Written by Tim Clancy
Sutjeska National Park © mapraest, Shutterstock
If you are visiting BiH, this is certainly a ‘can’t miss’ trip. I highly recommend at least two days in this natural oasis.
For many locals, Sutjeska National Park is more of a cultural monument to a Partisan defeat of the Germans during World War II. But the true value of this gem is its old-growth forests, bear and wolf populations, and hundreds of square kilometres of pristine wilderness. If you are visiting BiH, this is certainly a ‘can’t miss’ trip. I highly recommend at least two days in this natural oasis.
Day One would start in Sutjeska National Park, where you’ll venture into Perućica Primeval Forest. This trip, however, does something out of the ordinary. You can trek down below the 98m Skakavac Waterfall that jumps out of the forest. It’s a sight you’ll never forget: trees that tower 60m into the skyline fighting for a piece of light and then the massive rock faces that the stream has carved right through the middle of the forest. The water pounds so hard into the pools below that anyone within a 30m radius will be drenched. It’s not an easy trek, but a stunning 5- or 6-hour hike that I promise you won’t be able to find anywhere else in Europe. At day’s end you take about an hour’s drive through more marvellous terrain to the campgrounds on the Tara. Here you’ll have the comfort of wooden bungalows, magnificent local food and the turquoise-blue Tara flowing just a few metres from camp. Bonfire, guitars, good food and booze are on the menu all evening.
Day Two is a slow start. After a long night you can sleep in and wake up to birds dancing on the tree lines. Breakfast is served around 09.00 and one has time to wander the many trails around the Tara before the next adventure begins. Around noon, when the sun is at its highest, you hit the water. Rafting the Tara for 3 hours will rejuvenate the soul like you’ve never known. Waterfalls, one of the deepest canyons in Europe at 1,300m, adrenaline, tons of fun and untouched nature are the only things on the agenda for today. The journey ends in Scepan Polje on the border with Montenegro where you’ll be transported back to Foča so you can return to Sarajevo, Mostar or Dubrovnik.
This is a truly remarkable trip. Once you arrive in Foča on the first day, your worries are all over. You don’t have to drive, cook or even think. Just enjoy. I’ve travelled this country through and through and must say this mystical mountain adventure was one I will never forget.
Encijan and Highlander are locally based clubs who organise these trips. They have internationally certified skippers and run the campgrounds on the Tara along with hiking, biking, wildlife observation and rafting trips. They are well organised, professional and fun.
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