The colors of Croatian autumn

Aug 27, 2020, in Travel tips

For a very long time I cherished a dream - to see the beautiful Plitvice Lakes in the Autumn colors. Few years ago, this dream of mine almost came true. I had planned everything for the beginning of October, but in the last moment I cancelled the whole tour as the weather forecast was dreadful, expecting heavy rain for many days.
Honestly, it was a mistake. I simply didn't want to leave my comfort zone and get soaked a bit and now I regret it truly. Mostly because I have seen the photographs made by my friend, German photographer Tobias Richter, who incidentally had almost similar tour planned, but was braver than me, faced the pouring rain and got what he deserved - awesome pictures.

Another chance

Last year, however, I got another chance! And, of course, I grabbed it happily.
Luka Esenko, Slovenian photographer and tutor, offered me a place in his tour to Croatia, where Plitvice Lakes National Park was a part of it. Woohoo!

The Apache lands

We started the tour around the Zrmanja River. The name of it was unknown for me, but, most surprisingly, I knew the location well! And everybody, whose childhood hero was Winettou, fictional native American hero by German writer Karl May, knew it as well, as the canyon of Zrmanja River was one of the locations where the Winettou movies were filmed.

Above the Zrmanja River canyon.
Nikon D850 + Nikkor 24-70/2.8 G ED

So, apart of taking pictures of the great landscapes, I enjoyed a reminiscence, imagining Old Shatterhand (another main character of the movies, performed by Lex Barker) paddle through the river in a broken canoe.

The eye of the river.
Nikon D850 + Nikkor 70-200/4 AF-S ED VR

It was also here, where I discovered how easy it is to fly the DJI drones. So, Luka, thanks to you I had to "cough up" some money to buy me my own drone later that year :-D

Kudin most on the Krupa River
Nikon D850 + Nikkor 24-70/2.8 G ED

Journey through the mountains

To reach Plitvice Lakes from the coast where Zrmanja river flows into the sea, you have two options. Probably the quicker one, via the motorway, is of course also more boring. So, naturally, Luka chose the other one: the old path directly through the Velebit Mountains (and when I say "old", I really mean old - it was built 200 years ago and a big part of it is still not covered with asphalt).

Beautiful landscape in Velebit Mountains above Tulove Grede.
Nikon D850 + Nikkor 24-70/2.8 G ED

Again, we found some new locations where the Winettou movies were filmed, but also we appeared in the untouched lands with vintage forests and crooked trees, a true landscape photographer's paradise!

This really IS the main road that leads through Velebit Mountains!
Nikon D850 + Nikkor 70-200/4 AF-S ED VR

And to add to the journey, one of the roads to our accommodation by the Plitvice Lakes was closed and we had to take the route which normally is closed. It took us very near one of the lakes, through the beautiful beech forests. Of course, in the narrowest part of it, where on the right hand was the water very next to the road and on the left hand steep bank of the forest rising up, we met a police car behind the corner going the other way... Well, nothing happened, we just needed to make some space for them.

This is the exact place we met the police car, just this picture was taken two days after that "incident".
Nikon D850 + Nikkor 24-70/2.8 G ED

Colorful Plitvice Lakes

We spent two days by the Plitvice Lakes, discovering (well, discovering, Luka was the tutor who knew all the locations by heart, so in fact, we were "discovering" them) all the best locations.
It was great in the early mornings, when only fools with cameras like us were present to enjoy the vistas. During the day, of course, the paths were extremely crowded, as Plitvice Lakes National Park is very popular...

The breathtaking view of Veliki Prštavac waterfall during the autumn.
Nikon D850 + Nikkor 24-70/2.8 G ED

The slight problem, and this takes me back to the unrealized tour of mine years ago, was that there was a very low water level, so many waterfalls were just a small streams. I am sure it wasn't like that the year when I cancelled my tour.

It looks to me like a crocodile crawling out of the lake under the waterfall!
Nikon D850 + Nikkor 24-70/2.8 G ED

As a good bye to the fairytale landscape around the Plitvice Lakes we had to drive through the deep beech forests again. Again the narrow road and again, at the place we didn't want to, we met a car. It was a big garbage truck this time...

First rays of the sun getting through the haze of Veliki Prštavac waterfall.
Nikon D850 + Nikkor 105/1.4 E ED AF-S

The path around the lake.
Nikon D850 + Nikkor 105/1.4 E ED AF-S

Zen.
Nikon D850 + Nikkor 105/1.4 E ED AF-S

Of course, there is much much more!
Either photographs - for instance the portrait-oriented are not good for this kind of article, but may appear in my 500px gallery or on my Instagram wall - or stories, some simply better to be told in person.
So, if you want to meet me, check my workshops in English language or let me know when you are in Prague and I can tailor some local photography experience just for you.
Last but not least: the workshop with Luka was special as the Zrmanja River is usually not a part of it. But another beautiful region, Una National Park in Bosnia and Hercegovina, is, and it is well worth to join!