With its length of 150 km , Tara is the longest river in Montenegro. Its headwaters are two brooks descending from the peaks of Komovi, then the river rapidly presses northwards in a long bow and ends at the other end of the country at Šćepan polje where it joins with Piva and forms River Drina.
However, feature that transcends national borders and rings awe around the world is that in the second part of its course Tara has cut an astounding canyon, whose sides are up to 1,300 meters high and rank as the highest in Europe and second in the world be the top competitors as well: clear green water that becomes turbid only after heavy rains, interchanging gorges and fields, marvelous woods of birch and pine, numerous waterfalls and white waters famous with rafters.
The uttermost recognition of its beauties came in 1977 when Tara canyon was added by UNESCO to the list of the world’s ecological biosphere reserves.
The first part of Tara’s course that passes through Kolašin and Mojkovac the pleasant meadowland doted with houses and orchards slowly grows narrower while the mountains rise higher. The canyon formally starts at the entrance of the Durmitor National Park, 15 km north of Mojkovac the pleasant meadowland dotted with houses and orchards slowly grows narrower while the mountains rise higher.
The canyon formally starts at the entrance of the Durmitor National Park, 15 km north of Mojkovac. Close below the small hotel “ Ravnjak” is the confluence of fast and noisy Bistrica and Tara. Not far from here, immediately after the first rapid, is an interesting wooden bridge at Djavolji laz, one of the narrowest points of the canyon. The first two kilometres upon entering the national park the road wind through Crne podi, a pristine wood of centuries old black pines. These giants rise up to 50m high and close above the road blocking the sunlight and clinging incredibly to the step rooks high above the river.
The village of Gornja Dobrolovina lies nested in a widening at the end of the woods. It is the best known for the Monastery of Dobrilovina a few hundred meters to the right of the road. The modest monastery church was built in 1602 but has since been ravaged several times by the Turks and nothing of the original interior decoration has survived . On the other side of the road starts a forest path leading to Lake Zabojsko ( 5km away) hidden in the woods on the slopes of Mt Sinjajevina. The road continues steadily northwards; a good place to rest is the Ćorbudžak spring that bursts strongly just below the road. Some 10 kilometers further down the road is Splavište ( sometimes also called Šljivansko), a starting point for many of the rafting tours with a small camp alongside.
One kilometer further along the roadside stands the memorable to Vojvoda Džaković, who died here in 1875 war while not allowing the Turks to cross the river. Next, the road crosses the rocks from which springs Ljutica ( “Fear-some”) a river only 170m long but rumbling a dazzling amount of water, some 1000 liters per second, which makes it one of the most buoyant springs in Europe. The road now leaves the river and slowly ascends up to the Djurdjevića Tara Bride, probably the most memorable point in the canyon. The bridge was constructed in 1937-40 according to the plants of engineer Mijat Trojanović and at the time presented an admirable constructional achievement. Its total length of its arches spanning 116 meters.
In the middle of this arch the bridge rises 151 meters above the river. From this location open dramatic views over and along the canyon. The bust of Lazar Jauković on the western end of the bridge stands as a reminder to a sad story about a life irreversibly connected with this fascinating construction. Jauković, born in the vicinity, was one of the engineers who built the bridge. Just a few years later, in 1943, he was entrusted by communist partisans to blow it up and to prevent the arrival of enemy forces. Jaukovic did the job well and blew up only the smallest arch. For this act he was later captured by the nationalist četnik forces and shot on the bridge.
From this point the road leaves Tara, on the side continuing to Pljevlja and on the other climbing to the Jezera plateau and to Žabljak. The rest of the sights described from here on can only be reached by those rafting down the river.
Some five kilometers further down stands the Greek Bridge ( Grčki most) where the old road crossed the river since Roman times and which was very busy continuosly up to 1937 and the construction of the new bridge. On the right bank of the river there is also a small medieval cemetery with stećak gravestones. Not far from here, deeper in the woods, are the remains of the Roman sanctuary dedicated to god Mithras. The path that branches to the right from the bridge leads to the Arhangel Monastery which following centuries of lying in ruins has been renovated recently.
Continuing down the river one comes to the Bijela vrela ( “White Springs”), a natural phenomenon. These springs funnel water through underground tunnels from Žabljak for ten kilometres, passing unusually, under the riverbed of Tara end emerging on its right bank. After the oncoming two rapids Tara reaches Lazin kamen, its narrowest and deepest point: here the river shrinks to just 4 to 6 m wide, while its depth reaches 12 m. River Draga is the most important tributary of Tara in its flow through the canyon. If descends from the Ljubišnja Mountain with a gradient of 88m per kilometer forming a small canyon 6 km long, known for its large number of eagles’ nests. Next comes Radovan luka (24 km from Splavišta), the sandy beach on the left bank; behind it is the flat terrain that gives home to a camp and a small motel, a usual overnight stop for rafters. While the right bank remains steep, the left one gradually opens forming a wide amphitheatre in which nests the village of Tepca. It lies more than a thousand meters below the rest of terrain that gives home to a camp and a small motel, a usual overnight stop for rafters. While the right bank remains steep, the left one gradually opens forming a wide amphitheatre in which nests the village of Tepča.
It lies more than a thousand meters below the rest of the terrain to the south end enjoys an unusual form of solitude. At the side where this amphitheatre closes, the canyon is at its deepest measuring 1343m from the river to the Veliki Štuoc peak rising above the left bank. Further down one reaches Sige Bajlovića, cascading waterfalls descending into Tara from the height of 35 meters. Its waters originate from a still unexplored cave some 100 m uphill that has a small lake in it. River Sušica that has also carved an attractive canyon, flows into Tara from the left. The Nozdruć spring and waterfall on the left side mark the exit from the area of the Durmitor National Park. Sige Jovovića also on the left is the largest waterfall in the canyon with a fall of 40m. Some five kilometers down to the river lay the Brštanovića and, Encijan camps ( the latter being on the riverbank that formally belongs to Bosnia and Herzegovina), 50 km of rafting from Splavište. These two camps, and one in Grab which also provides lodging in cottages, are the most common places for those preferring the shorter ( and cheaper) rafting.
From here it is a few hours ride to Šćepan polje where Tara’s green-gray waters unite with Piva’s dark blue in a foaming whirlpool that ends their long runs, forming the River Drina.There are several ways to descend down the Tara, longer and shorter, and on different crafts. Those that include passing through its most spectacular part start from Splavište, a one day tour goes as far as Radovan luka, , two days will take you to Brštanovića and three days to Šćepan Polje. Apart from the ordinary rubber boats one can also take a real wooden raft. These are made to the likeness of the old crafts used historically to transport the logs down the river in earlier times.
Here, all the work is done by skilful rafters while the guests sit in the middle of the raft. Since all of these tours include taxes to the national park they are more expensive. The cheaper option is to start from Bršanovića ( 10 km from the confluence) and still enjoy Tara’s clear green waters, the magnificence of its canyon and some of the river’s wildest rapids.
Montenegro Hostel Team