In the surroundings of wonderful plunging into the abysses, bellow the steep slopes sometimes more of a thousand meters deep, cutting forcibly its very way between the Bjelasnica, Sinjajevina, Ljubisnje and Durmitor mountains, flows one of the most beautiful Montenegro rivers, the Tara river. Like a cut furrow between mountain peaks, the clear-water mountain river flows, and its very waters, from time to time make for wonderful landscapes in tame and fertile valleys in which acres, orchards, forests and meadows may be seen, with its flocks of sheep and goats, very often together with game graze.
The river flows even further through the abyss, over it, on its stony slopes the lonely pines to skies pointing, which, the poet would say, from the very stone grow, the stone which plunges itself down, to the depths. The river flows, like hiding from amorous looks regarding the cascades, the stones hidden well bellow, in the depths of the river waters, but, like many things hidden, seen because of its very clear waters. And so Tara flows, like looking for somebody innocent, like herself, to give herself to him. So beautiful, so clear all along its flow, forcing those in love with her to name her “Tear of Europe”.
It is also called the “Jewel of Europe”. With the length of 140 km Tara is longest river in Montenegro. Tara river springs in Komovi mountains, near the border with Albania, on the east of Montenegro. It generally flows towards northwest. Its last 80 km, before it meets Piva river at Scepan Polje and they make Drina river, Tara spends in Europe’s deepest canyon, also called the “Colorado of Europa”.
On some places Tara canyon is 1300 m deep while below Veliki Stuoc (2104m) peak on Durmitor side of Tara’s canyon is 1600 m deep. Crystal clear waters of Tara, which have light blue and green color, made its canyon in rough limestone mountains even before the Ice Age. Water has carbon dioxide in it which turns calcium carbonate into calcium bicarbonate that dissolves in water. Tara got its name after Autarijati tribe of Illyrian people that lived here before Slavs came.
Flowing of the Tara river
In the beginning Tara flows towards north, through gentle and fertile valley between Sinjajevina mountain on the west and Bjelasica mountain on the east. It passes through towns of Kolasin and then Mojkovac where it suddenly turns towards west-northwest. Some kilometers after Mojkovac, after the place where it is joined by Bistrica river, Tara enters its canyon which is a deep scar between Sinjajevina, Durmitor and Pivska Planina mountains on the south and Lisac, Obzir and Ljubisnja mountains on the north. Tara, at its end making confluence with Piva, and giving birth to Drina, is some hundred and fifty kilometers long, and is the longest Montenegro river. In its part through Durmitor National Park, Tara has a mean fall of 3.6 meters/kilometer, making a host of waterfalls and cascades possible, thus creating with its uniqueness “Montenegrin Colorado”. All along its flow, Tara gets large quantities of water from numerous sources, and quite a few tributaries. The most important tributaries on the left Tara side are Ljutica and Susica, and the most important tributaries from the right side being Vaskovaska rijeka and Draga. The most important source is the source Bajlovica Sige, a source placed on the left bank of the Tara river giving to the Tara a few hundred liters per second, where the water sourcing from the Bucevica Cave falls into the Tara more than thirty meters high, and more than a hundred and fifty meters bright. Very special are the Tara cascades. The roar from the cascades is heard on the very peaks of the canyon. There are more than forty cascades, the most famous being: Djavolje Lazi, Sokolovina, Bijeli Kamen, Gornji Tepacki Buk, Donji Tepacki Buk etc. If you are visiting Durmitor National Park, don’t miss Tara Rafting. That’s a really amazing and unforgetable experience! You can choose from one, two, or three days of Tara Rafting. Only with rafting you can feel all beauty of Tara river play.
Flora and fauna of the river
Because of the quality of its water, and because of its unique ecological system, Tara in 1977 was put into the program “Covjek i biosfera” (Men and Biosphere) and inscribed into the ecological biosphere reservations of the World, being thus protected under an internationally issued convention. The flora of the Tara has right to this day many species of plant life saved from ancient times. What’s more interesting, many species have succeeded in guarding some of its primeval qualities, which were characteristic for times past.
Thus, in the Tara valleys you can find some leftovers of the tercial flora right out of the last glacier period. Beside this flora, the plant life in the canyon is characterized by forests having very different species: cerris, ash tree, beech, black beech and birch. Great parts of the canyon are overgrown with needle trees, a special place being reserved for the black pine. The most interesting specimens of the black pine are those which hang on naked stony slopes by its very roots, and thus hang over precipitous abysses. But, the most famous locality of the black pine is the locality where the black pine is part of the primeval forest, in a part of the canyon called Crna poda. The Crna poda are a very closely guarded natural habitat, a Natural Preserve on its own. Here some specimens of black pine may be found, some more than 50 meters high, some of which are more than 400 years old.
“The teardrop of Europe”
The massive of the canyon is a excellent habitat for the wild goat (rams). This very nearness of canyon and mountain gives the wild goat the possibility to seasonally migrate, in the winter from the cold peaks to the canyon, and vice verse, in the summer from the hot canyon to the lofty peaks. The wild goat, is, an inhabitant of lofty peaks and stony slopes, easily moving on stony places and mountain canyons. Beside the wild goat, as regular inhabitants of the canyon region there is the roe deer, and wild boar. The Tara is rich in fish species. In the river the brook trout may be found, huchen, chub, the clamp etc.
The Djurdjevica bridge
In the place called Djurdjevica Tara there is the great bridge, the building of which was started in 1938, and finished in 1940. This bridge in time became one of the symbols of the river. Disregarding that the bridge for sure was built by human hand, by its very beauty, by its noble lines, when looked upon from the lofty peaks its certainly looks like one of the Tara curves on its long journey to the confluence, it perfectly became part of the natural surroundings like the very bridge be built by Nature itself. During second World War the bridge was destroyed, like much else, but in the year 1946 it was rebuilt. The bridge is 154 m long, and at its highest bow it is 135 m above the banks of the Tara.