Plitvice Lace: An excursion with the Leica X1 and X Vario
The crystal clear waters of the Plitvice lakes in the hills of central Croatia daily fall over tufa – or travertine - barriers formed over millennia. The waterfalls are in two sets, the upper in a broad valley above Lake Kozjak and the lower in a narrow gorge below. In 1979 the Plitvice Lakes National Park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I visited the park in the summer of 2015 and winter of 2015 – 2016 with the Leica X1 and X Vario in my bag.
In the summer the water flows are reduced and the trees on the wooded hills are in full leaf, giving a sense of order and tranquillity. As winter comes and the cold descends ice can form in the lakes and the waterfalls can solidify leading to a frozen silence.
On one cold overcast March afternoon, after snowmelt and rain, I trudged through the freezing lake overspill on the trail on the northern side of the upper lakes. I knew something was unusual as I heard the roar of the falls growing louder the higher I climbed. Turning a rocky corner I was struck by the view of Galovac Lake and the valley above as the normally orderly streams rioted across the valley floor glistening in the weak wintry light. The view was in stark contrast to that of a few weeks before when the lakes and waterfalls were quiet and frozen. Now they had been released from winter’s icy grip.
I felt very fortunate and rewarded to have witnessed this occasional phenomenon that faded after a day or two; one of the park’s staff told me that they call this natural spectacle ‘lace’. To me it was ‘Plitvice Lace’.
All photographs taken with the Leica X Vario