Bosnia i Hercegovina (October 2019)

 

Of course we had heard of Bosnia i Hercegovina before but mostly in the sad connection of the several Ex-Yugoslavia wars. We had no idea of how BiH would be like and we were surprised to find a much more mountainous landscape than expected.

We crossed into Bosnia i Hercegovina coming from Zagreb in the north close to a small town called Kozarska Dubica. Like many other travelers we also wondered how we should deal with the Bosnian rule of having to register at the police 12 hours after arrival as mentioned on the „Auswaertige Amt” website.  We wanted to be sure about it and stopped at a police station to check about this rule. They also didn’t know what they should do with travelers who are constantly on the move so we just left it to ignoring that rule.

Our first stop was the lesser visited Kozara National Park. We stayed for two nights, looked at another huge concrete monument (the Ex-Yugoslavia countries sure like massive concrete monuments…), did two small hikes and after 7 weeks of city-life enjoyed to be back in nature 🙂

Kozara National Park

We continued further south via Banja Luka through an impressive canyon to Jajce. This is a nice little town with a big waterfall and some old watermills close by. There we met a very nice Slovakian couple and a German-Brasilien couple. With both we had lovely conversations. Who would have known that we would meet the Slovakian couple 6 weeks later again in Morocco 🙂 

at the water mills near Jajce

Two days and approximately 200 pictures of the watermills later we continued to Travnik and spent a night high up on a mountain pass and had a beautiful and calm sunrise with a lot of colorful autumn trees. 

A kind lady at the parking lot recommended us to visit Prokosko jezero. A relatively good gravel road leads to this village and it took us approximately one hour for 17km. We very much liked the relaxed atmosphere in the town and at the lake. 

Prokosko jezero

Some people praised the “Bosnian Pyramids” near Visoko so we did a detour to there. Myths tell that this is a man made structure but as we fail to believe this we were not impressed at all as to us it just looked like a mountain which happens to have the shape of a pyramid. 

As we were getting closer to Sarajevo we discussed pros and cons of whether we should visit this city or not. As the weather was super nice for hiking we decided to postpone the visit. In the end the hiking in bright autumn colors was so nice that we never made it (back) to Sarajevo. 

We drove to Umoljani and did a very nice and well marked hiking loop to Lukomir over the mountains and back to Umoljani along a deep canyon.

view from the track between Lukomir and Umoljani along the gorge

As it was weekend there were some people from Sarajevo hiking as well. We talked to them about which trail to take and if there are mines in that area. The mines from war are still a big issue in Bosnia i Herzegovina. We always hiked in areas where the trails were very well marked and made sure to always stick to the path. While nothing happened it was still a queasy / uneasy feeling to be somewhere where mines are present. We were always careful to stick to the track and not to wonder off into fields or forests.

After a short hike in the same area (Visocica) we continued to another mountain range and did a day hike from Rujiste to Biela Voda. Half way we met some Spanish guys with a guide and as we had very nice conversations we walked together for the rest of the day.

After many days in the mountains we were running out of fresh clothes and food supply so it was time to go to a city to fill up food and find a laundry. We went to Mostar where we got quite a shock due to the huge amount of tourist busses (mostly from Dubrovnik and Split). We know we were there as tourists as well but because there were so many tourist groups we could only go into the old town after 5pm or before 9am. After one night we moved on. 

Mostar at dusk

As we had constantly been on the move for the last 2 weeks we needed some rest. We went to a very tiny campground in Blagaj where we relaxed, repaired stuff, cuddled the friendly cat and sorted out images. Usually we are not so good at doing nothing so we could not resist to do a small hike up to an old ruin and visit the Dervish monastery.

the friendly campground cat

After having gained energy again we continued to the most popular National Park in BiH called „Sutjeska“. There we chose to do another loop hike where you go to Maglic (BiHs highest mountain), hike into Montenegro to Trnovacko jezero and back to the starting point. To be able to do this hike in one day we had to drive up 16km of bumpy gravel road to the starting point “Prijevor“ which took us 1,5h. It was very worth it because we spent two nights up there in the beautiful, serene mountains and the hike was very rewarding as well.

Trnovacko jezero

As the weather was still awesome and we couldn’t get enough of the mountains in that area we took another 16km gravel road up the other side of the valley to Donje Bare and enjoyed some more hikes – this time totally alone!

view from Ugljesin vrh

After 3 weeks of blue sky and sun shine in a row the good weather period came to an end and we left the mountains and drove to our last stopp in BiH – Trebinje. As the terrain level is much lower it has a mediterranean feeling. We enjoyed the last sunny day strolling through this charming town and eating takeaway food right next to the river. 

Notes

if you would use data roaming in Bosnia it would cost you 45€ to download one image with 3MB 

We use Openstreetmap a lot. In BiH we finally contributed and improved the maps

We saw an incredibly amount of Car washs

Our owl got the first oil change and it cost 8,50€ for the work

Especially in the poorer north we saw many VW Golf, Passat and Jetta built around 1990. Apparently VW had very high quality in the early nineties. 

Drinking water fountains are available everywhere; we always drank the water without purifying it

we had to dry the windows of the car from the inside with a cloth almost every morning

as the days were getting shorter we basically got up at sunrise (5:30am) and went to bed around 8pm (2 hours after sunset). The short days also made it a bit harder to travel. 

many houses were not plastered (German: viele Häuser waren nicht verputzt)

Numbers

we spent 2.5 weeks in Bosnia and Herzegowina

we stayed 2 nights on a campground and 1 night on a paid parking lot. The rest we wild camped.

average diesel price was 1,12€  (2,25KM) per liter

we drove 1150 km in Bosnia and Herzegovina – an average of 60km per day

we spent 9 Euro per person per day

road condition: ranging from 4 to 8 (out of 10 points); very varying – from good tarmac to bumpy gravel roads.

driving style / manners:  pleasant. Respectful, friendly driving and only mild overtaking (we get overtaken a lot)