Arriving by bus into Plitvice Lakes was simpler than we had read. We just asked to the bus driver to stop at a different stop and they happily obliged. We jumped off, grabbed our bags and walked across the road to our guesthouse, House Smardzic. The bus drove off, and as it passed us on its way to Zadar, I realised my hat was still on it…. First loss of the trip!
We met the owner of the house, who was lovely but we unfortunately missed out on her home cooked meal as she was booked out. Thankfully there was only one place nearby that served food – our favourite – a Pizzeria! After our fourth pizza in 6 days, wed wandered back to our first room with an ensuite for a much needed shower and made our sandwiches for the next days breakfast and lunch.
We were up and 7am and wandered the “1km” down to the 2nd Entrance. With our backpacks it felt over double that distance but we arrived before everyone else, so were, thankfully, able to store the backpacks in 2 of the 8 provided lockers. We were even earlier than the ticket staff, so made our way to the centre of the lakes where they had opened and started by trekking from the middle of the lakes to the top of the Upper Lakes. Previously, we were advised to do it the opposite way, but the helpful guide told us to do it this way which was much better, as you walk towards the waterfalls, rather than away from them (Route C, for those playing at home).
Being so early, we basically had the entire park to ourselves so slowly meandered along the wooden walkways up towards the top. The lakes were beautiful – turquoise, yet crystal clear water, and what seemed infinite waterfalls that are constantly changing. Right towards the top, as we walked around a bend, we heard a noise. We hoped it was the Brown Bear we had heard so much about… but the bush was too small. We ventured further and noticed a speedy little creature running back and forth. It was cute little mouse that was called Alfred according to Sarah. It took us just over an hour to get to the top of the lakes, and we arrived just in time to take the shuttle train/truck thingy back down to the middle. When we arrived, it had gotten busy. We managed to get onto the boat that took us on a 15 minute ride to the other side of the large lake where there were hundreds of people waiting to go back in the opposite direction..
Although the Upper Lakes were stunning and the amount of people was considerably less, the Lower Lakes are the best. We saw a lot more fish, some crazy frogs with bubble cheeks, a snake swimming, and another trying to sleep in the reeds. The Lower Lakes had more waterfalls and better landscape, the only problem were the people. As we walked along the walkways, built for about two people wide, we would stumble upon school group after tour group, after school group who would take up the entire walkway, which made you start to think a) you were going to fall in, and b) how many people/children you were going to try and take with you! We thankfully survived and left the lakes as even more people arrived. We caught the shuttle train/truck thingy again, back to the middle of the lakes where we enjoyed our now hot and squashed ‘sambo’s’ before heading out to the bus stop to try and wave down a passing bus heading towards Split.
The previous day, our bus had pulled up at the 2nd entrance where there were ten people waiting to get on when there was only four seats, so we were a little worried that the bus would be full and we would be stranded in the middle of the National Park. When we got to the stop there was only one person waiting to go to Zadar, and when her bus arrived 20 minutes late, we waved it down and thought it will be a breeze when ours arrived – there was only two of us, after all. Then two more people arrived, and then four more, then finally there was about 20 people hoping to get on the bus. While we waited, a man in a van kept circling around and driving back and forth until he pulled up and said he could take us to Spilt two hours quicker for only 40kn more. We were sceptical, and when a couple of other lads said they were keen we said yes and he drove off to find some more people. He pulled up as the bus was due to arrive and we all climbed in making Wolf Creek references. We have always been told, don’t take lifts or candy from strangers, however, we had bought our own candy and he seemed nice. We headed off and after five minutes, he took a right turn as he “knew a shortcut”. The two young Aussie Lads slowly turned to each other and then to us as our driver looked in the mirror, laughed and said not to worry. He then turned on his stereo, cranked some ‘phat beats’ as we all fell asleep. We woke on a brand new highway overlooking a valley and the sea and as we passed a sign for Split, we all relaxed. He got us there in 2 hours less and much closer to all our hostels in much better comfort than the bus we may not of been able to get on. So all in all – a result!
Plitvice Lakes are amazing and definitely should be visited if you get the chance. As there isn’t much info about it, we thought we would add some pointers that would make it easier.
- Choose accommodation that is close to Entrance 2
- Find out what bus stop is nearest to your accommodation and ask the drivers to stop.
- Get to the 2nd Entrance first thing to secure a locker to store your bags (they were free)
- Take the Shuttle to down to Station No. 1 at the bottom of the Lower Lakes.
- Follow Route F (via the big waterfall) towards the Boat Stop. Do this first thing, as there will be less people.
- Take the boat to Point B and follow Route C all the way up to the top of the Upper Lakes (which would also have less people)
- Take the shuttle back down to the centre point and collect your bags for the bus. (All up, it should take about 4 hours)
- If you are waiting for a bus and guy called Mario in in a white Mercedes Van offers you a lift, take it, you are good to go!