It’s universally accepted that the hallmark of any good national park is resplendent natural beauty. They’ve all got it in some form or another. But what sets the ‘great’ national parks apart from the merely ‘good’ national parks? Put that question to a group of people, and you’ll likely find that the consensus immediately splinters. To me, a great national park is one that is not only resplendent in natural beauty, but that is also unique in that natural beauty. A lot of the good national parks that I’ve visited fall short of meeting second limb of that test. Croatia’s Plitvice National Park is not one of those national parks. Plitvice National Park is a great national park.
Plitvice offers lakes with clear blue water, undulating terrain that provides plenty of scenic viewpoints, and countless beautiful waterfalls. Let’s face it, people of all ages, races and backgrounds are suckers for waterfalls. So that’s a big tick for resplendent natural beauty. Plitvice’s ‘unique’ character is not earned by any one site. There is no one corner to turn that’ll stop you dead in your tracks, or drop your jaw all at once. Instead, Plitvice’s uniqueness is more holistic.
The park is built around a system of eight lakes, each surprisingly large, that fall suddenly and dramatically from one to the other. Each lake bookended by 15-20 metre high walls of falling water, stretching more than a hundred metres across in some places. The feat would be a noteworthy quirk of nature if the lakes only numbered two or three. But there’s EIGHT. I’ll leave it to someone more qualified in hydrology than myself to explain why the Plitvice Lakes came to be, but in my layperson role, I’ll happily just throw their genesis into the ‘miracle of nature’ basket, and while I’m at it, place Plitvice National Park decisively into the ‘Great National Parks’ basket too.
– words by Andy