Lost in the Lakes: Croatian Adventure Day 5

Okay, I’ll admit that the title is a bit misleading, but day two at the Plitvice Lakes was a bit of an adventure! Make sure to check out my first day at the lakes here.

I woke up that morning to find that there was pouring rain outside, much to my disappointment. I had breakfast in my room with some yogurt and fruit I’d bought at the supermarket the day before, and some instant coffee the hotel had provided. It was my one hotel that didn’t have a breakfast included (a priority for me when I choose places), but the location was just too good to pass up on without renting a car.

Now, I’d done a bit of research the day before, and realized with surprise that the upper lakes were closed for trail maintenance. Once again the off season was thwarting my plan. I probably should have chosen to do just one day at the lakes, but unfortunately it was too late to reschedule at that point, and with the limited hours it probably was good I had made sure to give myself enough time in the event of a delayed bus or some other problem.

I noted there were some other trails in the park, though perhaps not quite as impressive as the lakeside ones. So I opted to enjoy the lower lakes again in the morning, going backwards on the route I’d taken the day before to enjoy some different angles of viewing. And then after that I’d try to take a hike in the woods. With any luck I was hoping the rain would stop by that point.

After bundling up in my fleece and rain jacket, I headed out. I hiked down to the park, caught a shuttle over to entrance 1 and then proceeded to hike down into the canyon and enjoy the lakes.

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I was soaked by the end of my time there. The sun was peeking out, but I was feeling pretty cold. I opted to go get a cup of coffee at one of the cafes and relax there while drying off.

Once I felt a little warmer, I opted to try to do a hike. I took off into the woods, heading up hill. Supposedly I might get some views of the lakes from some of the nearby peaks. I figured I’d do the trail loop and then catch the shuttle back to the entrance.


Of course, as I started up the hill rain started again. I debated turning around, but hoped maybe it would clear off.

The trail had a few painted markers on the trees, which I hoped would keep me from getting lost. I had noted as I continued hiking, I didn’t see any other people or signs that anyone else was hiking the trail.

As I headed up I kept waiting to reach a switch back that would take me further up the mountain. But I kept hiking straight ahead and had no sign of a switchback.

Now, not going to lie, I definitely started thinking of worse case scenarios. But I kept it together and realized maybe it was time to just turn around and head back. The trail was getting rougher, and I figured it was better to go back while I could still tell which direction to go.

Once I had gone a ways I did find my way back to the real trail. I had completely missed the switchback and kept going straight on what was probably an animal trail, or maybe just a route other people have taken that isn’t official. I started heading up the trail. It was still sprinkling off and on. I’d been hoping to have a picnic lunch at some point, but with the continued rain, I opted against it and just had some trail mix.

I reached the summit. Unfortunately I didn’t get a view of the lakes which I’d been hoping for, but still felt pretty accomplished.


I enjoyed the view before looking at the time and realizing I would be pretty rushed if I wanted to get all the way back down in time to catch a shuttle before the park closed at four. The whole getting lost and off the trail had cost me some time. With a heavy heart, I opted to just head back down the same way I’d come.

Thankfully I didn’t lose my way a second time. I got back down to where I’d started safely and then hiked back to my hotel.

I relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and then went to the bistro in my town for dinner again. Unfortunately, there really weren’t any other good choices.

I had a burger made from a local type of cow and with some unique cheese and toppings. It wasn’t great, but again filling and different.

Then off to bed from there, excited for another amazing day ahead.


Off to the Lakes: Croatia Day 4

From Split I had planned to head to another one of Croatia’s most famous places. Now, before I picked up some local guide books, I’d never heard of it. But it turns out it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and pretty famous place in the country. Pictures of it made me eager to make it a stop on my trip. Which was how I ended up heading to Plitvice Lakes National Park.

For those like me who have never heard of it, let me just tell you it’s a beautiful natural area with sixteen lakes that cascade through a limestone canyon. The park provides several trails and boardwalks around the lakes, shuttle service, and boats to get across sections.

Of course, first I had to get to the park, which is inland. So I caught a bus from Split heading in that direction, enjoying the beautiful countryside along the way. The company I used was a smaller Croatian company called Promet Makarska. It was the only time I used their service, which I ended up being very glad of. They made several stops along the way with breaks. Which was nice for using the bathroom or grabbing food if you wanted, but did result in the trip taking longer than I’d expected. And of course, being the off season the park closed at 4, not letting anyone in after 3 PM.


The only good news was the bus staff were very kind. I knew my hotel was slightly outside of the park in a town called Mukinje. It was a slight walk to the park, meaning if the bus dropped me off in the park, I’d have to walk back to my hotel, and then back to the park again. Which was unlikely to happen in the amount of time I had. But, when I asked the staff if it was possible to stop in Mukinje instead they very kindly agreed and even warned me when my stop came.

I walked to my room for the night which was Eva Luxury Rooms & Apartments. I met with the owner who let me in and then dumped my stuff as quickly as I could, grabbing what I thought I’d need for my time in the park and then took off running hoping to make it to the entrance before 3. It was probably around 2:30 by that time.

To my relief, the walk was mostly downhill, so I was able to go quickly and arrived in time to show my two day ticket I’d already purchased and get in the gate.

The weather was perfect. Sunny and clear. I was so unbelievably happy that I’d made it in time to spend a short time enjoying the natural beauty of the park.

I took one of the boats over to the far shore and began to work my way around the lower lakes. The lower ones have some of the more impressive parts, including the Veliki Slap (Great Waterfall), the biggest in the park.

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As someone whose last two trips had been to Colombia and Costa Rica, I wasn’t too sure how impressive the Veliki Slap might be. It’s definitely not the biggest waterfall I’d seen, but was still very beautiful and actually larger than I think I’d anticipated. The lakes themselves were crystalline, the canyon that housed them impressive. My only regret was that as it was early spring, most of the trees were still bare. I definitely hope to go back some day when things are more lush.

Having finished the trail, I caught a park shuttle from Entrance 1 back to Entrance 2, which was closer to my hotel. I then hiked back to my room and had a relaxing rest of the afternoon, doing some laundry and having some coffee.

Unfortunately options for dinner were extremely limited. Without a car I was forced to rely on what was nearby. The town I was in was puny, and while the park itself has a few restaurants, many were closed for the season, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to hike through the dark woods anyways.

So I settled on going to Bistro Vučnica one of the parks restaurants that was actually located in my town, and was supposed to be a little more budget than some of the other options.

I had pizza, which was at least filling and enjoyed a local lemon radler (beer with sparkling lemonade… it’s actually one of my favorite types of drinks). Though it was probably my most mediocre meal of the trip, I knew that that was part of the experience, and I was at the park to enjoy the nature rather than the culture like some of the other places I’d chosen.

From the restaurant I headed back for some good sleep, exhausted from all my hiking. I was excited for another day ahead enjoying the beauty of Croatia’s natural wonders.