To avoid the crowds, we get up at 6h30 to get dressed and prepare our backpack. Breakfast at 7h30, we get French toast and pancakes without asking for it, but we consider it an investment for all the calories we’re going to spend today walking. I make the lunch bag (same as usual, but we’ve perfected the amount of dijonnaise, radishes and cornichons) and we’re ready to go. There’s almost nobody at P3 when we get there around 8h30, luckily a boat waiting at the dock, we use the transit time to apply sun screen liberally. At the dock of the upper lakes we quickly set off on the wooden walkway towards St3, which runs along the shore or crosses the water just above or below the different falls. There are 12 lakes connected by waterfalls, the difference in sea level is 100 m in total, the walk is about 5 km. There are very few people on the trail, we encounter two groups of Asian tourists walking in the opposite direction, but they are quickly out of sight and earshot. The falls are very impressive, not a single big waterfall but always a broad irregular curtain of water coming down from one lake to the next. Amid the water near the edge of the falls there is a myriad of plants growing, so often it’s not as much a water falls as rather a trickle between plants over rocks.
At St3 we acquire a brochure at the information kiosk, it has a map of the walk we want to do (the Plitvica Trail – 9 km from St3 to points 1 and 3, then to P3 where we started). The area around the upper lakes is getting busier by the minute, but when we start climbing away from the lakes there seems to be not another soul around. We walk through old forest of beeches and sometimes pines, on a well-marked narrow earthen trail. The climb is pretty steep but we plan to have our lunch break at the highest point of the walk. We see signs of bears (destroyed tree stumps) and also find two dead moles kilometres apart, both with their heads bitten off but otherwise untouched. We’re not sure what kind of predator would catch and kill a mole without eating it, there are wolves and lynxes in park, but also owls and other birds of prey. However, we fail to catch a glimpse of anything living, excepting two other hikers that pass us during our lunch break. The birds are very active and singing loudly, but also well hidden. We see lots of trees, nice flowers and some cool fungi.
We’re back at our car around 3 pm, we dump our backpack and head down to P3 for a well-deserved ice cream. There is a much bigger crowd now, waiting for the small ferry boats, having dinner or snack in the picnic area. We drag our tired bodies back up to the car and head to the hotel for a shower to get rid of all the sweat and sun screen. By now all our walking clothes have a distinct smell, though fortunately we still have some leisure wear to change into.
Sort pictures, out for dinner at the same restaurant (Arne has a pizza this time, I have some kind of turkey cordon bleu) and early to bed. We use the app of the Belgian postal services to create post cards with pictures from our trips, to send to family and friends. They will have seen the pictures already, since I share them daily via Google Photos, but we feel a postcard is still a nice thing to receive.
Today’s statistics : 24.726 steps, 17,46 km, 156 floors