08 Sep Jerma River Gorge
A spectacular series of towering ridges, trees, and shrubbery encapsulating a gently flowing body of water, the Jerma River Gorge is one of the most beautiful canyons in Serbia. Nestled between Vlaska and Greben mountains, the gorge is home to schools of trout, endemic grey eagles, and almost-impassable ravines. As such, here you will find yourself in what is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque settings Southeastern Serbia has to offer.
The gorge is located some 30 km south of the closest major city, Pirot. Within its vicinity, you may find 15th-century Poganovo (nearby Dimitrovgrad) and Sukovo (by its namesake village) monasteries, as well as the 4-km-long “Vetrena Dupka” cave. The highlight of this area, however, are the ridges of “Arsenovo Kale”, atop which you will find roosting grey eagles, as well as its namesake ruined medieval fortress. Finally, located toward the canyon’s end, you may also find the Zvonacka Spa.
Notably crossing the Serbian-Bulgarian border twice, the 74-km-long Jerma River flows right through the gorge. Exceptionally clean, the river springs near the artificial lake Vlasina, makes its way north-west into Bulgaria, and then re-enters Serbia near the Zvonacka Spa area. It then proceeds between the Vlaska and Greben mountains and continues north-west until its confluence with the Nisava river.
At some points of the Jerma River Gorge, the ravines are so narrow that the flowing water has barely enough space to make its way through. As such, the roads here are narrow and two cars can’t pass side-by-side at some parts. Infact, this area was completely impassable until 1927, when railway lines were built to facilitate a local coal mine. Asphalt road then replaced the rail lines during the 70’s and cars have since been able to make their way through.
Tips & Essentials:
- Immerse yourself in the natural beauty on offer here and walk through the 15-km-long canyon, provided weather conditions allow it.
- To orient yourself, travelling from Pirot: the Sukovo monastery is located nearby the start of the canyon; the Poganovo monastery is in its centre; and, the Zvonacka Spa area can be considered its end.
- Visit from mid- to late August and experience the Adventure Festival. As the name suggests, this manifestation is home to a catalogue of adventurous activities, including hiking, mountain-biking, caving, slacklining and more.
- Respect the speed limit and be particularly cautious should you be driving along the narrow winding roads of the Jerma River Gorge. Blind corners are in abundance and as such increase the chance of having an accident.
- Should you wish to camp here, then the best place for that is right on the river bank. You will spot it travelling south on road 223, a few kilometres after passing the Sukovo Monastery.
How to get to the Jerma River Gorge:
Pirot is the gateway to visiting the Jerma River gorge and buses travel here from Belgrade on a daily basis. From Pirot there should be two daily buses travelling through the gorge, one via the village Sukovo, the other via Babusnica. Call the Pirot bus station on +381 10 332 548 before you leave to inform yourself of scheduled bus times.
If you’re travelling here by car, then take the Pirot-Dimitrovgrad highway and turn off at the the village of Sukovo.