We had hoped for a fine,sunny day to visit the lakes area of the National Park and we got it.Tomorrow the forecast is not so good so we will make the most of it today.
We had the option of driving the car to the entrance of the Lakes,a UNESCO World Heritage site, and parking at K7 per hour but the BBA V2 avoids parking fees if it can.....so we walked the 2km to the entrance telling ourselves as we went that we were warming up our limbs for the days walking in the park.We weren't quite sure what we would be telling ourselves to will us on our way home after what we expect will be several more kilometres around the lakes but that was for the future and we always support each other so we were sure we would make it without expiring.
The entrance fee of K110(about NZ$20) each is a bargain,as we found out,as it includes a boat ride on one of the larger lakes and also use of the electric bus to take you between spots if your legs give up on you as well as the beauty of the lakes and the bush.We
have decided that we need to charge visitors in NZ to enjoy our natural scenery as we don't think a modest charge would put people off and enable facilities to be upgraded and maintained.
The first sight on the path is of Veliki Slap,a tall waterfall at 78m with several falls of water across its width.There were more advantage points as we took the pathway down to the valley the lake system is in,each one giving a different perspective.It was at the second vantage point that we got a taste of what it was going to be like during the day taking photos without people being in the viewfinder.Four young women were taking photos of each other and each others cameras in various poses with the waterfall as the backdrop and they didn't seem to be in any hurry to move on.Not that we w ere in a hurry as we were happy to be in for the day but it got a bit tiresome by the end of 16 photos being taken all at the same spot.What the place would be like on a busy mid summer day is not something that we would want to experience.
We got up close to the Big Slap and then moved on our way starting the encirclement of several small lakes each connected by waterfalls spread across the width of each lake.The wooden boardwalk made from local limbs from trees required some attention as you walked as the surface wasn't completely flat but the use of the timber the way it was gave some real authenticity to the area.
The path followed the edges of the lakes and it was only at the end that you had the option of continuing on the same side or crossing the boardwalk across the outlet of each lake with at times water bubbling up under your feet from the rushing water as it spilled over and down to the next lake.
The clarity of the water was excellent and close to what we had seen as a natural spring near Takaka,Nelson which is supposed to be the clearest natural spring in the world.The colour of the water was in different hues getting darker as the shoreline ended and deeper water towards the middle of the lake came into factor.
At times as we crossed between lakes there was the feeling
of cool air on your face stirred up by the rushing water as it tumbled over the porous rock that forms the geography of the region.It was refreshing, as the sun was quite warm from the clear,sunny skies overhead.
We progressed on at a slow pace taking in the scenery and at the largest of the several lakes you can walk around there was an option to take a boat ride to the other end to save your legs and also along that particular lake the gap between the waterfalls was quite a long way in relation to the earlier lakes we had passed.
The boats are electric powered and carry about 100 people each and seemed to operate when they were full,which didn't take long given the number of people visiting the Lakes today.So they are very environmentally good for the area they are operating in and their quiet engines made the cruise along the lake to the other end very peaceful with just the lap of the water making any noise other than the odd loud Asian tourist we shared the trip with.
By the time we started the next part of the walk we
had completed about half of the area we planned to visit.The second series of small lakes were similar to the first set except the water area of each one was a bit larger and took a bit longer to walk around.As in the first series there were boardwalks that took us over the waterfall areas with the rushing water underneath our feet.
At the end of the third lake the path moved away from the water and we came to a pond type area with reeds where dozens of frogs were croaking their lungs out to impress the tourists.You had to look closely to see the frogs and where the noise was actually coming from.Interestingly when the majority of people moved on the croaking from the frogs died away as if to say'well if you aren't going to take notice and photograph me,I will shut up!'
At the top end of the series of lakes that we had now reached there was the option of taking an electric powered bus back to either the spot where we caught the boat or right back to the entrance we cameinto the park from.
We opted for the boat stop
as we wanted to take a high path that would take us up well above the first series of lakes we had walked so we could get a different perspective of them.It would also bring us back to steps beside the Big Slap waterfall and bring our day and tour to an end.
Fortified by an ice cream(we haven't had a gelato for a few days!)we set off up the path to the rack running high above the lakes.Every couple of hundred metres there was a lookout and it took a moment or two to pick out where we were in relation to the pathway around the lake down at water level.from up here the scene was quite different and the afternoon sun meant the colour of the water took on a difference appearance than when we down at water level.You also got a better idea of the depth of the water away from the shoreline as the deep blue of the water was more pronounced than it appeared when we walked around the lakes this morning.
We were glad we had arrived relatively early this morning as the number of large bus parties including several school groups
were now starting to choke up the pathways a bit more although as they were in groups you only met them for a short distance at a time.However, as groups they were much noisier than couples or smaller groups we had encountered in the morning.
The steps down to the area in front of the Big Slap waterfall were steep and descended down an almost virtual cliff face but the walk up to the track and then the descent had been very worthwhile as a conclusion to our walk.
We left the Park 6 hours after we arrived and we estimated that with the 4km we had walked from the apartment to and from the Park we had walked some 15km I total and it was no wonder we both collapsed to rest when we got home.
After recovering and a pre dinner drink of our wine diluted with fizzy water(the wine quality is not that great!)Gretchen prepared a delicious tuna salad with boiled potatoes and asparagus.It will take a few days to get over the stew from two nights ago and the oddly coloured fish fingers of last night.
The visit and walk around the
lakes and waterfalls has been one of the highlights so far of our adventure and we will long remember the magical and enchanting Plitvice Lakes National Park and will have over 60 photos and 10 minutes of video to relive at some time in the future when we are longing to travel again.
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