The National Park Plitvice Lakes is located in the central part of Croatia on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. With an area of 294.82 km2, it is the biggest one of the eight National Parks of Croatia.
Declared in 1949, it is the oldest National Park in Croatia. In 1979 Plitvice Lakes National Park was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The wider area of the National Park hides rich forest and meadow habitats with diverse and numerous species of plants and animals. The major part of the forest communities includes communities of beech and fir. Particularly noteworthy is the beech-fir virgin forest Čorkova uvala (bay), one of the most beautiful in Europe. The richness of flora is testified by the so far known 1,267 plant species, of which 75 are endemic, and as many as 55 different species of orchids. Previous research in the park area found 321 species of butterflies, 161 species of birds and 21 species of bats, which only indicates the wealth of wildlife. Of the large predators, the most attractive inhabitant of the Plitvice forests is the brown bear.
Plitvice Lakes consist of 16 lakes located in the area between Mala Kapela and Pljesivica in Lika. They represent a phenomenon of karst hydrography. The lakes are known for travertine waterfalls and constant biodynamic process of travertine growth in specific eco-hydrologic conditions. Travertine is porous limestone rock formed by deposition of calcium carbonate from the water that builds barriers, sills and other forms in karst rivers and streams. The process of travertine formation is especially emphasized on the waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes. It takes place continuously. Growth of travertine creates many magnificent waterfalls. With time, the water changes its course, leaving some barriers dry, encouraging the growth of travertine elsewhere. This phenomenon gives the feeling that the Plitvice Lakes are never the same. In addition to Gornja jezera (Upper Lakes), which makes the system of 12 lakes mutually divided by travertine barriers, and Mala jezera (Small Lakes), the natural attractions of the Park are: Plitvice stream, river Korana, cave Šuljara, rainforest Čorkova uvala (bay).
Plitvice Lakes offer visitors a variety of activities: walking, hiking, electric boat and train riding, cycling, skiing, rowing. In addition to hiking there are also educational and recreational trails in the Park: Čorkova uvala (bay) and Plitvice. They aim to enrich the knowledge of forests and forest ecosystems, and explain the role of forests in preserving the lakes. The trails lead through large forest complexes and mountain meadows with beautiful vantage lookouts. For cyclists are designed and marked bike trails of one-way or circular routes of different lengths and difficulty.
National Park is well connected with major centres in Croatia. Plitvice Lakes can be reached from the direction of Zagreb by the highway A1 Zagreb – Split – Dubrovnik to the exit Karlovac, where the road continues by the main road D1 in the direction of Slunj and Rakovica. Plitvice Lakes are located around thirty kilometres after Slunja. From the direction of Split, the highway should be left at the exit Gornja Ploča, in the direction of Udbina and Korenica. Park is twenty kilometres after Korenica. Distance from Yagreb to Plitvice Lakes is 140 km, and from Split 219 km.