Best Slap Ever

Trip Start Jun 08, 2010
Trip End Aug 26, 2010

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On my trip so far, I've seen many waterfalls, or "slap" in Slavic languages, but this morning I saw the best of them all. I went hiking at Plitvice Lakes (Plitvička jezera) National Park. The center of the park is a series of lakes connected by abundant waterfalls. Unlike a certain valley in Switzerland, I'm pretty sure you could count 72 individual falls if you tried.

Most of the falls were relatively short, but broad and with a lot of character. The most striking, however, was the Veliki Slap (Big Waterfall). Although it dumped into the main series of lakes, unlike the other falls it was fed by a stream instead of a lake. Veliki Slap was both tall and composed of many tendrils of water, criss-crossing the rock face as they descended. I liked the setting of the waterfall near Kobarid, but this one had a good setting and a good shape.

I was fortunately enough to chose a path to Veliki Slap that allowed me to see it in the morning, when it was well illuminated by the sun. The main series of park hiking trails wound around the lake, and the staff had marked out a series of suggested circuits from each of the two park gates. I chose to start from the north gate, which happened to be closest to Veliki Slap.

After Veliki Slap, the rest of the falls were still beautiful, but more tame. A combination of boardwalks and well-trod dirt paths led across and around the lakes. It kind of reminded me of Yellowstone National Park, but instead of following a boardwalk over crystal clear pools of water fed by thermal springs, I followed a boardwalk over crystal clear pools of water fed by waterfalls.

Although there were several "bear crossing" signs in the park, none joined me on my hike today. There were tons of fish, I really just wanted to reach down and pull one out of the water for some reason, and a few ducks. Out of the water were numerous dragonflies, birds and one timid snake. I even saw what appeared to be a fly disguised as a bee. It landed on my hand while I was trying to take a picture, so I had several seconds to examine it closely to determine despite it's coloring it was not a bee, and could therefore be safely shooed away.

My only misstep was in my initial choice of path. I originally chose the longest path, involving the most walking and the most estimated time, path K, because I assumed you would get to see the larges portion of the lakes. Unfortunately, path K quickly proceeded to climb away from the lake and wander to a handful of "scenic viewpoints" high in the hills above. The path was far enough back from the edge that mainly you just saw a lot of trees. As it was Plitvice Lakes National Park, not Plitvice Trees High Above the Lakes National Park, I switched to the shorter but more lake- and waterfall-filled path C as soon as I got the chance.

In other news, I saw a Croatian speed trap today. I don't know if it was fair to call it a speed trap, but there were cops pulling people over (or at least scaring them with radar guns) at the edge of one of the small towns around here. I'm actually surprised I haven't seen more of it. You've got decent sized roads running through a series of towns where you have to slow down to 50 kph (about 30 mph). If Croatia were West Texas, there'd be a cop hiding at the edge of every town. Interestingly, I noticed the car behind me flashing his lights at on-coming cars to warn them, so I guess some things are universal.

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