JenSop: The Singing Travel Pro!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

Plitvice Lakes in January – A Wintery Fairyland!

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Plitvice Lakes in January: A Wintery Fairyland!

A few days ago, Miloš and I went to Plitvice Lakes National Park.  If you recall, we visited Plitvice last year on a particularly warm day in late March.  (CLICK HERE TO READ THAT BLOG POST.)  But we had also seen pics of it covered in ice and snow, and we simply had to see it that way in person!

Initially, we planned on going for my birthday, but the forecast showed warm temperatures and a chance of rain.  Not a flake of snow would be in sight.  (And who wants to go hiking in the rain?) 

However, we kept an eye on the forecast and saw that the weekend would bring that area of Croatia a nice coating of snow, with temperatures cold enough to keep it on the ground.

Plitvice is a little over two hours away.  It’s further inland and at a higher elevation than Miloš’ seaside town.  Because of that, we rented an SUV with four-wheel drive – just for the day.  We wanted to make sure we didn’t get stuck anywhere.  Plus, Croatia (and many other European countries) have strict regulations when it comes to tires during the winter.  We needed something that would be compliant with the law and get us there safely.

We set out in the late morning – a little later than expected due to some other unforeseen circumstances.  When we left, it was a mild sunny day in Crikvenica.  We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best!

Sunny day by the sea

Sunny day by the sea

Along the road, heading up the mountain

Along the road, heading up the mountain

Passing a village church

Passing a village church

Part of the drive involves going over the mountains; navigating sharp turns and tricky roads.  (Miloš drove there and I drove back. Needless to say, I took those curves on the mountain road VERY slowly.)

We got a bit past the mountain and were feeling a tad discouraged, as there wasn’t really a lot of snow.  I mean, there was a dusting on the ground, but nothing on the trees.  We decided though, that even if the park didn’t look exactly like we wanted it to, we’d still have a great day together at a wonderful place.

As we got closer to the Plitvice area, there was more and more snow.  I’m talking SNOW.  We didn’t want to jinx it, but we were feeling pretty good about it…

Well, let’s just say that EVERYTHING we had hoped for as far as snow at Plitvice, we got!  And then some!  I don’t even know how to describe it.  Photos do not do it justice.  It was quite honestly and truly a winter fairy land.  Simply magical!

Time was of the essence, as it was already past 1:00pm and the park would be closing at 4:00pm.  We were informed when we bought our tickets into the park that the last boat was at 3:00pm, and the last “train” at 3:30pm.  (At Plitvice, the main trail takes you past some of the most amazing well-known falls and lakes. Then you catch a boat that takes you across the lake to another section.  If you have more time, there are other trails to explore from there.  (And even more sections of the park are open during the warmer months.)   There is also a “train” vehicle that picks you up near the boat drop-off and drives you back near the entrance of the park.

Let me first just show you some of the sights that awaited us when we entered the park…

Entrance of Plitvice

Entrance of Plitvice

Plitvice Water Falls

Plitvice Water Falls

Finishing my sandwich by the magnificent view

Finishing my sandwich by the magnificent view

One of the uncountable amazing views

One of the uncountable amazing views

Heading further downs the mountain side

Heading further downs the mountain side

Looking down at the lakes below the falls

Looking down at the lakes below the falls

 

Miloš hiking down the trail

Miloš hiking down the trail

The trail below that takes you across the water

The trail below that takes you across the water

Layers of Lakes

Layers of Lakes

 

We hiked down the first section of trail that leads down to the first main water level.  There are then wooden walkways that lead you right across the water.  Because of the snow (and some ice), sections of the walkways were a bit slippery.  We had to move very cautiously, as there was no way either of us was going to fall in!  We even trekked over to the main high falls.  The walk way here was even more treacherous, as the waterfall actually flows over parts of the walkway.  Someone had laid down some rocks to help people avoid getting wet feet in the freezing temperatures.

The water is such an amazing color!

The water is such an amazing color!

Milos carefully crossing the lake.

Milos carefully crossing the lake.

Looking down from the waterfall to the lake below

Looking down from the waterfall to the lake below

All the branches were covered in ice or snow

All the branches were covered in ice or snow

A view of the main high falls

A view of the main high falls

Milos and the falls!

Milos and the falls!

Jen the Croatian Travel Expert!

Jen the Croatian Travel Expert!

Closer view of the falls

Walking back up the precarious walkway from the falls

Walking back up the precarious walkway from the falls

Another view from the top of the falls

Another view from the top of the falls

 

 

Milos at the edge of the falls

Milos at the edge of the falls

Once we got back on the primary trail, only amazing sites awaited us.  Plitvice is breathtakingly beautiful in the sunny warm weather, but it’s just as stunning covered in snow and ice.  All afternoon, a light flurry fell upon us, adding to the juxtaposition of still quiet areas interspersed with rushing water falls.  We couldn’t have asked for better.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.  (And for the record, all photos were taken by either my iPhone 5S, Milos’ Samsung Galaxy S4, or my Canon point and shoot camera.  All photos are original files with no filters or editing applied.  What you see is the real deal!)

We made it to the boat dock around 2:40pm, well in advance of the 3:00pm sailing. 

Waiting for the boat - look how clear the water is.

Waiting for the boat – look how clear the water is.

Another great shot that shows just how pristine the water is here

Another great shot that shows just how pristine and clear the water is here

 

View of the edge of the boat dock

View of the edge of the boat dock

Crossing the lake on the boat

Crossing the lake on the boat

Crossing the lake on the boat

Crossing the lake on the boat

Looking across the lake

Looking across the lake – notice how white the trees are with snow up on the mountainside 

The area we got to explore back in March, but weren't able to see on this trip

The area we got to explore back in March, but weren’t able to see on this trip

The boat ride takes about 15 minutes.  We could see layer after layer of snow covered trees.  There were loons swimming on the lake, and even more clustered on two of the trees next to the water.  We really wished we had had time to get over to the other section that we started to explore last year, but there just wasn’t time on this visit.  We had to continue on with the rest of the folks and make our way up the hill to the “train” stop.

Instead of a tram looking vehicle like in the summer, we boarded something that looked like a small bus on super sized tires.  We were driven back to the trail above the lake for the final twenty minutes of our hike.

This upper trail gives you amazing views of the lakes and falls below, with strategically placed look-out areas where you can take in the sights and get some fantastic photos.   We were able to have someone get our pic for us at the first look out.

Once we got to the second look out area, we started to have a visitor who got closer and closer.  At first, we were just excited that this little bird was flying and hopping right near us.  He had no fear and seemed genuinely friendly.  He seemed to be getting closer to check us out.

I guess we passed his test because before long, this happened:

 

That was so awesome!

That was so awesome!

 

After landing on me, he landed on Milos

After landing on me, he landed on Milos

All we had as far as food was a candy bar, so we tore a little bit off for Chirpy

All we had as far as food was a candy bar, so we tore a little bit off for Chirpy

It was unreal!  I felt like I was a princess in a cartoon Disney movie!  It hindsight, we should have gotten video.  But in the moment, we were just so taken aback by this adorable little bird!

After hiking along past that point, our happy mood was lifted even higher to pure giddy elation!  What an experience!  What a day this was!

We took more photos along this hiking trail area.  Here are some more of our pics from this last stretch…

Croatia Travel Expert at Plitvice Lakes

By the late afternoon, the sun was trying to peak out - just enough to cast a pink glow over the entire landscape

By the late afternoon, the sun was trying to peak out – just enough to cast a pink glow over the entire landscape

As we approached the end, we could see that late afternoon sun trying to peak a bit through the clouds.  As a result, it cast a rosy glow over all of nature’s white canvas. 

But alas, it was time to head back home for the day.  We came across this charming little snow family as we walked back to the park’s main entrance. 

Overall, our day was just about perfect.  We got just the exact snow cover that we had hoped for, and an amazing visit from one of the park’s little residents.  Our goal is still to return to Plitvice and stay overnight, so that we can have more time to explore the park and all of its trail and waterfalls.  There’s so much more to see – I can’t wait!

***A few tips for your own visit to Plitvice:

Dress accordingly.  In the winter, it gets cold.  I also advise bringing some supplies – some water and snacks and dry clothes to keep in your car just in case you get wet.  Your footwear should also be adequate enough to keep your feet warm and dry, and help you navigate slippery and uneven terrain.  Also, it’s not the USA – there aren’t safety railings next to the pathways – travel at your own risk.

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Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And this year, I've started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm engaged to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

5 thoughts on “Plitvice Lakes in January – A Wintery Fairyland!

  1. Pingback: Croatian Vacation Info | JenSop: The Singing Travel Agent!

  2. Nice looking woman, great singer, bird on her finger…where have you been Mary Poppins?! 😉
    What a beautiful place to visit and fantastic pictures. I enjoyed it very much.

  3. Pingback: Day trip to Rovinj, Croatia | JenSop: The Singing Travel Agent!

  4. Pingback: Croatia: Suggested Itineraries | JenSop: The Singing Travel Agent!

  5. Pingback: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia – Fall 2016 | JenSop: The Singing Travel Pro!

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