Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

This year my family and I went to Pula in Croatia for our summer holiday. One thing that my sister and her boyfriend wanted to see was the National Park. I also very much wanted to experience the lakes; however I was uncertain whether I wanted to endure the apparent four hour coach journey to get there. The possibility that I may regret not going when I saw their photos was the factor that finally persuaded me to go.


The trip to the Plitvice Lakes National Park was an organised TUI day excursion which included the bus ride there and back, the ticket for the park and an early dinner in the evening before our return. The long day began with an early start and a coach ride that turned out to be five hours long! 


We were debating making our own way to the park to cut costs down, however the organised trip was worth it just to skip the enormous queue we were presented with on our arrival at the main entrance; it was one that seemed never-ending. We would have spent a large majority of the day waiting in line with very little time exploring if we had done it this way.


The group began at the upper lakes where I quickly forgot the long journey as we wandered up to the first open water, crystal clear blue lake. It was here we waited for the boat to take us to the start of our trail around the conservation. Everywhere you looked was beautiful and on multiple occasions, breathtaking. Every lake that was revealed as we continued through the overhanging trees was just as picturesque as the previous. Having said this, looking back at the photos, none of them did the stunning scenery justice. 


The National Park consists of sixteen lakes, inter-connected by a series of waterfalls, and is set in deep woodland. This meant that although the sun was pounding down, the shade made the 8km walk bearable. After we were taken to the highlights of the upper lakes by our guide, we caught the land train to the lower lakes. 


Similar to the upper lakes, the walk consisted of navigating a series of uneven wood planks which took a lot of concentration to not slip or catch a foot in between. On some occasions, the running waterfalls could be seen between the planks below where we were walking. It was definitely somewhere where I wouldn’t like to trek around when it had been raining as there were no rails or sides to stop you falling into the water or sliding down a steep grass bank. Although the route wasn’t what I expected, this made the time more enjoyable as we were always faced with a new challenge and view. We walked up and down stairs and crossed various bridges, stopping to take photos and admiring nature’s creations.


Even though the park was very busy and everyone was trying to get photos of the same stunning landscapes and natural surroundings, the whole experience was mind-blowing. As I alluded to earlier, each body of water was as clear as I ever imagine it could be and it was a gorgeous blue shade. It was so transparent and clean that the fish could be seen without a squint and every ripple and bubble in the water could be spotted. This was coupled with the amazing greenery and elegant natural waterfalls. Everything was so well preserved and respected from every member of the public. Even though there were so many people, approximately 12,000 visitors by day, the noise pollution was next to nothing. 


We spent about 4.5 hours exploring the park, finishing at the largest waterfall, staring at the sheets of water rushing down the high rock face. What really helped was the fact that we had a guide pointing us in the right direction at every cross road path to ensure we got to see the best of the lakes in the limited time we had in the park. If we had tried to do this alone, we would have more than likely missed the highlights. 


This is a place that I would have loved to take taken time by myself to sit and stare at the open water and appreciate what was in front of me. I enjoyed wandering round; looking up and down to make sure I took in every perspective of every element. It is such a peaceful place and one where many would just like to sit and appreciate the beauty that nature can and does provide.


TravelRachel Fox