Travertine – a lime stone deposit from mineral springs.
Situated three hours North of Split, on the Bosnia-Herzegovina border is the mesmerizing natural wonder and UNESCO protected – Plitvice Lakes National Park. Over thousands of years, deposited Travertine build-ups have formed dams which gave life to over sixteen natural lakes. The iconic turquoise water is so brilliant because the lake bottom lacks mud and contain minerals which form the Travertine. The park protects about 73,000 acres worth of untouched wilderness. A wilderness so dense that the park is home to wolves, bears, lynx, and polecats (wild ferrets).
As I was staying in Split, I actually booked a tour which worked out better in the long run. It’s about a three-hour drive north of Split. There are many options to get to Plitvice: buses, tours, car rentals. It depends on how long and how far you would like to hike.
If you go during the slow season the entrance fee is about 55 kuna or $8. Sounds great right? In peak season be prepared to dodge crowds and pay up to 180 kunas or $26. If you drive, parking is $7 per hour. Be sure to keep your ticket on you at all times and handy if you wish to take a ferry. The wooden bridges are fairly wide but, be prepared to negotiate space.
Bring water and a snack. I wouldn’t spend money in the park unless absolutely necessary. With that said, there is a bar located in the center of the park.
Swimming is STRICTLY prohibited. Just like touching stalactites in caves, skin oils and acidity can harm the natural process of Travertine forming. As tempting as it may be, keep out of the water.
Some of the deeper lakes are about 44m (144ft) but, its hard to tell because the water is so clear. The creation story of the lakes tells of villagers who experienced a terrible drought. They prayed to the Black Queen (or witch, depending on the storyteller) to help them. She sent rains and storms to fill the river beds back up. She then told them to protect the area and guard it from being destroyed. In 1949 UNESCO protected the area!
Here is my happy spot of the day! Peering over a railing you can see how the river snakes through the valley and the terraces that the Travertine forms.
There are many fish to see! The most common being Brown Trout. They float calmly in the shallows and feed on food that travels down the river.
Nearly all of the trails are bridges to take you through the complicated system of waterfalls and streams. Pay attention: there are no rails and sometimes it’s hard to see steps. Especially, hard to miss while taking in the beauty.
All in all, you don’t have to do much chasing. Rather the waterfalls chase you. Please go see Plitvice Lake National Park. Nature lover or not, the area will get your attention!
Your Cobweb Clearer, Kate
Make a day of hiking in Marjan Forest Park. Experience history, feeling-inducing panoramic views and quaint beaches for swimming and soaking up the rays. It’s the ultimate outdoor day trip just minutes from Split center. I asked the girl running the apartment building where I could find hiking and history fixes. She looked surprised “nobody has asked me for those recommendations, I’m usually asked about beaches and drinking”. In other words:
Day 1: The first trip into Marjan I rented a bike for a few hours. I picked my way around the peninsula stopping occasionally to peer into the tide pools. The goal was to find an octopus. The sea came up empty-handed but, I did score another Abalone shell! It’s about seven times smaller than my California Abalone but, it’s incredibly iridescent. The entire park takes a leisurely 45-50 minutes to bike so, be sure to stop at all the beaches. Each one has unique features. Don’t forget to bring a lunch.
Where I wanted to be was on the upper terraces, from one of the beaches I spotted caves? Bunkers? Whatever they were my interest was peaked. There was no chance in hell I was hauling my bike up the steep incline so, another day.
Day 2: Bound and determined to explore those caves, I started on foot back up the hill. Marjan Park is terraced so, the summit is a much higher elevation than the peninsula where the beaches are. Switchback paths lead you back down the cliffs. The dense forest at the top of the terrace was shady and offered fantastic views of both Split and nearby islands.
There were a curious amount of rock walls that lined trails and were randomly in the woods. As I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch-land so, walls like this are appealing. I wonder, why?
Finally, I found the path to the ‘caves’. Turns out one is a 16th-century church (St. Jerome) and the other is a hermitage built into the rock face. You can imagine my frustration when I realized all of the doors were locked. Ugh.
Upon further research, the churches are rarely open and only used for special Catholic holidays. Don’t be dissuaded. These sites are spectacular and the view is even better!
Bike Rental: 60 Kuna for 6 hours = 9 USD for 6 hours
Pack a picnic!
Remember to bring water, it’s hot in the middle of the day.
Your Cobweb Clearer, Kate
Day 4: Today is a day for history. Stroll around old town Oslo and admire the cobbled streets.