If my previous posts were meant for a wide group of part-time nature lovers, this one undoubtedly leads to a proper canoeing adventure. The tour is unique, fun and challenging. You’ll probably end up with sore muscles, but this will be a trigger to smile for days after you visit the canyon. Yes, this is the place that is called the same as “that” monastery, but no, it has nothing to do with shoveling drug addicts and the so called “priest” Peranović. The canyon is nestled in the mountains of Maljen, near Divčibare.
To experience this adventure, it is almost imperative to join a hiking group. The reasons for this are that the orientation can be a bit tricky for the inexperienced, and the distance between the start and finish of the route is 15 kilometers. Someone must take you back to the place where you started; in this case it’s the center of Divčibare.
Let me make it clear, canyoning is not one of the easier ways of consuming nature. There is the water temperature, air, landslides, the level of water… All this can be a serious problem. Fortunately, in July everything clicks into place, so I think this is the best time to have this adventure. The conditions are optimal, and hiking clubs usually organize tours in this period. Although I’m sure that a psychologically and physically healthy person in average condition can pass through the canyon and enjoy it, I would not recommend this adventure to everyone.
Crna reka (Black River) is therefore the opposite of a comfort zone, of lying on a towel by the water and sipping beer. It is physically demanding, with inevitable swimming, and passing through the water several times. The length of the route is about nine kilometers. But, do not forget that kilometers through the canyon are calculated differently than on the road.
Another thing to understand: every canyoning leaves an inerasable feeling, regardless of whether it is extreme like the famous NEVIDIO or an easier one. Canyoning is a relatively new discipline in our country and it is mainly about finding the easiest ways for safe passage through pretty inaccessible areas, visible only to the eye of real enthusiasts. You often need skilled guides, special equipment and experience, but sometimes just a desire for an active vacation will do. Crna reka is one of the lighter tours, but this does not mean that its charm is lost because of it. And not only that no charm is lost, but this canyoning is also one of the most interesting that I have ever experienced.
If these “warningS” are no reason for you to give up, then we have the whole thing, as Zdravko Čolić once sang. You just need to take the phone and sign up for an adventure with swimming in natural pools, instead of staying within your air-conditioned “four walls”.
I went both times with Boris Bratić 064 / 992-4811. It cost me around 1500 dinars. Of course, you can pick any agency that suits you, but you need to know that Boris has been traditionally leading this tour for several years and has fantastic knowledge of the entire route.
From Belgrade, you arrive to Divčibare relatively quickly; it takes up to 3 hours by minibus, including a coffee break. After unloading and tightening the equipment, you start this adventure that right from the start gives a completely different feeling than what you have expected.
You start by passing through parts of the weekend settlement, next to some marked trees, a bit through the woods and you soon reach Ljuti Krš lookout.
Lookout Ljuti Krš
The river is still not in sight, but the rest of the panorama compensates for that. After admiring the peaks of Maljen and Povlen mountains, taking photos and a short break, we eagerly start off, seeking the river, for salvation from the scorching sun.
The trail continues downhill, with quite a slope. Some people from our group experienced this obstacle as if it required mastering Lara Croft skills and consequently, they began to slow us all down.
This can happen when you go on tours organized by hiking clubs, as they still don’t filter tour applicants. You just sign up, and that’s it. However, I believe that we are not all the same and some tours are not for everyone. Some of the more difficult tours require a selection of people with more skill and aptitude. I don’t want this criticism to be misunderstood, either by you – my readers – or by hiking clubs, since I experienced some great adventures with them. I am writing this because I want to contribute to the improvement of their services and because I appreciate them. In the end, situations like these turn out to be a great problem for the organizers, for those who “stray” or get left behind, but also for those who are absolutely apt for the challenge.
Overcoming “Lara Kroft” obstacles
We somehow mastered the problem of going downhill and now we’re eagerly rushing to the river bed through the forest. We reached it rather quickly and now everything smells like adventure. As soon as you reach the water and see the full range of colors, you will understand why Crna Reka is protected as a nature reserve.
The combination of black and gray rocks, dark but clean water, various shades of green and vibrant (fluorescent) colors of the forest flowers and fruits, indeed provides a unique scene. In addition to admiring all these unusual shapes and colors, let your taste buds melt with the exceptional taste of wild strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, but also blueberries.
All of the above is great, but I prefer the last one. According to legend, a great longing for the taste of blueberry nectar in this canyon, can connect kindred souls. I know what you mean; I did not believe it, until I literally “collided” with the legend 🙂
From this point begins what we really came for, canyoning. The biggest portion of the path leads through the riverbed, from one stone to another. But it is really not so scary or difficult; on the contrary, it’s fun. While jumping on the rocks, looking for the easiest and most interesting way, you notice that you have shifted.
And not only physically, because of course you escaped from the concrete, the experience here is at a much higher level. I switched to an arcade platform game, the ones I used to play on the Amiga 500. With boyish nonchalance I hopped on hundreds of rocks of all shapes and sizes, swam in natural pools and caught many different critters, all in order to “complete the video game”
i.e. to have a good time and at the end, get out of the canyon. I was a little worried because I had this “trip”, but when I realized I was not the only one, I got “shoes for extra jump” (gamers will understand) and continued even more vigorously.
While you are solving hundreds of curves and glitches, with a combination of fast thinking and physical fitness, you will experience 4, 5 places which you can take as “checkpoints”. After cascades and waterfalls, there are larger water accumulations, resulting in premium natural pools and it is a pity not to take advantage of them. In these areas, we were pausing for swimming, rest and refreshment.
If there is still someone who did not understand by now, I will make it clear: you have to bring with you everything you plan to eat or drink!
The great thing about these tours is that you don’t have to wait for the others; keep your own pace and continue the adventure. Don’t be afraid, it’s impossible to get lost, because there’s only one way, the one that the river has carved for centuries.
After several hours of jumping, when you finally get tired and start doubting that you are on the right track, you’ll see cow dung on the right and be delighting as never before, because this is a sure sign that you are close to home. Indeed, you will very quickly see an exit to the plateau and a small bridge that leads straight to the traditional household of Milo Obradović.
Ethno house Milo Obradovića
It’s an almost indescribable feeling when you are tired, hungry and thirsty, and you drop into the right households and go for the delicacies: beer, raspberry brandy, plums, blackberry juice, homemade soup, tomato, cheese, sač (meat and veggies placed in a large ceramic lid, and baked in the coal) … Well, now I feel my mouth watering… For this feast, you need to previously register with the guide, and the price is 400 dinars. Also, here you can buy a lot of traditional Serbian products, or be honored with a recitation of original poems by the owner Milo. At the end of the day, when you are settled, sipping your drink in cheerful company, you’re thinking about what you had just experienced and how lucky you were that you had not lost your time in a shopping center, although they had some great discounts.
The canyon of Crna Reka is indeed a real Serbian gem and I hope it will long remain so. You can help too, by visiting it, keeping it clean during the tour, enjoying it and passing on your impressions.