03 Sep The Gradac River // One of Europe’s Cleanest
Untouched, unpolluted and safe to drink from, the Gradac is recognised as one of Europe’s cleanest rivers. As the home of diverse local wildlife, centuries-old monuments and hidden caves, this river is considered one of Western Serbia’s most pristine and picturesque landscapes. Here you may feel at one with nature as you trod along the gently flowing and shallow course of the Gradac River canyon, situated on the foothills of Mount Povlen.
The Gradac River canyon is located some 4 – 5 km from Valjevo and is only 100km away from Belgrade. You may visit the Lelic and Celije monasteries within the river’s vicinity, though venture a little further to come across some of Serbia’s other unspoilt natural attractions. Among them are the Petnica Cave, Maljen Mountain and the forgotten Taor Springs, all of which are within an hours drive from here.
A tributary of the Kolubara, the Gradac River stretches for roughly 28 km and has been home to various settlements since the Paleolithic era. The canyon itself, however, is approximately 22 km long. Today, the river’s prominent residents include various fish, birds, rodents and mammals. Though, thought to have been extinct from the area, Otters have recently become a main attraction of the river. As such, a series of dams are evident along its course, and serve as excellent swimming spots on hot summer days.
Walking right through the water is a perfectly safe option for exploring the surrounding area. The Gradac river is shallow, gentle, and pretty flat at all stages, meaning that you need little more than a spare pair of shoes and swimmers to easily trod through it. Along its course, expect to find camp grounds, an old ethno house serving as a restaurant, an abundance of swimming spots, as well as the Deguric Cave as you make your way down stream.
Tips & Essentials:
The water is perfectly drinkable at the biggest part of the river, the Gradac River Gorge. Though, drinking from the river isn’t recommended when you start getting close to Valjevo.
Visit during summer. There are quite a few good swimming spots, with quite a few being just downstream from the monastery Celije.
Camping spots are in abundance, so bring a tent. Again, some of the best spots can be found just downstream from the Celije monastery.
Bring spare shoes and swimmers. The best way to experience the Gradac river is by trodding right through it.
How to get to the Gradac River:
Travel here via Valjevo, the closest major city. Public transport services travel here on a daily basis from Belgrade and connecting services to the river from Valjevo are frequent. From Valjevo you may take a bus, taxi, or even walk upstream. A taxi may cost as little as 300 RSD (between 2.50 and 3.00e) and offer plenty of convenience. Just grab the driver’s number for your journey back.
The two best access points to the river are either the village Deguric or nearby monastery Celije. Though the longest way of getting here, visiting via Deguric is considered the most scenic route, as it takes you past the Deguric cave immediately. The Celije monastery, on the other hand, is the most convenient access point. A road leading to the river can be found just a couple of hundred metres away from the monastery.
If you’re travelling here via the Celije monastery, follow the road signs to the monastery or ask the cab driver to drop you there. Then, follow the asphalt road up hill for a few hundred metres until it splits, with one road leading up and the other downhill. Take the latter and you will reach the Gradac River following a 1.5km walk.