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Published: January 17th 2020
The next morning Davor (son of Franjo) invited me and his children (all non-English speaking) to go to a very nice place. This turned out to be my best day in beautiful Croatia. After about an hour of his driving we arrived at Plitvice Lakes National Park. The entry fee was 250 kuna and well worth it.
We entered at the upper lakes set in dolomite, a resistant calcium magnesium carbonate or bi-carbonate. (The lower lakes were set in limestone, a calcium carbonate...where the natural carbon from the air makes a mild carbonic acid that erodes the limestone making many caves and underground rivers.)
Since my field notes are long gone, I write from memory and my remaining pics. I use Wikipedia for my facts about the lakes.
We walked around a large upper lake for a while. Then we walked on a walkway built above the water flow and viewed some nice small waterfalls. Getting back to a big upper lake we took a free boat ride (covered by our admission price) to a boat landing. Nearby the boat landing was a neat old dead tree that was a good photo opp for us.
a nice foot trail to the lower lakes to what I think was the Korana River Canyon. There were nice schools of large fish there. (I would like to go fishing there; but like the National Parks in the USA, fishing was not permitted.) The walking trail took us to a nice cave and I took a needed hydro break on a good bench. Then we walked the trail through that interesting cave. This was the limestone area with the caves and other geologic features.
We walked across a very long walkway, that Wikipedia identifies as "Paths Between the Lakes", over the flowing water to cave A. I am uncertain if we walked through that cave. Near the walkway and Cave A (I call it the lower lakes sitting area). I think the waterfalls are from the Plitvica River; but I am not certain.
Then we proceeded on foot with a good view of cave B, that we did not get close to on our scenic walk.
(Without my old field notes I do not remember if our easy walk up to the top of the Korana River Canyon was by open trail or caves...or both.) Anyway,
the view down to the main walkway I considered the best in the park and we took our time "soaking it in". Then it was a short walk back to Davor's car. We had walked for over four hours in the park, and I was not tired until we got back to the car.
Riding back to the farm in Rakov Potok, Davor stopped at a good restaurant and we all had a wonderful munch with large platters of good roasted pig and goat. Later we rode back to the family farm for the night.
According to Wikipedia, Plitvice was first mentioned in writing in 1777 by a priest with the name meaning shallow (lakes). For thousands of years (including the Romans under Julius Caesar) the lakes were occupied by people.
In the 1900s, eutrophication ecological damage to the area caused by humans. Tourism waste water was one factor. Agricultural runoff was another major factor. (The lakes are still considered to undrinkable today.) During the horrible Croatian war of 1991-1995, there was damage to Plitvice Lakes including many landmines planted there. After that there was a major effort to clear the lakes area of the mines. (There
could still be landmines in the Plitvice back-country.)
In 1949 Plitvice Lakes was declared a national park; with protection to that natural environment. In 1979 the park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Starting in 2011, Plitvice Lakes received over a million visitors every year. The protected park covers about 297 square kilometers. The sixteen surface lakes cover about 217 hectors. The altitude drop from the highest lake to the lowest is about 133 meters; with the flow from South to North. Part of this watershed extends into Bosnia.
Cuz of the wide range of micro-climates there are many protected plants and animals in the park. The beech and fir trees can be up to 700 years old. Some of the animals there (that are rare in Europe) include the Eurasian lynx, Grey wolf, Brown bear, Eurasian eagle-owl, Golden eagle, and the White-throated dipper.
Commentary: If not for global climate change (not a hoax); I feel that the future of Nacionalni Park Plitvicka Jezera looks very good.
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