Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes is a national park in Croatia in its central part. The park is unique for the structure of its mountains, which are made of limestone. The waters of the Koran River and 30 other smaller rivers, groundwater and rainwater wash away limestone over thousands of years, coming out into a large number of streams and channels, creating traventine dams that created cascades of wonderful waterfalls, caves, and lakes.
Water with dissolved carbonates gives the Plitvice Lakes their unusual color. The park is spread over an area of 297 km2 in a mountainous area with the highest point being Mount Mala Kapela (1280 meters).
According to scientists, the age of the lakes is over 4000 years, but nevertheless, the area was discovered only 400 years ago. Proščansko Lake is the largest lake; it is fed by the waters of the Crna and Bijela rivers. In the upper part of the Plitvice Lakes valley there are 12 lakes, the largest of which is Lake Kozjak, 46 meters deep and with an area of 82 hectares. The upper lakes end at the Great Falls, which falls into the canyon. In the canyon there are lower lakes, from which the Koran River is formed below. The total length of all lakes is 8 km, and they occupy an area of 2 km2.
In 1991, the park became the scene of fighting between Croats and Serbs. These events are known as "Plitvice Bloody Easter". During the Yugoslav War, there were armed conflicts in these places several times. Now the park, after demining, is safe for visitors.
Fauna and flora of Plitvice Lakes
In Plitvice Lakes Park it is also worth taking a walk through the untouched beech and fir forests, which are home to a huge number of animals, such as bear, fox, hare, marten, wolf, roe deer, hedgehog, and wild boar. There are also 120 species of birds in the park, and there are a large number of fish in the lakes that follow visitors in the hope of getting a treat. The walk will leave an unforgettable impression: the virginity of nature, clean air, clear emerald water, waterfalls, the amazing smell of flowers give a feeling of unity with nature.
Formation of waterfalls in the Plitvice Lakes
As water evaporates, it leaves behind crystals of calcium and magnesium, which turn into traventine stone over time. The formation of traventanes is facilitated by bacteria living in the lake, which during their life absorb carbonates, leaving behind mineral deposits. This process proceeds very quickly; within a year, a tree that has fallen into water will be completely covered with minerals and will gradually begin to turn to stone. Fallen branches and leaves block the water's path, forming traventine waterfalls, but nevertheless the water erodes them, bumping into new barriers and forming new waterfalls. Because of this, the appearance of the waterfalls changes almost every year.
The park is quite interesting for speleologists, as there are 20 caves on its territory and the most attractive of them are those located under the waterfalls. Among the caves, Šuplyara, Crna pečina, and Golubnyča are especially popular. The climate in Plitvice Lakes is different from the rest of the country, as it is located at the junction of the continental and maritime zones. The air here, even on a sunny day, is 3-5 °C cooler than on the coast. In the winter months there is a large amount of snow, and in January the lakes are covered with ice.
Plitvice Lakes Park is visited by more than 1,000,000 tourists every year. The Croatian authorities are trying in every possible way to preserve the unique nature of these places, for example, in the park you can move only by environmentally friendly modes of transport. Here, even ferries and pleasure boats run on electricity. It is also prohibited to swim in the park, bring dogs with you, or light a fire.