Sutjeska National Park

Sutjeska National Park

Location: Republika Srpska Map

Area: 175 km2


Description of Sutjeska National Park

Sutjeska National Park is the oldest national park in the Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sutjeska became a national park in 1962 and covers an area of 17,250 ha. The nearest town is Foča. It is located on the main road route Belgrade-Višegrad-Foča-Tjentište-Bileća-Trebinje-Dubrovnik.

One of the four last remaining rainforests in Europe is located here - Perućica. Sutjeska is also home to the highest mountain peak in the Republic of Srpska, Maglić 2386 m above sea level.

Mount Maglić is located on the border of Republika Srpska and Montenegro and can be approached from the national park, which represents a great challenge for mountaineers, alpinists and similar nature lovers. The river Sutjeska has cut its way through the canyon for many years and flows through the very heart of this national park. Its mountains, lakes, rivers, forests and preserved wilderness are among the most magnificent in Europe. These Dinarides extend deep into the Balkan Peninsula, all the way to Prokleti on the border with Montenegro and Albania.

In the Sutjeska National Park, in a relatively small area, a huge treasure of flora and fauna is concentrated. That is why this area was and still is very attractive to many scientists, botanists, geologists, zoologists and forestry experts. The rich flora contains over a hundred species of edible mushrooms, as well as a large number of rare, sensitive and endangered species.

The animal world is also extremely rich. Almost all the species typical of the Balkan mountain area live in dense forests and on mountain slopes. 114 species of birds have been recorded (in 2002), although it is believed that there are more. Of the 114 recorded species, 61 nest in the Sutjeska National Park, 32 species visit the park every summer, while 16 species belong to migrants who pass through here in autumn and spring. Five species only appear in the national park in winter. The list of birds also includes 9 species of woodpeckers, which represents 90% of this family in Europe.

This difficult terrain helped the Partisans defend against the Germans in the decisive battle, known as the "Fifth Enemy Offensive" or the Battle of Sutjeska. The Battle of Sutjeska took place in 1943 and is considered one of the most difficult battles of the Second World War on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

On that occasion, in 1971, a monumental monument to fallen soldiers was erected in Tjentište as part of the "Valley of Heroes" memorial complex, which is located next to the main road Foča - Tjentište - Bileća.



Sutjeska National Park was founded in 1962 and is the largest and the earliest declared national park in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The granting of the status, according to some sources, was more a consequence of the historical battles that took place in that area, than the conservation of natural assets.

The Perućica Forest Reserve, which is located in the national park, was founded in 1952. It is a strictly guarded natural reserve of national importance, whose living world is the subject of scientific research. Perućica is one of the five nature reserves in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the remaining rainforests on the European continent.

The park is also famous for the location of the Battle of Sutjeska, which lasted from May 15 to June 16, 1943, during the Second World War, where the partisans, led by Josip Broz Tito, defeated the German occupation forces. The partisans managed to get out of the encirclement even though they lost a third of their men. Several large partisan memorial stone monuments mark this event on the northern edge of the park near Tjentište, on the way to the original Perućica forest reserve.



The park covers an area of about 17,250 hectares. To the east, it is bordered by the Piva Mountain (1,775 meters) and the Piva River up to Šćepan Polje, and further along the Drina River to the mouth of the Sutjeska River. On the western side is the mountain Zelengora (2,014 meters), which is followed by the mountain Lelija (2,032 meters), while on the southeast are the mountains Maglić (2,386 meters), the mountain Volujak (2,337 meters) and Bioč (2,388 meters). A plan to expand the park's boundaries to include an additional area of 8,331 hectares, including an area of 3,500 hectares towards the Tara River canyon, was also considered. An additional increase in volume would make Sutjeska National Park the largest protected area not only in the Republika Srpska, but also in the entire state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Sutjeska National Park and the neighboring Durmitor National Park in the northwest of Montenegro achieved cross-border cooperation between protected areas in the former Yugoslavia.

The park is open all year round, with certain restrictions during the winter. Access is possible by road from the direction of Sarajevo (110 kilometers) or Dubrovnik in Croatia (142 kilometers). It is connected by the road Belgrade-Višegrad-Herceg Novi. The Trebinje-Foča road runs along the canyon through dense forests leading to the park. The valley opens on the northern edge of the park. The town of Foča, near the border with Montenegro, is 20 kilometers from the park, and the nearest place in the neighboring country is Mratinje. The highest peak of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mount Maglić, right on the border with Montenegro, is a challenging climb for even experienced mountaineers. Mount Zelengora is popular with mountaineers and there are several well-maintained mountain lodges on the slopes of the mountain. River Tara is famous for rafting.


Perućica forest reserve

The Perućica Forest Reserve, located in the park, is six kilometers long, between one and three kilometers wide, depending on the area, and has an area of 1,400 hectares. In the forest there are a large number of trees over 300 years old, while the age of the original forest in the protected area is estimated at 20,000 years. In some parts, the forest vegetation is almost impenetrable.

According to scientists from Yale University, Perućica is an ideal place for studies on the role of forests in the global carbon cycle, considering that it is one of the last intact forests in Europe. The human factor had no influence on the change of generations of flora and fauna in the area of the reserve.

Organized paths lead through the forest, ending with a viewpoint from which you can see the center of the rainforest, while the Suški stream also flows through it. Due to the specificity of the terrain, visits are allowed only with prior notice to the guides from the national park.


Skakavac waterfall

Skakavac waterfall is formed on Perućica, a tributary of the river Sutjeska, i.e. a mountain stream, located deep in the rainforest. It is one of the highest waterfalls in the country, about 75 meters high, and it is located in a dense cover of green beech and spruce trees that cover the entire valley.

The Perućica rainforest is located below the highest peak in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Maglić (2,386 m) and is separated from the Zelengora mountain by the river Sutjeska and its deep canyon.

In the middle of its course, the Perućica stream, which cuts through the rainforest, falls between two steep slopes of Maglić, cascading from the upper to the lower valley, falling over a large karst limestone ridge to a depression of approximately 75 meters, after which the Perućica stream reaches the mouth of the Sutjeska river in near Tjentište.


Rivers and lakes

The Piva and Drina rivers are the largest rivers in the park and form its northwestern border. Sutjeska with its tributaries is the main river basin that is mostly located in the park itself. Sutjeska divides the Zelengora mountain from the Maglić, Volujak and Bioč mountains and created a 1,200 meter deep canyon and the Tjentište valley through the middle of the park. Other rivers and streams in the area of the national park are also tributaries of Sutjeska. The left tributaries are the Klobučarica and Jabučnica streams, and the Hrčavka river, while the right tributaries consist of the Suški stream (also called the Suha river or the Sušica stream), the Prijevor stream and the Perućica stream.

Mount Zelengora, in its forests and wide grassy plateaus, hides 9 glacial lakes, also known as Gorske oči. These lakes are: Crno jezero, Bijelo jezero, Orlovačko jezero, Gornje and Donje Bare, Štirinsko jezero, Kotlaničko jezero, Kladopoljsko jezero and Jugovo jezero (which is also called Borilovačko jezero).



Climatic factors within the park are variable. The moderate continental climate dominates from the north, while the influence of the southern Mediterranean climate is less pronounced. In addition to the typical mountain climate, the Adriatic Sea also has a great influence.


Flora and fauna

The vegetation of the park consists of dense forests (66%), mountain pastures, meadows and rocky soil with occasional vegetation. In particular, on the slopes of the northwestern hills there are thick conifers and beech trees up to a height of 1,600 meters, while in other parts the very steep slopes are barren and rocky. Pastures are located on plateaus above 1,600 meters above sea level. The floral wealth includes 2,600 species of vascular plants, many of which are rare and endemic species, as well as approximately a hundred species of edible mushrooms. The Perućica rainforest consists of large beech trees 60 meters high, with a circumference of about one and a half meters, and endemic specimens of black pines. The trees in the Perućica rainforest have never been listed, and some of them are as old as 300 years.

The animal population is diverse and substantial. Bears, chamois, wild boars, wolves, martens, wild cats, foxes and wild goats have been seen in the park, especially in the forests of Perućica. In the park, there are more than 300 species of birds in the area of the large lakes on Zelengora and in the wetlands. Balkan chamois, a type of goat-antelope distributed in Europe and the Carpathians, are also among the species living in the park. In the period from 1963 to 1987, 256 chamois were successfully brought to 13 other areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Some of the bird species recorded in the Perućica rainforest are: golden eagle, grouse, peregrine falcon, blackbird and partridge.


Conservation and protection

Sutjeska National Park is an associate member of the European Association of National Parks. In view of the overexploitation of natural resources, including illegal cutting of firewood, the World Bank has supported a major multipurpose plan for biodiversity conservation, forest management, cultural heritage preservation, tourism and socioeconomic development. The projects cover the physical enhancement of existing protected areas and the establishment of new conservation priorities for critical areas with funding of US$2.76 million, including US$1.4 million from the Global Environment Facility. The project started in 2006 includes the existing Sutjeska National Park and Kozara National Park with a focus on ecosystem development plans, participatory land use planning, construction of new infrastructure and limited rehabilitation of small-scale buildings, which are considered key to improving the existing park. Infrastructure development includes improvements and new trail alignments, signage repairs, rest areas, and establishment of new park boundaries. An exclusive training program is also part of the project. Since the 1960s, infrastructural development has posed a major challenge to environmental conservation.



The Festival Association of the Republic of Srpska, in cooperation with the National Park, organizes the OK Fest Youth Festival every year at the beginning of July. OK Fest has grown from the Friendship Camp and is attended by young people from the entire Republika Srpska, as well as guests from the region. Conceived as a form of youth and eco-tourism promotion, it offers visitors concerts of famous rock groups, accompanying music programs, film and theater screenings, panel discussions and a very attractive adrenaline zone — hiking in the park and rafting on the Tara River.