07 Mar The Panjica River Canyon
One of the most picturesque bodies of water in Western Serbia, the Panjica River and its canyon make for a hidden adventure nearby one of the country’s cleanest rivers, Veliki Rzav. Tucked away in the Arilje region, the river is flanked by sheer cliffs and sloping meadows covered in lush vegetation. Having escaped the tourism footprint, the Panjica River remains in pristine condition and is considered a haven for adventurers.
The Panjica River Canyon is located about 200 km away from Belgrade, near the village Dobraca, some 15 km from Arilje, toward Ivanjica. The Belgrade-Valjevo-Pozega-Arilje highway presents the best route getting to the river. Located between the villages of Dobraca and Brekov, the river’s 5 km-long canyon is considered its most picturesque part. Here the Panjica River is distinguished from others, thanks to its waterfalls, cascades, and hidden cave.
Your adventure begins once you arrive at the village of Dobraca, once the most populous village in the Arilje district. The route is well marked and signs pointing toward the Panjica River Canyon are abundant. If you’re still in doubt, however, you may always ask the local villagers for directions. July is definitely one of the best times to adventure along this river, when the local vegetation is in full bloom and raspberry trees are full of fruit, creating a reddish contrast to the green environment.
After walking through the canyon for some 3 km, you will come across the 10 m-tall Panjica waterfall, one of the highlights of the canyon. A path located to the left of the waterfall leads to some smaller waterfalls. Continuing past the Panjica waterfall, there is also a water cave, another highlight of the canyon. The cave is in fact a spring that speleologists are yet to examine. Visitors may access between 70 and 80 metres of the cave. It is also believed that there are several lakes within the cave as well as smaller halls.
If you continue past the water cave, you will reach the Hajducka Cave (or Brigand’s Cave) and the Unknown Brigand’s Grave roughly half way through the canyon. According to legend, the Hajducka Cave is the last refuge of local brigands seeking shelter from invading Ottoman forces in the area. On the other hand, the Unknown Brigand’s Grave is said to be the resting place of the last defenders of the area. It is said that following their death, the brigand’s bodies were covered with stones on the very location of the grave. The village of Prilepac may be found nearby the grave, in which the 13th-century endowment of Prince Lazar, the church dedicated to the Birth of the Most Holy Mother of God. Another nearby significant cultural monument is the Raska architectural-style 13th-century female-only Klisura Monastery, located on the left bank of the Moravica River, on the Arilje-Ivanjica highway. If you decide to visit the Panjica River and its canyon, it is recommended you do so during a warm July day. Following your adventure along the Panjica River, head to the Veliki Rzav river and take advantage of its beaches.
Tips & Essentials:
- Both young and old may enjoy adventuring along the Panjica River, as the terrain is quite easy to navigate.
- Bring a backpack with food and water.
- Bring hiking shoes.
- Bring your swimming gear and a towel if you wish to enjoy the beaches along the Veliki Rzav River
How to get to the Panjica River Canyon:
The best way to get to the Panjica River is via the Arilje-Ivanjica highway. Travelling toward Ivanjica, you will pass the turn-off for the Klisura Monastery. From there, after about 15 km, you will find a turn off for the village of Dobraca, where your turn off the main road onto a small local road. You will then come across an intersection with signs. Turn right and go across a yellow bridge to make your way to the village of Dobraca.
Once you turn right and come across a memorial plaque, there is a place to park your car. From there you are left with a leisurely 1 – 2 km walk to Dobraca via a macadam road. You should come across a sign that says “Vodena Pećina” or “Водена Пећина”; an indication that you are on the right path. You will eventually reach the village fountain and a couple of hundred metres from there you will come to a crossroad. Head right and downhill along the well-marked road and you will eventually arrive at the gateway to the canyon of the Panjica River.
Arilje is well connected to other major towns if you prefer to use public transport. There are multiple buses travelling daily from Belgrade, and you may also get here via train from Uzice, Pozega, Cacak and Kraljevo. It’s definitely best to come here with your own transport, though, especially if you’re visiting during summer and want to head to the Veliki Rzav River as well.