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Yugoslavian discovery: lakes and waterfalls of Plitvice.

They're pronounced plee-tvee-tsaw, more or less, and in Yugoslavia you can't escape pictures of them: in brochures and guidebooks, on posters, even on menu covers. The Plitvice lakes and waterfalls, gems of Nacionalni Park Plitvice, are the pride of Yugoslavia. In fact, the lakes have earned a place on UNESCO's list of world natural treasures.

If you plan to tour Yugoslavia, consider spending at least 3 hours in the park.

The area is popular, particularly in summer, but can handle crowds. Each key point on maps and signs is identified by a letter- no need to translate strange words to find the right path. Kiosks dispense souvenirs, snacks, and advice (in English).

Spillways, lakes. In the park, two rivers and several side streams flow over and through karst (limestone) formations, creating a series of natural spillways. Between are lakes 16 all told, from a few dozen yards to almost 3 miles long.

Upper Lakes (Velika Poljana entrance). From near the parking lot, an open-air tram carries visitors a mile upstream. Walk at your own pace along gently sloping paths, detouring to go up to, around, or over cascades. Eventually, you reach a landing on a long, narrow lake where a ferry returns you to near your starting point. Both tram and ferry are included in the park entry fee of about $11 for adults, less for children.

Lower Lakes (Rastovaca entrance). Don't miss the 240-foot main lower falls. As you descend into the defile, you're swept with mist from water bursting out of a cleft in the cliff, more pours over the high scarp ahead, still more from the walls to your right. It's like a compressed Yosemite.

Getting to Plitvice by bus or carMost visitors reach the park by tour bus: big-windowed highway cruisers that leave from Rijeka, Ljubljana, and other cities, even from resort towns like Rab. Trips to the lakes last at least a day. Costs aren't high; inquire at travel agencies in Yugoslavia. Be sure to find out how much time is actually spent at the park; many day tours hurry in, hurry out.

If you plan to drive the Adriatic coast down to Dubrovnik, Plitvice is a 50-mile detour (each way) inland from the main coast road. Nearest city with rental cars is Rijeka, 90 miles northwest of the park.

Three good hotels in the park the Bellevue, Jezero, Plitvice-charge $25 to $60 a night for two (with breakfast) in summer, less in other months.

For brochures, write or call the Yugoslavia National Tourist Office, 630 Fifth Ave., Suite 280, New York 10111; (212) 757-2801.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:included in Sunset's revised Discovery Trips in Europe; Plitvice National Park, Yugoslavia
Date:Apr 1, 1989
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