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The Sava is a river of the western Balkans, its basin covering much of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and the north of Serbia. It is fed by two smaller rivers, the Sava Bohinjka and the Sava Dolinka that rise in the Julian Alps and join at Radovlijica. It then flows through the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, through Croatia, eventually forming the border with Bosnia. Flowing on into Serbia, it joins the Danube at Belgrade. When these countries were all part of the former Yugoslavia, the river lay entirely within it. Its length is 584 miles (940km) (not including the two headstreams) of which the last 362 miles (583km) are navigable. This makes it one of Europe’s longest rivers and one of the few important rivers that does not drain directly into a sea. The Sava passes through 18 hydroelectric dams (the first being the Moste near Lake Bled) and through lakes and reservoirs, including Trbojsko and Zbiljsko. At the Ljubljana reservoir, a dam has created the Tacen White Water Course for canoe and kayak slalom competitions.
The Sava in Croatia is calmer and flows through forests, marshes and lakes. It is connected to the Odra River near Zagreb by the Sava-Odra Canal for flood prevention. Where the river forms the border of Croatia and Bosnia, there are settlements on opposite banks – such as the two cities of Brod – but they belong, of course, to different countries. The river meanders here through wide plains and wetlands and this landscape continues through Serbia where it also flows through the Obedska bara oxbow lake and around numerous large islands. It reaches its confluence with the Danube in Belgrade. It is only very recently that cruise ships have begun to explore this fascinating river. High points include pretty villages, wild mountains, medieval towns, romantic castles and a voyage into the comparatively unknown.