National Park Plitvice Lakes is only two hours by bus from Zadar.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the oldest national parks in Southeast europe and the largest national park in Croatia. The national park was founded on April 8,1949 and is situated in the mountainous karst area of central Croatia. The important north-south road connection, which passes through the national park area, connects the Croatian inland with the Adriatic coastal region. In 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register.
With regard to plant and animal diversity, the area of the Plitvice Lakes belongs to the most significant areas of Croatia. This is due to climatic conditions and to the location of this area, since the lakes are far away from polluted and noisy cities or industrial plants. In the partially primeval beech and fir forests various rare species, such as the brown bear and wolf, have survived. At the Plitvice Lakes, all species continue to exist that have already existed before the coming of man. This is a rare case worldwide.
The Plitvice lakes are a result of century-old processes and the sedimentation of chalk, which is abundantly available in the waters of this karst area. These sedimentations are called tufa or travertine.
Plitvice lakes do not represent separated, stationary waters. The lakes altogether have always been seen as one composed system of lakes. Due to constant changes it is not even possible to pursue individual analyses of single lakes. The water masses reaching the lakes at the upper or lower part of the system are continuously changing the outlook of the lakes and the surrounding landscape.
A unique process occurring at the Plitvice Lakes is the sedimentation of water-bound chalk at certain places. The sedimentation of chalk and the formation of tufa happens dynamically all along the watercourse and in various forms.
Another unique and distinctive feature are the natural factors, particularly the influences of the vegetation in the process of sedimentation. While passing the vegetation, barriers are being created by foaming water. These naturally created barriers decelerate and dam the waters, thus forming lakes. At Plitvice, this constant interplay between water, air, rock and vegetation can easily be observed. The foaming water creates ever growing and impressive waterfalls. The thresholds grown up above the water level, create cataracts. On the one hand, chalk tufa is being washed away partly. On the other hand, new sediments are continuously being formed. Thus, new waterfalls are being formed while others run dry. Nature itself is continuously adapting to these new conditions. As a whole, the complex of lakes represents a very sensitive and labile ecosystem.