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plitvicei tavak télen

Plitvice Lakes and the frozen world

With March 21, spring officially begins and for all and nature starts its conquering green journey. As a winter ousting, I brought you the story of a short trip to Plitvice, where the ice was still in charge when I was there recently. I think there are not too many people who travel 14 hours in one day for the sake of a World Heritage Site, all during wintertime. Yet I gave my head to this because I found a coupon, which advertised a bus trip to the Plitvice Lakes for a small amount of money. Honestly, I’m not a fan of group travels because I prefer to explore things at my own pace, yet now I was tempted to go on this tour of Croatia. In the space of one day, I trvalled1,000 kilometers, and then I walked 15 km in minus 10 degrees on the spot just to see the World Heritage Plitvice Lakes locked in ice. The ice magic atmosphere at the end of January, which also included the Hungarian press, had subsided a little by the end of February, but the multitude of waterfalls and baboons plunging between icicle skating still provided an impressive view.

Plitvice Lakes was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979, making it one of Europe’s oldest protected sites. The national park, which has nearly 30,000 hectares, includes 16 turquoise lakes and countless waterfalls. The most famous of them is the Veliki slep, that is, the large waterfall, which, with its height of 78 meters, is considered not only the largest waterfall in the park, but also in the whole of Croatia.

The park is visited by a record number of tourists year by year (1.7 million in 2018) and in summer it is practically impossible to move, the park is so crowded. However, in winter, thanks to the pungent cold, fortunately very few tourists are tempted to visit the park, so we could admire the waterfalls in the wooded mountains undisturbed. Sure enough, I put on three layers of clothes and even put on my two-finger gloves bought in Iceland, which is stove-warm and served me very well in the extreme cold before.


But despite all the precautions, I felt like my fingers were freezing when I took off my protective clothing for a photo or put my jacket aside not to look like a snowman in the photos. In cold weather, my good advice: if you feel like your fingers are frozen, never try to heat it up by a fireplace or let lukewarm water on it, because they swell like sausages, all accompanied by burning pain. Personal experience, I tried and it was unwise.

80% of the park is covered by wild forests, which are home to protected species such as bears and wolves. Luckily, we didn’t meet any of them, just the ducks swimming on the lake. They didn’t feel cold at minus 8 degrees, and they were cheerfully sunbathing on the surface of the lake, which played in the colors of azure and turquoise.

Speaking about at the lakes, there is a ferry in the park, which can be used free of charge with the purchased ticket to reach the more distant waterfalls. As long as it’s said it doesn’t operate to the upper parts of the park, because it’s closed during the winter. Luckily  I went on the tour with my fellows who were not distracted away from walking down an 8km road, which the local officer said was closed too. 98% of the bus team accepted the explanation but not me.  I didn’t travel 1,000 kilometers to see a 78-meter waterfall and not be able to go up to the rest of the park. If there’s ice armor or rock collapses or any natural dangers on the way, we’ll turn back at best, but at least give it a try. And how well we did!

The closure was caused by minor damage to the asphalt on one side of the road, and the entire upper part of the park was declared inaccessible. So it happened that it was an adventurous and off the beaten road, but eventually, we made it and reached the ice-locked wonderland. Where the water slowly trickles through icicle in all colors of blue and where the sun’s rays were still weak, but persistently proclaimed that it was the end of winter.

In exchange for our efforts, nature seemed to want to send a message. In front of one of the waterfalls, a rainbow came out, and when I saw it, I began humming the song to myself:

“Oh, somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
Clouds high over the rainbow, makes all your dreams come true

… That’s where you’ll find me”

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