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03/18/2014

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"Plitvice Lakes" National Park

Plitvice Lakes are located in eastern Lika between the Mala Kapela and Licka Plesevica mountains. Formations of a lime crust on underwater vegetation where water from the Korana River wash over, give shape to cascades from which evolve a series of sixteen terraced lakes with flowing crystal clear turquoise colored water. Water spills over from lake to lake in the form of stunning waterfalls, creating a unique masterpiece of natural art. Much of the Plitvice Lakes area is covered in dense forest mostly comprised of beech, fir, spruce and white pine. Amongst the diversity of fauna, local inhabitants include the bear and wolf, as well as certain rare bird species such as the Grouse and Horned Owl. Because of varying natural characteristics, the lakes are divided into either upper or lower lake systems. The upper lakes are set on a dolomite base where surface erosion forms a feature rich relief and common stream valleys. The lakes and various waterfalls are surrounded by forest. The lower lakes are set on a limestone base in a gorge with towering steep cliffs, forged by a river in a time before the lakes had evolved. The upper lakes include: Proscansko Lake, Ciginovac, Okrugljak, Batinovac, Vir, Veliko and Malo Lakes, Galovac, Milino Lake, Gavanovac, Kaluderovac and Novakovic-brod. The upper lakes occupy an area of about 200 ha of which three quarters belongs to the two largest lakes: Kozjak and Proscasnsko. Karstic spring lakes are replenished by Crna and Bijela Rivers, as well as from the Plitvice and Sartuk. Influenced by growing sediment barriers, water tributaries endlessly change location throughout the cascade system, perpetually changing the depth, size, shape and even number and arrangement of lakes. The crown of this distinctive symphony of water is Sastavci (tributary of the Korana River and Plitvice Brook) with a 72 m high waterfall. Cavern sites contribute to the natural beauty of the Park. Most caverns are located in the Park's limestone area, and include Supljara, Golubnjaca, Mracnjaca and others. Caverns that have formed in the sediment under the waterfalls are particularly special. Because of its unique natural beauty, in 1949 the Plitvice Lakes area of approximately 295 km², was declared a National Park. Many surrounding pastures and forests are included within the

protected area in which arbitrary activities and changes are strictly forbidden. Only those activities that will improve and protect the natural environment are permitted. The first mountain cabin was constructed in 1852 and first hotel in 1861. Plitvice Lakes are the most famous of Croatian National Parks and are amongst the most beautiful natural sites in Europe. In 1979 UNESCO listed the Lakes as natural heritage of world significance. Plitvice Lakes can be visited at any time of the year. Walks along forested paths and wooden bridges, woodland and mountain air, and above all, the very beauty of the lakes and waterfalls themselves, attract large numbers of visitors from all over the world. Besides organized walks, the Lakes can also be toured with tourist trains and electric boats. The average annual temperature in Plitvice Lakes ranges from 8-10° C, while average precipitation is from 1.200 to 1.400 mm. Snow is common from November through to the end of March, which makes skiing and sledding possible, while in December and January the lakes are covered in ice. During the summer months, the water temperature in Proscansko and Kozjak Lakes rises to 24° C so it is possible to go swimming.

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