Plitvice Lakes National Park (World Heritage)

According to hyperrestaurant, the approximately 297 km² national park in the border area to Bosnia-Herzegovina includes a beautiful limestone sinter landscape with terraces and barriers as well as numerous lakes and waterfalls. The lakes with their crystal clear water are lined up like pearls on a chain. They are connected by waterfalls. Much of the national park is covered by forest, which is home to deer, lynx, wild cats, brown bears and wolves. The impressive landscape was the scene of numerous Karl May films in the 1960s.

Plitvice Lakes National Park: facts

Official title: Plitvice Lakes National Park
Natural monument: Plitvička jezera national park since 1949; 192 km², altitudes between 1417 and 1280 m; the Plitvice Plateau (650-700 m) between Lička Plješevica (1640 m), Mala Kapela (1280 m) and Medvedjak (884 m) and cut by the Korana River; Limestone and dolomite formation with 16 lakes, created by the deposition of calcium carbonate in the interplay of moss, algae and bacteria; waterfalls up to 80 m high; since 1996 resurgence of tourism
Continent: Europe
Country: Croatia
Location: south of Karlovac, in the border area with Bosnia-Herzegovina
Appointment: 1979; because of armed conflicts between Croats and Serbs in the national park from 1992 to 1997 on the red list of endangered world heritage
Meaning: Limestone and dolomite formation with travertine formation and habitat of the wolf and brown bear, which have become rare in Europe
Flora and fauna: Mixed forest area, with 72.8% predominantly birch trees, followed by spruce and pine trees, on limestone formations also maple and willow; in alpine niches spruce and birch with juniper stands; indigenous protected plants such as the foam herb species Cardamine chelidonia, the lady’s slipper species Cypripedium and the Primula kitaibeliana, which belongs to the primrose family, as well as the daphne blagayana; Home to the European brown bear and wolf, 126 species of birds, including the eagle owl

Biodynamic karst water

Surrounded by humid primeval forests, between the mountain ranges of Plješevica and Mala Kapela lies a chain of lakes in a basin, which are connected step by step by foaming waterfalls plunging into the depths. In the headwaters of the Korana there are water-dissolved minerals in the streams, which are gradually deposited on fallen trees, mosses and aquatic plants, especially in the shallow water of the overflow points between the lakes. In this way, hard calcareous sinters – called “travertine” – have been created over thousands of years, which pile up here and there to form meter-high, natural dams, over which blue-green water rushes down into the depths. Since these obstacles continue to increase by one to three centimeters every year, the water must always find a new path over the growing stone. In this dynamic creative process of nature, waterfalls and lakes arise and disappear. On the edge of the roaring masses of water, huge structures of moss spread out, covering the ground as green velvet carpets or hanging down from branches as artfully tied braids.

Depending on the light conditions, the lakes not only appear blue-green, but sometimes also dark blue or bright turquoise. The bottom of the lakes is almost completely covered with a loose, light layer of chalk mud. Against this background, trout and crayfish can still be seen well in the nutrient-poor water, even at greater depths. The crystal-clear Plitvice Lakes also offer a view of “petrified trees” that are wrapped in a limestone mantle in numerous places.

In winter the waterfalls solidify into turquoise icicles. Then you can also discover cascades that are hidden behind the thick leaves of alders and willows for the rest of the year. In addition to the rushing waterfalls, the high forest with its small, wild watercourses is another attraction of the national park. Many of these brooks disappear after only a few meters in the mysterious depths of the porous limestone subsoil, only to come back into daylight far away. Burglaries, so-called »sinkholes«, have created a landscape with »karstified craters«. Due to the large amount of rainfall spread over the entire year, a dense mixed forest of beech, fir, spruce, maple and ash could develop around the chain of lakes on limestone or dolomite-containing soil. In some places a primeval forest with fir trees up to 50 meters high has been preserved. There, majestic tree giants fight for light at dizzying heights, while mushrooms, ferns and young trees try to find nutrients and support on fallen tree trunks. In the midst of these quiet forests lie colorful mountain meadows, on which a lively flock of birds chirps loudly and crickets chirp in many voices during spring and summer. A single fox makes unexpected leaps in the air on his foray, having just tracked down a mouse that can no longer escape him. Deer graze peacefully as the evening begins. A pack of wild boars passes by while otters indulge in their lovemaking. Badgers and wild cats also roam their territories.

During the war from 1991 to 1995 – during this time access to the national park was not possible – the Plitvice Lakes were ruled by Krajina Serbs. Hotels, ferries and some of the existing boardwalks that provide access to much of the lakes have been destroyed. However, nature remained largely unscathed. As in previous years, when a million visitors crowded around the lakes, animals and plants were left to their own devices in the chaos of war.

Plitvice Lakes National Park (World Heritage)