Welcome to the banks of the River Vrbas in Banja Luka, In this video we’ll be taking you on a ride on a Dajak. For most tourists a visit to Venice is incomplete without a ride in one of the Gondolas.
Now, the same rule applies when visiting Banja Luka. A ride in Banja Luka’s traditional boat, the Dajak, is a unique experience that you don’t want to miss when you are in the city. The Dajaks, by the way is now the symbol for the city and you’ll see them not only in marketing products but also on roundabouts and other locations throughout the city.
The name Dajak comes from the wooden pole, some 4 meters long, that is used to push the boat against the current of the River.
A traditional panel is not useful or helpful due to the shallow draft of the river.
However, the River Vrbas’ current is notoriously fast.
Today, Dajaks are used within 15 kilometres of the city in the shallow sections of the River Vrbas.
Dajak’s used to be bigger than they are today, and have been used for centuries to transport goods and people up and down the river. Allegedly Banja Luka did not have too many bridges centuries ago, so Dajaks were a means of transporting commercial materials.
Once the bridges were built, taxes were imposed on crossings, so, Dajaks became a good commercial option. In the late nineteen sixties Dajaks got a modern makeover, which has lead to today were they are used for both relaxation and sport.
The person that steers the “Dajak” is called a “Dajakaš”.
The Dajaks are seven metres long and made from pine (fir). The most striking details are are on the stern and bow of the boat (spitz), which are made from one piece of wood.
Steering a Dajak is not very hard. It’s just important to master the technique.
Our Dajakaš today is Dragan, who is not only a founder of the modern Dajak Club but who has also spent 30 years on the river. An exceedingly knowledgable guy, he speaks English and can give you a very detailed history of the boat and anecdotes.
By the Way, today it’s not uncommon to see women steering Dajaks on the Vrbas.
The traditional skills needed to both repair the Dajak boats and build new ones is now under threat. It seems that new generations are not too interested in learning the skills required.
Hopefully this won’t mean the end of this unique part of Banja Luka city culture.
So, when coming to Banja Luka in the late spring to late summer, do take advantage of the unique opportunity to get to know the city from the River perspective, along with an experienced “Dajakaše.
You won’t be disappointed.