Many have written about Plitvice Lakes. Many have visited, drew inspiration, photographed and walked the entire park of 16 terraced lakes. Our experience was a near-miss. None in the group ever did much research on this attraction as it was included in the itinerary at the last minute. This trip’s itinerary focused on Slovenia and Istria, and Plitvice as a day trip from Zagreb was really just like an afterthought. In short, we all came unprepared. πŸ™„ So there we were, wasting time in a place called Rastoke on our way to Plitvice Lakes. No one thought of buying our park tickets online, or sending one of the drivers to buy ahead while we were in Rastoke, which is just a half-hour away. When we finally got there, we even had lunch first before thinking of lining up to buy tix. We all thought it will be easy. WRONG. End of story: only 5 of us stayed, queued up for 3 solid hours, before getting in to enjoy the park for another 3 hours. We were the last batch to enter at 4pm. Not much time to walk the entire park. But we persisted. Call it a test of wills. Having said that, we had energy only for a walk, a ferry ride and more walk before calling it a day.

πŸ“Έ Ferdi Muro

We’re happy we persisted. Our patience was tested even further with one park attendant with no bedside manners. I won’t dwell on it, but we’re kinda proud we put up with much but felt truly rewarded after the adventure. It didn’t rain and it wasn’t really that hot when we clocked in more steps. Walking around the Park was a delight — reminded us of our Camino/Via Francigena hikes through the orchards and forests of Italy. There were some uphill climbs and precarious boardwalk paths, but it was a pleasant hike. All other visitors with us seem to share the same mood, perhaps because we’re the last batch and no longer feel rushed.

πŸ“Έ Ferdi Muro

πŸ“Έ Annabelle Chavez

The lull of the waterfalls and the sight of clear, calm waters invite us to take a break…… except that it’s a chore to stop in the middle of the boardwalk knowing there are people (and dogs) walking behind you. My major concern at the time was kids let loose on the boardwalk. So much for agility but those kids with hormone kicks can get excited, bump you off the narrow boardwalk with an abrupt swing or backstep. I’m overthinking but hey, it pays to be careful. And the dogs? Were they really enjoying the hike? I think so, judging by the stretch of their leash as they prod their masters to walk faster. See? Those canines were excited too!

No overtaking!

The ferry ride was a welcome break. We promptly took our seats and savoured the breeze, the calmness of the turquoise waters and the varying green shades of the lush forest. The only thing lacking was music plugged to my ears. At the end of the boat ride, we found an outdoor snack bar where we promptly nourished ourselves. Rightly so, since it’d be uphill from here heading back to the Big Waterfalls and the park exit.

That ferry ride!

As a UNESCO Heritage site, the park’s nearly 300 square kilometres is a protected area welcoming over a million visitors yearly. It is in Central Croatia near the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Besides the lakes and waterfalls, the park’s meadows teem with butterflies, bees and dragonflies. It is a good idea to allocate a full day when visiting this park. With tickets bought online to beat the lines! The snack bars after the ferry ride offer good Plitvice hotdogs and burgers and the restaurant just outside the Park provide good, simple meals like grilled veal and lamb served with salad. If you’re going, make it a full day in Plitvice!

Snacking on Plitvice Hotdogs

Veal and Lamb. Not bad, at all!