Picture a crystal-clear lake whose surface gorgeously mirrors the surrounding majestic mountains. Picture only pure, untouched and wild nature that no man’s hand ever altered. Now, picture this image eight times and get ready for an exclusive insight into Zelengora Lakes. As if Bosnia’s most beautiful mountain wasn’t mesmerising enough, an additional allure had to be added – its eight glacial lakes. These “mountain eyes”, as people call it, are true hidden gems peppered by God’s hand all over Mt. Zelengora and its peaks. Yet, they remain rather unknown by many nature enthusiasts, which is why I advise you to discover these eight glacial beauties called Zelengora Lakes before others do it.
Starting from Tjentište, the core of National Park Sujeska, a 20 km long road will guide you to the first glacial lake – Donje Bare. Located on the northeastern side of Mt. Zelengora and 1500 m above the sea level, this lake is also nestled at the foothill of Mt. Tovarnica and its peak Planinica (1722 m). The lake is only 200 m long, 140 m wide, and with a maximum depth of four meters. As its name suggests it, Donje Bare (Down Pond) is surrounded by alpine meadows with small ponds that boost in marsh flora. The water of this lakes comes from different springs, and it flows through the network of underground channels. An irresistible beauty of this place, where a tour to get an eagle's eye view on Mt. Maglić & Perućica Jungle starts, stole the heart of former Yugoslav president Tito, who had a mountain chalet by this lake.
Around two kilometers on the west from Donje Bare, one can find another glacial lake – Gornje Bare. The lake is snuggled on the slopes of Uglješa peak (1858), but also between the peaks Dobra (1795) and Planinica (1722 m). Situated at 1550 m above the sea level, Gornje Bare Lake has something in common with Gornje Bare – the name and rich marsh flora.
On the northwestern side of Mt. Zelengora, you will find a lake called Crno Jezero. Located at the foothills of Mt. Vrbničke Kolibe, at 1500 m above the sea level, this oval-shaped lake is 180 m long, 70 m large and three meters deep. The reason why people call it Black Lake (crno=black, jezero=lake) lies in the fact that the coast and the bottom of the lake are covered with some black mold, which makes it look dark. Famous as the only place in Europe where the brown trout spawns naturally, this lake is ideal for fly fishing during the summer months.
Less than 500 m on the south of Crno Jezero, another glacial lake waits for all nature lovers to discover it. Bijelo Jezero is situated at the altitude of 1450 m and surrounded by the peaks of Mt. Orlovac and Mt. Trebova. Being a round-shaped lake (400 m in diameter), Bijelo Jezero is far bigger and deeper (4 m) than Crno Jezero. If you wonder why it is called White Lake (bijelo=white, jezero=lake), here is the answer – the bottom of the lake is covered with white rocks and sand. Interestingly, the lake also forms a beautiful creek on one of its sides.
Thanks to the emerald green color of its water, Kotlaničko Lake is considered one of the most beautiful ones in the region of Mt. Zelengora. Hugged by Mt. Dumoš, Mt. Prutač, Mt. Klek and Mt. Zimovača, all between 1783-1879 m above the sea level, this glacial lake lies at the altitude of 1528 m. Slightly bigger and more profound than most of other lakes, it has the length of 480 m and the width of 200 m, while a maximum depth reaches 10 m. On its southern part, this pear-shaped lake sinks into the karst pit and reappears five km towards the south, in the place Pridvorica. Exceptionally rich with Arctic char and other fish, Kotlaničko Lake is also home of an endemic amphibian Triton.
Being around 600 m long, 350 m wide and located at 1672 m above the sea level, Štirinsko Lake is by far the biggest and the highest of all Zelengora Lakes. At the same time, it is the shallowest lake with only two meters of depth. If you are at Kotlaničko Lake, it will take you around an hour to reach this lake. Even though the lake is surrounded by Mt. Dumoš, Todor (1949 m) and Osredak (1828), you will not have a feeling that you are at such high altitude. Its banks are slightly leaned with some sand and stones, while the surface of the lake is covered with watergrass. Besides some wild ducks, here you will also find an Arctic char. Nearby Štirinsko Lake, one can see 80 medieval tombstones called “stećci”.
Nested at the foothills of Mt. Zelengora and Mt. Lelija, but also in the beautiful canyon, Kladopolјsko Lake is located at the altitude of 1380. With a maximum depth of nine meters, the lake is 250 m long and 100 m wide. The only way to access this beauty is from the town of Kalinovik and following the direction of village Obalj. As its name suggests it (klada=log), people started calling it Kladopolјsko Lake because of many logs that cover the bottom of the lake. We can imagine that while ago, this region was covered with forests and that the loggers put some logs in the lake. Also known as Martin’s Spring, due to a source that is 500 m away, Kladopolјsko Lake is fed by many creeks, and it flows off as a stream that disappears below the surface. This glacial lake is also very attractive for fly fishing.
On the route between the towns of Foča and Gacko, you need to turn at the saddle Čemerno, and after 25 km of mainly macadam road, you will reach Orlovačko Lake. Located somewhere between Mt. Orlovac (1965), Stog (1821) and Mt. Ljeljen (1765), this glacial lake sits on 1438 m above the sea level. With its length of 350 m, width of 100 m and depth up to four meters, this lake is perhaps not the largest but, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful of all Zelengora Lakes. Orlovačko Lake is also a heaven for fishers since it boosts in Arctic char, brook trout and rainbow trout.
Besides its eight glacial lakes, Mt. Zelengora has got one more beauty - Borilovačko Lake. Situated around one kilometre from Orlovačko Lake at the altitude of 1450 m, this is the only artificial lake of Mt. Zelengora. Enclosed by Mt. Kalelija and Mt. Stog, the lake is 250 m long, 100 m wide and up to five meters deep. Also known as Jugovo Lake, it has been named after its constructor Jug, a gamekeeper of National Park Sutjeska. Borilovačko Lake is also rich with rainbow trout.
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.