|isn't it lovely?|
Saturday, July 7, 2012
It was late afternoon by the time I settled in at the hotel in Plitvice Lakes but I wanted to visit the lakes late in the day anyway to avoid the crowd so the slight delay did not really upset my plan. Set in a lush valley, Plitvice is a series of terrace lakes, interlinked by waterfalls with miles of pleasant path and plank walks. With countless cascades and lakes that change colors constantly depending on the quantity of the minerals or organisms in the water, rainfall and the angle of the sunlight, it is indeed a natural wonderland. Many people do a day trip to the lakes but because I would rather visit late in the day and again early in the morning when there are fewer tourists, I stayed at one of the two state-run hotels minutes away from the Entrance 1. The hotel decor is dated and dull but it is comfortable and convenient plus I got a room with a good view of the lakes. The weather though was less than perfect and I found myself in a limbo at the entrance as to whether to run back to grab my poncho. Finally I got my rain gear on and started the trek along Kozjak Lake. Kozjak is the largest lake in the park surrounded by steep, forested slopes with good path that runs along to the Lower Lakes. After 40 minutes or so of walking, passing some amazing scenery of forests, steep cliffs and waterfalls, I got to the Gavanovac Lake. Above here is the open-topped cavern of Supljara, where there is a lovely viewpoint over the Lower Lakes. The image of Gavanovac with its wooden walkway that cuts across to the north bank is commonly seen on postcards, magazines and books on Plitvice. In fact, it was this very image that caught my eye some years ago as I went, 'Hey, I'd like to go there some day.'
Early next morning, I took a ferry to the Upper Lakes and started to hike from there. Along the Gradinsko, the sight of powerful waterfalls from the nearby Okrugljak lake and its reflection in the water was quite amazing. A series of cascades links Gradinsko to beautiful Galovac Lake, where an abundance of water has formed a series of ponds and falls. Moving on to the Okrugljak, I came face to face with the waterfalls I saw back at Gradinsko - I think they are the tallest that I have seen in Plitvice. The Upper Lakes are surrounded by dense forests and some of the lakes and ponds are smaller and all laced together by gushing falls. There are countless waterfalls in Plitvice and in the Upper Lakes, they are bigger, more spectacular and you can get closer to them. I definitely find the Upper Lakes more alluring. The lakes have the soothing and peaceful effect on me, especially on an overcast day but that is only when you avoid the international tour groups. It took about 90 minutes to complete my Upper Lakes circuit and from the jetty, I sailed along Kozjak on a one-way ferry to the Lower Lakes. From there, it was kind of touch and go, taking the park trolley bus back to Entrance 1 as there was a strict requirement by the hotel to check out by 12 noon.