Visit the National Park Tara in West Serbia
In the far west of Serbia, bordering the Drina River that separates the country from Bosnia, the Tara National Park is a major site full of natural beauties. Located 162 km from the Serbian capital, this mountain range covers 19,175 ha and is one of the most important peaks in Serbia.
Tara National Park is one of the five national parks in Serbia and is distinguished from other parks by its Serb spruce forests (a protected and endangered species), which was discovered by botanist Josif Pancic in 1875. In addition to spruce, the park is also characterized by beech and fir primary forests. The park was founded in 1981 and includes the mountains Tara and Zvijezda, and the average altitude is between 1000 m and 2000 m, which means: a paradise for hikers and mountaineers!
Formed 600 million years ago, this group of young mountains has for a long time been part of the Pannonian Sea. This explains a very rugged orography, with changing reliefs, but also fauna and flora very rich in rare species. The result is many valleys, such as Brusnica or Derventa, with canyons, the most important being the Drina. Finally, two lakes at altitude complete the picture. One, Perućac, serves a hydroelectric plant; the other, Zaovine, located in the heart of the park, is of great beauty, with its emerald green waters and perfect tranquillity.
The fastest route to enter the park is from the small town of Bajina Bašta, along with the Drina to Perućac Lake. There, take the road on the left – without any indication, but take the direction towards the mountain – and go up to the top. It is a real mountain road, on the cliff side, very impressive. A magnificent view of the Drina and Bosnia is offered to you.
Then we enter the forest that is so characteristic of the park of Tara, with its big trees, and there, we leave the car to engage on marked paths: several caves are indicated – Jabučka, Kozja or Todosina pećina -, and elk and bears haunt the area! A few kilometers away are the Mitrovac bungalows and the beautiful alpine pastures.
Then, on your way back, you will go to Lake Zaovina, which can be rounded in both directions, forming a loop the road always brings you to the same place. Then the road will take you to hotels and historical places. In this regard, all roads in the park are well indicated by yellow triangular panels (but in Cyrillic). Throughout the park, no less than 18 marked trails are the joy of trekkers – tracks to go between 2 and 8h.
For thrill seekers from Mitrovac – where you can set up your base camp – various sites are accessible to the west of the park, with the help of a guide or a good map. Several alpine or forest houses can offer you lodging on this journey. The main points of interest are all west of Mitrovica: on Mount Zvezda, a magnificent cave, the Topla Pećina, with stalactites and stalagmites; on the Beli Rzav River, the spectacular waterfalls of Veliki Skakavac; finally, two beautiful canyons, but very different from each other. On the Drina, rafts or kayaks are scoured by landscapes of young mountains, lakes, and rivers. On the Brusnica, the landscapes are less grandiose, but the waterfalls are numerous. We can also climb the walls very tight.
There is currently no official entry for Tara National Park since the park administration has not yet built the door, so there is no entrance fee. However, the only ticket you will have to pay is if you want to visit the protected area “Crveni Potok – Tepih livada”.
No matter if it’s summer or winter, you will not regret visiting this beautiful Tara mountain. On Tara, the air is cool during the summer, so if you want to escape the unbearable heat, then Tara is the perfect place for you. There are many things you can do in Tara so let’s see some of them:
The park has 18 trails marked on the park’s official map, and here are some of them, you can choose:
- Raca Trail –This is one of the easiest trails, being only 2 km long. The starting point of the trail is the most valuable cultural and historical monument of the park, the Raca Monastery. Then you continue to the nature reserve of the race gorge through the beech forest. The trail ends at the Ladevac Hot Springs (you can sample water cascades, as it is considered good for skin diseases and sight problems!)
- Jarevac Trail– This path is another in the category of easy trails, follows the Jarevac mountain stream and continues up to the 3km long mountain trail that leads to Brana Jarevac station where you can rest and picnic. NOTE: You should have the proper equipment for the mountain trail.
- ‘Banjska Stena’ educational trail– medium trail, starts at the entrance to the Crveni Potok protected area and follows the forest trail to the Banjska Stena viewpoint. Why educational? Well, along the way you will find an educational sign with information on plant species and mountain ecosystems. This trail is recommended for groups because of possible encounters with wild animals. NOTE: The same goes for Biljeska Stena Trail, only this one has educational panels on animals.
Besides the point of view of Banjska Stena already mentioned, you can visit 4 other viewpoints, at least those that are fenced and safe for visitors. The majority of views are inaccessible, but these give the best view you can get from Tara Mountain:
- Banjska Stena is the most popular among hikers and offers spectacular views of Lake Perucac.
- Biljeska Stena also has the view of Lake Perucac but on the other side and you can also see the endemic Serbian spruce forest
- Crnjeskovo is located in Kaluderske Bare at an altitude of 1035m, 15 minutes’ walk from the monastery apartments
- Oslusa’s viewpoint is located 8 km from Mitrovac and is equipped with a gazebo, benches, and tables for picnicking. You can start the fire from this viewpoint because it has a combustion chamber. Those who love paragliding will find here a starting point.
- Sjenic’s viewpoint is the highest (1444 m), and it even has an additional 12 m watchtower. It offers a breathtaking view of the Derventa Gorge, the village of Rasiste, Lake Perucac, and the forested Tara Mountain.
Do not you think it is good that you can fish in the national park, mainly on the artificial lakes of Tara, since fishing is forbidden on rivers and streams. So be sure to check with the administration first where it is safe to fish.
Tara National Park has three marked cycle routes, which can also be used as hiking trails. The most popular is from the city of Zlatibor to Tara and vice versa down downwards. NOTE: It is possible to rent a bike if you do not have yours.
We are sure that some of you would like to kayak on one of the many lakes in the National Park, and the best thing is that you can rent them whenever you want.
Last activity is cultural tourism, with the visit of the archaeological site of Steci in Perućac, the Roman site of Kulina in Solotnik, and the medieval site with the Rača Monastery in Kaludjerska Bara. In the same place, a small but fascinating traditional village, with these houses so typical of Western Serbia. Finally, on the way back to the regional metropolis of Užice, the Kadinjača Memorial: a set of stelae and a route inaugurated in 1979, in honor of the fighters of the Užice workers’ battalion slaughtered there, on November 29, 1941, by the Nazis.
Šargan eight railway
Šargan Eight is one of Europe’s most attractive narrow gauge museum railway. 2 and half hours or ride and sightseeing through the beautiful nature of Tara mountain is something that you shouldn’t miss in Serbia.
Famous Serbian director Emir Kusturica has built the beautiful ethno village “Drvengrad” (eng. Wooden town) on Mećavnik, near the Šargan eight railway. Wooden houses like from fairytale and sight from the hill are definitely worth of visiting.
It is good to have a map of Tara National Park because it is surrounded by forests, so to avoid getting lost, be sure to buy one. The official map includes marked hiking trails, all roads, villages, and other topographic features. Park visitors also have leaflets on the park with useful information on several languages: Serbian, English, German, Russian and Hungarian.
Tara is only about 200 km away from Belgrade. But unfortunately, there is no high-way from Belgrade to Tara, and that’s why it takes about 4 hours of driving from Belgrade. It is possible to have a day tour on Tara, but we recommend you to spend at least a weekend on Tara.