The prolonged minutes of peace and quiet, while contemplating the surreal view, were shattered by the tourist’s broken English: “But it’s artificial, right? How can nature make something like this?” I chuckled with a reassuring smile: “No, it’s all natural.” It was almost like hearing my own voice asking the same question, as no matter how well you know and understand the background story and the scientific details, the scenery before your eyes just makes the sane mind wonder in disbelief. This scenario probably plays out within every person who sees the swirling meanders of the Uvac River for the first time.
The curves that the river makes seem too perfect and too complex to be true. Although carving them like that took many years - too many for any human to build it. The meanders were formed by powerful water of river Uvac, patiently sculpting through the limestone rocks over the millennia, creating looping arches and deep cut-in canyon. The canyon walls rise up to the 100 meters above the swirling waters that, in some places, turn at an angle of 270 degrees.
This results in the magnificent view that looks equally amazing from any elevation, even while exploring the canyon from a canoe or a boat.
Although breathtaking views don’t have much merit when it comes to nature conservation, the canyon of Uvac is a protected nature reserve for its famous rare inhabitant, the legendary griffon vulture. Only 20 years ago, the population was almost extinct in this region, counting only three couples of the grown birds. Luckily, with much dedication and preservation, the vulture population today consists of more than 300 of these birds, that fly freely over the canyon and add-up to the scenery.
The sound of the three meters long wings shifting through the heights instills the powerful feeling in me: I am only an observer, a guest in this place. I am only a human.
These birds are true symbols of power and freedom, our guide didn’t miss to mention that some of them fly as far as Dubrovnik in Croatia, just to eat and spend a night there.
The experience is adventurous in all its fragments, and even reaching the meanders will be an adventure on its own. The most attractive part of the canyon is located 15 kilometers from the small town of Sjenica. However, half of the way includes going through a dirt road in bad condition, so often what sounds like a 20-minutes ride turns into an hour-long one. It’s advised to use an off-road vehicle or take a cab.
The nearby mountains of Zlatar, Zlatibor, and Tara make for an adventurous tour of Western Serbia. Numerous lakes, several national parks, and special nature reserves are easily reachable within a 60 km radius. Visiting the swirling meanders of Uvac River is not reserved only for the bravest, it’s for the most curious ones. I mean, how often do you see a landscape that challenges your ability for critical thinking?
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