Greetings, Readers. I’ve neglected this blog for the past six months, firstly because I had a lot on with work and then because I took some time out to go travelling around my favourite part of Europe, the Balkans.
To get things back on track, I thought I’d add some photos from a hike I did during this trip, within beautiful Tara National Park in western Serbia back in September.
Top image: Looking north towards Bosnia and Herzegovina from a viewpoint within the park
I reached the park, which lies at the eastern end of the Dinaric Alps, via a rather cramped minibus journey from the small but very pleasant city of Užice (which I still struggle to pronounce). The central part of the park has various accommodation options, places to eat, a couple of small supermarkets and a row of souvenir stalls.
I stayed two nights at the Tara Hostel & Hiking Centre. It’s pretty basic facilities-wise but my dorm room was warm and comfy and the staff (really volunteers who get free lodgings) were very friendly and knowledgeable about the various activities available within the park. They can also organise tours around the main attractions and viewpoints.
‘Hanging out’ at the hostel; I’d like to clarify that my legs got slightly less white as the trip progressed…
My reason for visiting was hiking and, after speaking to the volunteers and some of my fellow guests, decided on the linear route leading to Rača Monastery (if you’re not familiar with Serbia, it’s all about medieval monasteries, and I was fortunate to visit quite a few of them there and in the wider region). It’s one of a number of interlinking signed routes within the park and is easily doable as a day hike, even with the reduced daylight hours of September.
I really enjoyed the hike and the variety of views, especially when I got the hang of spotting the trail markers – a white dot within a red circle usually painted on trees, a common navigation aid in this part of the world but one I wasn’t used to at home.
The trail started off following a quiet rural road before taking an informal, meandering route downhill through forest and finally meeting a track that continued down to the narrow valley floor where the monastery is located. The middle section was the most challenging terrain- and navigation-wise but also the most rewarding; there were a couple of times where I couldn’t spot the markers and went off-course a little but thankfully managed to retrace my steps and get back on track.
Here are some photos which should give a feel for the route. Looking back at them now, I’m struck by how lush and green the scenery was. I’d definitely go back to Tara and do some more hiking.
Trail signage and a brown bear warning – I was reassured to hear that the bears are tagged and monitored to ensure they don’t wander into any areas where people are likely to be
A zoomed in shot from the same viewpoint as the main image; you can see the town of Bajina Bašta in the distance, with Bosnia (actually its self-governing Serb Republic or Republika Srpska) just beyond the Drina River
The much anticipated moment when the monastery suddenly emerges out of the forest; it was originally built in the 13th century and was reconstructed in the early 19th century, having been attacked and burnt down several times under Ottoman rule
Total distance: 24 kms / 15 miles out and back (including wrong turns and a detour near the end, aborted due to a change in weather)
Total time: Approx. six hours
Map: Tara National Park 1:50,000 mountaineering / tourist map (available to buy from hostel and supermarkets within the park)
More info: www.nptara.rs/en/
Here’s an aerial video map of my route created using the Strava and Relive apps.
If you’d like to see more photos from my Balkans travels (as well as of boggy Irish hills…), you can connect with me on my Instagram account. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it (sharing buttons below).