Our history

119 years of tradition

PENDEK TOURS,  a family history of rafting over 119 years with you.

I look forward to welcoming you on my timber rafts.

Pendek Tours Floßfahrt Fikret Pendek
Fikret Pendek

Welcome aboard our rafts! My name is Fikret Pendek and I am the founder and chairman of the Drina and Tara River Rafters’ Association “Adem Pendek”, named in honour of my tragically deceased father, and founder of PENDEK TOURS.

I’m a fourth-generation member of the Pendek family who, for over 119 years, have been navigating the falls and rapids of the Drina and Tara rivers on traditional timber rafts, the oldest means of navigation in the world, offering a unique adventure to all lovers of unspoilt nature.

My great-grandfather, Suleyman, started floating (floating timber on rivers) and rafting as early as 1905, riding wealthy Austrians who came to Bosnia to look at the cutting and distribution of the logs, while indulging in the charms of these irresistible mountain streams as well as in hunting and fishing. My grandfather Selim inherited this tradition in the thirties of the last century and my father, Adem, continued along the same path in 1946, becoming the first professional raftsman in former Yugoslavia, when the Foča Tourist Office was founded in 1958. He earned his retirement by sailing down the Drina and Tara rivers on those traditional timber rafts. Growing up alongside him, I was able to drive my first raft down the Tara river when I was just 14, and at 18-year old I started on my own, riding tourists on similar timber rafts. This is how, until today, I have assembled and conducted more than 600 rafts along this 137 km long tourist route which is so attractive and endearing, between the bridge at Đurđevića Tara (Montenegro) and Goražde (Bosnia and Herzegovina). My brothers, Rasim and Džemo, went to the same life  school as I did and, along with a few other family members and rafting friends, we now pursue this family tradition ad keep it  alive. Whereas this work used to be very dangerous, but well paid and profitable, since the arrival of Austria-Hungary in Bosnia-Herzegovina timber floating and rafting on traditional timber rafts have been the privilege of just a few families in the lower reaches of the Drina river and have been handed down from father to son.

The Pendeks were a renowned family of rafstmen, in and around the village of Bastasi, not far from the source of the Drina, as were the Šabanović, Čelik, Šahinović, Polovina, Lagarija, Dželil, Becirević, Djendušić and Vejo families as well as, about thirty kilometres downstream, around Ustikolina, the Sofradžije, Mujezinovići, Osmanspahići, Subašići, Sobe, Uzunovići, Merkezi and other families with, in Višegrad, the families of Hašim Pajo, Abid Cocalić and Nurko Čankušić and in the village of Godijevno, the families Babić and Kovač. You’re probably wondering why I mentioned all these families. The answer is simple. There’s a whole art involved in preparing the tree trunks to make the raft wood, which has to be first-rate; then you have to assemble them, assemble the raft and install everything you need to sail it comfortably; and finally, of course, you have to know perfectly how to pilot these rafts made entirely of tree trunks, a whole skill and art that has been learned over the years and passed down to us by our ancestors. That’s why this acrivity is passed down from generation to generation. Unfortunately, as the years go by, there are fewer and fewer older rafters apart from those who belong to the Association that I organise and chair, the only one in Europe still using traditional timber rafts. You will no doubt have noticed the dozens of agencies throughout former Yugoslavia offering ‘rafting‘, but don’t be fooled, because this so-called ‘rafting’ in fact only offers inflatable boats, and it’s not the same thing at all. According to the data we have, there are around 350 rafting agencies and clubs in Europe organising river descents in inflatable boats on 54 European rivers, including the Una, Neretva, Krivaja, Drina and Tara rivers. However, in Europe, river descents in really traditional timber rafts are only and exclusively possible on the Drina and Tara rivers and we are the only ones organising and carrying out this kind of adventure, with the best raft drivers on our continent. So don’t waste your time researching, and get in touch with us without hesitation, because a trip down the river on those rafts which men imagined a long time ago is a unique and unforgettable adventure of a lifetime. People have been descending the Tara river long before the first adventurers remembered to take tourists on those rafts of yesteryear. Towards the end of the 19th century, when timber was an increasingly popular commodity, there were no large trucks or modern roads and logs were floated down the rivers. Foresters would float the logs down canyons, a particularly dangerous and exhausting means of transport. They would stow them on rafts and then the timber trains would travel down the river to their destination. This was known as timber rafting. The Tara is a wild river that hides many dangers and the lives and safety of the drivers (log drivers in those days) depends exclusively on their skill and know-how; when they got entangled in a river bed covered with numerous tree trunks, it was up to them to get out alive. After descending the Tara canyon, the logs would float down the Drina to Foča or Višegrad, and often even further. Timber was transported in this way until the end of the Second World War. Rafting down a wild river is an exceptional adventure. The boat, weighing almost two tonnes, is equipped with two rudders, one at the bow and one at the stern, each steered by an experienced raftsman, something which, believe me, is not at all easy! An unexpected collision with a large stone could simply dismember the raft, with everyone falling into the tumultuous waters. It takes exceptional skill, strength and experience for the driver to avoid these pitfalls. When the raft passes over a rock at the bottom of the water, it leans over, the trunks squeal and the nails holding the straps that bind the trunks together pop out, requiring the driver to reposition them. During navigation, the raft is often slightly sunken in the water, and each time it passes through a rapid, its weight causes it to go straight through the rough waters, and it’s not out of the question that you’ll find yourself knee-deep in water. With a temperature of 13-14°C, the Tara raises your already high adrenalin level to an even higher level. The rafting trip is the most interesting, but also the most dangerous, in Spring, when the snow starts melting and the Tara might rise up several metres. The excitement is so great that you don’t even notice the splendid scenery surrounding you – a totally wild canyon of untouched beauty, arousing your admiration and respect, as countless torrents and large and small waterfalls pour into this turquoise river from all sides.

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