Djerdap is one of four Serbian national parks, and one of 11 Serbian "tentative list" applicants for UNESCO world heritage site status. It occupies a 636 sq km area along the "right" bank of the Danube river, in Eastern Serbia. Some of the sites in the park are on the Romanian ("left") side, and strictly speaking, can therefore be seen but not touched.
The park's shape approximates a "V", with Romania inside/above the V, with the towns of Golubac near the top-left tip, Donji Milanovac at the bottom point, and Kladovo near the top-right tip. The river flows towards the Black Sea, from Golubac to Kladovo. A single highway runs through the park along the length of the Danube, with a few additional roads converging from the outside near Donji Milanovac at the bottom.
The park has likely been continually occupied for at least 10,000 years. Along with medieval Serbian and ancient Roman ruins, it is home to the remains of Europe's oldest known planned human village, the archaeological site of Lepenski Vir. Along with more than a dozen other sites from the same civilization, the location of the Lepenski Vir settlement was flooded upon the creation of the Djerdap dam in the 20th century; in order to protect this unique piece of human history, it was relocated higher up the nearby hillside, and is now preserved and open for visitors.
The main feature and attraction of the Đerdap National Park's natural beauty is the Đerdap gorge - the famous Iron Gate - the grandiose gateway through the southern slopes of the Carpathian mountains where the longest and biggest river accumulation in former Yugoslavia is located. The park runs just a few kilometres inland from the Danube, following the river's length for approximately 100km. It is marked by the river itself, deep valleys, rolling hills, lush forest, along with a few modern settlements, and some small-scale rural farms.
Flora and fauna
The park is a vital home for butterflies, with over 100 documented species. It is also an important site for birds (over 170 species), mammals (about 60 species), amphibians and reptiles (30 species), and fish (60 species). The largest animals include mountain goats, foxes, forest turtles, and falcons. More rarely, roe deer, lynx, and wolves are known to inhabit the park.
The region generally has a continental climate, with mild winters and hot summers. Winds generally blow along the path of the river, either from or towards the black sea, though these winds can themselves be intense. It is mostly sheltered from the Mediterranean by the Dinaric Alps, and from the Arctic by the Carpathian mountains.
Several daily buses from Belgrade run to Golubac and through the park, terminating at Donji Milanovac, with frequent stops along the way. Times change frequently, and can be checked along with itineraries on the Belgrade bus depot's website.
Day visits to the park are not monitored. Most walking paths are protected and require a ranger as an escort (see "Do"), which requires a 1 EUR fee per person. Some cultural destinations within the park charge fees or can only be accessed from the water, which requires a boat and/or a guide. In addition, as many highways in Serbia use tolls, if you are driving, you will likely need to pay tolls for the various expressways used in order to get to the park itself.
Intercity buses which run through the park stop at various set points, and will pick up or drop off passengers along the way. Watch for simple blue signs along the side of the road. You can also try hitchhiking. See Tips_for_hitchhiking.
Expect the standard Serbian fare at regular or slightly increased prices.
The dozen or so restaurants are aligned along the main highway, and in the pedestrian zone facing the river, in the centre of town.
A dozen or so restaurants largely cluster near the port, and along the highway near the intersection of the road headed towards the bus station and the port.
The roadway along the riverbank often lacks sidewalks, and drivers can have dangerous driving habits. Some stray dogs live in the park at the edges of the various human settlements.