Kopaonik, the mountain of sun and snow, also known as a Silver mountain, is the biggest massif in Serbia. The mountain Kopaonik is located in the southern part of Serbia, set by quite distinct natural borders of deep valleys and rivers Ibar, Josanica, Rasina i Gornja Toplica and Lab.
It it is very spacious, taking up a full 2756 square km, 82,7 km lengthwise and its greatest width being 63 km. In the highest part, Kopaonik somewhat resembles a flat-roofed house, its sides are almost wall steep and the top so level that it inducted the people to aptly name it Flat Kopaonik (Ravni Kopaonik). The main peaks are set there, and the biggest among them Pancic’s Peak 2017 meters above sea level (as the name of the Serbian scientist and botanic Josif Pancic). The other peaks are: Suvo Rudište (1976 m) Karaman Vucak (1936 m) i Gobelja (1934 m).
The “Flat Kopaonik” is the the part where most of the ski resort is located, with all the ski lifts and facilities.
Kopaonik mountain is specially attractive by its recognizable landscape of numerous conifer forest (pine and red fir) in the highers range and mixed beech and oak tree forests in the lower ranges of mountain, and also many green pastures, flower meadows and beautiful mountain peaks.
PEAKS OF KOPAONIK
1. Pančićev vrh 2017m
2. Suvo Rudište 1976m
3. Veliki Karaman (Vučak) 1936m
4. Velika Gobelja 1934m
5. Mali Karaman 1904m
6. Mala Gobelja 1845m
7. Nebeska Stolica 1913m
10.Markove stene 1721m
11.Vučak (Banjski Kopaonik) 1714
Regard the climate Kopaonik significantly differs from the neighboring mountains. The shifting of the temperature maximum indicates that Kopaonik has sub-alpine climate.
With 200 sunny days a year this mountain seems to have been made for a resort with a plenty of fresh air. The winter temperatures are not very low as a result of its southern position, flatness and wide-open terrain which prevent piling up of clouds and cold air and facilities ventilation
Spared a long-lasting cloud cover Kopaonik is exposed to the sun for a longer period of time in winter, making it warmer than might be expected in view of the considerable altitude. In the summer time, negligible amounts of rainfall come in short-lasting showers, after which the weather is fine again.
Therefore, during the winter and summer tourist season, which bring in the largest number of visitors, there is a little precipitation. Such a climate has a great effect on health, a fact which is acknowledged by the experts as well.
The first snows begin to fall in late November and remain until May, making the average snow cover lasts even 159 days a year. Therefore the winter season begins in early December and lasts until April. The medium annual temperature of the Flat Kopaonik is 3.7 º C
Kopaonik would not be so attractive had nature not bequested it with an abundance of cold, radioactive and thermomineral water.
Walking through the tall grass of the Kopaonik meadows, one often steps into a brook or pillowy bog which sprays the passer-by like a sodden sponge, which had been pressed.
When all these creeks and rivulets come down from flat Kopaonik and flow into the Josanica, Samokovska and Grasevacka rivers, they begin to foam, rumble and thunder.
In the upper ranges of Kopaonik, quite a few radioactive springs can be found. Some of them cling to the very tops of the mountain – Krcmar voda emerges at 1950 meters above see level, just below Pancic’s peak, and others near 1700 meters above. Every one of these springs has more than 11,5 Mach units of radioactivity. Krcmar voda with 74 Mach units is the most radioactive spring in Serbia. Very cold and slightly mineralized, this water is a particular natural asset of Kopaonik.
And in foothills of Kopaonik many thermomineral springs can be found. The temperature rises up to 78,5 oC. Four major health resorts are set there: Lukovska banja, Josanicka banja, Kursumlijska banja and Bogutovacka banja. This springs are curative and used for treatment of numerous conditions by bathing, drinking, gargling, and inhaling.
All of those natural splendors of Kopaonik are not yet well-known or sufficiently exploited.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Favorable natural conditions of this high mountain massif enable development of almost all the forest mountainous belts with prime and autochthonous forest vegetation which used to spread to the very mountain tops, where at those times had two smaller areas covered with mountainous bushy and grassy vegetation of the Alpine – Nordic character. That’s why the plant world (flora) of the Kopaonik massif is so rich and various.
It contains numerous and various species of trees, bushes, herbaceous plants, seed plants, fern, moss, lichen, mushrooms etc. A lot of them have healing properties and they are known as herb teas (Klamath weed, wild thyme, milfoil etc.).
Above the forests in the lower regions (Turkey oak, hornbeam, oak – tree, common pear tree), there is a belt of beech tree forest (Fagus moesiaca) in which there are maple (greater maple) and sugar maple (Acer pseudoplatanus, Acer platanoides), ash – tree (Fraxinus excelsior), common maple, lime – tree and at the higher regions fir trees (Albies Alba).
The highest forest belt on Kopaonik placed on the altitude of 1500 m is covered with thick spruce forests (Pieceetum excelsae).
At the highest altitudes (1750 -1900 m) the spruce forests become less thick and they are replaced with low bushes where the most prevailing plants are juniper – bush (juniperus nana) and blueberry (vaccinium myrtillus) as well as the other species of the ground floor among which we should single out Gentiana Lutea, great mullein and edelweiss.
Endemic species, like Leontopodium alpinum, ought to be particularly pointed out. The higest regions are covered with grassy vegetation of pasture – grounds.
Distinct characteristic of the plant world of the high Kopaonik is represented by peat-bogs. Peat-bogs are not very thick with specific plant species of peat. Peat-bogs of Kopaonik are over 1000 years old. Here, they are called Bare. The most famous ones are: Jankova bara, Crvene bare, Barska reka.
The high-mountain edelweiss inhabits the almost inaccessible rocks in the highest regions of Kopaonik. The species is quite rare in Serbia, though wide spread in the high Alps. It reached Kopaonik a long time ago, when the climate was colder and edelweiss withdrew from the northern parts which were experiencing last ice age on earth.
Animal world – Fauna
The fauna of Kopaonik is an inseparable part of the life of the mountain and its flora. Conditions imposed by nature have much more of an effect on plants, directly influencing the dispersion and formation of vertical vegetation zones. In this respect the animal world is is more difficult to percive but it is also specific in many ways.
The animal world of the present Kopaonik is various despite it being reduced in number, especially of the big game. Several decades ago, bear, lynx, deer, wildcat, marten, otter and falcon and horned owl used to live here.
Today, the only species left are wolf and other game such as doe, fox, hare, and also different kinds of birds – small number of horned owl, falcon, partridge, eagle, as well as the bird red crossbill which feeds on conifer seeds.
Among the insects, in the highest region of Kopaonik, above the spruce zone we should point out Siberian grass – hopper with the nodules on its front legs resembling boxing gloves.
The brown trout lives in the clear waters and rapids of the Samokovska reka.