Discover Serbia: Special Natures Reserve Uvac

Southwestern Serbia: The canyon of the Uvac River
Southwestern Serbia: The canyon of the Uvac River by Dragoljub Zamurovic 
"Uvac" Special Nature Reserve is a Ist category protected natural asset. 
It is situated in south-western Serbia in the region of Stari Vlah-Raška high plateau, between Mt.Zlatar in the Southwest and Mt. Javor in the Northeast. "Uvac" Special Nature Reserve occupies the territory of 5525 ha in Nova Varoš Municipality and 2018 ha in Sjenica Municipality, 7543 ha in total. Minimum altitude in the reserve is 760m above sea level, and maximum 1322 m.
Meandri Uvca by  Aleksandar Brajovic
Major morphological feature of the reserve is the Uvac River canyon valley including the valleys of its tributaries. The special value of canyon parts of the river valley are curving meanders. Relative height of meander heads is 100m at places.



Uvac river meanders
The surrounding is characterised by karst surface with numerous karst formations: karst plains, karst depressions, karst sinkholes, rock shelters, caves and potholes. Caves are numerous and vary in size, ranging from rock shelters to  Usak Cave System, the largest known cave system in Serbia (6185 м). Caves are very rich in speleothem deposited by the action of dripping water to form stalactites, stalagmites, columns, draperies, transparent needles etc.
 
One of Uvac caves, source
The largest part of the system is the Ušak Cave. It has two entrances, one in Gornje Lopiže village and the other in Uvac valley. Ledena Pećina cave is slightly shorter. The main canal of Ledena Pećina cave stretches almost parallel with the main canal of Ušak Cave, at the distance of about 100m. The smallest, but yet the most interesting part of Ušak cave system is Bezdan pothole. The entrance into the pothole is at the end of a dead-end valley called Miletin Do.

When its about caves, Tubića Pećina and Baždarska Pećina caves should also be mentioned. The first is situated in Tubići village, five kilometers northwest from Sjenica. It has two entrances and occasionaly it is hydrologically active. Baždarska Pećina cave is located in Ursule village, some 10 kilometars nothwest from Sjenica.
 Tubica cave

"Uvac" Special Nature Reserve is distinguished by the presence of 104 bird species. Most important of all is Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), one of the two vulture species that are still nesting in Serbia. Griffon vulture is a vulture species, of an impressive size with a wingspan of 3m at times, which makes him a powerful flier. Its flight has been studied by scientists – aeronautic engineers that used the knowledge on construction of aircrafts. The role it plays in the food chain is unique and makes him irreplaceable. Its is adopted to a diet of dead animals and therefore stops the spread of diseases and contributes to a kind of "natural recycling".


Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), source:Uvac Special Natures Reserve
Some twenty years ago this rare species was threatened by extinction. In 1990, in the territory of Uvac lakes there were only 7 individuals. In  1994, „Griffon Vulture“ Birds of Prey protection foundation was founded. In the same year, Manastirina feeding station was opened as well, and from then on, the carrion and slaughterhouse waste have been taken to the station on the regular basis.

More than 50 tons of food is taken to the griffon vulture „outdoor restaurant“ annualy. Due to that, the number of griffon vultures has increased to  67 nesting couples, id est some 300 individuals.

This is how the colony of this unique bird species became the largest one in the Balkans, and among the large ones in Europe.

Uvac Lakes
Uvac Lake , Serbia
Uvac lake
Uvac originates in Caričina village, at some 1460 meters above the sea level, and empties into the Lim river at around  440 meters above the sea level.

Uvac valley is partly submerged due to construction of  three dams and creation of artificial lakes: Uvačko Lake, Zlatarsko lake and Radoinjsko lake.
Uvac lake was created by building a dam in Akmačići village, at the altitude of 985 meters. The dam is 160 meters long and 110 meters high, length of the lake is 25 kilometers.
Zlatar lake, Serbia
Zlatar lake
At 885 meters altitude, in Kokin Brod near Nova Varoš, Uvac was held back by another barrier that  is 83 meters high and 1.264 meters long. The lake is 27 kilometers long

The third lake, situated in the lowest part of the river course is Radoinjsko lake, at the 805 meters altitude. The dam is 40 meters high and 150 meters long. Wedged between steep limestone banks, the lake is 11 km long.
Radoinja lake, Serbia
Radoinja lake
Water from accumulated lakes is mainly used for production of electricity and water supply. “Uvac” Special nature reserve is a high quality natural resource 

Uvac Monastery


One of the most unaccessible medieval monasteries in our country, a real empire of stones and snakes is Uvac Monastery or Vuvac, the name which could be met in some scanty sources.
It is situated on the river having the same name, at the foot of the Priboj's Crni Vrh (Black Peak) on the southwestern side and below the slopes of the mountain Zlatibor on the northeast. 
Remains of an old monastery (South-Western Serbia, Uvac)
Remains of an old monastery
(South-Western Serbia, Uvac)
 
It is quite certain that a very long time ago a small church was erected on the border between despotism and medieval Bosnia, representing a special barrier against Bogomil heresy and penetrating Islam. 
Later, economically strengthened fraternity started to restore and widen the modest temple. Therefore, in the first decades of the 17th century, at the time of patriarch Pajsije, it represented the monumental monastery complex with all accessories, lodging houses and good economy. Enlarged and widened temple with rectangular choirs must certainly have found its models in the imperial lauras to which Uvac was direcltly connected.

Uvac river panorama


Read more at the official Uvac Natural Reserve website
More beautiful photos of Uvac you can find here

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