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We booked a day trip to the park with Viator from our base in Split, which even though it involved a 6am start, we were very excited about! In fact, even though this was only day 2 of the holiday, Andy had said that this is what he was looking forward to the most in Croatia.
As we were staying in Diocletian’s Palace we were picked up just outside the palace (as cars can’t access the palace) before starting our 3 and a half hour trip to the park. As it was a little early I wanted to doze, though the minibus really wasn’t that comfortable, despite being a VIP transfer. Andy was particularly uncomfortable as, being over 6 ft tall, he needed far more leg room that he had: in fact, even at a modest 5 ft 8, I was more squished than I would like and so couldn’t really drift off.
We arrived and were introduced to our fantastic guide and we were ready and raring to go!
We had our first glimpse of the park and I couldn’t wait to get going and see the beautiful lakes: but it was now that we realised the severe limitations of a group tour – you’ve got to wait for everyone at every step.
It was 12pm before we actually started our tour, which we were a little irked by as we had arrived at 11am, but – we were determined to enjoy our day!
You start by taking a short boat trip across one of the lakes to the starting point of the 1.5 mile trip round the upper lakes. Or I suppose you could row like one man seemed to be doing!
We were immediately struck by just how beautiful the area really is; as it’s a UNESCO protected site, you can’t change a thing – if a tree falls you’ve got to leave it exactly where it is, even if it blocks off a pathway.
The upper lakes have a beautiful deep blue colour – a sharp contrast to the turquoise of the lower lakes.
It really was as awe-inspiring as Pinterest would have you believe!
We happily wandered round the path oggling the beautiful waterfalls and admiring how beautiful this entirely natural place really is.
The waterfalls really were incredible: as I had seen a lot of incredible photos before our trip I wondered if they would really live up to the image that I had in my head – and well, we weren’t disappointed!
Just look at those colours!
We were soon at the bottom of the largest waterfall in the park: in fact, it’s so large that you can see it from miles away!
So you can imagine how loud it was standing at the bottom of it!
Unfortunately for us, we visited on quite a grey day, so I wasn’t as happy with my photographs, but that’s life isn’t it?
At the bottom of the waterfall we watched the water rush away onto the next waterfall, heading down into the lower lakes.
Isn’t it just an incredible sight?
Do you see what I mean about the trees? When they fall, they’re simply left where they are. It means that over the past decade or so, the pathways round the park have changed quite dramatically as some paths have become blocked and others have had to be made.
I’d love to go back in ten or twenty years and see what it’s like then!
Having explored the upper lakes, we made our way to the boat that would take us across to the lower lakes. Again, the downside of so many people meant that we were standing around, waiting about 40/45 minutes in a pack of people waiting to get the boat… Not really how I had pictured our day in this natural paradise.
We arrived and our group had a short 15 minute break: or so we thought – one man decided he would have a whole lunch, so we ended up waiting about half an hour for him… It was more than a little frustrating. As much as our tour was great, I really would recommend a private tour – hanging around for members of our group got very dull by the end of the day, and I often felt guilty if I wanted to hang back and take a photograph as I didn’t want to hold anyone up.
I’ve never seen water this colour – it was truly breathtaking.
There are four lower lakes, each a slightly different colour, which made for a wonderful walk. See if you can spot the four distinct colours in these photos!
By this point the weather was picking up a little so the light was even better, which made for some great photo opps!
We wandered along the path, watching the fish, ducks and other wildlife playing around and constantly marveling at the impressive colours that we were surrounded by.
Soon we were at the bottom of the lakes, which is also the site of the tallest waterfall.
At an impressive 88m tall it really is a monster of a waterfall!
We wandered back up the path, climbing back up to to the exit, taking in the last glimpses of the park and taking our final photos.
We clambered back into the minibus, expecting to be on our way home, but we had an unannounced detour to a restaurant, which no one on our tour seemed to want apart from our guides… After a long day I think we were all ready to head back to Split, so it was a little annoying to delay our departure.
It really is a magical place, though I would organise a private tour next time. You’ve got to visit the national park when you go to Croatia – but as I said, there’s a way to do it and a few things you need to know beforehand!