It’s morning as the sun shines through the clouds and promises a beautiful day. We are on our way to west Syrmia, to the youngest town in Croatia called Otok, positioned along the edge of the Spačva basin, known as the Virovi (a natural phenomenon, since it is not known where they spring or where they flow into).
We pass the picturesque Slavonian villages by windy roads through a vast plain. We enter the town of Otok through a wide street, and as we make our way to the roundabout, where everything is nice and clean, there is a smell of fresh bagels in the air.
We are visiting the Virovi – they’re not a lake, a creek, nor a river, they’re the Virovi
We follow the signs as we are driving – where the town ends, the forest begins. The Virovi are 8 km away and we are driving slowly enjoying the view of the grasslands where storks and herons roam freely.
We keep driving through the forest as we feel the fresh air and the smells of the forest …
We are driving through the largest common oak forest in all of Europe.
The forest ends and the view of the Virovi illuminated by the sun opens up. We step out of the car and are amazed… it’s as the birds wishing us welcome with their song, and we feel almost like in a fairy tale. The waters of Virovi reflect the white clouds and the blue sky as the wind caresses our faces.
There is a children’s playground in front of us and the river of Virovi, where two anchored solar boats await their passengers.
To our right is a small bridge which leads into the forest and stands there calling to new adventures.
Bioecological and Education Centre – Virovi
We turn around and we look up to the newly built Bioecological and Education Centre – Virovi, which proudly stands on the forest clearing and hides its riches (it is currently in the last phase of construction and furnishing and is expected to open its doors May 1 st , 2021)
This unique oasis in the Spačva forest will have a multimedia hall, where visitors will be able to create their own stories using smart tables and video walls. They will be able to recreate nature and relive walks in the forest. Visitors will also have access to a wellness center, sauna, accommodation, and a traditional Slavonian cuisine restaurant.
You would be able to rent a boat, a canoe or a kayak to ride on the river of Virovi, as well as bikes to ride on the bike trails, or take a walk on arranged educational trails through the forest which will contain information panels about the biodiversity of the area.
The river of Virovi has the feature of a swamp for most of the year. During spring and autumn, when it rains, the water level rises and it merges with another river called Spačva, which later flows into Bosut and later Sava.
One of the main advantages of the area around Virovi is the preservation and the beauty of the landscape, which we had a chance to see while walking 3 km through the forest trail and to the archeological find called Virgrad.
Have you ever walked through the Spačva forest?
While walking through the forest a certain sense of respect to nature wakes up in you and you come to realize that this is not just an area, but a living creature that we need to connect to. Every tree, every plant has its story and it talks to us about its life, its history. The tall oak tree will tell you about the changes of the seasons, about the cold winters and the warm summers, and how life goes on despite all the changes. He will tell you about the deers walking around it, or how the white-tailed eagle nests in its canopy.
They say an oak grows for a hundred years, lives for a hundred years and dies a hundred years. Enough to respect it.
Spačva forests are a true oasis of peace and fresh air and they leave nobody indifferent. These beautiful forests simply invite you to walk and spend time in nature.
This place is a natural heritage under the name LOŽE. It’s a special reservation of forest vegetation which is under protection since 1975 and it represents the old Slavonian oak tree forest with trees of imposing size.
Whether you enjoy fresh air, cycle or simply look for a place to relax and become one with nature, this incomparable and unique beauty will win you over.
Don’t forget that we need to leave nature the way we found it. Please do not pick flowers that live in the forest and absorb sunlight through the oak canopies, it will wither in your hand. Try to smell it or take a picture of it and make it an everlasting memory.
We have experienced the beauty of this destination and promised ourselves that we will come back soon.
If you are willing to travel and are deciding on which destinations to visit, be sure to plan a trip to Otočki Virovi after May 1 st , 2021 (once the Bioecological and Education Centre – Virovi opens its doors for visitors).
We have discovered only a part of this great adventure. We’ll be in touch soon… after the opening.