Uvac River – Lake – Uvac Special Nature Reserve
Uvac River flows between the northern cliffs of gorgeous Zlatar Mountain and the southern cliffs of Zlatibor Mountain chains and slopes of Javor Mountain in southwest Serbia. Uvac River is situated in Western Serbia, about 250 km south of Belgrade and forms several artificial lakes thanks to its huge mountainous energy-potential. The cliffs around the Uvac Lake are natural habitat for whitehead vulture (Griffin Vultures) which is the largest colony of griffin vultures in the Balkans. About 250 specimen of these rare birds protected by the law live in the wild area of Uvac River, making the symbol and brand of Uvac Canyon. The source of Uvac River is located on Ozren Mountain at the altitude of 560 meters, 16 km south-east of Sjenica. Uvac River is 119 km long and features mountainous characteristics with extremely active erosion. Thanks to its mountainous features and huge hydro potential, Uvac River forms four artificial crystal-clear, emerald lakes : Zlatar, Sjenica, Potpec and Radoinja Lakes. By the Regulation of Republic of Serbia the area of the valley of Uvac River which contains Uvac, Zlatar and Radoinja Lakes, as well as hills between rivers of Uvac and Vapa and parts of their tributaries /Veljušnica, Zlošnica, Marića reka, Tisovica, Vršavina, Kladnica/ and their numerous streams are declared the Protected Natural Value of the First Category that covers the area of 7543 hectares and thus experiences special preservation regime. The Uvac Special Nature Reserve covers 5525 hectares in Nova Varoš Municipality, and 2018 hectares in Sjenica Municipality.
Zlatarsko jezero – Zlatar Lake or Kokin Brod Lake is artificial lake in the valley of Uvac River, located between Zlatar Mountain in southwest and Murtenica Mountain in northeast, only 10 to 15 km away from Nova Varoš. Zlatar Lake was created in the 60-ies of the 20th century by construction of the dam on Uvac River by Kokin Brod. The Dam of the Kokin Brod Hydro-power Plant is 83 meters high and was regarded the highest dam built of earth in Europe, which influences the level of lake water for up to 45 meters. The Sjenica Lake – Sjeničko jezero is 25 km long, with maximal depth of 108 meters, situated at 985 above sea level, whose visitors get most beautiful impressions from the observation point of “Molitva. The largest natural habitat of griffin vulture in the Balkans are located on the shores of the Zlatar and Sjenica Lakes. Famous meanders of Uvac River belong to Zlatar Lake and makes one of the most impressive brands of Serbia. Visitors of Uvac Nature Reserve choose accommodation in uniquely pleasant tourist facilities and colorful rural households which provide tourist services.
The protected Balkan bird “griffin vulture” is settled above the Uvac River Canyon. The Uvac Nature Reservation, as the ecological region full of clear waters rich in fresh-water fish, rafting facilities and photo-safari programs attract many visitors. Thanks to magnificent natural characteristics of the entire region of Uvac River and Zlatar Mountain, this part is considered as one of the most beautiful in Serbia. Uvac River features huge energetic potential hence three hydro-power plants that have created artificial lakes making Uvac River dissapear. The upper course of Uvac River spreads up to the village of Krstac where there is the confluence of Uvac and Vapa Rivers. Its largest part is the vast dencely wooded Pester Plateaus of Sjenica rich in thick grassy meadows at the altitude between 1000 and 1400 meters.
The middle course of Uvac River consists of Uvac and Vapa Rivers confluence up to the village of Radoinja. Here there are steep waterfronts and valleys of Uvac River and its carstific tributaries. The lower part of Uvac River is spread from Radoinja village up to its confluence with emerald-green Lim River. This part of Uvac River course is very narrow with magnificent steep-sided valley of the River. An unique value of the canyon part of the Uvac River valley are winding meanders whose sides reach the height of 100 meters. The levels of Uvac and Lim Rivers differ in the height for 400 meters. This unusual natural phenomenon provides accumulation of water energy in Hydro-power plants of Uvac, Kokin Brod and Radoinja that belong to the Hydro-energetic system of Lim River.
Uvac Lake lies at the altitude of 985 meters, being the second highest artificial lake in Serbia formed by the Dam upwards the Lake of Zlatar, between villages of Akmacici and Bukovik. The Uvac – Sjenica Dam is 160 meters long and 110 meters high. The artificial Uvac – Sjenica Lake is formed behind the Dam when the Hydro-power plant was built in 1979 to collect the water potential of Uvac River and tributaries of its upper course. It captures 212 millions of water in its level maximum when is 20 km long, but on its lowest level it has only 42 millions of water with the lenghth of only 7 km. The surface of Uvac Lake is 6,10 square km. Uvac – Sjenica Lake is 100 meters deep and 500 meters wide but very long due to its form of steep River Valley.
Uvac is a river that carries many secrets – from its source at the foot of the mysterious Roof of Serbia, as Pester Highlands are called – to the point where it flows into Lim River. The high slopes of Pester host not only the now very rare species of vultures – Griffin Vulture – a predator bird saved from extinction by rearing it in this region. The plant and animal life as well as the composition of the soil are the reasons why experts in different fields often tour this high region. Speleologists visit it in an effort to penetrate as deep as possible the steep river banks. Nonetheless, just ten or so kilometers north of the town Sjenica, Uvac has for a long time hidden one of its many secrets.
For a long time the inhabitants of this area, and experts, thought that there were three separate caves at the Usak hamlet of the village Gornje Lopize. Satisfied with superficial exploration, it remained on record that in this area there were the Ledena Pecina cave and the Usacka Pecina cave. No one even thought that in the limestone layers of Pecansko Brdo hill nature has built one of the most interesting cave systems in the country. Judged from its numerous and diverse features, it represents a seldom-beheld curiosity. As is turned out, hese cave entrances inside make up a single cave system more than 6,000 meters long with many passages at several levels, chambers, and of course, speleothems without which these caves would not have been what they are – most captivating underground castles. Underneath the steep limestone slope is the entrance to the Ledena Pecina cave. Its length, including the side passages is slightly over two and half kilometers. The fallen boulders of limestone, pebbles, and clay deposits speak about the lengthy process of formation of this cave. Its decoration looks like long draperies and flowstone “waterfalls” as high as ten meters in places. Although they appear cold, their beauty is breath-taking. Beneath one “waterfall” there is a flow running that after some the meters disappears into a crack. A spring of clear water, actually a small pool, creates a barrier to approaching the hall from whose ceiling descend thin stalactites.
The entrance to the cave section of the Usacka Pecina cave is not far from the first entrance in an area known as Miletin Do. A forty-meter deep pit leads inside. The bottom of the pit is very narrow, and one of the two passages leads to the beautiful Great Chamber. Its lower section slopes towards the Linking passage heading towards the main passage of the Usacka Pecina cave. The place where the Linking passage begins, a passage with columns and rich in speleothems, separates and from there on one may reach the Ledena Pecina cave. At the end of the passage with columns, in fact, begins the Ledena Pecina Cave, which breaks off with the exit to the Uvac River canyon. The overall length of all the passages of this section is about 2,100 meters. Chamber after chamber. That is the characteristic and beauty of the Ledena Pecina Cave. The narrow passages, water filled pools, and chambers. The tall columns in the middle reach the height up to ten meters. Torch light is reflected from the slender white columns of which some are streaked with reddish or bluish-gray hues. There is a whole wealth of speleothems everywhere around. One passes from one hall to another by flat, steep or sinking passages. Delightful spaeleothems are abundant here. Such an artist in creating the unusual and pretty can only be some patient builder full of imagination such as Nature is. The fabulous scenery of Uvac River valley to where the Usacka Pecina Cave exits is suitable for camping, so that, especially in the summer time, tents are a frequent sight. The exit can be accessed rather easily, as well as the initial several hundred meters into the cave. However, only those who have explored the cave in detail may venture to pass through the labyrinths made up of many and intricate passageways. Regardless of how many times one passes through them, there is always something new to see. Who knows, perhaps behind this fallen limestone rock decorated with icy-looking stalactites covers a passage to the yet unexplored world hidden still deeper in the Earth’s insides….Many other bird species live on the breathtaking shores of the Uvac Lake. A part of the Uvac crag is the official Natural Reservation attracting nature-explorers from all over the world. There are numerous possibilities for eco-vacations : boat ride, endless walks along surrounding mountains, nature-exploration, bird-watching…. The 15 cycling routes of total 400 km have been marked within the West Serbia area, in favour of the active bikers and cyclists outdoor vacations. In this way the marked cycling routes connect tourist destination which provide visitors and locals choice of their wishes and physical conditions, as well as to choose tourist attractions they want to visit. Zlatibor is connected with the Tara Mountain via Mokra gora, Divčibare with the Užice area, Kosjerić and Požega. Arilje and Ivanjica are connected with the Golija Mountain, Uvac Special Nature Reserve, Pešter Plateau, Zlatar and Prijepolje. The cycling routes are well marked with the tourist signposts, there are wooden coverage in the resting points for cyclists, hikers and mountaineers. For the active vacations in Serbia, there are available bikes to rent.
Impressions on Uvac Reserve : Gergana wrote on November 15, 2013: I recently visited Uvac Reserve – there are a few interesting things I want to point out: 1. You can explore the lake only with a ranger from the reserve. If you go around and watch – it is free. But the fee for the boat ride goes directly to the reserve – which is the best management approach. 2. The nature is sooooooo beautiful – you simply do not want to get out of there. 3. There are amazing places nearby where you can stay overnight (with great home-made food). 4. We saw 5 griffon vultures!!! :)))))