Zasavica – An Oasis That Was Once Guarded by Dragons

At the very place where the regions of Vojvodina and Macva meet, close to Sremska Mitrovica, east of the river Drina and south of the river Sava, hides Zasavica, one of the most dazzling and untouched natural gems of Serbia. This nature reserve occupies the area of 1825 acres, and is dominated by the rivers of Zasavica and Batar. In 2001, the reserve was included in the Europark Federation and it is one of the last, almost entirely preserved swamp locations in the Balkans. As such, it was nominated as one of the Ramsar wetland sites.

Peaceful and gentle, Zasavica is a sanctuary to many diverse plants and animals. More than 600 plant species have been registered so far. There are white and yellow water lilies, swamp nettle, and various mushrooms. The reserve is abundant with medicinal herbs as well. One fifth of the whole area is covered with woods, where willows, oaks and linden trees stand proudly or bow gracefully.

Unpolluted waters may be rightfully regarded as the best natural feature of Zasavica. For instance, these waters contain fresh-water jellyfish and sponges, the species not likely to swim in even slightly contaminated habitats. The waters are full of fish, even catfish, a species that was recently reintroduced. The wet surfaces of Zasavica look like placid swamps but they are actually rivers. It is the rich animal and plant life that creates the illusion.

Some 180 bird species fly above Zasavica or swim in its waters, among which there are little grebes, waterhens, herons, white and black storks, white-tailed eagles and swans. Of course, mammals must not be forgotten, since 45 mammal species live in this area. Some of these are endangered and some were successfully reintroduced. A perfect example is the European beaver, one of the first species that vanished from this region, due to human interference. Special animal attractions of the reserve are the Mangulica pig, known for its premium quality meat and pig fat, and the Podolian cow.

Although pure and intact, Zasavica can be visited. It offers a picturesque landscape, an authentic folklore and a traditional approach to life. Whether one chooses to rest, sail, observe or study, the environment promises an unforgettable experience. Sport fishing is possible at certain designated areas, so is photo-safari. The visitors are encouraged to try and take photos of the beavers. As we all know, it is one animal very skilled when it comes to building dams, but even more skilled in its camera lens evasive maneuvers. The beavers of Zasavica have never been “captured” in that way before.

The central tourist site of the reserve is the visitors’ centre – a wooden construction, with an 18 meters high tower that offers the most captivating view to the whole Zasavica. In front, there is a wooden dock with boats, including the Umbra boat, used for sailing tours. Within the centre, there is an “ethno” room, decorated with old, 19th and 20th century, items and tools once used in agriculture. Also, there is the Beaver’s saloon, where people can prepare their own food. The Eco bread and the famous fish of Macva are warmly recommended.

Zasavica belongs to Sremska Mitrovica greater area. The town was once known as Sirmium, and was one of the ancient Roman capitals. In the spirit of the past, one additional construction will rise above the soil of Zasavica – Villa rustica romana or Roman village house. However, it is not a secret that Zasavica always had an enchanting effect on humans. People had been leaving footprints all over this land long before Romans came. But there is a legend, a legend that found roots in ancient Celtic stories and maps. It says the same land was once guarded and closely observed by dragons. Rumor has it they are still here… Come and see for yourself!