Piva is the name for a river, a region and clan that lives on both sides of the river. Though the name sounds very similar to pivo (beer)the correlation is only accidental while the name actually meant “drinkable” in Old Slavic. River Piva is officially only 34km long from the Piva monastery, where its source was, to the convergence point with Tara at Šćepan Polje where they form Drina. However it was dammed in 1976 at approximately half of its course and became one with river Komarnica, forming an exceptionally elongated lake ( 40km ) of incredible turquoise green-blue color which seems to change from moment depending on the light. The forming of the Pivsko Lake changed the life of this area dramatically: the water flooded the most fertile ground and a part of Piva canyon became a deep lake ( up to 188m) expanding into neighboring valleys, while the climate changed to the milder one.
The centre of the region is the tiny town of Plužine ( pop. 1,5000) built simultaneously with the dam and therefore totally new. From here the road splits in two directions, one continuing along the lake to the north and the other ascending sharply to the Pivska planina, a vast tableland backcountry of raw wilderness. The town is also where the canyon begins and the last place to fill in your tank for the next 60 km which are uninhabited. Plužine also has a hotel, several restaurants and is a good base to enjoy the lake, with locals organizing boat rides and excursion such as the one to the Velika pećina ( The Big Cave).
The Piva canyon is one of the most staggering places in the country. The road hacks its way along the lake, pressed on the other side by sheer rocks of sun-shadowing heights or passing through a multitude of tunnels. After 16km one reaches the hydro-electrical power plant “Piva” ( also known “Mratinje” for the village that lives above it). The dam is 220 meters high, the highest in Europe, and presented a huge engineering success at the time of its construction. Its tall wall crossed by a road makes a sharp distinction with the calm waters on one side the chasm with a small river at its bottom on the other. From here on the experience is even more outstanding as you can view the real proportions of the canyon that reaches the depth of 1200 meters. The journey climaxes with the 122m long span Kostova greda bridge, as astonishing feat of engineering that seems to fly over the abyss at the the highest 145 meters. Soon afterwards the canyon wanes though the wilderness of the deep forests is still there. Rivers Tara and Piva join at Šćepan Polje, where the border crossing with Bosina and Herzegovina is situated. If you are going rafting on the last part of Tara, you will have to pass the border control as if you are leaving the country but will take only the road forks immediately to the right check-point ( the sigh reads “Crkvičko polje”) and leading to Brštanovica, Grab and other camps popular with rafters.
Pivska planina is a desolate tableland with on average height of 1200m from which rise peaks up to 2500m. On three sides it is framed by canyons: to the west of Piva, to the north of Tara and to the east of Sušica. The scenery is moonlike a limestone terrain dotted with sinks and with just a few forests.Surprisingly, there are 15 villages in this uninviting and unique region, all of them living from farming, mostly sheep. The village of Trsa has a central position. The school, “Milogora” inn and the shop are on the road while the houses lay behind the first hill. Together with a camp houses these make Trsa a good starting point for further exploitation. To the south and a bit higher is Pisče, whose cemetery by the church holds a number of old stećak tombstones with intriguing symbols. To the north of Trsa the road leads across the wooded rise of Milgora to the village Nedajno. This scenic village lies at the edge of the amazing Sušica river canyon, deep, always green scar between the two plateaus. From here one enjoys superb views over the Sušica and Tara canyons and the village of Crna Gora at the other side of the gap seemingly just a couple of hundred meters away but actually 15 km far.
Montenegro Hostel Team