Primeval forest Perucica is one of the few areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina where human has no impact and the forest grows undisturbed, by its natural laws.
Protection of Perucica and Establishment of Sutjeska National Park
The unique beauty of Perucica has been discovered in 1952 when it was declared as a strictly protected area that can be used only for scientific and educational purposes. What makes this forest special is its age of about 20,000 years, as well as the wood mass and height of a large number of trees. Sometimes, they exceed 50m, while their age reaches up to 300 years.
In 1954 Perucica was placed under state protection and declared as a nature reserve. Then, in 1962 when the Sutjeska National Park was established this primeval forest becomes part of it. Even today, this is the largest protected area with 17,250 hectares, of which 1,390 ha makes Perucica.
How to get to Perucica?
From Sarajevo, the journey takes you toward Foca town. Few kilometers before entering into Foca the road turns right toward Sutjeska National Park. On the junction close to Tjentiste Valley turn left toward village Mrkalji. The road is narrow, on beginning paved but the rest is gravel all the way to Dragos Sedlo (10km)
After a short drive on a narrow road, we reached the ramp that marked the entrance into the National Park Sutjeska. The ranger is always here to protect the park and to sell tickets per person and per car. Driving slowly and making short breaks along the way it’s possible to arrive from Sarajevo to Dragoš Sedlo in around 3 hours.
At Dragoš Sedlo (1,264 m/ a.sl.) there is a parking lot where we park vans and car. From there a hundred meters long forest trail leads to Viewpoint with a beautiful view of the Skakavac waterfall, mountains Volujak, Maglić, and Zelengora. If you keep going down the road you will reach Prijevor (8km), Suve Gore (8km), Maglića (10km) and Vučevo (15km).
The Battlefield of a Famous World War II Battle
Led by Simara, experienced guide from the Mountaineering Society Trebević, we started our hike into the heart of Perućica to Skakavac Waterfall. But first, we stopped a few meters up the road on a big meadow with remains of a stone amphitheater almost all overgrown with grass.
Our guide Simara told us in the time of the former republic of Yugoslavia here were held history lessons. The students of primary and secondary schools learned about the Fifth enemy offensive, known as the Battle of Sutjeska. At the wider area of the today’s National Park Sutjeska in 1943 National Liberation Army bravely fought against the German occupying forces.
Just across the amphitheater, stairs descend to the memorial grave of national hero Nurija Pozderac, first Vice President of the Executive Committee of the Anti-fascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ). He lost his life in 1943 here on Dragos Sedlo.
Hiking Through the Primeval Forest
Continuing further we came to the wellspring where we refilled our water bottles, and then finally stepped on the hiking trail that leads to the waterfall.
Except for one gradually flat part of the trail, the rest is a big downhill. The steepest part was when we were going down the small narrow path in the foothill of a huge cliff. Suddenly, we felt a breeze as we were getting closer to the end of the trail. The sound of water was getting louder until finally, we saw it. The 75 m high Skakavac (Grasshopper) Waterfall.
The Perucica creek is situated in the heart of the rainforest. On its middle course called Skakavci, which is about 2-3 km from the mouth of the Sutjeska river, Perucica creates this stunning waterfall. From our starting point Dragos Sedlo to Skakavac we walked around one hour and 45 minutes, including short breaks.
Hidden deep in the heart of untouched nature, Skakavac waterfall fills you with joy and peacefulness. When we energized ourselves enough we head back the same route. On one part of the trail, we went through a huge area completely covered with flourished wild onions. The smell of onion was quite strong. Luckily, it was within the limits of tolerance because there wasn’t a lot of humidity in the air. Though looking numerous white flowers spread all around us, made me less aware of the smell. Back to Dragoš Sedlo, we walked around 2 -2.30 hours with short breaks.
The Viewpoint Dragos Sedlo
After the hike, we went to check the viewpoint Vidikovac. In order to get there, we walked a few hundred meters through the forest from a parking lot at Dragoš Sedlo.
The thick roots of huge long-term trees intertwined all the way to a cliff. Then, a wonderful view of Perucica and surrounding mountains welcomed us. On one side the waterfall Skakavac as it falls into the abyss covered with dense forest. Above rocky cliffs of mountain Volujak. On the other side meanders canyon of Sutjeska river, dividing us from the Zelengora Mountain. The visible peaks are Planinica (1794), and the right curved top is Uglješin (1852m). After we briefly enjoyed the view, we returned to the parking lot and our transport to another viewpoint.
The Beskita Viewpoint
We drove a few hundred meters to the Beskita viewpoint, down the same road we came to Dragoš Sedlo. A few minutes later, we arrived at a signpost that said viewpoint Beskita.
We parked the van and walked 20 minutes to the viewpoint. Since the viewpoint Beškita (1275m) is at a higher altitude than the previous one, we had a better view of the National Park Sutjeska.
On the Dragos Sedlo trees blocked the view of Maglić, while at the Bešikta, thanks to its height and position, we had a beautiful view of the Perucica, rocky-face slopes of mountains and Tjentiste valley, also known as the Valley of Heroes.
Sutjeska National Park has so much to offer. From unspoiled nature of Perucica primeval forest and pristine mountains to a rich history. Maglic with the highest summit in B&H (2.386m), green Zelengora with its “mountain eyes” and last but not less beautiful Volujak Mountain with its vast pastures. Scattered on the mountains and in the deep canyons monuments from the World war II stand bravely to remind us about the hard battle that took place here on this rough terrain.