I have to give credit to my younger brother for introducing me to Croatia, particularly Plitvice National Park. Ever since he did a school research project on this natural wonder he has been talking about visiting Croatia to see the waterfalls. The opportunity to see these natural wonders and spend some time at the coast was impossible to pass up. Our first stop was Plitvice where we stayed south of the national park in a quaint Croatian town surrounded by mountains, just a 20 minute drive from the park entrance.
Armed with tips from locals on how to best navigate the large expanse of nature, we spent a full day exploring Plitvice (pleet-vee-tsah) Lakes, walking nearly 10 miles around the park. The park boasts numerous pools and lakes, endless waterfalls, and a 'pick your own path' method to seeing the sights. Carleigh and I decided to start early to beat the large tour bus crowds and headed to the giant waterfalls at the north side of the park first. To reach it, you must descend into a small ravine and make your way across thin boardwalks to the far side of pools. The great falls descend over 230 feet and at the right time of day boast a constant rainbow. From there we worked our way south and west around the park paths. The pools are perfectly clear, displaying a bottom filled with preserved trees that found their final home in the water and schools of fish meandering the boardwalk paths as you walk. The smaller waterfalls you see along the way are just as beautiful and impressive as the great falls, they cascade over rocks and giant lily pads into crystal waters below. Every corner you turn there is another beautiful pool, and after eight hours you start to forget there's a world outside this heaven. Tired, but happy, and with more photos of beautiful blue waters than we knew what to do with, we headed home for the night.
With one additional day to explore the inland areas of Croatia, Carleigh and I hiked up Pljeëevica Mountain trek. The trail was close to where we were staying and a group of seven of us packed lunches, filled our water bottles and set off in search of astounding views. The entire trek took eight hours and we walked a total of 15 miles round trip, it even included a small section hiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The path wound through both rocky terrain and wooded coniferous patches; at times the trail was quite steep and I'm not ashamed to admit many water breaks were needed. The view at the top was more than worth it, as we could see far into the distance in both Croatia and Bosnia. Lunch was enjoyed sitting atop a large rocky outpost looking out over the mountainous Croatian countryside.
Tired from two days of exploring and hiking, Carleigh and I welcomed the travel from Plitvice to Split. Nothing sounded better than our week on the coast to come!