3 days in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia part 3 (Plitvička Jezera)

Our European journey continues: Still in Croatia as there’s so much to see. The previous post can be found here: https://whereisgrandma.com/2022/05/25/croatia-part-2-zadar-ugljan-island-and-preko-the-european-adventure-continues/

Are you ready to be bombarded with waterfall pictures? I LOVE waterfalls! Plitvice was my main motivation for coming to Croatia in the first place and I finally made it! You really should go during the shoulder season. Tickets are cheaper and there are much fewer people there.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022. Another bus. This was another short one to Plitvice National Park, the place that had inspired my fascination with Croatia. The bus ride from Zadar was very scenic and become forested as we approached the park. We were confused as the driver breezed by what we thought would be our stop. When he stopped at park entrance 2 I asked what was the last stop? Mukinje. Oh cool. That’s us! He turned the bus around and dropped us off. The walk to the Guest House Slavica was about 10 minutes.

It was way too early to check in so we went for a walk to check out where we’ll be living for the next few days. There weren’t a lot of dinner options available, likely as it’s not high season so we opted to make dinner for ourselves since we had use of a kitchen. It’s always fun shopping at foreign grocery stores and figuring out how to make a meal. Pasta’s the easiest choice. It was pretty darn good and quite a bit cheaper than eating out. We also bought stuff to make sandwiches to take to the park. Admission is expensive enough. (Currently 300 kn for 2 days – about $55 CAD) I imagine food will be too.
We attempted to strategize how we’re going to see ALL of Plitvice National park and these two blogs came in really handy. Check them out if you’re planning a trip. https://www.earthtrekkers.com/how-to-visit-plitvice-lakes-travel-guide/
and https://misstourist.com/8-things-you-should-know-about-plitvice-lakes-croatia/#Here_is_how_to_get_to_the_secret_spot

Thursday. Our host works at the park so she graciously offered to drive us there, saving the 25 minute walk. We had a plan for the day that included taking the ferry to P3 and starting off walking to the big falls. That’s when the plan fell apart. The path to the “secret spot” was closed. Well poop. So we threw the plan out the window and just wandered, taking the ferry and the “train” when it happened to be in our path. Late afternoon we ended up back at P3 and found a road that took us to the “secret spot”. It lived up to the hype as that’s where the post card picture was taken.

Friday.
Again we started bright and early with a ride from our host to the park. Since we had a ticket we didn’t have to walk so far. Good thing as we had big plans for the day. We decided to follow route ‘K’ all day as that trail covers the whole park. No variations. Well, just one. We took an extra trail to see the secret spot again, just to make sure we saw it at the best time of day. It was decided that late afternoon has the best lighting. So, should you decide to go to Plitvice National Park, get to P3 (ferry port 3). Rather than take the trail to the big falls, take the road that goes up. You’ll kind of exit the park as you’ll go past entrance 3. Keep going until you cross a small bridge. There’s a mill on your right. Right after the bridge is a road to a restaurant on your left. On your right is a dirt path. It’s not signed and appears to lead nowhere but it actually takes you to a spot with the best view in the world. The trek fro P3 to the view point should take about 20 minutes.
The rest of the day we spent hiking ‘K’ trail with a few stops for lunch and a snack. Yesterday we packed a lunch but realized food prices in the park aren’t outrageous so today we just ate at the Bistro at P3. It was good too! The beauty of doing the longest trail in the park is that we ran into very few people. The only time there were others was when the trail intersected with some of the other popular trails.
By the time we were done for the day, we’d walked 26 km and about 40,000 steps. Since we were hot, sweaty and tired and didn’t feel like dinner we stopped at the grocery store and got a box of ice cream and some fresh strawberries. Voila. Dinner!

Saturday. Our only option if we wanted to visit Rastoke was to take the 6:50 am bus to Sunj. Why not? We’re awake early anyway so we did it. It was a little confusing but we found the river and followed it down the right side, viewing all kinds of beautiful waterfalls. Since it was still early the park in the village wasn’t open yet so we walked to Start Grad, supposedly an old city. The path along the river was nice but there was nothing to see but the ruins of some kind of round building. By the time we walked back the park was open. It was 40 kn to enter but it was worth it as you could visit a cave, a cute little fairy garden, and enjoy several waterfalls. Some have compared it to Plitvice. I wouldn’t go that far but it’s definitely worth a visit.

After some confusion as to where the bus stop was we headed back to Mukinje and spent the rest of the afternoon doing….not much. We were tired.

Next destination…. Lake Bled, Slovenia. More bus adventures! This time it will take 3 of them to get there.

I’m not sure 4 nights is necessary for Plitvice but if you have a day or two of bad weather, it’s nice to have the time.
Next stop, Lake Bled, Slovenia!

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