Can you distinguish that certain smell of nature, when you just know you are hours away from civilization, and your senses open up to the outside stimuli in a prolific and undiscovered way? That is exactly what exploring Gradac River in Western Serbia smells like. The nature so unpolluted and the river so clean that you can just drop down every time you are thirsty and have a sip of rejuvenating water straight from the source. You can't resist but like the Gradac River.
A walk by this unpolluted river contains all the elements of a scenic adventure: crossing improvised wooden bridges, holding on the tree roots while hiking, awakening the inner Robinson Crusoe.
Gradac River was recently internationally acclaimed as one of the cleanest rivers in Europe at the Congress of Ecologists in Perugia. The river gorge sprouts with diverse plants and animals, many of which are protected or endangered. Originating from the clean and powerful mountain streams of Povlen mountain, the river paves the way through forest and rocks creating breathtaking views and an attractive gorge decorated with many caves. The geomorphology of the area is not uncommon for Serbia, but no other place in the country hides as many caves as the Gradac Gorge - 69 known to this date!
Walking upstream the river, following the marked trails, or asking the locals for their favorite place by the river will take you to the equally beautiful places in the area. The numerous cascades, refreshing turquoise waters, or picturesque rock formations, that at first seem impossible to pass, guarantee an unforgettable scenic adventure. The largest part of the area is covered in woods, providing shade and the meditative relief to our eyes - far from electronic devices, traffic jams, and crowds. Don’t fret if you stumble upon more turtles or hedgehogs than people. They are just a few of the regular inhabitants, that make us feel breathing in unison with nature - much like in those memorable Disney cartoons from our childhood.
The river Gradac is located just a few kilometers from Valjevo, and it’s easily reachable by the main road. The best way to get there is to stop at the old monastery Celije (also known as Gradac Monastery), that gives the feeling of astonishment even to those who are not really religious. Built in the 13 century, it was repeatedly burnt, destroyed and rebuilt throughout the history, and now stands tall in remembrance of all the hardships it pertained much like it bigger sibling Zica Monastery. Additionally, there is a big parking lot and a small restaurant nearby, as well as marked hiking trails starting from here.
A visit to the monastery can be a good way to finish your scenic adventure by the unspoiled and unpolluted Gradac river - a historic topping to the true natural delicacy.
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