I would not be lying one bit if I said Plitvice Lakes way exceeded my expectations.
Before going to lakes, I had already known it was a UNESCO Heritage Site and has one of the most beautiful and largest waterfalls in Europe. However, I expected it to be so crowded with tourists because of how well known it is.
BUT, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is literally one of the most calm, peaceful, and tranquil heritage sites, with the CLEAREST of waters and the best of nature.
My friend and I took about an hour long bus out to the lakes, there were 2 entrances and the one that we were at had so many groups of tourists, I was internally freaking out at how I wouldn't be able to enjoy the place and take pictures (#firstworldproblems much!)
Judging from this image, you can tell I was worrying too much.
After entering into the compound, we were able to roam free, and follow one of the 10-11 possible routes suggested on the map we got. My friend and I chose route C and began on our trail. The trail led us from the top with an aerial view of the waterfalls, and then down by the lakes. There were so many different kinds from tall waterfalls, to medium ones, and mini ones that form when the water rushes over uneven rocks.
The great thing about this trail is that it isn't made of mud and how i'd perceive regular nature walks to be like. The Plitvice Lakes had individual narrow wooden planks nailed together to form a pathway. At times, whilst we were walking over the water, it felt as though one of them planks could break any moment!
What I Wore
Shoes: My very trusty Converse
Even thought they weren't very stable and even, I think the wooden planks really add to the whole aesthetic of the National Park. Also, it allows visitors to go up close & near to the waterfalls or streams which is awesome! Of course, it wasn't all just wooden planks. Parts of the routes were through tall green trees with large exposed roots, and you just climb your way through. Definitely 'gotta wear some decent walking shoes when you're there.
As expected from the number of people that entered the National Park, certain parts of the trail got a little crowded - namely by a really good photo spot, a nice stream, or the big waterfalls. Still, the trail was generally quite acceptable in terms of tourist crowd of a Mid-Summer peak season.
I found it difficult take good photos mainly because there were usually people somewhere in the shot. However, thats not you say you don't get any secluded spots! My friend and I found quite a number where we could pose for pensive-absract-enjoying-the-moment travel pictures, and happily snapped away without having to face the shame/guilt for blocking others along the same route as us.
What I absolutely LOVED about the Plitvice Lakes National Park is how INSANELY CLEAR The waters of the lake were. We could see so many meters down, the fishes, and sometimes even the actual bed of the lake! It was incredible. Each individual lake got clearer and clearer, to the point we couldn't quite believe our eyes. It really shows how clean and how well maintained the whole park is.
As we only had 5 hours to spare at the park, we chose a moderate route which was estimated to take around 5 hours (factoring in time for lunch). That route led us the base of the largest waterfall in Park and I must say, it was SO TALL. I had to take several steps back just to see the top of it, and many more to get it fully in the camera frame!
At the end of our trail, we took a boat ride across one of the lakes instead of walking all the way back because we thought it would be quite a cool experience. Seeing the greenery and waterfalls from the lake was quite fun, and an extra plus for not having to walk haha!
Because we took the boat, we ended with some time to spare. So, we got ourselves some ice-cream and sat on the planks along the lakes and watch ducks swim by, couples row on boats (or failing at getting the boat in the right direction), and just having a nice chilled out end to the day appreciating the beauty of mother nature.
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is absolutely stunning! I was looking at pictures of it in the fall, and the colourful leaves look so good! I wish I could go back and experience the park during the autumn months. Alas, thats a little impossible since I'm already back at uni :(
Nevertheless, I had so much fun at the waterfalls and lakes. When you get to places like these, you really appreciate the beauty of mother nature. Seeing how clean the parks were also somehow instills a sense of responsibility in people. If only we all take the effort to maintain and protect our environment, we'd have such beauty all around us!