Yesterday I’d hoped to finish our day’s ride by arriving at a campsite located within the Plitvice Lakes National Park, but in the fading light riding on the narrow, twisty and unmarked D42 was getting progressively harder and harder and with the rain still falling I pulled off about 20km short of the lakes so we could overnight in an apartment in Saborsko.
This morning we were awoken by the church bell ringing 7am, and Karen cooked pancakes whilst I fiddled with the bike. We geared up and took the last 20km of the D42 into the lakes, a twisty ride that passed a few small villages before entering the lush forest that surrounds the lake system.
At the carpark I followed a few other riders as they snuck past a barrier, and then we offloaded our helmets and jackets before having a cheeseburger for lunch at the entrance to the park. We had to change some euros to Croatian kuna before we could buy our entrance tickets (110 kuna each, so maybe AU$20) and as we lined up a couple with two ginormous black dogs queued behind us, and they were very friendly (the people, and especially the dogs 🙂 )
The park and its lake system is amazing. Karen snapped heaps of great photos and will upload some asap, and in the meantime you can either Google Plitvice Lakes or go to the official website at www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr
I didn’t really know what to expect, as I had only skimmed Collette Coleman’s description of the lakes in her scenic ride suggestion “Slovenian Highlands and Croatian Coast”, but a breathtaking photo of the lakes in the book had caught my eye, and in real life the lakes were even more amazing to see.
There are numerous walks around the lakes, and whilst we opted for the scenic 3-4 hour walk, I managed to take a wrong-turn which added a lot more trekking to our walk, but which allowed us to see some amazing waterfalls. The lakes are tiered and higher lakes cascade into the lower lakes via waterfalls. A network of wooden walkways and forest paths, supplemented via an electric ferry and a small bus system enables people to access the lakes.
The waters of the lakes was so crystal clear you could see right to the bottom – check out Karen’s photos. I’d read that the park has brown bears in it and there were numerous warnings, but we didn’t see any bears. We did however feel a bit like David Attenborough as we photographed some blue dragon flys flitting around some of the water plants at one of the higher lakes.
We finished our walk after about five hours and had a pleasant ride back to our apartmen, stopping to buy some honey from a young girl working a little stall out the front of her home and seeing a young red deer on the road in front of us, before it dashed into the long grass.
A great day out, and with home cooked bacon and eggs for dinner, a great evening ahead 🙂