A (22km) Walk in the Park

Not your average park and not your regular stroll through it. Today I visited the Plitvce Lakes National Park (Croatia). It’s an amazing place and is  a UNESCO site. The national park was created in 1949 and covers 29,482 hectares (22,302 of which are forested). Water covers 217 hectares. There are 16 lakes, linked by cascades and waterfalls and fed by multiple brooks and streams. There are cascades throughout the park, creating a spectacular place to visit. For more information on the park, see the park website

There’s a free bus from the campsite to the park but it only runs to the park at 9.00am and back at 5.00pm. Wanting more flexibility and independence, I opted to take the Defender, even though parking is a little expensive. The park has four sightseeing routes established: A, B, C and K. They are of varying lengths, with the longer routes seeing more of the park.

I opted to take route K, the longest route at 22km with an advertised completion time of 6-8 hours. Route K is completed entirely on foot (except for a very short ferry towards the end) whereas the next longest route (C) includes a boat ride and two bus rides. So, at 8.30am, I set off to walk route K, seeing some beautiful sights along the way.

The big waterfall (note rainbow at lower left)
The big waterfall (note rainbow at lower left)
The cascades are pretty close to the wooden walkway near the big waterfall
The cascades are pretty close to the wooden walkway near the big waterfall
Another shot of the big waterfall
Another shot of the big waterfall

After the big waterfall, route K begins to climb and gets away from the masses that are doing the shorter routes and crowding around the main attractions.

An overview showing water from an upper lake cascading into a lower lake
An overview showing water from an upper lake cascading into a lower lake

After one hour of walking I arrived at a refreshment area with a shop, snack bar and restaurant. The restaurant had a whole bunch of whole chickens turning on rotisseries over an open fire. Shame it was only 9.30am and too early for lunch!

Whole chickens turning on the spit
Whole chickens turning on the spit

After the rest area, the route followed the edge of a large lake. In a couple of places, the lake had flooded out the track, so I had to take off my shoes and socks to wade through!

The trail around the lake mostly looked like this
The trail around the lake mostly looked like this
But in a couple of places, the track was flooded out like this
But in a couple of places, the track was flooded out like this
Some cascades along the trail
Some cascades along the trail
Cascades at a location where route K meets up with some shorter routes
Cascades at a location where route K meets up with some shorter routes
In the upper left, water cascades from a higher lake. That lake, in turn, cascades to a lower lake.
In the upper left, water cascades from a higher lake. That lake, in turn, cascades to a lower lake.

Route K then climbed higher, into a Beech forest with White Sedge habitat. Apparently, such habitats only exist on the steep slopes of the dolomite geological substrate, with prevailing shallow soils at altitudes between 650m and 1100m. The only recorded habitat in Croatia is in Plitvice Lakes National Park. As well as Beech, the forest contains Spruce and Obtuse Maple trees. The other plant species in the habitat include the Bird’s Nest Orchid.

Up in the Beech forest.
Up in the Beech forest.
Another waterfall
Another waterfall
Water seems to pour out of every crevice!
Water seems to pour out of every crevice!
Mali Prstavac waterfall (18 metres tall)
Mali Prstavac waterfall (18 metres tall)
Yet more cascades
Yet more cascades
An overview of a segment of cascades and a boardwalk full of tourists
An overview of a segment of cascades and a boardwalk full of tourists

I’m glad that I went to the park early, as the crowds had really built up by 1.30pm and more were still arriving as I left.

The afternoon masses line up on the boardwalk to see the big waterfall - so glad I went early in the day!!!
The afternoon masses line up on the boardwalk to see the big waterfall – so glad I went early in the day!!!

I really enjoyed my sightseeing route around the park. Having not been able to work out much on this trip, I saw the 22km walk as an opportunity to stretch out my legs and burn a few calories. As for the 6-8 hour, 22km route K – I knocked out that bad boy in 5 hours flat! Very pleased with myself! Very few of the visitors walk route K – most of them do the shorter routes so that they can ride the buses and the boats. But that means that those who do the long walk get away from the masses for the majority of the time.

A diagram of Route K, starting and ending at gate 1 at the right of the picture
A diagram of Route K, starting and ending at gate 1 at the right of the picture

Having walked the longest route today, there’s no point going back to the park tomorrow to do one of the shorter routes with the ‘sheeples’. I’m therefore going to break camp in the morning and drive to Pula with its Roman historical sites. When I checked on booking.com, over 90% of the hotels in Pula were fully booked, leaving the very expensive and the very bad! So I’m going to a campsite about 3km from the town centre.

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