Starting point: Park entrance Rastovača, large (paid) parking lot [Plitvička jezera – Karlovac]
Time: 3½ hours (excl. boat trip and bus transfer)
Difficulty rating: 2
Details: Good (mountain) paths in a forested area. A lot across paths made of wooden beams (slippery under wet circumstances!). Sometimes a steep climb or descent. The described route (total walking distance 10,5km) is a combination of routes which are available in the National Park. Take into account the departure times of both boat and bus!
Important: the Plitvice Lakes are loved throughout the world; it attracts tourists by the thousands, especially in the summer months! Our tip is to get an early a start as possible to stay ahead of the large masses. The park officially opens at 08.00h, yet we were already ‘inside’ at 07.45h.
From the parking lot we walk towards the Plitvice Lakes National Park entrance via a bridge. Pay attention: access isn’t free. But included in the entrance fee (max. 180 Kuna for adults, converted about €24,-) are both bus and boat transfer – which we will use during our trip through the national park.
Once we pass the entrance we steeply descend in a few hairpin turns across a good path. During the descent you have a direct view on one of the highest waterfalls in the park and the lake Novakovića brod. Once we reach the water we keep to the right so we can get closer to the large waterfall.
Shortly before the large waterfall a path ascends to our left, under a pass in the rocks and then several steps. Eventually we continue walking high above the waterfall past the western mountain ridge. A second viewpoint of the large waterfall follows, but afterwards we continue walking in southern direction. At several locations we have a gorgeous view across the large Kaluđerovac lake (which belongs to the Donja jezera (‘lower lakes’)).
After a while we reach an asphalted road. We follow it down with several turns towards the lake where there’s a large resting area. From here we take the boat. The boat (sailing time ~30 minutes across the Kozjak lake) takes us to the start of the Gornja jezera, also known as the ‘higher lakes’.
From here several route options are open to us. From the docking area we keep right first off and follow the route across several bridges and wooden plank paths crossing the many brooks and lakes. At the next fork in the road we go left (in southern direction) and keep walking past (the north western shore of) the Gradinsko lake. After some time; a y-fork in the road follows: we keep left here as well. A beautiful twisting route follows, alongside and over several small lakes and waterfalls.
After this come several options: we chose to walk “to the right” (north western shore) around the Galovac lake towards Malo jezero. Passing it, we take a left at a fork: the path passes past Veliko jezero and Batinovac. After Batinovac we take a right (south west) at the fork up towards the bus stop (also small food court, toilets, etc.).
Here we can make use of the bus connection to the lower located stops. In ~30 minutes we reach Plitvička jezera: from here we continue on foot, first down towards the lake and the docking area of the boat. Yet right before we reach it we go right (north) and follow the path past the eastern shore of the Kozjak lake. After passing it the Milanovac lake follows. Past the Šupljara cave we quickly reach the lake Novakovića brod. Here we go right ascending steeply to the entrance and the parking lot.
Done in 2012.