My dear traveler, you have finally seen enough Instagram photos of this mesmerizing place and decided to embrace the beauty with your own eyes and soul. You are ready to conquer the infamous Plitvice lakes! Good for you!
Before you actually take the first step on the wooden pathways, let’s share a couple of thoughts on how to be a well behaved traveler and not the typical tourist. This way, it will be a much more enjoyable experience for you and the 10 000 of your closest friends that you will stumble upon in the park.
Here is a synergy of advice from people that have done this trail +300 times. Plitvice lakes tutorial at your disposal. Ready, steady, go!
Be aware of the parks geography, dress and act accordingly.
You are visiting a National park and becoming one with nature. There will be dirt, there will be dust and there will be uneven surfaces! Your footwear makes the dream work. Sneakers and hiking boots are welcomed, flip flops and high heels are not! In addition, dress in sportswear. Anything that is good for a gym session is more than adequate for the lakes journey. Winters tend to be cold, spring volatile with a lot of rain, and summers dry or hot. Do not make us say that autumns are the best!
If you are not taking a guided tour (which we strongly recommend), get familiarized with the prearranged paths that you can take within the park. There are letters that indicate which route you are taking. Be warned, the signalization in the park is not the best and has its own flaws. Be ready to get lost a little bit, it’s also a part of the experience. Do not get too much lost though, there are brown bears and wolfs chilling in the vicinity.
Respect the rules of conduct in the park!
Yes, we know those lakes look inviting, but it is strongly forbidden to go for a swim or even to dip your finger in them. There is a reason for that! Because of the chemical process happening inside the waters while creating the tufa barriers, you would seriously damage the nature with your interference. Be cool and respect the nature. If you were wondering, splashing your face with water on a hot day or washing your feet in the lake is also not allowed.
Do not feed the animals! The ducks are a treacherous bunch that will try to steal your ice cream, or browse around you to get a snack. Do not provide them their meal, it is forbidden. Same principle applies for fish or any other animal you might encounter.
Do not go off the beaten path. Even though you see a photo you must take! Trust us on this; your life is more important than a photo opportunity. It sounds cool to be on an extremely fragile limestone above the canyon to get a better view. In reality, this stone can easily crack and break. Do not do your last photo on Plitvice lakes; it’s an 80 meter downfall.
Learn how to walk and take photos.
If you are a part of a larger group, please walk two by two. Some people are fast and furious, some are just there to linger. If you are going two by two, the faster can outrun the slower and then everybody enjoys.
The pathways are quite narrow which means you should cooperate with the fellow travelers that are surrounding you. If you see a photo opportunity, take it from the side of the pathway. This way other people can pass by you. Do not be a typical tourist that is in the middle of the pathway while doing a selfie. You will attract bad karma upon yourself and a duck will steal your ice cream.
No strollers, no dogs!
Even though none of the above is forbidden, from our experience both the animals and the children will not enjoy. Most of the dogs have problems with their small paws walking on the wooden pathways. For the strollers, sure thing. If you are a strong and crazy dad that is willing to carry the stroller most of the way. The pathways are uneven with a lot of stairs. Put your kid in a kangaroo style and tag him along. For the dogs, leash is mandatory. For some kids, it should also be..
Avoid the high season!
Plitvice lakes are visited by 1.5 million people yearly. 70 percent of that is from start of July to end of August. At this time you have more than 15 000 people in the park daily. The park infrastructure can sustain 8000 people. Save your nerves and enjoy the nature. Should we say anything else?
Your best fighting chance would be from start of May to mid-June or months of September and October. Most of the time in this period all of the park is open and accessible. Soak up the beauty without the crowds.
Be aware of your limitations.
This is a huge park. You can walk from 30 minutes to 8 hours. It all depends on your physical condition. If you do not have any mobility issues and can walk for 45 minutes in a leisurely tempo without stopping, we recommend this route –
Start from entrance 1 and walk down to the Big waterfall. Continue strolling through the canyon towards P3 boat station. Board the electric boat towards P2. Do the ring part, arguably the nucleus of the lakes, which will take you back to the same P2 boat station and finally to P1 station. From there take the train from ST2 to ST1. Walk above the canyon towards entrance 1 and enjoy the aerial views. This way you will see all of the highlights of Plitvice lakes National park in approx. 4 hours of walking. This varies depending on the amount of people in the park and takes longer in the high season. Stay hydrated!
Avoid the umbrella guides!
When you see an umbrella or a flag in the air, be certain at least 45 troopers are in the vicinity. They are a part of a large group with their leader ”the umbrella guide”. Be faster or be slower than that group. The worst thing you can do is to be in the middle while everybody is sweating, breathing and kidnapping your air. Be wiser and be swifter than them! Big groups have fixed itineraries and strict timetables which means they have to keep moving let them pass! You get extra points if somebody manages to kidnap the flag or the umbrella.
Become one with nature.
Take 10 000 photos to make your friends and family jealous. You are here, they are not! But at one point, stop and smell the imaginary roses. Savor the moment with your soul and forget all of your worries. You are at one of the prettiest sights in the world. Inhale deeply the fresh air and embrace the pristine nature. Be stress free and put a smile on your face. Hopefully this Plitvice lakes tutorial will help you! Happy travels!
More about Plitvice lakes.
Official web page of the park.
Author: Filip Donadic
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