The exceptional popularity that this adventure has had in the last 10 years puts me in a dilemma: should I even write about rafting? What is there to write about, when everybody already knows everything? However, talking to people made it clear that most have heard about it, but many have not been there. Also, I personally feel that I owe this post to the magnificent Tara for all the unforgettable memories and endless entertainment I’ve had in its waters.
Tara Rafting is what you would call “a must do”. It’s an essential piece in the mosaic of life of every sports and nature lover, any extrovert eager to socialize and laugh, and anyone who enjoys great food and drink. In fact, it’s for those who don’t think of themselves as mental pensioners, because age is not important – rafting can be a great experience whether you are 7 or 77.
I honestly don’t know anyone who had not spent a fantastic time there. I only know of those people who, for various reasons, have not yet organized themselves to experience this adventure.
There are many roads to this magnificent place. The shortest one is from Belgrade via Debelo Brdo, Bajina Bašta, Višegrad and Foča. The choice depends on whether you will go directly or perhaps take the opportunity to enrich your life with an additional experience. It may also depend on what hides inside you: a curious child eager to explore or a corporate worker driven by reports. Clearly, it also depends on how much cash you plan to invest. It’s always hard to find a solution to the equation – money vs time. Either way, one of them is missing. During my previous five times visiting Tara, I always managed to find some new routes and interesting sights. Drvengrad, Kamengrad, Uvac, Ethno village Stanišići or Durmitor are just some of the suggestions.
Etno village Stanišići
Since I first visited, more camps have opened than the number of times Novak Djokovic won the title. My favorite is still the Tara-Raft camp. I think it’s a great choice, a great place with incredible energy and positive people from many countries and even continents, who feel relaxed, almost native to the place. Sometimes it can even be over-relaxed, especially in the late night hours, but the fact that you are having this spectacular experience offsets any minuses. The owner, host, organizer and joker is Miroslav Davidović-Micko. .
Tara raft camp
Behind him are years of struggling with the relentless nature, the irrepressible Drina and the even more severe requests of his guests 🙂 With him you can arrange almost any arrival time, type of food, number of downstream rides, accommodation, and even the way of preparing delicious lamb… Another thing is the ideal position of the camp, which is on the river Drina. If you are located here, the rafting which starts upstream the river Tara will be the longest when coming back to the camp. You can bring your own food, no one will say anything, but it’s a pity not to try the local specialties. Talk to Micko for everything you need or for any additional trip opportunities. Here is the contact for negotiations: http://tara-raft.com/.
It’s ok to go at any time of year, but to fully enjoy the rafting on Tara and Drina, I recommend May or June. The melted snow from Durmitor provides additional grandeur and Tara becomes so wild and uncontrollable, yet so attractive and desirable.
When you arrive you will get a warm welcome, a sincere smile and of course rakia, to take away the travel fatigue and provide a first step towards “acclimatizing”. While sipping your drink in cheerful company, your eyes are seeking the turquoise Drina like magnets; deep down inside, you feel the commotion and anticipation of an unknown adventure.
The accommodation varies: rooms, bungalows or tents. None of it is fancy, but has everything you need. As for me, the more rural and authentic, the better. That’s exactly why I’m here, to break the daily routine. Anyway, it’s just for sleeping, and most of the time is spent outdoors.
In the morning, after a coffee, rakia and a heavy mountain breakfast, you start preparing for rafting. I strongly suggest not being sluggish in bed, but instead getting up early, because the mornings here have a special, almost indescribable charm.
So, we start packing personal items, renting equipment (neoprene suit, helmet and rafting shoes) and, of course, waiting for someone who was not familiar with the time and plan. When all conditions are met, after being put into jeeps and vans, we start the adventure. If there was an instrument measuring levels of happiness and exaltation, probably it would be blinking red. Everyone is laughing, shouting, singing, hugging, taking pictures; the more experienced are listening to the call of adrenaline that comes with every roar of the raging emerald beauty.
The road from Šćepan Polje, where most of the camps are located, to Brštanovica is relatively short, but goes across the border, into Montenegro, and this can be annoying if a nervous guy is on the shift. However, the mood level is so high that nothing can spoil it and the wave of good vibrations goes on. You soon come to the lookout point from where you can get screensaver photos.
The Tara canyon is 1333m deep making it the deepest in Europe and the second deepest in the world, just behind the famous Colorado canyon. It is difficult to stay immune and not feel the awe for nature and this river that for centuries carved an invaluable artwork, creating numerous gorges and breathtaking deeps. It looks like Tara is challenging its adventurous visitors to give themselves in and feel the strength and power of nature firsthand.
Very soon you arrive at the meeting place. Placing boats into the river and getting people organized, and the rafting finally starts! The flow from Brštanovica to Šćepan Polje is considered to be the most attractive part of Tara. Those last 15km, before Tara embraces Piva and forms Drina, includes some 20 rapids where the water and the blood boil.
This means that at least 20 times you will have a thunderous strike of adrenaline, that “your heart will want to jump out”; 20 times you will think, “OMG, how will we do this?” and that many times you will feel satisfaction because of the obstacles you overcome and the fearless team spirit that enables the continuing of the adventure.
The landscape certainly justifies being on the UNESCO protection list. The dense, endless forests that descend to the turquoise river and the noise of wild waterfalls that fall down from vertical walls carve an image and emotion that do not fade with the years. The taste of fresh and cold Tara cannot be described, you should try it.
A great popularity among adventurers, combined with a great number of camps, means that you will encounter many boats with “colleagues”. You will feel like being part of local traditions like singing competitions and mandatory water splashing. By the way, I never figured out why people get all cranky if you splash them, when they are already wet 🙂
If the skipper allows it, try taking a swim where Tara is calmer. The temperature is 7-8C, certainly not for longer baths, but feels amazing.
All camps organize the same break: the one next to a big rock where there is enough space to land boats and swim. Here is also the start of the trail that leads through dense forest next to a playful stream to the waterfall, which is a great attraction and temptation.
Everyone will tell you that you have not been rafting if you have not taken a plunge under the waterfall. The waterfall is insidiously alluring you to surrender, but there’s a catch. The temperature is around 4-5C, but as your crotch becomes more “compact” you will get a subjective impression that the temperature is much lower 🙂 The bold and daring will have something to talk about.
Bone rapid and waterfall after another and just when you finally get accustomed to paddling and adrenaline, you will reach the mouth of the unreal Piva. Try to talk the skipper into paddling up the river Piva. Every effort and demanding stroke will be rewarded many times. It’s been years since the river was dammed up, so Piva has developed a completely different ecosystem and it’s a pity to miss it.
A few words on security and risk. The skippers you entrust your lives to are true masters of their craft, ready and trained to deal with a variety of contingencies. But you have to help them in this. Accidents that happened in previous years are mainly caused by non-compliance to the rules (not wearing helmets or vests, standing up in the boat, not listening to the skipper), underestimation of the river and the ignorance of own limits when it comes to alcohol. Listen to their advice and everything will be OK.
In addition to rafting, you might be interested in a number of other activities: hiking on Maglić, Volujak and Zelengora, safari, kayaking, driving enduro motorcycles, canoeing…
View of Zelengora
Ancient forest Perućica
View nat Zelengora
All you have to do is organize as soon as possible, experience a fantastic adventure and tell your impressions to some other uninformed and undecided people. Enjoy!