In the south Herzegovina, in a typical karst landscape, on the left side of the Neretva River, is located Hutovo Blato, the unique sub-Mediterranean swamp in Europe, only fifteen kilometers from the Adriatic Sea. It occupies an area of 7411 hectares.
Hutovo blato as habitat for many plant and animal species has been mentioned since the ancient times. After World War II, Hutovo blato was protected solely as an elite hunting ground. The history of this place as a protected area of nature begins from 1954, when the ornitho-fauna reserve "Hutovo blato" was established on 6144 ha. Within ornitho-faunal reserve in 1959 a strict bird reserve Škrka was isolated on 350 ha. Because of its international importance, "Hutovo blato” was included in the "List of the Swamps of International Meaning" in 1971, and in 1980 it was included in the "International Project for Mediterranean Swamp Protection". As a special hunting ground "Hutovo blato" officially existed all the way until 1995, when it was declared a Nature Park, due to its natural values. The International Council for Bird Protection (ICBP) included Hutovo blato in 1998 in the list of internationally important bird habitats. Then, in 2001, it was inscribed on the list of the Wetlands of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention methodology and registered at the UNESCO Directorate in Paris.
It represents a unique sub-Mediterranean swamp in Europe with plenty of water, where hundreds of plant and animal species found their home. The swamp is interesting and important from ornithological, scientific, environmental and tourist point of view. Hutovo blato is considered one of the largest bird wintering places in Europe. Flowing into the valleys and depression karst underground rivers and surface waters from the surrounding areas form large number of lakes, ravines, gully and river Krupa and ensure a high level of underground waters, which affects the appearance of permanent and temporary springs and wells. Lakes represent true crypto depressions, because the bottoms of certain lakes are below sea level (Jelim 18 m). The largest lakes of Hutovo blato are: Deransko lake, Jelim Lake, Drijen Lake, Orah Lake, Škrka Lake and Svitava Lake. Svitava Lake is an artificial accumulation, created by building hydroelectric power plant Čapljina. All lakes of Hutovo blato are interconnected by a large number of channels and gullies. Krupa River is the main stream and drains waters of the upper area and Svitava lake into Neretva river. Krupa has no real spring, but it is a flow out of Deransko lake. The length of Krupa is 9 km with an average depth of 5 meters. This is a unique river in Europe, because it flows in both ways. This occurs when, due to the high level and the large flow of water, river Neretva pushes Krupa. Thanks to the proximity and influence of the Adriatic Sea, abundance of water surrounded by karst and hilly terrain, biological diversity of vegetation in this area is extremely valuable. The overall vegetation of the Nature Park can be divided into four types of vegetation: water vegetation, swamp, meadow and wood vegetation.
Special richness of this area are birds. Hutovo blato is located on one of the four migratory ways from Northern and Central Europe to Asia and Africa placed in one of four bird migration pathways from northern and central Europe to Asia and Africa. the period of the migration, birds can find in this area are abundance of food, quiet and peace for rest, which is why this place has always been recognized as an important habitat for the swamp birds. Out of the 163 recorded species of birds from 39 families, most of them belong to the wintering species, because with favorable weather conditions and abundant food, certain number of bird species remains throughout the year in this area to nest and raise their young. Waters of the Nature Park "Hutovo blato" are home to 22 species of fish from 12 families of which endemic species are: carp (Chondrostoma Daughter) Heckel, Dentex (Salmo dentex) Heckel, Neretva loach (Cobitis nerentana) Linnaesus, goby (Knipowitschia punctatisima croatica). Hutovo blato is connected with the Adriatic Sea over the rivers Krupa and Neretva, so that some migratory species such as the European eel and mullet carp that live in salt water come and adapt to the conditions of fresh water.
Hutovo blato is an ideal destination for sport fishing, from land or from the boat, as well as for photo-safari. This tourist attraction includes sightseeing of the landscape, bird watching and enjoying the natural environment of the swamp with boat ride. In the Park are built platforms for bird watching, and established a database in accordance with the Ramsar Convention. In the aim of rounding the overall education program, a new building was built, which will contain botanical and ornithological collection which will contribute to complete and purposeful lectures in the nature. The construction of a football field in the Nature Park has created opportunities for development and supply of various sports courts for sports teams.
From the nearest town, Čapljina, Hutovo blato is only 5 km away. From the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, the Park is connected by the main road in the length of 162 km. Park is 35 kilometers away from the regional center of Mostar. The same distance is to the Adriatic Sea as well.
Public Enterprise "Nature Park Hutovo Blato" d.o.o. Čapljina
Karaotok bb, 88307 Višići, Hercegovačko-neretvanska županija, BiH
Tel: +387 36 814 716