It’s been weird being around so much water at the same time we’ve been watching the firestorm rage in Fort McMurray. Wish we could ship some of the water from Plitvice Lakes back home to northern Alberta!
Plitvice Lakes are actually 16 interconnected lakes that cascade from one to another via a series of waterfalls. Over thousands of years, water flowing over limestone and chalk have created travertine barriers, which are natural dams made of encrusted plants and algae.
The dams grow by about 1 cm per year. With water cutting into the limestone at the bottom and the dams slowly growing in height, lakes have appeared over the millenium that more than one million visitors come to see each year.
The park is heavily forested and is home to more than 50 bears and several wolves. We did a double take on the highway the first time we saw a sign for a bear and a wolf – you always think of these as North American animals. There were also tons of land bridges for animals like we have on Hwy 1.
We also saw a ranger walking around with a rifle, but I’m thinking he would never get to fire it. The massive tour groups would do just fine scaring any animal away.
We walked along boardwalks that border the lakes and falls, and were blown away by the beauty of the area. The green hues of the water and trees with new leaves blanketing the area made for some stunning scenery.
Because of snow melt and the large of amount of rain in recent days, the volume flowing over the falls right now is huge. We couldn’t visit the lower canyon because it was flooded, and we just barely managed to avoid soakers on some of the walkways around the upper lakes.
It was amazing to see water flowing over the land and falls cascading between trees and other vegetation. In some ways it reminded me of Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, albeit on an epic scale with lakes!
The girls loved the diversion from walled cities and the hike through the forest. I think they have had their fill of monuments and churches, no matter how beautiful the ancient cities are that we’ve seen.
I’d definitely recommend a visit, but not during the summer months. Many shops were still closed as we are in shoulder season, but there were still massive amounts of people in the park. One woman told us she had visited previously in the summer, and waited hours to catch one of the electric boats to cross the lake (which holds 100 passengers). Luckily our wait was only about 20 minutes today.
And just in case you are wondering, those tour boats had brand new lifejackets for everyone. The girls spotted them immediately and we laughed as we remembered all the crazy nautical adventures we had in Asia. We were also silently thankful that nothing bad had happened on any of those trips!