Tara – a place where the most beautiful stories are made
Tara is one of my favorite mountains, rich, sumptuous, generous, warm. Tara represents a perfect unity of the best a mountain region can offer, proud peaks, dense forests, exceptional flora, with Pančić’s spruce as it crown jewel, also a tall and proud beauty, thin but strong, just like the mountain itself. Tara offers remarkably beautiful scenes, and while you climb it approaching from Bajina Bašta, it becomes evident that an unusual and beautiful hostess awaits you. Even when it is covered with fog and dampness pervades, it is not inaccessible, it doesn’t close up, it seems as if it only covers itself to rest for a while. I believe there is some sort of magic in it, people feel better after a few days spent here, they feel purifies, braver, and most importantly – much, much closer to nature. I sent so many people there and they all told me the same thing: This is a magical place! Tara is the place where the best stories are made, about gods and people, happiness and kindness, the place to experience a true fairy tale.
It is equally beautiful in all season, full of surprises, hidden beauties, tame and wild landscapes, viewpoints which are among the most beautiful in Serbia, with countless forest trails and paths which always lead you to a new place even though you think that you have come to know the mountain very well. And despite all that, you will feel secure and protected in its embrace. You will be under the impression that it exists with all its beauties only for you and your own good.
My mother would now say: “Here you go again! Stop bothering people”, but I can’t help it. You simply have to go there! You will find large amounts of data online on everything you can see and visit there, depending on the type of vacation you want. One of the best web sites is www.tara-planina.com, which will provide you with all the necessary data on accommodation, transportation, what to see, where to eat, recommended trips, introduce tour guides and with the amazing photos will help you choose from which angle to start to get to know Tara.
Every part of Tara is a whole in itself and it tells a different story, which is precisely what makes it unique. Kaluđerske Bare is a place for those who appreciate orderliness and like to be surrounded by a lot of people, Sokolina is for those who enjoy the freedom of beautiful plateaus, Mitrovac with its Carpet meadow is a fairy tale region and it is for this reason that it is the most well-known children’s resort. Šljivovica’s name suggest a more tame landscape, it smells like fruits, medicinal herbs and beautiful weekends, while Predo’s cross represents a call to the wild. Zaovine gained its fame thanks to Pančic’s spruce our famous botanist discovered precisely here. Thanks to Pančic’s spruce this place became famous, and the beautiful lake only confirmed its fame. Make sure you visit another small lake, Spaići, in the hamlet under the same name, small water surfaces have some special charm, the refraction of colors and the sharpness of rocks are different here, because on big surfaces they simply dissipate. This seems made to fit a man. You’ll see, everyone will find their place on Tara, and since it has made an effort to look so pretty, it’s our turn to visit it and show it the best of us. I don’t want to interfere, but plan to stay here at least one week, and to come back for a week the following couple of years, I guarantee!
Because of all this I chose Tara for my daughter’s first encounter with a mountain. And I didn’t make a mistake; it was friendship at first smile. I knew Tara will instill confidence in her, the confidence necessary for children to feel safe in nature. Many parents have second thoughts when it comes to their kids spending time in nature, especially on a mountain, which is why our Tara could be the best possible start. Tara is not without a very good reason the center of school tourism in Serbia with numerous hotels in which many children stay all year round.
In my experience, the safest way to familiarize your children with Tara is to stay at Kaluđerske Bare. The offer is wide, diverse and of high quality. Bare are the most urban part of Tara (but still, I hope, far less urban than the central part of Zlatibor, for example), here you have a shop, there are nice pedestrian paths, sports playgrounds. From here you can take a walk or go on a picnic to other parts of Tara, according to your means, wishes and the age of your child. Seize the moment, because Tara will give you many unforgettable ones. Don’t fall into the trap of making plans what to see, just have a vague idea what you would like to see and leave room for a day to lead you, because you will have plenty of opportunity for that here. Don’t rush, especially if you are on holiday with your kids, let the mountain and your little ones lead you. In our backpack we put a bottle of water, a change of clothes is necessary – because when you least expect, you will come across a spring or a stream your little ones will simply have to jump into (often headfirst), then food (mainly healthy sweets J), toys – in case we decide to camp in some nice place for an hour or two – and off we go. We have some sort of a plan, but we are ready to give a chance to the people we will meet on our way, the plants which lean over for us to recognize them, the little bugs whose colors we enjoy or which we should avoid. This is how you learn.
Even if you decide to spend your whole stay in Bare, many wonderful moments await you. Walking trails, trails of health close to the “Omorika” hotel are well-kept and suitable even for the young ones to enjoy healthy scents of coniferous forests. Let them collect cones, it is great fun, later you can use them to make New Year decorations, for example.
For every walk you will be rewarded with beauty and landscapes which fill your soul with peace and happiness. A horse farm and Crnjeskovo viewpoint, Hajdučka fountain and our favorite walk, to Jarevac (you can also use your car, but that’s for the youngest ones J), where a reward is waiting for you – a small lake in the middle of a coniferous forest. You find it unexpectedly, just like all other mountain water pearls, and you will never forget the image of tall fir trees and their reflection in the emerald green water.
You know, the wind rushing through conifers’ tree tops produces the most beautiful of sounds. I suppose that needles vibrate, there are no leaves which could rustle, so the wind passing through thin branches and needles gains importance. It comes from afar, like a muffled roar, it forces its way through the cliffs and peaks break it, it bounces off the mountain slopes, it approaches, and then when it comes quite close, when you think that an evil spirit will take you far away, the sound breaks into millions of tiny sparks and you can feel on you face and in your soul the strength and kindness of the mountain. As it calms down, as if it shakes off all worries and troubles. When children feel that wind on their faces, they stretch out their arms and laugh, as if it tickles them, they enjoy each other’s company, a mighty mountain and a small child. Such a great difference, but such a deep connection. I know it is me because I believe that my child is safer in the woods than in the street and that it is easier to communicate with snakes than with some people, and if I motivate you even a little bit, if I convince you to spend a weekend there, you’ll see what I mean. To slow down your breathing, your movements, to listen to the mountain breathing, to feel the freedom and the strength you forgot you have inside. Nature will focus your attention on your child, by taking care of his safety you will notice some magical details: an anthill with busy residents constantly panicking, a spring where you least expect it, an old tree stump covered with moss which has come to life, how clear and fast a brook is…
Children have a sense of belonging to nature and they will find their way around very quickly. Their curiosity makes them touch the water, pick a leaf, smell a flower, that is how they get to know nature. The dangers in nature are not greater than those in the city, they are of a different kind, that’s all. In nature children learn how to overcome obstacles, the knowledge which will prove to be fairly useful in their everyday preschool and school life. I have seen the happiest expressions precisely on the faces of children in nature, they have this innate gift not to recoil from beauty, but to accept it, to wish to become a part of it. That is why children jump into streams, springs, roll on the grass, climb places they should and those they shouldn’t… Mud is something else altogether…
Following your children you will become braver. Chasing after them you will climb higher and come further that you thought you could.
And they will realize that things have to take their course and time, and they will consequently learn how to be patient and that there is some order that has to be respected and that working against nature means working against yourself, so they will begin to observe things more closely and to make better and wiser choices. Teach them that they are a part of nature, that nature belongs to them as much as they belong to it. Tara is the right place for this kind of education to begin.
Author: Branka Tarbuk
Translated: Marija Đurđević