RAKOVICA, Croatia, March 14, 2015 – Eden has been rediscovered among the lush, verdant forests of Croatia.
What happens when 16 inter-connected lakes are formed by the confluence of multiple rivers and natural dams into irregular tiers of breathtaking aquatic artistry? The answer: you get the Plitvice Lakes, the oldest national park in southeastern Europe and the largest in Croatia.
With more than a million visitors each year, Plitvice Lakes may be the most famous unknown attraction in the world for most American travelers. Situated at the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one reason for the disconnect might be the war that raged in the region between 1992 and 1995.
All of that is changing now, and Croatia is rapidly becoming a popular destination, thanks to its old-world ambience and spectacular scenery.
Plitvice is one of those delicious places that must experienced to be fully appreciated. It is impossible to describe because every turn of the head offers a different panoramic vista that is a visual feast. This is Mother Nature at the peak of her creativity, where water cascades from every direction into a kaleidoscope of ever-changing colors and liquid mosaics.
Starting with a basic palette of azure, green, gray and blue, colors constantly change according to the time of day, the angle of the sunlight, cloud cover and the amount of minerals flowing in the water at any given time. No two lakes are ever the same color, making the natural phenomenon of this aquatic wonderland seem like a perpetual stained glass window on water.
Divided into an upper level of 12 lakes and a lower level with four more, they are formed by runoff from several small surface and subterranean rivers. The name Plitvice Lakes is a bit misleading because a seemingly endless array of cascading waterfalls adds another dramatic dimension to this breathtaking natural aquatic tableau.
Situated within dense woodlands populated by deer, bears, wolves, rare birds and an abundant variety of vegetation, Plitvice has a primeval quality that creates sensations of being at the birthplace of nature.
Each of the 16 lakes has its own legends and folklore, most of which are based upon actual events. Among the traditions is an annual gathering when thousands of simultaneous weddings are conducted near a series of majestic waterfalls.
The park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register in 1979, making it one of the first natural UNESCO sites in the world. It is open daily throughout the year, with longer hours during summer. Entrance fees are used for the upkeep of the park and the protection of wildlife.
Ticket prices are seasonal with adult tickets averaging approximately $18. Children from 7 to 18 receive a discount, while children under 7 are admitted at no charge. Group rates are available for a minimum of 15 people. Two-day tickets can also be purchased.
There are 19 small villages within the park, and there are excellent accommodations available inside the park.
Hotel Bellevue and Hotel Plitvice are two-star properties inside the park. Don’t be misled by the stars; the accommodations are clean, comfortable and reasonable, ranging from about $100 to $125 a night.
Hotel Jezero is the only three-star property at Plitvice, but most visitors prefer Hotel Plitvice if given a choice.
Just outside the park in Rakovica, which is two miles from the entrance, you will find rooms at the three-star Hotel Degenija. Slightly further down the road, six miles away, is Hotel Mazola, another three-star property located in Korenika.
There are also 86 acres of campgrounds four miles away in Korana.
Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is a majestic explosion of waterfalls that must be witnessed to comprehend its true magnitude.
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About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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