces are full of campers about a meter apart. Good bussiness here! And we were just in time.But it is also logical that such a beautiful area attracts so many people and it has good reasons that the national park Plitvicka has been declared a Unesco World Heritage, a nature reserve that has been protected since 1947. Yet we found Krka a lot more intimate and quiet, although we also read on many websites that it is probably not good for nature that people can swim there in some places, for example. As if driving a car or going to this area by bus is better ... We still think that nature can protect itself much better against people than the other way around. And in the meantime we continue to ruin nature while on the other hand we all come up with rules to protect them. And we are also very ego-cultural: we want to enjoy beautiful places as long as we can. Today we certainly enjoyed it!