55 species of orchid grow on Plitvice Lakes

Author: Tanja Šimundić Bendić

A part of the appeal of the Plitvice Lakes, one of the most beautiful natural attractions in Europe, can be explained by the fact that their appearance keeps changing. We are not talking about all that water from rivers and streams that perpetually fills the lakes until freezing winter, when the entire landscape becomes covered in ice and thick snow.

The nature here lives fast lives: the water that brings life simultaneously both destroys and constructs, perpetually creating new barriers, waterfalls and cascades, as well as pushes and drills travertine barriers. This is why Plitvice Lakes are so special, which is best left to insiders to further elaborate.

They will tell you that this exceptionally popular national park, daily frequented by more than 10,000 people on the busiest summer months, is also home to some endemic orchid species. If you are lucky, you will see them on one of your Plitvice tours, where you will be clearly instructed to look at them and enjoy them, but never to touch them. Locals do everything they can to preserve Plitvice – and there are many reasons to do so.
– As many as 55 orchid species grow in the Plitvice Lakes area. August, when the temperatures are the highest, is the best time to enjoy their beauty and colourfulness. Sometimes we are lucky enough to stumble upon some of them on our sightseeing routes. However, the majority is located in Plitvice forests. Yes, we also have primary forest species here and Plitvice Lakes are really magnificently beautiful – said Anita Mesić, a tour guide from the “Orhideja” Agency, who took us on a virtual tour of the park’s beauty.

Swimming is forbidden

Even this virtual tour kept us excited. No matter how many times you visit, this excitement will never vane and this can be confirmed by all those people who come to visit Plitvice from all over the world. No matter where they come from, they all share one thing in common – a camera to capture as many shots of nature, waterfalls, springs, streams, travertine barriers…
– And animals, of course. The Japanese love to take photos of flowers and butterflies; their cameras are always turned towards plants. There are myriad different motives attracting people to this place. Many would like to take a swim during hot summer days, though. They are attracted to this gorgeous, crystal clear water with temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, forming a symbiosis with the surrounding nature, thus turning bright green and turquoise. However, swimming is not allowed in Plitvice Lakes National Park. Visitors don’t lose interest in Plitvice Lakes even in wintertime, when the temperature falls below -25 degrees Celsius. It’s hard to tell when it’s prettier – said the tour guide Ms. Mesić.
Still, in summertime, you can see a lot more as winter brings many slippery trails, closed bridges, frozen routes.  That is why summer is the best time to take advantage of a series of tours offered by different agencies as well as the National Park itself. You just need to evaluate your fitness level, whether you are capable of going on a several hours long walk, and then just embark on this adventure. The tours include a three-hour tour of Lower Lakes, a four-hour tour of Lower and a part of the Upper Lakes and a seven-hour tour of both the Lower and Upper Lakes. There is plenty to choose from, indeed: four lakes form the Lower Lakes, and 12 more the Upper Lakes. Trails are located all around so you can spend hours just walking around.

Lika potatoes are a must try

– Everything is connected by wooden bridges, which tourists love. Last summer, which was more like an autumn than a real summer due to lots of rain, some of the bridges were flooded. New ones are being built now so visitors could see more in autumn time. Plitvice Lakes are one of a kind – said Anita Mesić.
And we agree. They have special and fascinating natural beauty and exceptionally rich plant and animal life. With much luck, you can also see bears, wolves, lynxes in the woods and otters or crayfish in the lakes. On your tour, you can expect assistance and guidance from the National Park’s employees, such as the only female ranger on Plitvice, Katica Poljak, one of just several female rangers in Croatia.
You will not leave the table hungry when in Plitvice as there is an abundance of different kinds of specialities – you cannot leave without visiting the Lička Kuća restaurant where you have to try lamb, pork or veal prepared under the baking lid, as well as famous Lika potatoes. Desserts prepared by local women include poppy seed and walnut rolls, and the area is also famous for its cheese and honey. After all, edible souvenirs are very stylish nowadays.
– Lika potatoes are a must try; you cannot come to this area and not try some of our delicacies. The Lička Kuća Restaurant has been reopened, and this has always been considered a great place to try the best of what the region has to offer – said Anita Mesić.


Rafting, walks, cycling, horseback riding…
Numerous locals recognised the economic significance of the park and opened their houses, mini-hotels, eco-estates and hostels to visitors and groups. You can find these all over the region. The Orhideja Tourist Agency will be happy to recommend different options for you to enjoy during your continental holiday. For example, you may visit the beautiful town of Rastoke, the Korana River, Baraćeve Caves, go rafting, take walks, rent a bicycle, go horseback riding, or visit the Nikola Tesla Memorial Museum. Anyhow, if you wish to properly explore this area, make sure you stay there for at least a few days. You are guaranteed to return home rejuvenated.