Who went through the whole Perucica, the last primeval forest in Europe, and who disappeared in its wilderness? What happened to a German SS unit in June of 1943 during the Battle of Sutjeska? How did the journey through the Zelengora Mountains of young French biologist Beno Marten end nearly ten years ago? What animals and plants live in this unique European eco reserve on more than 52 000 ha and how many have disappeared? Why are national beliefs more reliable for mountaineers and natural lovers than satellite images and weather forecasts in Sutjeska National Park?
These are just some of the questions and dilemmas encountered and posed by the travelers in Sutjeska National Park which intensify the interest in this unique natural jewel in the very heart of Europe. It has a primeval rainforest Perucica in its center - the last, most preserved nature reserve on the European continent.
The Drina-Tara Rafting Center itself has been increasing the interest of tourists from all around the world for the Sutjeska National Park and its beauties. The number of our guests interested in hiking tours and safari through Perucica, Maglic and Zelengora lakes has increased in 60% only in this year!
Inaccessibility of the Perucica primeval forest
According to naturalists, Perucica is the last preserved primeval forest in Europe, formed about 16 500 years ago, on the perimeter of a glacier. Its surface is about 16 square kilometers, it is oval in shape and is wedged in the gap between the slopes of Volujak, Maglic and Zelengora. In its center is the magnificent 80m-high Skakavac waterfall, powered by the Volujak Glacier. From Dragos Sedlo, through the rainforest, a 250-meter path leads to the viewpoint, offering a fairy-tale view of the waterfall and the primeval forest, which no person has set foot to about 90% of its expanse! The trees of beech, black and white pine, hornbeam, maple and ash are over 60 meters high and are, according to professor Radomir Lakusic, the tallest measured trees in Europe! The trail to Sakakavac waterfall, about 900 meters long, through the wilderness of Perucica forest, is impossible to master in under two hours of walking and a lot of adventures!
The earliest testimonies say that Perucica was officially discovered in 1886, during the time of "taxation", or remittance of a logging forest, on the perimeter of Dragos Sedlo. When the foresters and engineers of the time carelessly entered the forest a bit deeper below Dragos, they saw trees they had never seen before in their lives. Measurements of spruce trees, that died of old age and disease, have been made. The spruces were 64.5 meters long, with a diameter of two meters on the stump!
The stone urchins and the abysses of Perucica, overgrown with dense forest, in an area of six kilometers long and about three kilometers wide, are not walkable, since entry into the rainforest is strictly forbidden without a guide. There are two paths that modern nature lovers follow with a guide: one to the Skakavac Waterfall and the other to Dragoš Sedlo - Suha. There are no mountaineering markings through Perućica, because vegetation is lush. Evaporation is huge and the sun shines almost daily, mixed with rain. An urban legend says that no one ever walked through the whole Perucica forest. Due to its density and the dark that prevails, the traveler constantly walks in circles.
However, the inhabitants of Tjentiste say that a man called Rašević, who lived on the perimeter of the rainforest about a hundred years ago, knew Perućica very well. Also, during the Austro-Hungarian annexation of BiH, several Serb nomad families lived on the edge of this primeval forest, grazing livestock on the slopes of Volujak. They had to take their sheep, horses and cows through the heart of the rainforest to Mount Volujak, which rises above Perucica, by paths and bogs known only to them. And then go back the same way. Today's descendants of former nomad families claim that the paths through the rainforest were infallibly known by horses, who would be made to go forward with the load and, according to testimony, in this way no one ever got lost in this forest.
Still, someone did! In the area between the mountains of Zelengora, Maglić and Vučevo, from May 15 to June 15, 1943 there was legendary Sutjeska battle fought against the German occupiers. The partisans, with the wounded and a hospital on the move, stopped at Dragos Sedlo, close to Perucica primeval forest. At this point, the Germans committed an unprecedented crime - they killed the wounded and all the hospital staff. In 1985, one of the few surviving participants in that hell, a woman from Kordun, evoking memories of the battle, said that in June 1943, after the massacre of the wounded, an elite SS German unit, the size of a platoon, carelessly entered the western part of Perucica and never came out of it!