On the southeastern border of Bosnia and Herzegovina, lies a rainforest. And not a small one either. Perucica is Europe's largest rainforest, covering 3 500 acres of land in enchanting, ancient growth. Running down deep valleys and along the slopes of towering limestone peaks, this part of Europe still feels wild and little-explored...making it the perfect place for adventure!
Does Europe really have rainforests?
When you think of European nature, what comes to mind? Alpine meadows? Mediterranean coastlines? Quaint patches of farmland? Probably not dense jungles or mossy rainforests. Yet, although Perućica is the biggest, it's not Europe's only rainforest.
Rainforests actually grow on every continent in the world except for Antarctica, and in Europe, two primeval forests still exist - Perućica and Białowieża, which stretches across Poland and Belarus.
Perućica is an example of a temperate rainforest. These are rainforests that, compared to their tropical counterparts, grow in milder temperatures, have a minimum of 55 inches of rainfall annually, as well as average annual temperatures of 39°F to 54°F.
How to visit Perućica rainforest
Named as a UNESCO Nature Reserve, Perućica has mainly been preserved as a place for science and education - not tourism.
Official guide books don't seem to exist about Perucica. Nor are there any maps marking out rainforest trails. A quick search online will lead you to warnings that visitors should not enter the rainforest without park rangers. So how can you actually visit Perucica?
There are a number of different ways you can explore and enjoy the splendours of Perućica with or without a guide - read on to find out more.
Getting to the Rainforest
Perućica is situated in Sutjeska National Park, Bosnia's largest national park. You can hire a car in Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo, and drive three hours to reach the park (buses do run to Sutjeska, but renting a car is by far the best option).
We recommend choosing a vehicle better suited to off-road driving, especially if you want the freedom of fully exploring the park by yourself, as the roads around Sutjeska are generally fine, but can sometimes be a bit steep and bumpy.
Exploring the Rainforest
Here are the best ways to visit the rainforest:
Book a tour with a park ranger: Ardent rainforest enthusiasts might want to explore the rainforest in the company of a professional. We recommend contacting Tara Sport and enquiring about a guide through them. They run Perućica trekking tours like this one.
Embark on your own hiking adventure: As long as you are well prepared and stick to the marked paths, why not summit the highest peak in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Maglic (2386 m)? It will give you a full day out in the splendid Sutjeska and panoramic 360 views of the rainforest. This is an excellent guide with lots of useful information about what to expect from one hiking route.
Visit Skakavac Waterfall: A spot of Bosnian waterfall chasing will take you through lush vegetation to the heart of Perućica, where an 73m waterfall cascades down a canyon. You can either view the waterfall from an observation spot at Dragoš sedlo, or walk 1 hour to get a closer view. This tour here runs guided trips to the waterfall.
Drive to epic rainforest viewpoints: Even from the road, you'll be able to hunt down glorious rainforest viewpoints. Two of the most stunning locations you can drive to are: Beškita viewpoint and the observatory tower at Vidikovac Prijevor (which is also a starting point for hiking up Maglic or visiting Trnovačko Jezero - a heart shaped, swimmable lake, tucked away in the mountains).
When to visit: The best months to explore Sutjeska are from April - October
Entrance fee: To enter National park Sutjeska it's 5 KM (€2.50).
Top Tip: Always stick to designated hiking trails!
Where to Stay
Way up in the Bosnian mountains, is the king of all campsites: Camp Izgori.
Perfectly situated in Sutjeska, Camp Izgori is an ideal base to explore the national park. Your nights will be spent in A-frame, wooden huts in the shadows of huge limestone peaks. They'll be shooting stars, campfires at dusk, and the type of quiet that can only be found in the mountains...a small slice of Bosnian bliss!