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Tara River: Rafting through the deepest canyon in Europe

Tara River is the longest Montenegrian river, and it flows through the deepest canyon in Europe, which is after the Grand Canyon in the United States second deepest in the world.

Together with Durmitor Mountain canyon of Tara makes a famous Durmitor National Park. While running between the mountains Tara has an average drop of 3.6 m/km, thus on this section, becomes a fast mountain river with numerous rapids. It has class 3-4 rapids, interspersed with tranquil pools, which makes it very popular for white river rafting.

Rafting on Tara is adrenaline pumping refreshment for hikers in hot summer days who are traversing the Via Dinarica long-distance trail. After passing Sutjeska National Park in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the White trail of Via Dinarica meanders across the Durmitor toward Biogradska Gora, one of the five national parks in Montenegro. The rafting is for sure an excellent rest after every-day long walks in sturdy boots.

Rafting Camps

On its last 40 km, Tara is the natural border between Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. But, the official border crossing is at the end of the canyon where Tara joins Piva and together make Drina River.

In both countries area around the junction of these rivers and the beginning of Drina is full of rafting camps. From these three rivers, only Tara is suitable for rafting, and the last 20 km are most exciting because of 23 rapids. As you’re being funneled down through the wild river waters, you will shake your guts and experience adventure filled day.

The rafting season starts in April. In Highlander Rafting Camp, situated on the banks of the Drina close to the border crossing Scepan Polje- Hum, the season was open in mid of April. The first guests were the couple from Serbia, who came for rafting on Tara and got engaged. They celebrated the start of their together life in the pristine environment of Tara Canyon. “This was the best way to open our rafting season,” said Cvijeta Radović from Highlander Rafting Camp.

Safe adventure

Even though paddling down the wild Tara river in rubber boats can be the adventure of your life, we must not forget it can be dangerous. Thus, it is crucial to go for a rafting camp with skillful skippers and good equipment.

White river rafting is a truly amazing way to connect with river, mountains and ourselves, but also it is “a form of extreme sport, an experience that is completely new and unforgettable every time, and in order to experience it, you have to be safe on this road.” emphasizes Cvijeta, during our chat through email.

All Highlander guides are skilled, professional and certified by the International Rafting Federation (IRF). In this, I was convinced last summer when I went for a 3-4 hour rafting on Tara with Highlander guide. Our guide gave clear instruction to me and my fellow boat paddlers how to safely navigate through the hefty currents and streams.

For me, this was the first time to try rafting and I was a little bit scared. My fellow paddlers and our guide helped me to deal with my fear and to get out of my comfort zone. By the end of our rafting adventure, I became almost a professional paddler and felt so proud of myself. So, I have a plan to come again this summer.

Connecting with nature

When you combine crystal- clear drinkable river rich in white water rapids with other natural elements like a pristine canyon and numerous waterfalls running down the slopes into the river, you really do have a world-class setting.

During the rafting, there is plenty of stops for swimming, jumping from the rocks into Tara, and refreshment with cold drinks. From both banks of the river, numerous streams are rushing down into the river. The temperature of Tara sometimes can be down to 7 Celsius degrees, and her tributaries are even colder. Only the bravest decide to jump or swim in this fast river.

Vjekoslav Ćalasan, the owner of the Highlander Rafting Camp, was always into the mountains and hiking. Later, he started to explore the Tara river and to do white river rafting. First, he did it because of the adrenaline and special connection he has with this mountain river. Later, he started to share his love for a white river rafting and all beauties of Tara Canyon with his friends. He wanted them to connect with nature and themselves as he did. Finally, in 1999 all this lead him to the establishment of his own rafting camp. From then, travelers from all over the world have the opportunity to experience great adventure and pristine nature of Tara river.

Homemade food and campfire

After half-day rafting, coming back to the camp, eating homemade food and chatting with your friends beside the campfire is the best way to finish your adventure in Durmitor National Park.

The food in Highlander is all homemade, prepared in the camp. It is a very important part of rafting as it gives you the energy you need to paddle down the strong Tara River. Therefore, food is prepared with a lot of care and love. Vegetables are bought from locals, and there is even a craft beer prepared by a local family from Foča, a town close to the camp.

Laughing and retelling your adventure as you watch the campfire and listen to local rock & pop bands is the best way to recharge yourself for the rest of hiking adventure along the Via Dinarica!

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The specialty of the house Credit: Highlander Rafting Camp
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Beer time after rafting in Highlander Rafting Camp
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Waterfall on the bank of Tara river
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Let's do this!
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Paddling down the Tara river with Highlander crew, Credit: Highlander Rafting Camp
Beer break beside the waterfall with my dear girls
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Campfire and live music at Highlander Camp Fire, credit: Highlander Rafting Camp

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