VLASINA, Serbia – Sometimes, but only sometimes, humans can create beauty equal to or even more successful than nature by itself. When they join forces with nature, when they make use of everything beautiful it unselfishly offers and strive not to ruin its harmony and balance and achieve a harmony in which are intertwined all the perfection, divine and human, then, I suppose, paradise is created on earth.
The paradise which began to be created in the middle part of the last century with the construction of a storage lake on the Vlasina Plateau, at an altitude of 1,210 meters.
Lake Vlasina is Serbia’s biggest and highest artificial mountainous lake. It has an indented coastline of 36 kilometers surrounding an area of 16.5 sq. km. It is nine kilometers long, and at its widest spot 3.5 km wide, with an average depth of ten and a maximum depth of 35 meters. The rivers bringing some two cubic meters of water per minute into the lake are the Vlasina, Vrla, Jerma, Božička, Lisinska, Ljubatska, Strvna and Čemernica with a total of 110 tributaries.
Lake Vlasina is generally placid; only rarely do waves reach half a meter. It is a relatively cool lake – the mean annual temperature is 9 degrees Centigrade, the maximum mean monthly figure in August is 18. In the summer it offers opportunities for swimming, while in the winter, when the water temperature can fall to 0.9 degrees C, ice up to 40 cm thick can create excellent possibilities for skating.
There are two islands - Stratorija, an island which existed in the old Vlasina bog, and Dugi Del, a peninsula before the dam was built. The islands are only open to scientists researching the local flora and fauna.
Floating Islands, an Attraction of Lake Vlasina
Before the lake the area contained a peat bog, Serbia’s biggest, created by the washing out of rivers, called the Vlasina Bog and mentioned in the 18th century. Between occasional ponds reeds grew, and the river Vlasina had its source. The bog was some 20 km long and even included quicksand areas.
In 1949, at the place where the Vlasina flowed out of the bog, a storage lake dam was built and by 1954 filled with 165 million cubic meters of water.
Sections of the peat which broke away from the newly formed bottom of the lake became floating islands; initially they covered one third of the lake, but now owing to human action only a few have survived.
They were initially used by surrounding villages as peat or fertilizer, and for a time the company Simpo Vranje opened a plant for milling and packing the peat for sale throughout the country.
The floating lakes, which in the meantime acquired a rich plant life, are tied and made distant from those who instead of natural beauty can only see in them fertilizer for their plants. Some better times are being waited for, for a revitalization project to be realized and the preparations made to allow the little lakes to continue floating around lake Vlasina, for the satisfaction of all visitors who see in them only beauty and a gift of nature.
Joint Forces for Vlasina
In the past three years this southern Serbian lake has been the object of a revitalization drive thanks to a joint program of the UNDP, the Government of Serbia, the Municipality of Surdulica, and the Coca Cola system.
One started from the definition of the visual identity of Lake Vlasina, the opening of a website, the marking of pedestrian and cycle tracks. A special-purpose vehicle for use in severe weather conditions was obtained, and tourist directions and waypoints are now being marked on all roads and tracks.
The local population is also being educated in the area of tourism, while the licensing and education of a ranger service is under way. A local market was opened recently at which the inhabitants of surrounding villages and artisans from the local center Surdulica will be able to market their products – fruit and vegetables, handicrafts, honey, etc...
Eco Tourism at Work
Eco tourism at work, it was said during the recent opening of the seasonal market, which also provided an opportunity for newsmen to be acquainted with the beauty of the lake and everything else it can offer visitors.
A place for rest, recreation and enjoyment. Trekking, skating, mountaineering, swimming, sunbathing, collecting medicinal herbs, strawberries, juniper berries...for listening to birds, watching fish through the crystal-clear water, fishing, boating...
Peace for the soul, beauty for the eye.
A paradise on earth, yet so close. When one turns from the Belgrade-Athens main road near Vladičin Han, through Surdulica Lake Vlasina is 32 km distant. From Leskovac, through Vlasotince and Crna Trava, the distance is 67 kilometers.
Source: House of Good News