This winter we carried out some research on Zlatibor Mountain in Serbia. One of the biggest attractions in this region, Stopića Cave, was our most recent endeavour.
We had passed the Užice-Sirogojno road so many times without thinking that just below it, under Zlatibor Mountain, there was one of the most attractive caves in the region. The very entrance to the cave, which can be reached by 200 stairs, instantly astounds you. It is at 711 meters above sea level, and the entrance opening is an impressive 35 meters wide and 18 meters high. The cave reaches 1691.5 meters into the mountain and the Trnavski stream flows through it, making it a river cave. It consists of five cave units: a light hall, a dark hall, a large hall with tubs, a canal with tubs and a river channel.
Stopića Cave is rich in cave jewellery, primarily stalactites, but what it is most famous for are its 'bigrene', cave bathtubs, the main reason why divers visit the cave.
At the very top of the Great Hall with the tubs, there is the deepest and longest tub of Stopića Cave. It is about 15 meters long and has a maximum depth of 7.2 meters. A stalactite enters the middle of the tub directly from the ceiling and penetrates 40 cm below the water's surface. All this together creates a unique, photographic scene, both above and below the surface of the water.
Ivana Orlović Kranjc and Janez Kranjc, a diving and filming team known around the globe, have been diving intensively in the waters of Zlatibor in recent months.
"When we dived to the bottom of the last tub, we saw that the bottom was covered with a large amount of coins. It represents a big well of desires, but we were still amazed that people had disturbed the harmony of this unique natural phenomenon in such a way. In one of the corners of the tub, we noticed an opening that led further into the depths of Stopića Cave. Since research into this was not planned for this dive, and visibility was drastically reduced, we left that for another occasion.
Our photos will remind us in years to come about the unforgettable adventures that would not have been possible without the teamwork and enthusiasm of our club members" say Ivana and Janez who are among the first divers to peek under the surface of the Stopića Cave.
Zlatibor is a mountain which is very rich in water, so further diving in this part of Serbia is eagerly expected soon.
Written by Janez Kranjc
Photos by Janez Kranjc and from the archive of S.D.T. Svet Ronjenja