Bosnia – Undiscovered Awesomeness in the Balkans
Hiking and kayaking in Bosnia
Once you reach one of the last untouched national parks of Europe, the world of the stunning primal forests and vertical limestone cliffs will completely amaze you.
This time you can really experience the unique atmosphere of the Balkans. The mountain trails are marked by commie-era red stars and the Cyrillic letters on the rare trail marking signs make navigation more of an adventure. The Maglic with its surrounding area is a wild beauty with the touch of nature. Unlike the Alps, crowd is hard to find here, so you do not have to line up on the ridge in order to reach the summit. Moreover, you will be glad to meet others on the mountains.
Not too long ago, the country had been shaken from the bloody Bosnian war, which left its ruins in most regions of the heart-shaped country. However, the once cruel battlefields are surrounded by wonderful mountains, which will completely amaze you.
The highest peak of Bosnia, the Maglic, you will climb already on the second day of your visit. The crystal clear streams, the wild animals, the lonely and hospitable shepherds, the lovely tarns along with the strange karst scenery, the conquerable cliffs and mountains spiced with the Balkan feeling are the major attractions of this region, which will not allow you to leave any of these wonders behind easily.
If you like to get out of the common, everyday life, if you do not get scared from a non-everyday adventure in the Balkans, then welcome to the team!
Is this trip for you?
Day 1: Travelling to the Balkans
Meet your guide at the airport/train station of Sarajevo – but please note the city has quite a strange atmosphere. This is also good for the first astonishing impressions of the country before leaving towards the wilderness. The remaining distance is only 100 kilometres from Sarajevo, which is the very last section of the journey, yet it has the most beautiful scenery. The road leads in narrow valleys surrounded by untouched forests and steep cliffs. These landscapes are at least so typical for this area as the well-known meals ”cevapcici” and ”burek”. Upon arrival you just have to rest before the first mountain adventure of the next day.
Day 2: On the top of Bosnia and Herzegovina
In less than 30 minutes, old school jeeps take you to Prijevor, which will be your departure for the tours. Before getting up there, you will stop at the Perucica primal forest. You will have the chance to look down on the nearly 100 meters high waterfall from the 400 years old trees. Some minutes later you leave the jeep and the real tour begins: you will follow the Cyrillic letters on the trail marking signs and then with the help of the fade red star signs you will reach the top of the country, the 2386 meters high Maglic. There you will understand why the Partisans protected this territory in every way. Downwards you will take a shorter and an even more fascinating route, which has its story, too. After arriving to Prijevor, the same jeep takes you back to Tjentiste.
Day 3&4: Overnight stay in the untouched wilderness
After having some rest, the stunning mountain experience goes on! On the third day you head for an easier tour, but this time with your sleeping bag and cooker, as your overnight stay is to be spent at Trnovacko Jezero, which is considered to be the most beautiful tarn of the former Yugoslavia! The next day you already take a tour to Volujak in Montenegro. Then, just like two days earlier, you travel back to the village.
Day 5: Tara canyon
On the last day of your stay, you leave Tjentiste for a nice rafting or walking in or next to the Tara, the river of the world’s second deepest canyon! This area is aleady the part of the one and only Durmitor National Park (an optional programme: rafting in the Tara canyon; costs: about 45 euro). If you do not want to do rafting but you still feel the power in your legs, you have the possibility to take a half-day journey to the untouched Zelengora range, just opposite the higher Maglic range.
Day 6: Travelling home
You leave Tjentiste in the morning hours, your transfer goes back to the Sarajevo airport.
Equipment and Info
Geography – History
The trip focuses on the Sutjeska region and its neighbouring mountain ranges where you will experience the real Balkans. The area is located on the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Montenegro. The Bosnian side of it is a National Park since 1962, called Sutjeska, just like the biggest river of the valley at Tjentiste. The area is best known for its battles of 1943, when the Partisans defeated the German troops. The memory of those bloody fights still means a lot to the local people especially because they defended the area against the bigger and technically much more improved German army.
The Sutjeska National Park is completely untouched, its area is not big, yet one can find more mountain ranges within the park: the Maglic, Volujak and the Zelengora.
The territory has a special climate thanks to the strong Continental and Mediterranean effects. Heavy rains in summer and snowstorms in winter make life tough on the mountains. However, brilliant weather is also not rare mainly between July and September, but afternoon showers always mean a threat even on the sunniest days. As we spend all of the nights except of one in a hotel, too many of warm layers are not necessary. But over 2 000 meters the wind and a possible shower can be quite uncomfortable and cold. In this altitude you can expect various temperatures between 15 and 0 Celsius. On a sunny day you will probably walk in a T-shirt, but later on the same you might get on everything you can. So take some warm clothing, too. An isolated tent may be useful. A 3-seasonal sleeping bag would also help you to keep warm during the night in the tent.
You will get the real Balkan feeling, which you can more or less expect in the whole country but mainly in the cities. This trip is some kind of Carpooling with extras. This time you don’t have to be waiting for others at fuel stations. It is worth to stop even for a single hour either in Sarajevo, Mostar or eventually in Belgrade. After this trip you will understand what others had meant when they said it was ”another world”. Among the mosques and in the bazar you will have an authentic feeling. The cultural shock is very enjoyable after the mountaineering.
We spend all of the nights except for one in the comfortable Hotel Mladost right in the centre of the Sutjeska National Park. The one night which we don’t spend in the hotel will be in a camping at 1 500 metres, right at Trnovacko Jezero. For that night, a tent, a sleeping bag and a cooker are essential equipments (it is also an option to spend all of the nights in the hotel).
There is a so called nomad version of this tour: instead of the hotel, you sleep in the camping nearby. The whole programme of this version is the same except for the fact that you sleep each day in your tent and not in the hotel. Of course the cost of the accommodation will then be less.
It is worth to taste the local dishes. A local drink called Rakija might be fine after a whole day tour. The shepherds’ cheese is also something not to be missed. There are two fine restaurants in Tjentiste. Either one you choose, the variety of the traditional Bosnian and Serbian dishes at reasonable prices will amaze you. You might take a local beer or Rakija home, too.
You will walk along the old trails and paths, which are just in moderate conditions. Sometimes it will be necessary to climb light rocks along these trails; therefore, it is essential to wear comfortable and waterproof shoes which hold your ankle. Because of the expected precipitation, waterproof clothing is advised.
In Bosnia, the national currency is the Convertible Mark (1,95 KM = 1€). However, euro is almost everywhere accepted. Though it is advised to take some KM, too. The official currency in Montenegro is the euro. The last ATM before Tjentiste is located in a small town, Foca. We will stop there for a short break.
Vast areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina are still undermined. Along some roads you might see warnings for mines, too. Fortunately, Maglic and its surroundings are not undermined.