The Uvac canyon is located in the southwest of Serbia, on the beautiful Zlatar. Grandiose and mysterious, it’s only logical that it adorns almost all tourist brochures of Serbia. We are very proud of its unreal beauty, we enjoy photos on the Internet and television and we proudly call it ours.
We talk about its rare plants and animals as if we raised them ourselves, but, nevertheless, there is not enough motivation and inspiration to pay it a visit. The aim of this text is to understand that Uvac is not so far away or difficult to visit, and that the memories of a beautiful weekend there will be a “joker” for surviving hellish days in the midst of city concrete.
Uvac is a river that springs beneath mount Jadovnik and for centuries it represented not only a natural force, but also a border. The dense forests where outlaws once wandered, are the today’s place of enjoyment for hikers and adventurers. In 1979, man decided to reign the river and use it for his energy needs. By placing the dam, the whole region got a different physiognomy. As a result, three lakes were formed: Uvačko (Sjeničko), Zlatarsko and Radojinsko. But, here is another, slightly different, legend about the creation of Uvac. 😊
At Pešter, there used to be a lake in which a three-headed dragon lived. As it terrified everyone in the neighbourhood for a long time, St George decided to kill it. After a ferocious fight, the overwhelmed beast swung its tail, crushed the forest and trampled the mountains. This explains the lack of trees on Pešter side of the Uvac canyon, the cold water spring called Zmajevac (Dragon’s well), as well as a peculiar, dragon-shaped river stream.
This powerful river has always been a source of life for everyone in its surroundings. It is not known if there are more protected animals that live in the water, on the ground or in the air. Uvac is the home for the trout, huchen, European chub, carp, otter … On its shores you can meet foxes, bears, wolves, deer, vipers, rabbits, and when you lift your head you will see herons, eagles, falcons … The crowned king of Uvac is of course the griffon vulture. The main attraction of the nature reserve is this imposing bird with a height of 90-110 centimetres and a wing span of up to three meters. We nearly destroyed this powerful animal by our unreasonable actions and brought their colony down to seven specimens. Especially incomprehensible is what we did, if we know that this bird is not a predator, but a scavenger. Its role is completely opposite from that of the human, it keeps nature maintained and cleaned. Perhaps that’s why we feel like strangers. But, in joint actions, with the care and participation of rangers, biologists and various sources of financing, this precious colony recovered and now has about 500 individual birds. And that’s not all. This monogamous, beautiful bird was successfully displaced, and now it contributes to the balance of ecosystems also in the canyons of Trešnjica and Tara rivers.
⇐Ranger in a action – helping wounded griffon vulture
photo: Vladimir Rajković
This paradise called the Uvac river canyon is about 250 kilometers and four hour’s drive away from people living in Belgrade. It is best to go through Čačak and Ivanjica. If you follow either the navigation, or the information boards along the road, you should make a turn from the main road seven kilometres before Sjenica, taking a macadam road to your destination.
I found accommodation in the village of Družinići, with the Munić family. They have several bungalows with 12 beds, but work is in progress and they will soon expand their capacity to 20 beds. This wonderful and hospitable family will really make you feel comfortable during your stay. They are engaged in cattle breeding, agriculture, beekeeping and collecting medicinal herbs.
So if you have an agreement with them also about the meals, expect to enjoy local, super-delicious food – pies, Sjenica cheese, cream, kebabs, honey, sweets, donuts, tea, brandy … Although they live far from the city and modern pollution, they are keeping up with the trends. So you can contact them by phone or email, and see their offer on the website http://www.kanjonuvacsmestaj.rs/.
The main touristic “ace” is an unusual creation of nature. By combining unique meanders, the emerald green color of Uvac and the cruising master of the sky, you create an image that magically brings you into another world. A world in which at least for a moment, you can forget about everyday worries, look deep within yourself, listen to nature in full swing and completely surrender yourself to the charms of a unique experience. All activities are organized in line with this – inextricably linked to the unrealistically beautiful nested meanders. In addition to fishing, kayaking and cycling, the two recommended options are going to the lookout Molitva (Prayer) and take a boat tour along the meanders.
Molitva can be reached by foot or by car. Since I’m not a fan of the easy way, I go for the first option. The trail starts at the camp on the shores of the lake. It’s well-kept and marked. It is about seven kilometres long with a height difference of about 400 meters, so it’s not too demanding. Moreover, it is pleasant and relaxing, so it’s no big sweat for hikers-recreationalists.
Along the way you will encounter a lot of interesting things that will only complement the walk, but there is no drinking water source, so ensure a sufficient amount before you start the journey. At the beginning of the canyon is a suspense bridge that was once the “road to education”, because it represented the only link between the two shores and the only way to school. After the school was closed, it remained a tourist attraction and a witness of a time past. Approximately about half way to Molitva is a small wood, with a hollow where the cold Mrčki stream flows, so this place is ideal for cooling and taking a break in the hot summer days.
. Immediately after stepping out of the woods, we come to a plateau dominated by the Devojačka stena (Young girl’s rock). The rock looks kind of sad and dignified, just like the legend it got its name by. You can only guess that a broken-hearted girl threw herself into the abyss because of unhappy or forbidden love.
In several places there is a beautiful view of the canyon and meanders, but the view is undeniably the best from Molitva. For years, ceremonies and prayers were performed on this rock, in homage to the river and the canyon, and this is how it got its name. When I arrived to the wooden gazebo, the meanders “burst” in front of me in full luxury. I realized that the most recognizable Uvac image used for advertising purposes was not photo-shopped at all. Every detail is perfectly tuned in, as this sculptural wonder of nature turns ordinary cameras into professional photo cameras for a moment.
My other recommendation is the Uvac cruise. Meanders again, but experienced from a different angle. We are exchanging the bird view for the otter perspective. Boats start from Marco’s plateau/camp, and this three-hour adventure costs 1250 RSD. It includes a ticket for the natural reserve, the boat drive and the visit to the Ice cave.
It’s no wonder that this tour is extremely popular because it puts you in the middle of a dazzling nature. The ride on the curving river stream, which resembles a maze as it bends up to 270 degrees and pierces through rocky cliffs up to 100 meters high, leaves a deep mark. It also passes by the vertical walls where the vultures are nesting with their young, so you might, with some luck, be able to watch live scenes from the documentary TV series “Survival”. The boat will take you to the location of the cave, where you come out of the boat and continue on foot.
The Ice cave is another pearl of the Uvac reserve. Some curious speleologists have discovered that the Ice cave and Ušac cave are connected with a web of channels that come out on the other side of the mountain in the village Lopiže, creating the longest cave system in Serbia with over 6,000 meters. There is also the possibility of organizing an entire underground adventure, but I will tell you about that on another occasion.
Ice cave has everything that adorns a first-class cave: halls, ornaments, petrified draperies, cave jewellery, high pillars, terraces … Only a small part is marked with trails, but there is no light, so the tour of this tiny miraculous world is a unique event. Since lamps are used to light the way, you feel more like an explorer than a tourist, getting from this experience a whole lot of excitement. Visits are possible only upon arrangement with the keepers of the reserve, since a metal fence with a gate is installed. This level of security is meant to prevent the wicked behaviour of empty heads that, for unknown reasons, see the devastation of stalactites as a form of entertainment.
Uvac can also be enjoyed through fishing, kayaking or cycling. Whatever you decide, you will not be wrong, because Uvac, like the griffon vulture in the sky, unselfishly spreads its wings for all people of good will.