14 Apr Uvac Special Nature Reserve
From dramatic meanders to vast surrounding forests of spruce and birch, the Uvac Special Nature Reserve is one of Serbia’s best-preserved natural attractions. Adventure throughout the emerald water and lush terrain of this Category I nature reserve to discover majestic animal life, sweeping vistas and hidden cave systems. Despite being one of the country’s best known adventure destinations it amazingly remains one of its most unspoiled.
The Uvac Special Nature Reserve is located in Southwestern Serbia and covers over 7,000 hectares of land. Four mountains, being Zlatar, Muternica, Javor and Jadovnik surround the nature reserve and Zlatibor and Golija are within driving distance as well. The reserve is spread between three municipalities, being Nova Varos, the Zlatibor District and Sjenica, the last of which becomes one of the coldest places on earth during winter.
The dramatic meanders of the Uvac River are the highlight of the nature reserve. As the 119 km-long emerald Uvac River cuts its way through the limestone terrain, it turns dramatically, up to 270 degrees, forming a canyon between steep cliffs covered in lush vegetation. This part of the reserve is known as the Uvac Canyon and is its most protected part. The best way to experience this part of the nature reserve is from the water and the only way to do that is via an organised river tour, which you can read more about below under Tips & Essentials.
The Uvac Canyon hides one of Serbia’s longest cave systems, Usac. Featuring a partially submerged entrance and still considered geologically active, Usac is made up of two caves, being Usak and the Ice Cave, both of which are connected by the Bezdan pitt. Once you enter, light will quickly disappear and you will need torches, as no artificial lighting has been placed inside. The cave system stretches for over 6 km and is generously decorated with speleothems: stalactites, stalagmites, drapes and frostwork, some of which reach a length of 10 metres.
One of the greatest achievements of the Uvac Special Nature Reserve is the preservation of the griffon vulture. With only 7 specimens nesting here during the 1970s, initiative was taken to save the bird from extinction. The project was a success, as over 300 specimens live here today. As far as the local avifauna is concerned, the griffon vulture is the highlight. Not only because of their majestic appearance and incredible 3 m wingspan, but also for the vital role it plays in the ecosystem. By feeding exclusively on dead carcases, the vulture ensures that disease does not spread in the area and acts as a natural recycling mechanism. You will find that locals are rather protective of the bird species, as they contributed to the effort that would save them.
Aside from the nature reserve’s famous meanders, impressive cave and plethora of birds, here you may also visit three impressive artificial lakes. The Radoinja Lake is the oldest of the three and is also located the furthest north. Located near its eponymous village, the lake is an impressive 11 km long. An annual regatta takes places here as well and the lake is a popular water sports location. Next up is the country’s third largest lake, the Zlatar Lake. Perhaps the most popular lake in the nature reserve, it is frequented by beachgoers and water sport enthusiasts all summer long. Finally the Sjenicko Lake is located within the meanders of the Uvac River and is therefore considered the most beautiful.
Tips & Essentials:
- Visit the Uvac Special Nature Reserve during may, when plant life is in full bloom and animal life is most active.
- As it’s protected by the Serbian Government, the Uvac River Canyon is accessible only via an organised tour. Contact local authorities via firstname.lastname@example.org to book your river tour. The costs is approximately 1,100 RSD (10€) and includes a tour of the Usac cave system.
- Some local guesthouse operators are permitted to conduct tours throughout the Uvac Canyon. These tours may be more expansive and can cover treks to lookouts which can take up to 3 hours.
- Be flexible with your travel plans and check weather conditions ahead of your visit. Rain can come during any time and it could result in your missing out on your boat tour.
How to get to the Uvac Special Nature Reserve:
Nova Varos is the largest town in the local area and is 258 km away from Belgrade and is the best base from which to visit the Uvac Canyon. You can reach the town centre by bus from both Serbia’s capital, as well as Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica. Another option is to catch a train to Prijepolje (located along the famous Belgrade-Bar railway line), from which you would take a 30-minute bus ride to Nova Varos. Taxis from Nova Varos toward the Uvac Special Nature Reserve are inexpensive and shouldn’t cost more than 500 RSD.