During the weekend retreat from Oct 15th to Oct 17th 2021 - initiated by IWC’s walking and holistic approach groups - nine ladies, IWC members and friends of IWC, had a great adventure exploring themselves, nature, and the culture of Serbia.

First day - Drina river house, “Connecting to your gift” workshop, and QI Gong

From Belgrade on our way to the Zepter Hotel in Bajina Bašta, we made a pit stop to view the Drina river house. It is a bit touristy but the charm of this tiny house perched delicately on a rock in the Drina is captivating. The house makes the surrounding area a quaint and unique place to be. It is an extraordinary feeling being there and it gives visitors a calm energy. The viewing balcony at the edge of the river is a special spot for taking photos - an Instagram-worthy place. :-)  Our tour guide Nevena filled us in on many interesting historical facts about the region.

After that, we started our weekend with a short workshop led by Therese Crawford. Therese is an American, married to a Serb, who now lives “off the grid” on Tara Mountain with their children. She shared her personal story with us and then guided us in exploring what defines each of us and makes us who we are. She spoke specifically about finding our unique gifts and giving those gifts to the world around us. 

After Therese’s workshop, Saša Balanesković gave us his first basic instructions for how to practice QI Gong. We began to realize that even standing still in the proper position is not so easy. 

Hiking & QI Gong in Tara National Park

The next day we greeted the morning with a Qi Gong session. After breakfast, it took us about 20 minutes to get to the river called the “one year river”. The river got its name because, from its source to the waterfall where it enters the Drina, it is 360 meters long. We enjoyed the sound of this waterfall and strolled up to the source of the river. We started our tour of the mountain at Mitrovac and set off for a moderately easy hike. Tara National Park is situated on Bajina Bašta territory, western Serbia. In 1981 this park was proclaimed as a national park. It has an area of about 19 - 25 hectares and an altitude of 1500 meters.  

Our hiking guide Boris Šimurina led us along the hiking trail across the entire mountain, through thick forests and green meadows to three viewpoints that took our breath away. One of the viewpoints was named Sokolarica. There is a cute wooden, cut-out bear photo frame at this location. At this particular viewpoint there were no other hikers or tourists. The Sokolarica viewpoint is situated on the edge of the Sokolina plateau, and it is about 990 meters above sea level.  

At the most famous viewpoint and final goal of our hiking tour, a viewpoint named “Banjska stena”, we enjoyed our lunch. We shot photos of the breathtaking view of Lake Perucac, Drina river, the forested massif of Tara, and Bosnia on the opposite side. 

The sounds of autumn, the fiery color of the leaves, and the morning mist and fog made the forest very mystical and fairy-tale-like. The weather was about 2 degrees however we were all prepared, bundled up in warm clothing, jackets, gloves, and hats. As we walked through tall trees we admired nature all around us - the abundance of mushrooms on the floor and on tree trunks, the soft rustling of branches, and the shower of golden leaves. The path was slippery due to the morning dew and the rains from the past several days. However, this did not dampen our spirits, nor did it deter us - not for a single second - from enjoying this magnificent mountain.  

We took advantage of this serene atmosphere in nature and the fresh air around us to practice a set of Qi Gong exercises in the forest, which helped us harmonize the energy in our bodies. The hike back to Mitrovac, where we had started, was packed with laughter, good conversation, and positive energy.

That day, within a 6-hour span of time, we hiked about 12km and took about 20,000 steps in this gorgeous park.

The day ended how it started, with a QI Gong session before dinner time. After dinner, we celebrated our successful day with singing, dancing, and sharing our thoughts and personal stories. 

Our Sightseeing on Sunday

We began our day again with Qi Gong. We did some easy and slow exercises that strengthen our organs and meridians (energetical pathways in the body). It was a perfect start to our cultural sightseeing trip to Mokra Gora and Drvengrad. We took the Šargan 8 train ride, starting from the station at Mokra Gora. The ride took about 45 minutes from the 1st station to tunnel number 22 near the final station. At the end station we walked around to enjoy the view nearby and encountered some local domestic animals - goats!  

After the train ride we visited the ethno village and former movie set Drvengrad. This village offers a mix of stunning nature, serenity and a laid-back atmosphere. The concept of this village hotel and artisan products is original and well done, sophisticated and artistic. The landscape is fantastic and food at the restaurant is good with a homey atmosphere. From there we began the bus ride home to Belgrade.