Hiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Why Not!
“Hiking in Bosnia, I would not have thought of it!” is something we have heard quite a bit lately. No, it’s true, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not the most fashionable destination and yet… Preparing the route of our thru-hike in Europe, we absolutely wanted to cross the Balkans. How would people welcomed us? How widely developed is the culture of hiking? Will there be many trails? Will antipersonnel mines be a problem?
Arriving in Bosnia, we discovered a sublime country full of mountains and nature. The cultures of hiking and of mountaineering are there, with a still-untapped potential. We spent a little more than a month there and hiked almost 300 miles.
We arrived from Croatia and made a stop in the little town of Livno. 500 wild horses roaming the surrounding plateau and the Duman spring are the two main highlights of Livno. After Croatia, a little human warmth felt good!
Hiking with locals
From Livno, we headed to the Blidinje Natural Park with our 17th guest in this adventure: Aldin. We hiked five days with Aldin in the beautiful mountains of Cvrsnica, through the “three Vran” (three mountains: Vran, the little Vran, and the big one). His friend Jusuf joined us for the ascent of Veliki Vilinac.
Having Jusuf and Aldin on our side really gave a special taste to our first steps in Bosnia. They took us to the mountains they know, taught us a lot about their country, and opened the doors of two mountain huts belonging to mountains clubs of their hometown, Jablanica.
Prenj, “the Bosnian Himalayas”
In Jablanica, we took a few days to explore this city surrounded by mountains and to edit one of our videos. The city itself has little interest, except that it is known throughout the Balkans as the city where you have to eat lamb (we confirm, it was delicious!) but the surroundings were really beautiful.
From there, we could see the first summits of Prenj, “the Bosnian Himalayas.” Several people advised against crossing the Prenj mountains in winter. Too dangerous, too much snow, too many landmines, no mountain rescue available. We are not hot heads, but we learned to be wary of warnings of the locals. Yes said like that, it sounds a bit weird, but even if I understand the precautionary principle, we begin to have some experience after more than 4,000 miles hiking in Europe, including a crossing of the Alps and we know our equipment quite well. No regrets, the weather was fantastic and it was probably one of our best discoveries during this crossing of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Antipersonnel mines were a shadow that hovered over our crossing of Bosnia, but we never crossed a sign indicating the presence of a minefield, nor found any remains of ammunition. We hope that the authorities will remove the remaining ones quickly. It should help tourism to develop in this magnificent country.
The Highest Village of Bosnia“
After Prenj, nothing could have prevented us from reaching the highest village of the country. Lukomir is located at 4,900 feet above sea level on the steep slopes of the Rakitnica Canyon. Only thirty people live in Lukomir, but not all year long as it’s too isolated during winter. We were totally alone in the village and took the opportunity to squat a hayloft to spend the night “warm.
Although it is not really our way to cross big cities, the temptation and curiosity were too great not to visit Sarajevo, some 30 miles from Lukomir. What do you imagine when you think of Sarajevo? Above all, you should know that there is much more than the remains of the war! Sarajevo is an energetic and fascinating city, at the crossroads of cultures and influences. The three constituent peoples of Bosnia live there: Bosniaks (Muslims), Serbs (Orthodox) and Croats (Catholics). There is no doubt that the Ottoman occupation left some traces in architecture and gastronomy. It made us feel much closer from our destination: Istanbul.
We are now heading to Montenegro. As always we are excited to discover the next country and a little sad to leave this one. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, we discovered a culturally rich country and its natural heritage. Everywhere, people welcomed us as friends from afar. We will come back…
Marie and Nil
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