June 11, 2016
Drive from Split to Plitvice Lakes
After days of sunshine the weather had turned turbulent with thunderstorms predicted over the next several days for much of the country. Judging by the green, green landscape in the northern part of the country I doubt this is a rare occurrence.
The first part of the drive is on fast roads. It wasn’t difficult getting out of Split and was made much easier with the aid of the iPad Google map and the magical blue dot. I find this the best way to navigate if you have a second person.
Turning off the fast road we took a secondary road, D-1, that was still pretty fast driving through rolling green hills. An agricultural area with some evidence of the war, a few abandoned buildings and churches left in ruins.
After about 3 hours driving we arrived at the park at lunch time. We checked out the park hours and checked into the hotel, Loncar House, after lunch.
Planning your Visit
Our plan was to buy the 2 day ticket 180 kuna/person in order to break our visit into two parts. If you want to take photos in peace or just want the park more to yourself I highly recommend this strategy.
We visited the upper lakes late on the day of our arrival, leaving the hotel around 4:30PM and staying to near closing time. We returned the following morning when the park first opened at 7AM to visit the lower lakes. Note that the park opens at 7 but the buses and boats don’t start running until 8. While you can visit the lower lakes on foot you need a boat to reach the upper lakes.
Photographing the falls
This was my first time trying to get good waterfall photos. Since this is part of a longer trip I didn’t have all the equipment I should have had for great photos but was pretty happy with the results overall.
I used a Gorilla pod both on the ground and anchored to the railings. I didn’t have an external shutter release but the 2 or 10 second delay on my camera worked well.
Reviewing the photos, I would say that the more successful shots have less water in them. The white mass of water seems to overwhelm a lot of shots.
Lower light is much easier to deal with. Waterfalls blow out easily and without the proper filter you can’t compensate enough for a slow shutter speed. It’s just too much light. In some shots I had to increase the shutter speed just so I didn’t blow out the shot. In any case it was great fun, I learned a lot and got a couple of shots I’m quite happy with.
Staying near the Nat’l Park
Since we had a car and the hotels in the park didn’t seem that appealing, we opted for the Loncar House about 5 kilometers north of the park in Seliste Dreznicko. This worked well for us. The Loncar House is associated with the bigger hotel next door, Degenija, where you check in and out.
Rooms in the Loncar House are in a small quiet building. Our smallish dormer type room had recently been redone and was perfectly fine for a one night stay. The bed was very comfortable. The room also had a safe, fridge and water boiler which made making a light breakfast before heading to the park easier.
Breakfast at the Hotel Degenija doesn’t start until 7. In fact the clerk at the reception desk told me that the park didn’t open until 8 but this was not true. Be sure to check with the park for accurate information.
The Degenija Restaurant on the other side of the Lancor House from the hotel, serves basic but good food at reasonable prices. The dining room fills in the evening so you may want to make a reservation in summer.
For dinner we had the grilled trout, a local fish beautifully done served with a chard and potato mash, a local veg combo that we have been getting a lot lately.
For a late breakfast we stopped by after the falls the next morning for coffee and eggs. Again reasonably well done. Don’s egg whites were a little runny. Service is friendly and efficient.