Exactly what is national park?
According to Wikipedia, a national park is a park in use for conservation purposes. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently, there is a common idea: the conservation of ‘wild nature’ for posterity and as a symbol of national pride.
There are lot’s of other definitions but everyone agrees that national parks protect the best of our natural heritage: stunning landscapes, extraordinary wildlife and majestic nature.
Having that in mind, it’s no wonder that, on January 13, 1962, national park Sutjeska was established.
Today, National Park Sutjeska is the oldest national park in BiH. It is also the biggest and covers the area of 16,052.34 hectares. More then 66% is covered with forest, meadows and pastures. Park extends over an mountain area at junction of borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. It is bounded with rivers Piva, Drina and Neretva and mountains Bioč, Vučevo, Maglić, Volujak, Lebršnik and Zelengora.
Thanks to the outstanding natural values and their preservation, since 2000, NP Sutjeska has been included in II category of IUCN (UN Department of Nature and Natural Resources).
NP Sutjeska is the most diverse complex of ecosystems on the territory of BiH. Also, it is one of the most diverse in the area of Southeast Europe. This makes him one of the most famous national parks in this part of Europe. The entire area of the park is distinguished by the exceptional beauty and diversity of landscape shapes – from pitiful valleys, dense forest complexes, mountain pastures to high mountain massifs.
Primeval forest Perućica
If we speak about magnificent and untouched wilderness, than we have to say that NP Sutjeska hosts one of the last two remaining primeval forests in Europe, called Perućica.
The Perućica Forest is a strictly protected area of the Sutjeska National Park. It occupies an area of 14.34 square kilometers which makes her biggest rainforest in Europe. The human hand has never had an impact on the birth-life-die cycle of plants and animals in this rainforest. It contains a large number of trees about 300 years old, and it is considered that the rainforest itself is about 20,000 years old. Trees over 50 meters high can be found here, and currently the highest measured is 57.4 meters high.
Over 170 species of trees and shrubs and over 1000 species of herbs have been registered in this rainforest so far, many of which are endemic. That’s why Perucica is considered to be a site of particular scientific interest.
According to scientists at Yale University, Perucica offers a unique study on the role of rainforests in the global carbon cycle. Since it is one of the last rainforests in urban Europe, that makes her the perfect natural laboratory.
This jungle is full of beautiful unspoiled natural scenery. One of them is the Skakavac, waterfall located in the heart of the rain forest, 98 meters high.
This is one of the largest and most beautiful waterfalls in BiH and a real tourist attraction. Skakavac is the highest continually flowing waterfall in Bosnia and Herzegovina at a height of 98 meters. It is situated within a deep forest surrounded by beautiful mountainous terrain.
Although it does not have a large flow of water, it is distinguished by extraordinary beauty. This is expressed especially in winter when the ice overlaid slap and forms fantastic view. The surrounding area is one of the most heterogeneous in the region where dominates spruce-fir forest.
Today, the area around the waterfall has been developed into a proper picnic site. Standing below waterfall and listening its sounds is really something worth experiencing. Spend your day there and you surely won’t regret it.
Mt. Maglić (Misty Mountain)
Also, the highest peak of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mt. Maglić (2,386 m.n.v.), is located in the area of the Park.
As its name suggests it, Mt. Maglić (Misty Mountain) is most of the year covered with fog. But if you get on the top during a clear day it is possible to capture almost all Bosnia and Herzegovina’s mountains fare deep in the continent.
The special hunting ground “Zelengora”
Zelengora covers an area of 53,240 ha. In the hunting ground of “Zelengora”, managed by the National Park Sutjeska, breeding, protection and breeding of game, bears, wild boar, roe deer and cetaceans are carried out. The hunting ground is 53.700 ha and extends to one of the most attractive parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The fauna of the park is very rich and diverse. Starting with a large number of invertebrates, especially from Lepidoptera, amphibians, reptiles and fish, 36 species and 18 families of mammals and numerous bird species.
The rivers Sutjeska, Hrčavka and Jabušnica, as well as some Zelengore lakes, are rich in fish, especially a creek trout, and fishing on these rivers and lakes is a true pleasure for all lovers of this sport.
If you are adrenaline lover and if scaling cliffs only to jump off them into bubbling rapids and scramble to the other side of the river is your idea of fun, than you must go on Canyoning Hrcavka.
Mountain Eyes of Zelengora
But, the most valuable treasure of this park are eight glacial lakes, also known as “mountain eyes” of Zelengora. Scattered all around the mountain, these lakes are a genuine paradise for all nature lovers. The most famous and attractive of them is lake Trnovačko Lake.
Trnovačko Lake is a glacial lake at an elevation of 1,500 metres (4,900 ft), is 700 metres (2,300 ft) long and 400 metres (1,300 ft) wide. It is set amidst a “huge amphitheater of rocky peaks”. The lake water is green-blue in color and when you see it’s heart shape, it will be enough to fall in love at first sight.
The lake is not easily reachable, which makes it a favourite destination for many hikers. You can get there only through two ways – either from the direction of Plužine (Montenegro) or from the direction of Foča (Bosnia & Herzegovina).
The average lake temperature is 20°C plus, and although the lake altitude is 1520 meters, combined with mountain sun allows all day swimming and refreshing.
Lakes surface mirrors the surrounding mountains and creates a relaxing and fascinating image that you will never forget.