Rafting is an English word explaining wild water rafting, and a relatively new concept in modern tourism, enjoying the title of most popular tourism brand in this area in recent years. Still, there are only few who know that the town of Foca is a cradle of rafting. It has been since the second half of the 19th century, when the logs cut from the forest (exploited by the Austro-Hungarians) were transported down the Tara and the Drina to the sawmills in Foca.
- The logs were laid and brought together by steel cables and iron cramps, and made into rafts. Over them the timber was thrown and taken down the Tara and the Danube to the sawmills in Foca, Visegrad and Belgrade by extremely brave and physically adept men. Those skilled ‘wolves from the Drina’ were called ‘triftars’ and it depended on them how much of the Bosnian forest will be cut down and reach the center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which occupied Bosnia in the 19th century. - The story is told by the old people from Foca who still remember the ‘triftars’, the heroes who were doing this dangerous job and earned bread for themselves and their families. In the Foca museum there is evidence that as long ago as in 1906, one ‘triftar’ from Foca took an Austrian forestry engineer on a wooden raft down the Drina from Scepan Polje to Foca for rest and recreation. This could be marked as the beginning of rafting tours in Foca and the surrounding area. In 1932 the “Politika” newspaper from Belgrade wrote about the popularity of tourist rafting on wooden rafts in Foca. The rafts had a wooden steering wheel in front and they were operated by a strong ‘ triftars’ through the rapids and falls of Tara and Drina. Sometimes it was not uncommon for the raft to hit the rock cliffs of the rivers, or fall apart due to the strik.
FROM ’TRIFTARS’ TO LICENCED SKIPPERS
The ‘trifting’ or transport of timber down the Tara and Drina was interrupted during World War II, but renewed in 1958, when theTourist organization of Foca was founded. At that time the ‘triftars’ started taking tourists who wanted to relax and enjoy the charms of the river. The people of Foča testify that among the ‘Drina wolves ‘ the most famous ‘trifter’ was Adem Pendek, who inspired numerous stories until the 1990s. Modern pace of life imposes new requirements for rafting so nearly 40 years ago wooden rafts were replaced by fast and elegant rubber boats, neoprene suits and safety vests. Rafting with rubber boats was interrupted by the recent civil war in BiH in the 1990s until a handful of enthusiasts timidly began to renew that kind of extreme sport and tourism in 1996.
Six kilometers downstream the Drina from Scepan Polje, in a place called Bastasi in the wild bush on the right bank of the Drina, emerged the first post-war tents and wooden eaves, as recalls Rade Solaja, a former skipper on rubber boats, pointing out that Foca today really is the rafting capital of Europe and the confluence of the river and wildlife lovers from around the world. A modern rafting resort of seven camps was built in Bastasi including the largest and the best equipped our Rafting Center “Drina-Tara” on the bank of the Drina River, with over 200 beds.
It was clear in summer of 2007 that the municipality of Foca recognized rafting as a gem among the tourist brands in the region, organizing the first open rafting championship of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the rivers Drina and Ćehotina. It caused a lot of attention in the region. Two years later, together with the river Vrbas and the city of Banja Luka, Foca became a host of the World Rafting Championships, welcoming competitors from about 40 countries from around the world. This would give a significant impetus to rafting, which every year attracts more and more fans. Rafting today is a key tourist potential of this region, especially keeping in mind that six months ago building of a 18 km long road along the right bank of Tara, to Brstanovica has begun in order to avoid crossing the Montenegrin border. The construction, which involves the BiH Armed Forces, is coming to an end and we believe that the new rafting season in 2017 will be started along the new path by the Tara, from the territory of the Republic of Srpska.