23 Apr Vratna River Canyon
If you were to look at a tourist map of Eastern Serbia, nobody could blame you for completely missing the Vratna River Canyon. After all, its neighbours include the Djerdap National Park, Resava Cave and the Krupajsko Spring, some of the countries best known natural attractions. Nevertheless, this hidden canyon and its arches, the likes of which you won’t see elsewhere in Europe, are an adventure destination you can’t miss.
The Vratna River Canyon is located 35 km north-west of Negotin, the closest major town, known all over Serbia for its wine cellars. Further north-west from the Vratna Canyon you will find the Djerdap National Park, less than 20 km away. If instead you head south for 1.5 hours, you will arrive at the Borski Stol and Veliki Krs mountains. As you can see, this canyon is a pretty centralised adventure location. You could easily go and a two or three day journey of exploration throughout this area.
Known as the Vratna Gates, three imposing natural arches are the highlight of this canyon. The first two Gates are easily accessible. You will reach them after a 10-minute walk past the Vratna Monastery. The third Gate, however, follows 3 km of adventure along a marked trail through dense vegetation as well as through and across the Vratna River. Along the way, a keen eye will reveal caves ready to be explored and on the way back you have the chance to climb atop the second arch enjoy the view from above.
Travelling downstream, the first archway you will come across is Mala (Little) Prerast. Located just 200 m from the Vratna Monastery, the natural archway is anything but small. It stands 34 m tall, is 30 m wide and is 15 m thick. The second, Velika (Big) Prerast is 45 m tall, 23 m wide and 30 m thick. The final and most beautiful arch, Suva (Dry) Prerast is 34 m tall, 15 m wide and 10 m thick. The first two formed due to the collapsing of a cave while Suva Prerast resulted from the plunging of the river.
Near the final Gate you may find three caves. Though speleologists haven’t formally explored the caves in detail, they say that the one closest to Suva Prerast is 400 m long; the second closest hides within it a small lake; and, the furthest is home to a complex system of tunnels and corridors.
Tips & Essentials:
- It’s best to visit the Vratna River Canyon during the warmer months of the year
- Bring spare clothes, including shoes, as you will need to walk through the river at some point if you wish to reach Suva Prerast
- Bring food and water.
How to get to the Vratna River Canyon:
The best way to get to the Vratna Canyon is by using private transport, as public transport will only get you as far as Negotin. Roughly half way between Negotin and Kladovo, you will will come across the village Slatina. After passing through Slatina you will arrive at the village Urovica, where you will find signs pointing toward Vratna. Follow the sign toward Vratna until you reach the monastery, at which point your adventure begins.