The Plitvice lakes are a beautiful almost-untouched section of natural Croatian forest almost spanning 20 hectares. There are 16 crystal clear lakes and quite possibly a hundred natural waterfalls (some as high as 20 meters). It’s a definite must-see destination if you’re visiting Croatia, even though it’s a little out of the way.

Lorna and I began our mission to the lakes from Rome, where we hopped on a plane to Trieste and stayed for one night with a lovely lady called Patrizia in her bed and breakfast style apartment called Venezian Luna Rossa B&B. The exact address is 2 Via Felice Venezian, Trieste. For $65 AU you get your own double-bedroom with a shared bathroom but you’re right in the middle of the action of the port-city. It’s only about a two-minute walk from the bus station toward the Maritime Museum. Here’s the view we had from the window.

The next day we caught three buses. One from the main bus port of Trieste at 8:30am to Rijeka, then a connecting bus to Karlovac, followed by a bus to Plitvice. It took about 5 to 6 hours to complete the trip, but eventually we arrived at a place called Entrance 1 in Plitvice.

Once we hopped off the bus at Entrance 1 we headed down the same road we’d just come from by foot, back towards Karlovac, for about 400 meters and we took the first right. The plan for the day was to find private accommodation and rest-up from the three bus trips. We followed the road until we got to a nice little village. We passed a couple of houses on the way, but eventually ended up at number 16, where we found a lovely lady named Milka. She owned a two-story house with three bedrooms available upstairs for $45 AU each night, including a double bed and shared bathroom. A small dog greeted us as we entered the property and tried to scare us off, but we found out her name was Mary and she’s not that scary at all. About ten meters to the left of Milka’s house was a wood-cabin which is a stand-alone complete little house with its own kitchen, bathroom, fireplace and balcony for $60 AU. This is what we were after. That night I wrote the first chapter of the second Silverbirch novel out on the front wooden-balcony area.

On day two in Piltvice we walked back to Entrance Number 1 in the morning. We walked up to the Park Entrance, paid our $22 AU and then prepared for a five-hour magical forest and waterfall tour. The price included all bus rides and a boat ride down the river. There are a few ways we could have gone to see everything, but we decided on the following…

First off, make sure you get a map from where you pay to get in. On the map you’ll see a series of numbered locations. Lorna and I decided to walk to Station number 1, which took about an hour, and then we hopped on the bus-train until Station 4. From Station 4 we walked to the ferry terminal called Port 2, or P2. This took about two hours and the surrounding environment was incredible. Everywhere you go over the park there are signs directing you to ST4, P2 etc… so just follow them. The Ferry from P2 takes you to P3, where you can walk back to Entrance 1 and then walk home. Make sure you’re at P2 before 5:00pm though, otherwise you’ll miss the last boat and be eaten by bears.

The whole Plitvice magical forest and waterfall tour took us about five hours and it rained the entire time. You’d think rain would make the journey absolutely suck, but it was in fact the opposite. I think it made the journey a little more enjoyable. We had an umbrella each and saw the rain forest in it’s natural habitat. The waterfalls were gushing and mega-loud and the wooden boardwalks were overflowing with rising water. The birds and unique orange-flecks-on-black-scales geckos were going nuts. We didn’t see any bears, but apparently they’re out there. Oh, I did see a bloody wolf though. On the second night, as I was continuing to write the next Silverbirch novel on the outside balcony of our little wooden house, a big-arse wolf approached the house looking for food. After I crapped my pants and noticed him crawling toward me, I bolted into the house and woke Lorna, declaring I was almost eaten alive. She was back asleep within about two minutes though.

Rob Kaay is an Australian author & musician.

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