Does experiencing true wilderness in the heart of Europe sound good to you? How about wandering through acres of pristine primeval forest with bears and wolves crossing your path? Or rafting through deep and rugged canyons, swimming in crystal clear mountain lakes, or visiting highest waterfalls and mountain peaks in the country? If the answer is yes, you shouldn’t miss Sutjeska National Park. It is the oldest and the biggest NP in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is a worthwhile experience for nature and adventure lovers alike.
What’s to see and do?
This park really has it all. Zelengora Mountain has 8 crystal clear lakes worth visiting. There are 17 clean rivers and rivulets, 10 mountain peaks over 2000 m.a.s.l (including the highest peak of BiH, Maglić at 2.386 m) and the largest and most well preserved primeval forest in Europe. I recommend fitting in as much as you can and three days would be a good amount of time for that. If you are rushed with time you could see a lot in a day as well, so don’t let that stop you from coming, but if you have some time this is a good place to spend it. Don’t miss a hike through the primeval forest, visit to Prijevor viewpoint, Trnovačko Lake and rafting the stunning Tara river (some of the most challenging rafting in Europe). You can hike, bike, fish and camp here as well. There is a huge stone monument you can’t miss at the entrance in Tjentište commemorating the Partisan victory over the Germans in II World War.
Largest primeval forest in Europe
This stunning Park is covered in forest meadows and pastures and it is home to one of the two remaining primeval forests in Europe. The Strict Forest Reserve ‘Perućica’ is well protected and nested right under the highest mountain peak in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Maglić. Trees here are some of the highest in Europe and they include ‘three sisters’ which are 65 meters tall. It is mostly inaccessible to people and thus largely unexplored. It has many trees that are 300 years old, and the primeval forest’s vintage is stated to be 20,000 years. Both flora and fauna are extremely rich. You can find brown bears, wolves, lynxes, chamois, over 90 kinds of butterflies, 170 kinds of trees and bush and a lot more.
At 75 meters high, Skakavac is one of the highest waterfalls in the country. Formed by the mountain stream Perućica meandering through the dense rainforest of the same name it falls between two steep rocks to the mouth of the Sutjeska River. The best view of the waterfall is from a viewpoint on the opposite side which is easy to get to.
Lakes known as mountain eyes
Beautiful Zelengora Mountain has 8 stunning glacial lakes called ‘mountain eyes’, including the most photographed Trnovačko Lake, famous for its heart shape. The lake is just outside the park and borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina at 1.500 m. Sutjeska River, as a main river basin carved an impressive, deep and rugged canyon (1.200 m) which separates Zelengora from Maglić, Volujak and Bioč Mountains.
Some of the most beautiful terrain on the White Trail of Via Dinarica in Bosnia and Herzegovina is in Sutjeska National Park. It is one of the most remote areas of the Trail, but it is well marked and visible. All the info on hiking the park you can find on Via Dinarica website. The relevant stages are BH-W-11 and BH-W-12.
Make the best of it
Though I was there on a short private tour, if you are here for the first time and want to make the best of it I would recommend taking a tour. If you want to hike the Perućica rainforest the guide is obligatory and you can hire one for 50 KM per day. Highlander and Encijan tour companies come highly recommended and their websites look very professional and detailed. Though I didn’t have a first hand experience with either of them, I have got my eye on Highlander’s Jeep safari, rafting and hiking tours which include going through Perućica Rainforest, NP Durmitor, Trnovačko Lake and rafting Tara River.
From Tjentište it will take you half an hour (by car) to reach the viewpoint of Perućica and Skakavac Waterfall. The second viewpoint is 100 meters away at Dragoš Sedlo. There is an administration building of the Park at Tjentište where you can ask for directions and hire a guide. Also there are information boards and maps in English showing what’s there to see and do in the area.
Google maps: Sutjeska National Park