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Monday, 19 August 2013

Tara + Drina: 25 km of emerald



I had heard so much about Tara River in southern Bosnia bordering Montenegro that I knew that my curiosity would eventually get me there.
We left Mostar really early, direction Foča. Apparently, it wasn’t early enough because the road was narrow and winding and the spectacular vistas in the mountains made it impossible not to stop for pictures. Consequently, we arrived in the camp two hours later than scheduled. We even had breakfast; well, late breakfast… a delicious one actually, but it felt funny and awkward for our skipper Tomislav and our extra-crew member Djordje to wait for us.
In the end, we were off and it was the first time that I crossed borders in my wetsuit (J). We continued on a very narrow and steep road, following the course of the river. I could see glimpses of light turquoise through the branches of the trees. At a point, we started the descent and when we stopped, I saw that the rapids seemed naughtier than I had pictured them to be. [I secretly thought that our last rafting adventure in Bosnia would be a light-paddling session, with plenty of time for us to admire the canyon and the colours around us. How wrong I was!...]
‘What grade are the rapids?’ I curiously asked [I knew that ‘3+’ was the right answer, but they seemed more challenging than that.]
‘You will see’ Djordje replied and smiled.
The water level was high, the water was very cold (7°C), we had no overcoats, and the waves were huge. I mean literally huge. It was my first time paddling in a Bosnian-make raft and it was a different feeling. My wetsuit kept sliding and I couldn’t find my balance. However, all I could think of was ‘You CANNOT fall into this cold water!’. I believe that my friends were fighting the same war in their heads.
The first few kilometres on Tara were really intense. We paddled and stopped and waited for the water to guide us down and then we paddled again and there were rapids – one after the other and waves – one after the other. It was my most intense rafting experience ever!
We made a quick stop for drinks and the guys went to see a waterfall nearby. I preferred to sit on a rock, watch the water, and take in the energies. I admit that the scenery was not as jaw-dropping as I thought it would be, but Tara’s colour was amazing… a combination of light emerald and light turquoise, giving away a vibe not as pure as Una’s but rather cool and aloof, with a dash of mystery lingering on each of the pointy rocks filling the river banks.
Round 2 was to follow. I felt really glad when Djordje offered me his place in front of the raft, because it is my favourite spot to paddle. However, I was about to find out the reasons behind that: foamier rapids would follow and huger waves – I literally had that 7°C-water everywhere and I can’t remember to have ever been so wet during rafting (without even falling out of the raft)! The adrenaline level helped me overcome the cold and continue fighting the waves… although I had moments in which I felt my feet in the air for a couple of seconds and then brought back onto the raft’s surface by the sturdy rope.
At the end of our rafting adventure on Tara & Drina
Suddenly the water got lazier and darker in colour – dark emerald this time: we were leaving Tara behind and continuing on Drina for the last 5 km of our trip. It was uneventful and calm, but still cold and beautiful.
A hot shower and a delicious late lunch/early dinner were precisely what the doctor had ordered! I remember that I had the most amazing baklavas of my life for dessert and I also remember that our 4-bed bungalow got quite scanty for our high spirits and jokes!
‘Hmmm…’ I told myself ‘Big water indeed. Want it to be bigger? Why not try and get to Bosnia in May? Talk about thrills then…’            

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