How we successfully motivated children for a day in nature


You have probably already been, or you are going to be in a situation like this (it is just a matter of the moment), when you don’t know how to motivate kids to spend more time in nature, instead of staring in their tablets and phones. I am one of those ‘desperate’ mothers, who cannot think of anything they haven’t already tried to make them, at least for a couple of hours, leave the house. Sometimes, I felt like all of my efforts were in vain, working against me. The older the kids, the bigger the problem.

How did we successfully motivate kids?

According to my previous experience, these are some things that worked for me:

  1. I simply gathered them, and said ‘let’s go, today is a day for a trip to nature’
  2. Once there, I tried in every possible way to motivate them to ask questions about the things they saw (they would sometimes just blow me off, but sometimes they obeyed). You need to have some possibilities to explore.
  3. I often picked trips and staying next to water because kids, no matter their age, would usually gladly agree to that. If there is fishing involved too, the motivation for the trip is even greater.
  4. I gathered and filled my house with different things we found wherever we went. And then, after we would return, we made a lot of interesting objects and repeated all we had seen and heard. That is why my house is now filled with stones and seashells.
  5. Carrot can sometimes be an inevitable element of this motivation, when some of the more reasonable tricks don’t work.

One of those attempts to make their day different from the ones they spent on their phones, I-pads, and computers was that organization for a trip to Sabac and this trip to Zasavica.

Everything we managed to see, learn, taste and spend some good time with the children in Zasavica, I wrote and mentioned in this post.

A trip to Zasavica

Zasavica was our second stop on a trip we organized through Macva. This is practically the sequel to the post about the trip to Sabac with teenagers.

Zasavica i fotografisanje za uspomenu

Entrance to natural reserve Zasavica

It is a 40-minute slow drive from Sabac to Zasavica, either by car or by bus, like we traveled. It is marked well, so there is no way to miss it. In front of the entrance to the reserve, there is the prettiest camp in Serbia. They really did a great job, so that it can be compared to any other modern camp in Europe. Good for us!

When is the best time for a trip to Zasavica?

Whenever it’s not raining, because the entire landscape is in pastures, so you’d face with mud up to the knees.

What is there to see or do in Zasavica?

It is a great place for kids, for a short rest, recreation, a boat ride, sightseeing and examining nature. You can see rare flora and fauna. For fishermen, there is also a secured fishing spot for carp, and pike fishing.

You can eat and drink, and spend some money. Also, you can hear something wise by people who made Zasavica a part of their lives. Our teller and enthusiast Mihajlo introduced us to the reserve in the best possible way, by taking a boat ride.

What is there within the complex?


Reserve complex is pretty big, around 300 ha. There, you can see: wooden building with a tower from which marvelous view stretches over entire reserve. A souvenir shop, with donkey milk cheese (very expensive, but also curing– immunity strengthening, it solves skin problems), donkey and mangalica sausage, and you can also buy homemade prosciutto or pork rinds. There was homemade brandy to wash it all down. The trip was not only interesting but also tasteful. Depending on your pocket, you can also pack something for the way home (such as sausage, brandy, or less cheese).

Tall tower and a shop, Visit Zasavica

The main building with the tower and a shop on the ground floor in the garden of the Zasavice reserve.

Right next to the tower, there is ‘Bircuz kod dabra’, a pub, where you can eat or drink something. The pub’s garden looks great, everything is spacious on the green surface. Even parents with small children can take a break and rest for a while. There is also a nice playground made there.

Visit Zasavica

Restaurant and kids’ park in the background within the Zasavica complex.

Yard is filled with ethno houses in which old house and agriculture objects, from the end of 19th century, are exhibited.

Old Serbian house, Visit Zasavica

Ethno houses within Zasavica complex


A great zoo, (or stables) with domestic animals, was interesting even for our teenagers. Goats, cows, sheep, etc. Although they were shy at first, afterwards they chased donkeys and petted them.

Happiness and Joy, Visit Zasavica

Happiness and Joy

Have been spotted.

Donkeys in Zasavica, Visit Zasavica


We managed to relax and touch the animal. A small step for the mankind, but a big one for a teenager.

In touch with nature, Visit Zasavica

A donkey that likes to pet

Boy am I messy, but I go to hairdresser on a regular basis.

Farm animals, Visit Zasavica

On the entrance to Zasavica, farm animals

Can I touch it too? Visit Zasavica

Here is where our animals sleep- stables and folds

We have our Milka cow too. I mean, there are more than one…

Our Milkas are resting. Visit Zasavica

Pastures filled with farm animals.

What if it gets dark while we’re still in Zasavica?

There is possibility of bed and breakfast. Breakfast is a classical ‘strong farm one’, eggs and bacon, but this time a healthier variation with mangalica bacon. Everything tastes healthy.

How was this all created?

In the place where Zasavica is today, there were two rivers, Sava and Drina, which left their riverbeds in the meantime and left behind a swamp of about 1850 ha. Water depth here is around 3 meters, and there is mud beneath the water up to the 8 meters in depth.

Natural beauties of Zasavica, Visit Zasavica

A ride down the river Umbra

Although there used to be river Sava there, it has no influence on the water regime in Zasavica, but it’s river Drina that is responsible for it.

What is the right way to experience Zasavica?

Our choice was a one-hour boat ride with ‘Umbra’ boat, which takes us only down the part which is suitable for tourists.

On our trip through the swamp, Mihajlo taught us many interesting things. Zasavica is actually his family. He rises with it, lives and sleep.

Our Mihajlo and his lesson. Visit Zasavica

Our Mihajlo

According to his notes, Zasavica has around 680 identified plants, out of which, the most significant one is Aldrovanda vesiculosa, carnivorous plant. It feeds on insects and is very moveable.

The beginning of the boat ride down the river Umbra. Visit Zasavica

A view from Umra

Dancing on water. Visit Zasavica

The tour around the reserve

Natural beauties of Zasavice. Visit Zasavica

Swamp, as blue as sky

214 bird species. The most significant one is White-tailed eagle with 2.5-meter wingspan, however, it’s not the biggest one in Europe. That place belongs to Griffon vulture, with over 3-meter wingspan.

The most important fish is European mudminnow, after which our boat was named. Those fish are lungfish, which dig themselves into the mud when the water level decreases and breathe oxygen.

The beaver has returned. There are more than 70 of them now. We were lucky enough on that day to see one of them. For the kids, that was more than just an event on that day.

We fed the beaver.

Our friend beaver. Visit Zasavica

Beaver on the spot.

The view from the swamp.

View on the tower from the swamp. Visit Zasavica

The rest of the interesting animals that can be seen in the continental part of the reserve are: Podolian cattle (which used to be used for work, more than for milk manufacture), mangalica which is bread in Hungary where it’s classified as protected species, cows, sheep….

Podolian cattle

Podolian cattle. Visit Zasavica

A frog here and there and a lot of water lilies.

Frog habitat. Visit Zasavica

Swans for the yard decoration. This was the one with the broken wing, that the kids found very interesting and tried to learn how to efficiently help it recover. Here, I hoped there was still that connection between teenagers and nature.

A swan with a broken wing. Visit Zasavica

After the ride down the river Umbra, we said goodbye to our Mihajlo. He told and taught us much, but had there been time, he could’ve told much more about the life in the swamp. Every sentence was told with a lot of love and from his heart. That is very rare today.

How is Zasavica experienced by birds?

The Bird perspective

Photo and video blog Savoury trip mangalica and donkey milk.

Bird perspective view on Zasavica. Visit Zasavica

A view on Zasavica from height.

Pastures and cows. Visit Zasavica

Natural reserve Zasavica, pastures

Zasavica_32. Visit Zasavica

The center for the visitors in the Zasavica reserve

Visit Zasavica


Visit Zasavica

Tourist center with all of the details

Visit Zasavica

Off we go...Visit Zasavica

Natural reserve, Zasavica

For the ones who want to know more

After the refreshment in the pub, our visit to Zasavica was over, and then it was our carrot’s turn.


As it was a nice and sunny day, our ‘bribe’ was a bath in thermal pools. We took them to Aqua Park Thermal Riviera in Bogatic. We promised them slides, but unfortunately, we didn’t find any. What we saw looked more like a baby playground. As for the content of it, it had everything but the slides: a restaurant where you can have a decent meal, sunbeds, open and closed pools, changing rooms and bathrooms (something more about the Aqua Park).

Luckily, we had ended with our bath before a heavy thunderstorm.

Aqua Park Bogatić. Visit Zasavica

Aqua Park Bogatić

Some managed and fled to a closed part.

Closed pool. Visit Zasavica

The rest of us were already in the restaurant and looked at the scene with our clothes on.

Spring in the Aqua Park. Visit Zasavica

What was the food like there?

When I turned around to take a picture for a restaurant recommendation, I was surprised by the sight… of empty plates.

Meaning that pork loin and ribs were good enough for our teenagers to like it.

No more ribs, it's all eaten. Visit Zasavica

Restaurant within the Aqua Parka

If we have eventually managed to spend a quality day on the trip filled with different flavors, the picture can tell better than words.

As they got into the bus, fresh air and outdoor activities did their job.

Successful trip and good sleep. Visit Zasavica

Return home

If Zasavica is worth taking this trip, you can check here.


Hi, I'm Suzana!

Rođena u Beogradu. Diplomirala na Mašinskom Fakultetu Univerziteta u Beogradu (smer Vazduhoplovstvo). Majka, supruga, putujući kulinarski hedonista. Istraživač, sportista i organizator.

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