Rafting represents one of the most significant touristic offers of Foča region. During the rafting season, between May and October, no friendly conversation can pass without the word “rafting”. In the summer, tourists come from all parts of the world, looking for adventures, social activities, and good fun… Local people direct them towards the existing rafting camps and in the end, after a few memorable days, they leave, happy and satisfied, forever taking Tara and Drina rivers in their hearts.
Rafting tradition and adventures
We, the members of Divlja Rijeka team, are the eternal witnesses of constant Tara flow and its epic tales. Enthralled with our own enthusiasm as well as the enthusiasm of visitors, we have decided to share a small part of the enchanting Tara tales on this blog. They say that each beginning is hard and we certainly agree, but it’s worth starting from somewhere; hence, with this first post, we have decided to start exactly as we should, at the beginning, with first rafting steps on Tara and Drina rivers.
Tara rafting has a century-old tradition in our region. However, despite the extremely rich historical and cultural heritage of Foča, there are few written evidence of rafting beginnings. The information mostly comes through oral tradition and old family tales and legends. It is hard to imagine the traditional rafting life of our ancestors, given the lack of technology at the time, but we are certain about one thing: they have successfully fought Tara, equally enjoying its charms as we do today. The information about that period is scarce but valuable and worthy of attention. Our wish is to transfer it to a wider audience as much as we are able.
Begging of Rafting and Kayaking in our areas
Tara and Drina rafting tradition beginnings date back to the start of the 20th century. British and German people were the first tourists in these areas, sometime in 1923. Kayaking sportsmen came in 1931. First kayaking sportsmen came from Austria and Czechoslovakia. However, some historic writings from the Museum of Foča suggest that rich Austrians exercised Tara rafting and enjoyed the charms of this European beauty even back in 1905. Highly skilled mountain men, so-called Triftars, were helping them through Tara and Drina rapids. These men were additionally carrying building materials down the rivers. The most famous among them were from the Pendek family.
Main rafting places were located in Hum and Brod and Drini areas. The trees were descended down the steep cols (the so-called točila), spreading even up to 3 km in length. The natural cols are called riža. Drina rafters had commands such as Keep towards Bosnia which meant to keep on the left and Urge to Serbia i.e. keep on the right side of the river.
In addition, few stories about the Drina tell us that Turkish sultan Mehmed Fatih passed over Drina river in 1463 during his conquering of Bosnia. The mother of the Kujundžić brothers transported him upon the occasion. Once he saw the river, he said Bu su derim meaning The water is deep and it seems that the saying survived until today in the name of Drina. It is possible that the river was called Zelenika i.e. The Greenish, before the event, thanks to its deep sea-green waters.
One of the most important historical writings about the Drina is Dragutin J. Deroko’s book Drina: a geographical and tourist monograph. The author states that
“…The fast-flowing, never-freezing river Drina represents an old military border. Long streams of blood have been spilled and a number of spears broken over its glen, while its waves were carrying away the bodies of many unknown, dead heroes.
The beauty of Drina is not only in its diversity, but in its danger. An ordinary man, a rafter, a highlander, persistently defies its divine monstrosity through centuries. When you sail down the river, you get enchanted with some unexplainable sort of intimacy the river imparts on you. Everything is so close; within the grasp of your hand; its freezing waters run below you; only the sky is far away; somewhere high above, among the gray rocks. There, you can see the mountain eagles flying under the sun, magnificent in their unbounded freedom. Drina sailing gives you something beyond the plain observer’s pleasure. On its waves, a man feels like a true, supreme being and becomes consumed with a sort of raw, pure, male, heroic emotion of a victor…”
Rafting became an important touristic branch in Foča in the 80s. To extend the rafting season, which was shortened due to the usage of wooden rafts, new, rubber rafting boats were introduced.
Today, we use wooden rafts, rubber boats, canoes, kayaks, etc. in our every day conquers of Tara and Drina rapids. However, the most popular model is certainly rafting.
The rafting tradition was and remains one of the main touristic attractions of this area while Drina and Tara flow unconditionally, telling their stories and inviting you to become a part of it… Come, visit us, experience an unforgettable adventure, allow these two beauties to tell another story, but this time, one, exclusively YOURS.
Be happy and cheerful. Until next time,
Yours only, Divlja Rijeka
SO GOOD TO BE WILD
Drina: a geographical and tourist monograph by Dragutin J. Deroko. Written in 1934.