| 87 one of the reasons why Vlasina has been declared an area of outstanding natural qualities is represented by its floating peat islets. They move depending on water levels and wind, and there’s an interesting story about how the locals realised that the islands float in this area. Just after the dam was constructed, one local resident had led a cow to graze on the lake’s banks. The shepherd napped and awoke to find that his cow was nowhere to be seen. He searched the surrounding forest andmeadows, calling out, only to spot the animal at one point in the middle of the lake. Frightened, he ran to the village and recounted to everyone that a piece of the bank had been broken off by some unseen force and simply floated away. And what actually happened? The cow was standing on a peat island that was then “hooked” to the bank. It later became “unhooked” and floated to the middle of the lake, while the cow remained on the islet. Nature needed between 3,000 and 5,000 years to create the peat deposits, which simply separated from the bottom and floated to the surface when the lake was filling in the middle of the last century. The lake has around 30 larger and smaller floating islands, with the largest, called Moby Dick, 250 metres wide and 400 metres long. Willow and birch trees have sprouted on the larger islands, making them appear like small mobile oases. The first thing locals will warn you about when you arrive at Vlasina Lake is to be very careful if you decide to try fishing from one of these islets. According to them, somefishermenhave set their rods in the ground and fallen asleep, only to awaken to find themselves far from the bank. The entire Vlasina area is abundant withmedicinal herbs,mushrooms and forest fruits.Here,when inseason, youcancollect St. John’swort and yarrow, ndpenny bun and golden chanterelle mushrooms, pick cranberries, forest blackberries and blueberries.You canwander throughpine forests, hike in the mountains, water ski, ride a bike or simply sit beside the lake and birdwatch. That itself will be a fantastic experience, because this area has 125 indigenous species of bird. Apart from all of that, Vlasina is a genuine air spa, so spending time in this area is sure to improve your blood count. Vlasina, as a landscape of exceptional features, is ennobled by both winter and summer. The floating islands that are characteristic of the lake are stopped by ice in winter, when they don’t float – remaining stationery close to the banks. Vlasina Lake ices over every winter, except in places where large contributory channels ensure a constant flow of oxygen-rich water. The winter ice is 30 to 40 centimetres thick and lasts, on average, for about a month. In the winter period, besides walking across the frozen lake, you can experience the terrain of the surrounding Čemernik and Besna Kobila mountains, which are suitable for snowmobiles, skiing and sleigh rides... Real winter magic... The lake has around 30 larger and smaller oating islands, the largest of which is called Moby Dick. Willow and birch trees have sprouted on the larger islands, making them appear like small mobile oases iStock / AnaAdo iStock / LeDana