For centuries, water has been used for transporting goods and people, and rafts on wild rivers, aka rafting, have recently been popularized as a sports discipline and a part of various offers chosen by an increasing number of people.
The term 'rafting' is derived from the word ‘raft’, which means a flat buoyant structure used as "a boat or floating platform" in English, and today it is used for inflatable vessels. The first such rafts appeared in the United States in the mid-18th century and were initially made of rubber. Rafting, as a sport and recreational activity, was first developed on the Colorado River, before it spread to other countries of the world.
This type of construction was primarily used for equipment transport or for expeditions of troops down the rivers that were less accessible. Today, rafts have been greatly improved thanks to modern production techniques. However, it is less known that rafting appeared in this region around Foča as early as the 19th century.
How did rafting originate and how did it develop? In this article, you will find some interesting information about it.
It all started with workers called ‘triftari’
The history of rafting on the Tara River, or rafting on the Tara for tourists, dates back to 1964. The forerunner of rafting was then a good form of timber transport - ‘triftarenje’. Log transportation was organized by the Austro-Hungarian government at the end of the 19th century, first from the right bank of the Tara River, and then along the entire length to Mojkovac. The workers who did this difficult and dangerous work were called ‘triftari’. Thus, the ‘trifts’ transported a large amount of wood, cut on the steep slopes of the canyon. ‘Triftari’ sailed the rivers on long wooden rafts made of logs joined together. This profession was highly respected and well-paid, but it also carried many risks at that time.
Many beech trees and sections of the river are named after famous ‘triftars’, which bear witness to their fate and their arduous life.
There is a story from the far 1906 when a rafter from Foča drove a forestry engineer on a wooden raft on the Drina from Šćepan Polje to Foča for purely recreational and touristic reasons, so this year could be considered the very beginning of recreational rafting in these areas.
Enjoyment for tourists
After the ‘triftari’ conquered the waterfalls and rapids of the Drina and Tara, tourists were transported by wooden rafts with a rudder, which can be found in the renowned Politika newspaper in 1932. During the Second World War, these activities died down, only to be renewed again after the war. Namely, the ‘triftari’ took on their rafts the tourists who enjoy the beauty of the river and its surroundings. Eventually, wooden rafts were replaced by rubber ones, and safety on the water was improved - the participants wear neoprene suits, safety vests, and helmets.
After the turbulent period of the 90s, the first rafting camps appeared in a place called Bastasi, about six kilometers downstream from Šćepan Polje along the Drina. This area near Foča has become the rafting capital not only of the region but also of the whole of Europe. We can boast that our camp "Rafting Center Drina Tara" is one of the most modern, most comfortable, and best equipped.
Fun and recreation in nature
Rafting is a very popular whitewater sport that allows participants to find themselves in stunning surroundings, mountain valleys, gorges, and canyons. In a team with other participants and an instructor, a licensed skipper, you will row as one on a stable and sophisticated inflatable raft to overcome turbulent waves, heavy rapids, and water currents. This activity does not require any special preparation other than a short preparatory meeting with the skipper in which the guide explains the basic commands and rules of behavior to the group. That is why families with children also choose this form of recreation - it is a family-friendly sport.
In addition to all these benefits, by coming to Tara rafting, you have the opportunity to discover the long history and cultural heritage of this region, while various outdoor activities are at your disposal. There are also natural beauties that you have never seen before, which you can see on foot, from a raft, on an electric bicycle, by going on a jeep safari, by riding a quad bike, and even from the air, during an exciting zip-line descent.
Rafting on the Tara and Drina as a sport discipline
The first major international meetings of rafters were held within the framework of the RAFT Project, in which about 50 teams competed in Siberia in 1989, the USA in 1990, then in Costa Rica in 1991, and Turkey in 1993.
Among the rivers popular and suitable for rafting in Europe, the following stand out Noce (Italy), Sjoa (Norway), Inn river (Austria), the Swiss part of the Rhine, Una river in Croatia, and certainly Tara river (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro).
Therefore, it is not surprising that in 2009 Banjaluka and Foča became the hosts of the World Rafting Championship on the Vrbas and Tara rivers, organized by the International Rafting Federation (IRF). The IRF is the official International Sports Federation for all national rafting organizations worldwide and governs all aspects of sports rafting. The IRF organizes the World Rafting Championship (WRC), the European Rafting Championship (ERC), the Pan American Rafting Championship, and the Euro Cup.
The participants of the Tara rafting can definitely feel the most adrenaline in April, May, and early June. As the water level drops in July, August, and September, some rapids disappear, but some new rapids appear that were not there when the water was high.
Nowadays, rafting is a sport that has come a long way since its beginnings and is appreciated by thrill-seekers who, above all, want to share these unforgettable and fun experiences with their family, colleagues, and friends. If you also want to have a taste of a rafting adventure, take a look at what we have to offer at the Drina Tara Rafting Center.