I’m Stara planina, for those who know me just “Stara” (lit. Old). I am the longest mountain range in Serbia, I belong to the Carpathian-Balkan Mountains and I reside in southeast Serbia. Actually I am a big Balkan Mountain (which is my old name) and I embrace the municipalities of Zajecar, Knjazevac, Pirot and Dimitrovgrad. My most precious part is protected as Nature Park – natural resources of great importance of I (first) category with an area of 114,332 ha. My highest peak is Midzor – 2,169 mamsl. Juniper, hm, mischievous plant, spreads rapidly, causing trouble to those who would like to overrun it, but cute, is it not? Not easy to forget.
They say I hide many secrets, natural and cultural resources, but I only keep them faithfully for future generations. My nature is wild, untouched, undiscovered. I want to share with you a piece of it and I believe that if you are reading this that you are a person who loves and respects nature. Promise that you will protect and respect my nature and I will show you a wonderful world of peaks, waterfalls, canyons and gorges, you will be enchanted by my beauty and fresh, genuine mountain energy. I was and am a home to many of you, I testify about epochs, ages, people and changes – they call me Stara planina for a reason. I’m the Balkans, and the Balkan Peninsula was named after me.
Many outdoor enthusiasts seek their shelter with me, and a group of skyrunners have found the best paths for running and every year they come here to test their strength, orientation skills, stamina and physical and mental readiness. I believe they do their best and that they present my finest and highest parts in the best possible way. About tracks and races – ask skyrunners! They opened my goat paths, barred for centuries and only in the service of border guards. Mystical paths, old abandoned watchtowers and surface springs can be found here, even at the peaks over 1,900 mamsl.
Looking forward to seeing you!
Stara planina is located near road routes Belgrade-Nis (a highway located on Corridor X) and Nis-Sofia (E-75 road route), as well as Corridor VII, the Danube traffic route. It is located 330 km from Belgrade, 70 km from Nis, 100 km from Zajecar and 50 km from Knjazevac and Pirot.
Stara planina can be reached from several directions.
- Nis-Svrljig-Knjazevac-Kalna-Babin zub, the road is 110 km long, with good vertical and horizontal signalization. This route is regularly maintained and is currently the best option for getting to Stara planina.
- Pirot-Kalna-Babin Zub – taking the highway from Nis to Pirot up to the exit for Temska, however the part of the road from Temska to Kalna is of poor quality with holes and landslides.
The closest airport is in Nis, some 70 km far from Stara planina. At the airport “Konstantin Veliki” the flights from major European cities have been established: the company “Ryanair” for Milan, Dusseldorf, Berlin and Bratislava, as well as the flights of the Hungarian “Wizz Air” for Munich, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Basel and Malmo.
More info: http://nis-airport.com
The railway network consists of two lines: Nis-Knjazevac-Zajecar and Nis-Pirot-Dimitrovgrad.
INTER Rent-a-Car Nis
Adress: P.C. Ambasador lok.23, Nis, Serbia
Ph. +381 (0) 18 52 88 52 i +381 (0) 18 52 04 42
Mob.: +381 (0) 63 77 56 741 i +381 (0) 63 467 447
Nis Bus Station:
Ph. +381 18 255 177, +381 18 255 666
Knjazevac Bus Station:
Ph. +381 19 733 027; +381 19 731 437
Pirot Bus Station
Ph. +381 10 320 758
Important phone numbers in Knjazevac: http://www.knjazevac.rs/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=26&Itemid=26
Important phone numbers in Pirot: http://topirot.com/informacije
Tourist Organization of Knjazevac:
Adress: Knjaza Milosa 37, Knjazevac
Ph. +381 19 735-230
About Stara planina
Stara planina (lit. Old Mountain) is one of the most beautiful and best preserved Serbian mountains, with a variety of natural resources, rich tradition and rural culture. It is located in the border regions between Serbia and Bulgaria (where it extends for the most part), and forms a part of the Carpathian-Balkan mountain arc. The long isolation due to its border location has played an important role in its preservation. Being an area of exceptional values from the standpoint of diversity of flora and fauna and their communities, as well as geomorphological, geological, hydrological and hydrogeological characteristics, conserving the traditional way of life and cultural heritage, it was granted a status of the Nature Park in 1997. Nature lovers are just beginning to discover its beauty whereas others perceive it through a touristic point of view for which it has a huge potential but is mostly underused.
The relief of Stara planina stands as a natural value that is seen in a small number of mountains in Serbia. It is a spacious mountain with peaks above 2,000 m, with mild and sharp slopes, wide meadows, river ravines and valleys. Mountain massif of Stara planina consists of Zaglavak and Visok regions which are dominated by the Trgoviski Timok, Beli Timok, Visocica and Dojkinacka and Toplodolska Rivers.
Within the Nature Park “Stara planina” the following strict nature reserves can be found: “Draganiste” – spruce forest reserve, “Golema reka” – breech rainforest, “Vrazja glava” – a significant site in one part of forest complex of Stara planina where it is possible to monitor spontaneous development and succession of plant species that are part of its flora, especially that of a mountain maple (Acer heldreichii), “Tri cuke” – the most interesting subalpine community of dwarf mountain pine (Pinetum mugi) on the highest peaks and is the only area where dwarf mountain pine has been preserved so far, “Smrce” (Arbinje) – best preserved and most beautiful spruce forests in Stara planina and in Serbia in general, with typical peat communities, and “Kopren” – a site where the family of carnivorous plants (Drosera rotundifolia) can be found.
The area of Stara planina is home to many animal groups that contribute to the beauty of nature being the evidence of undisturbed habitat and diversity that is to be preserved. Fauna comprises of 116 species of butterflies, 18 species of herpetofauna, 26 species of ichtyofauna and 203 species of birds (which is the largest diversity of bird fauna in any mountain in Serbia, former Yugoslavia and most of the Balkan countries).
Considering the characteristics of the area, parts of the Nature Park and the entire Stara planina have received a status of significant international region and can be found on the following lists:
- The list of important international bird areas (IBA – Bird Life International);
- The list of important international plant areas (IPA – PlantaEuropa);
- The list of primary butterfly areas in Europe (PBA);
- The preliminary list for border biosphere areas under the protection of UNESCO (Man and Biosphere, UNESCO);
- The list of priority habitats for protection under the Ramsar Convention (wetlands), the Emerald list (an area important for conservation of European ecological network);
- The list of border protected areas within the program GREEN BELT (IUCN) and
- The list “Pro geo” for geological treasures of significant places within the European Association for Conservation of Geological Heritage.
The sites of geomorphological heritage are: Bigar Stream Valley, the site of Babin Zub, where the largest group of various rock formations of coarse sandstones can be found, entrenched meanders of the Temstica River in the ravine 160-260 m deep with numerous sculptures of red sandstone and Vladikine ploce Ravine of the Visocica River, between Rsovci and Paklestica villages with the eponymous cave system.
According to the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, Stara planina has more than 150 water springs (out of which 20-30 have been capped and turned into fountains). The lowest temperature can be found at the spring at Bata (4°C) below Vrazja glava peak, being the coldest spring in Serbia. River flows of Stara planina are characterized by steep slopes, carved riverbeds, frequent rapids and cascading waterfalls, as well as the recesses in the form of giant pots. Alpine rivers Dojkinacka, Jelovicka, Crnovrska and Toplodolska are characterized by an exceptional degree of ecological cleanliness, while the river valleys of Bigar, Temstica, Rosomacka River and Visocica have created impressive canyons and gorges, which are worth a visit.
Bigar is a valley entirely built of tufa, from which the tufa transom was made over which the water falls in the form of cumulative waterfall 35 m high.
The Temstica River is known for its entrenched meanders within the ravine that goes 160-260 m through red sandstone.
Along its course just above the villages of Rsovci and Paklestica, Visocica River creates a gorge around 2 km long. A large number of caves can be found here, the most famous being Vladikine ploce. This cave is a dry one, with a huge entrance that is 12 meters wide and 50 meters high. The Rosomocka River Gorge stretches between the villages of Rosomac and Slavinje with a series of giant pots at its bottom.
Particularly attractive are springs and seepages – Jelovicko vrelo, Dojkinacko vrelo, Suvo vrelo and plunging parts of watercourses – Ponor.
Characteristic of Stara planina and contributing to its uniqueness are the numerous waterfalls, the most attractive being Tupavica, Tri kladenca, Kopren waterfall Cungulj, Piljski waterfall and Kaludjerski skokovi…
The most intriguing is Kopren waterfall which is said to be the largest in Serbia. This waterfall is located at the highest altitude in Serbia (1,820 masl). Dabidzin stream springs below the very peak of Stara planina peak Kopren (1,963 masl). It holds the record for being the highest waterfall. It is also the biggest waterfall in Serbia. The length of measured flow is 148 meters, while the total measured height from the beginning to the end is 103.5 meters with an average drop of 56.4 degrees.
Tupavica waterfall, after which the region of Visok is known, is located near the village Dojkinci and is about 15 meters high. It is the most accessible of all the waterfalls in Stara planina, being situated an hour and a half walk from Dojkinci village.
Piljski waterfall is 64 m high and according to the TO Pirot is the second highest waterfall in Serbia. It is located about 4km south of the village Topli do. It is situated in a wooded and inaccessible area below the peak of Pilj (1,467 masl) on Piljski stream. Due to its remoteness it was discovered only in 2002. Until then, only the villagers, true nature lovers and hikers were familiar with its existence. The waterfall consists of two cascades – “Upper Pilj (lower)” and “Lower Pilj (higher)”. It is located at an altitude of about 1,450 m. From the village Topli do the route is marked by tourist signs and it certainly stands out as an impressive tourist attraction.
Cunguljski skok is located on the Toplodolska River, near the village of Topli do, in Stara planina. It is 40 m high and is located at an altitude of 1,400 m. It is named after the mountain peak of “Cungulj” at the foot of which lies the waterfall. Being covered with beautiful dense forest, it is not easily accessible and for this tour you will need a guide. It was discovered by a group of researchers in 1996.
Kurtulski skok (27 m) – just a few hundred meters from the Javorska River, near the village of Topli do, there is a miniature trench with a cascading waterfall and upstream of it, a few hundred meters away, there is another smaller waterfall to be seen, as well.
Very attractive hydrographic value of this mountain is Zavojsko Lake with its hydropower plant Zavoj. It covers the area of 5,52 km2 and is the largest lake in this region. The lake is artificial and was created by damming the river Visocica. It is 7,5 km long, 300 m wide, approximately 70 m deep and is located at an altitude of 612 m. Other lakes in Stara planina are Rgotsko Lake near Zajecar, Krupacko Lake and Sukovsko Lake near Pirot and Smilovska Lakes near Dimitrovgrad.
The climate of Stara planina is characterized by spatial variability. Relief plays the biggest role in the climatic formation of the area of Stara planina. Its influence (through changes in altitude, exposure and incidence of the terrain, position in relation to the air masses, etc.) is most clearly reflected in the intensive quantitative changes in air temperature and precipitation. Northern parts of the mountain, belonging to the municipalities of Zajecar and Knjazevac, have moderate continental climate modified by the strong influence of the steppe climate, while the climate of southern parts, which belong to the municipalities of Pirot and Dimitrovgrad, is modified mountain climate.
The monumental heritage of Stara planina, as a reflection of spirituality and traces of life of its population, is reflected in the presence of traces of prehistoric, ancient and Roman ruins, late medieval monastery complexes, numerousness of individual sacral objects and a large number of ethno object: houses, granaries, barns, etc. with their characteristic architectural structure typical for this area, dating from the late 19th and early 20th century. The Stone Village of Gostusa, unique icon of “Bald Jesus” in the church of St. Peter and Paul in Rsovci village, church in the village of Donja Kamenica, The Prayer under Midzor, Stara Planina Food Festival, Youth camp in Temska, traditional crafts, cheese, Pirot beer, are just some of the interesting things which will surely draw your attention.
The Government of the Republic of Serbia has entrusted the management of the Nature Park “Stara planina” to JP “Srbijasume”. All the activities regarding the protection, development and sustainable utilization of the Nature Park “Stara planina” are carried out via RJ “Nature Park Stara Planina”.
After 2006, certain funds from the National Investment Plan were aimed at creating a modern winter tourist center of mass tourism. Bearing in mind the history and current development and degradation of Kopaonik and Zlatibor mountains, a group of nature lovers are committed to maintaining and developing eco and rural tourism, adventure and active vacations. Tourism in this area should be develop within the lines of sustainable use of natural and cultural resources, the improvement of life of the population, preservation of tradition and nature protection.
Stara planina – Accomodation:
- “Stara planina” Hotel ****
Adress: Jabucko ravniste bb, Kalna
Ph. +381 19 3195 135
- “Sum” Mountain Lodge
Adress: Crni vrh bb, Kalna
Ph. +381 64 135 2255
- “Babin zub” Mountain Lodge
Ph. + 381 19 730570
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/planinarskidombabinzub
- “Dojkinci” Mountain Lodge (for group visits only)
Adress: Dojkinci Village, Pirot
Ph. +381 10 320 838 (TO Pirot)
- Rural households
– Knjazevac and neighbouring sites: