The alarm buzzed at 04:02 and completely destroyed the beautiful, uncensored dream I was having. It was Friday and some people were probably still having tipsy conversations about world politics over an aged whisky. However, I woke up in this dark, misty hour of the day with one thought in mind – RAFTING TARA!
I was going to do rafting on the Tara and Drina River between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro and I was more than elated to get my hiney wet and whiney.
The Long, Exciting, and Exhausting Way to Rafting Tara
Before I could get my face (glasses included) splashed with tonnes of water, though, I had to get on a tiny minibus and spend the next 16 hours, jam-packed with 13 other travel bloggers from Bulgaria.
The early Sofia morning tried to wake us up with chilly temperatures and off we went. On our way, we passed through fascinating Serbian towns and picturesque villages, and, after a few jumping shots at the Serbian-Bosnian border, the majestic Bosnian mountains welcomed us with their powerful embrace.
After successfully wooing the border controls, we tantivy headed to the rafting camp as the sun was nearing its long-awaited sunset. Quick stop for a couple of local beers in a local town preceded our arrival at the camp.
When we finally reached the campground, the drizzle, which started an hour before that, slowly turned into a more aggressive sprinkle, which then, in turn, converted into a shower. Nature was weeping for some reason.
Although the morning revealed that nature had not been happy the whole night, around 10:00, the sun commenced its sky-breaking operation. Soon enough, it managed to warm up the freezing limbs of the rafting aficionados. We were ready to hop on the jeeps that took us to Montenegro, along with the rafting boats, where the refreshingly exciting escapade indeed began.
Rafting Tara – Taming the Drop-dead Gorgeous Tara and Drina River Canyons
Imagine the Grand Canyon in all its jaw-dropping grandeur, pointy crags, and the meandering Colorado River.
Now imagine something as staggeringly beautiful as that or even more. That’s the canyon of the Tara River or the Tara River Gorge and it is known as the Colorado of the Balkans.
Stretching 82 km (51 mi) in length, the last meandering 36 km (22 mi) establish the border between Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. At its deepest point, the gorge’s depth is around 1,300 m (4,300 ft), making it the first in Europe.
The rafting indeed starts in Montenegro on the majestic Tara River with its turquoise waters and just before its very end, the Tara, by establishing a confluence with the Piva River, turns into the Drina River. A couple of hundred metres after that, you find yourself at the Tara Rafting Centre.
If you haven’t had your face splashed by cold yet absolutely potable river water, then white water rafting is a magnificent way to do so. Besides, you will torpedo your adrenaline in the sky while trying to discipline Tara River’s rapids.
The whole course, which takes around 3 hours, will surely testify your courage with over 25 rapids. Some of them are for the most audacious of you.
In addition, there are places where the waters are quite calm. Therefore, if you feel the need to fuel that adrenaline once again and you cannot wait for the next rapid, you will have the chance to dip your neoprene hiney in the chilly water. However, only do that, following your guide’s permission.
You will also pass by a couple of enchantingly attractive waterfalls that empty themselves in the river. They will give you a chance to have a shower in the middle of the stupendous gorge.
Rafting Tara’s Stunning Location and its Palatable Food Choice
The camping is tucked on a beautiful hill, overlooking the gorgeous Drina River. The amazing surroundings of the camp promise for lovely mornings, crisp mountainous air, and utmost tranquillity and self-possession.
Water is drinkable and quite delicious so you can opt for water on tap without any hesitations. As mentioned before, the river water is perfectly drinkable, too.
Appetising Food that Will Satiate Capricious Tastes with Local Delicacies
Food has always taken an indispensable part of every traveller’s itinerary and it’s definitely one of the most delicious parts of any trip. I, as a gourmet worshipper, may confirm that all my inner and outer senses climaxed while savouring the local delicacies.
Therefore, rest assured that Rafting Tara will satiate any fastidious customer’s hunger. The scrumptious food that epitomises the wild Balkan spirit revolves around palatable home-made cheeses and home-cured hams that will provoke your palate.
In addition, the dishes, soups, and hors d’œuvres are delectable and they come in plenty.
What I found a bit upsetting was the limited amount of fruits and veggies served there, so definitely pack some with you.
Local Fiery Drinks that Will Pleasantly Incite Your Craving
The local rakija drinks with different tastes and flavours will try to massage your palate with their strong alcohol percentage. Rakija is a traditional drink, stemming from the Balkans, which makes you breathe fire as it is usually at least 40% of alcohol. It not only keeps you warm but it’s also a fantastic way to make new friends : )
A couple of different beer brands, home-made red wine, and several other spirits are also a viable option at the Tara River camping.
Helpful Tips to Save Your Hiney from Freezing and to Better Suck in the Gorgeous Scenery
Despite that the location of the camping Rafting Tara is utterly unique, nestled over the turquoise river waters, there are several tips you MUST know before initiating a booking:
- I would define the camping for low or ultra-low budget travellers since you sleep in unheated bungalows. It’s true that some are more luxurious than others and all of them are neat and tidy, but they are also unbelievably minuscule.
- In relation to the previous point, be warned that the bathing amenities are outside, so while you assiduously wash that mud away, the rain might keep you company (at least with its calming murmur). The squat toilets might keep men fit, but if you prefer privacy and at least hints of extravagance, this is definitely not the place for you.
- The dining area of Rafting Tara is located in the open air, as well.
- Taking the previous three points in consideration, I’d strongly advise you NOT to visit the camp in April-May unless you are a die-hard, cold-worshipping junkie. The temperatures in the bungalows were merely the same as those outside. Unless you want to brush your teeth while you shiver, go around the end of May as the sun will be more generous then. Besides, the rivers will be at full throttle at that time, as all the snow in the mountains will have melted by then.
- I’d highly recommend using a private car. You will save time at the borders (if we could call the shed at the Bosnian side a border). The guards are slow and ineffective. You might catch up some Free Wi-Fi, though.
- On the positive side, I’d reiterate my experience with the food. If one word is enough, I’d opt for scrumptious. Rest assured you will experience gourmet home-made climaxes at the camp.
- Bosnia’s local currency is the B&H convertible mark (BAM). However, one can pay anywhere with Euros and at some locations, even with Serbian dinars (RSD).
Absolutely Charming Must-Stops on the Way to or Back from Rafting Tara
On the very first day of the trip and just before we joined the long wait at the border, we stopped for around an hour at one of Emir Kusturica’s magnificent creations – Drvengrad (“The Wooden City”).
It is a traditional village which the popular Serbian film director erected for his movie “Life Is a Miracle”. Kusturica lost his city [Sarajevo] during the war, so that’s why he wished to construct his own village where he would organise seminars for individuals who’d like to learn to create cinema, ceramics, concerts, and paintings.
Speaking of Sarajevo, it is also another must-stop and it stands “only” around 70 km away from the campsite of Rafting Tara. I have put “only” in quotes as the drive cuts through various mountains and takes more than an hour and a half. Due to some complications and time constraints, I would have been able to visit it just for a couple of hours, so I decided that I was going to do it another time.
What I did visit on the way back was the city of Višegrad, which rests at the confluence of the Drina River and the Rzav River. The town houses the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge from the Ottoman Era, which is a UNESCO world heritage site made popular by the Nobel prize-winning author Ivo Andrić and his novel “The Bridge on the Drina”.
Even if you are not a history fan, the bridge’s construction, coupled with the pants-dropping scenery, is fantastic. Around the bridge area, there are street vendors selling magnets and other souvenirs.
Are you scared of rafting? Don’t! It’s one of the most exhilarating ways to splash your adrenaline-thirsty face with water! Throw in the drop-dead gorgeous nature and the steep yet stunning mountains, and you will end up enjoying every single bit of this fascinating experience.
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