Thursday, August 2, 2007
Plitvice Lakes are one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe. In the year 1979 UNESCO has declared it with all rights as the World's natural inheritance. National Park Plitvice Lakes with total surface area of 266 km2 comprises 16 terrace-formed lakes, which are mutually connected with waterfalls and cascades. First lake lies on 636 meter altitude, while the last one, 8 km further to the South lies on 133 meters. Largest depth of the lakes is 46 meters, and natural phenomenon of Plitvice is transparency of lake water, which reaches 8 meter deep.
The Lakes are divided into two groups: Upper Lakes (12) surrounded by a huge forest are larger and more quiet while the Lower Lakes (4) lie under 70 meter high cliffs, and are surrounded by low vegetation. Plitvice Lakes were pronounced a National Park in 1949. For its beauty they are talked of as one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe. In the year 1979 UNESCO has declared it with all rights as the World's natural inheritance. Today Plitvice are the most visited Croatian tourist destination, and the number of guests exceeds even town of Dubrovnik.
The Lakes are situated in the area where flat Croatia enters karst mountain area, and where traffic directions from the North lower towards the coastal areas of Croatia. For this reason Plitvice Lakes are an excellent place for a rest and stop on the way to sea, good lunch or even overnight stay. Distance from Zagreb is 140 km in direction of South.
Plitvice Lakes offer their visitors kilometers of arranged walking paths which in most cases means wooden bridges built over lake surface and serpentine-like connecting one shore to the other.
Since forest vegetation in warmer part of the year is extremely lush due to influence of coastal climate, and continental geographic position supplies Plitvice with plenty of snow in the winter, the National Park is well visited in all seasons of a year. Lakes There are forest areas within the Park, which, due to their virgin wood features, were proclaimed to be special reservates (e.g. Corkova uvala). There is snow on Plitvice from November to March, which is favorable for lovers of cross-country skiing. The Lakes surfaces freeze in December and January.
In the summer water temperature in the largest Lakes, Proscansko and Kozjak is around 24°C, which makes it suitable for bathing. There are altogether 20 caves in to rocks near the Lakes the famous of which are Golubinjača (Pidgeon cave), Mračnjača (Dark cave), Velika pećina (Great cave) and Šupljara (Empty cave).
You can make a tour with a tourist train and boat beside walking. Depending on your choice of visit program (there are six itineraries offered by the management of the National Park), you will need 3 to 6 hours for an organized tour. Guests who wish to stay on Plitvice can find accommodation in hotels Jezero, Plitvice, and Bellevue which are situated in narrow zone of National Park. The accommodation can, beside in hotels, also be found in private houses.
Plitvice Lakes are best known for its legendary film Winnetou based on classic work by Carl May. Original title of the film from 1960-ies, "Treasure of Silver Lake" (Der Schatz im Silbersee) is filmed on Plitvice Lakes starring actors such as Lex Barker, Herbert Lom and Pierre Brice.
Should you ever decide to visit the Kornati islands, you may at first be stunned by the contrast of sharp white rocks and the calming blueness of the sea, which hides endless secrets of its inhabitants. However once you became familiar with this natural phenomenon, you would realize that what you are dealing with is a fantastic example of two extremes complementing each other. The coming together of these extremities has created this Croatian national park and will take your breath away.
This is how journalist Jon Bowermaster of National Geographic Adventure, embarked on a journey by kayak from Zadar to Dubrovnik and was amazed by the Kornati islands: “the beauty is ragged and rough, cultivated but untamed”. What was it that impressed him so much? Perhaps it was the famous Kornati “crowns” that are the most well known phenomenon of the park.
The “crowns” refer to the beautiful white vertical cliffs that face the open sea. They are witness to, but also the best result of, a long geological process that patiently and carefully shaped them.
The common shag, the gray hawk and the common swift are only some of the inhabitants that have made the crowns their home. You can enjoy the crowns from afar because climbing is not permitted here. Naturally, the crowns stretch under the sea as well which opens up an entirely new dimension to bear witness to if you happen to be a deep-sea diver.
Seven diving zones invite you to discover the underwater thrill. All you have to do is follow the lead of one of the local diving centers that are sure to point you in the right direction. For those of you that are not into diving, the Kornati elevated lookout points are definitely the alternative so head towards Metlina, Opat, Vrujsko, Litnji vrh or Otocevac and you will surely enjoy the view of the entire region of the national park.
Due to the fact that the terrestrial part of the park is privately owned by the inhabitants of the surrounding islands, climbing up any of the peaks requires one to be careful and considerate, which also applies to strolling on the islands. You are probably wondering if people ever lived on the Kornati islands. Take a look at the Illyrian ruins and tumulus, the oldest structures on the islands, situated on high ground on the islands of Kornat and Zut. As a pledge of the Byzantine period we are left with Turet, a fortress on the island of Korant, believed to have been built in the 6th century. Its purpose was to protect and follow ships sailing in what was then the uncertain Adriatic Sea.
A visit to the Solana in Lavsa could also prove to be interesting, in other words its sunken remains, but also a small island called Vela Panitula, where the Venetian fortalice was built during the beginning of the 16th century. It was in this fortalice that Kornati fisherman left money for fish tax and the hard lifestyle of a fisherman forced them to build settlements on the nearby island of Piskera. They lived on this island only during the “summer darkness” when there was no moon visible in the sky, which is also the time when it is easiest to catch blue fish. With the fall of the Venetian Republic the tradition of temporarily inhabiting small islands disappeared and as such there are only rare traces of former settlements.
A trip to the Kornati islands will definitely be a significant piece to the puzzle of your visit to Croatia, because strolling on the islands will be an interesting lapse in time. A view of the Kornati beauties will convince you that Mother Nature truly thought of everything. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the beauty that the Kornati islands have to offer. Who knows, perhaps this somewhat savage form of beauty will encourage you to rediscover values within yourself that have long been forgotten.