The Balkans are considered to be the destination of 2021. We visited Bosnia-Herzegovina and were surprised by what this small country in the heart of Europe has to offer!
The Balkans are considered to be the destination of 2021. We visited Bosnia-Herzegovina and were surprised by what this small country in the heart of Europe has to offer
Faruk from Superb Adventures Tours in Sarajevo laughs as I am amazed at his answer. My question: Whether we should start our first off-road trip around seven in the morning. “We want to have fun, so why bother? Ten is absolutely fine, as it can be very foggy here before then, even at this time of year.”
I’m on the road with the new Land Rover Defender, the off-road beast. I affectionately refer to it as a goat on four wheels, because there is hardly an obstacle that can keep it from moving forward. I tested it during a driving training course at the Land Rover Experience Center in Wülfrath, where an instructor explained all the functions I needed for my off-road trip into the Bosnian outback. It is the perfect car for adventure vacations. Land Rover now has a great offer for anyone who wants to follow in the footsteps of Lara Croft or Indiana Jones. RENT a Defender! That’s right! Rent it and go on an adventure!
“Our destination for today is river Rakitnica in one of the deepest canyons of the Dinaric mountains” Faruk explains while we enjoy eating the freshly bought croissants from one of the popular bakeries of the country. They are offered for 24 hours a day and cost about 5 cents a piece.
From Sarajevo, the country’s capital, we first head up Bjelasnica Mountain via a paved road. A popular ski resort that became famous worldwide for the Winter Olympics that were held here in 1984. “Now it’s coffee break time,” Faruk grins. There is truly no stress in this country. We stop in the modern mountain village of Babin Do. While the valley is foggy, the sun is shining up here. We sit in the ethno restaurant Pahuljica, which translates as snowflake, and enjoy our first break after just under an hour’s drive. I, Balkan with German genes, am already getting a little jittery. Will we manage to get all the footage for our coverage? “Don’t stress yourself and let the sun warm you up,” Faruk laughs.
We pass modern apartments, hotels, restaurants. At the roundabout, the paved road ends when we reach one of the exits. The off-road trip can begin. We are already going through the forest on the gravel road. It is November and the leaves of the trees shine from rich red to golden yellow. Between the thicket, the sun’s rays make their way. Pure Indian summer!
We leave the forest behind us. In front of us lies an endlessly hilly clearing, shining like desert dunes in the sun. Some wild rosehip bushes with bright red fruits line our path. There is a smell of herbs and the silence is broken only by the cheerful chirping of birds. We stop in the middle, pull out our folding chairs and nibble on some nuts and dates. The air is so pure that you can feel the gratitude of your own lungs. I sit down in the grass and look out over the dunes. Sheep pass through the landscape. Up here there are still some populated villages whose inhabitants farm as they have done in the past.
Cuhovici Selo is such an idyllic village. The entrance is marked by two natural rocks overgrown with moss. They look mystical, as if they want to relate old Slavic legends. The small houses, some of which have tin roofs reaching down to the ground, fit in perfectly with the natural surroundings. Summers are hot here, but the winters are very hard. The old village has about 40 inhabitants. I stop because a little calf is peeking out of the barn. I want to take a picture. A farmer and his two shepherd dogs approach us. He says that tourists rarely pass through here. He himself comes from this village. He studied law in Sarajevo. After he couldn’t get a job, he returned to the village and took over his parents’ farm. The job is hard and it shows. The people in the country are very hospitable and look forward to a conversation.
We continue driving. The suspension of the car is so ingenious that we hardly feel the gravel road. Our next stop is at Lake Blatacko near the abandoned village of Blace at 1200 meters above sea level. We drive over the hills to the end of the mountain tongue. From here we descend up to 600 meters into the Rakitnica gorge. Here, too, the view is unparalleled with its seemingly endless canyons. There are occasional hunters around, having barbeques in the ruins, as well as hikers and families waiting for the sunset from here.
We want to reach Rakitnica gorge just before the sun goes to sleep. Not long ago it could only be reached by hiking, horse or donkey. But nowadays it can also be reached by an off-road vehicle. Soon I will find out why. The canyon opens to us. The path, roughly cut out of the rough rock face, leads into the depths. The rocks are covered with deciduous trees, whose leaves in all autumn colors create a work of art together. We have to drive carefully, because there’s a possibility of a chunk of rock breaking off at any time. The sun is sinking lower and lower. The sky turns pink, orange, red. The deeper we drive into the canyon, the more intense the colors become. You can already hear the water rushing. Finally we arrive at the bottom. A stone arch bridge leads over the clear turquoise water, which reflects the colorful sky. It is a magical and beautiful place as if from another world, where everyday life does not exist. Not a piece of our human world can be found here. I am in a dream world where Slavic legends come back to life! We wait until the sun goes down. It happens very quickly. It is about half past four in the afternoon and already pitch dark.
Will the drive to Sarajevo be a challenge? “We’re going to get something to eat first!” Faruk is, as always, in a good mood and totally chilled out. We are now heading uphill to the village of Umoljani. The lights of the car are so strong that the seemingly impassable terrain at night is easy to pass. A starry sky including the planets Jupiter and Saturn greets us as we reach the Koliba inn. A fireplace has pleasantly warmed the wooden hut. It is as if we have landed in the Bosnian kingdom of the Middle Ages. We eat traditional homemade bey and barley soup, goulash, and ustipci, salty undressed meat, with cheese and pickled vegetables, from clay and wooden dishes. Of course, the homemade bread is not to be missed. In addition I drink homemade elderberry juice with fruits from the mountains. On the way home we pass the mosque of the village. The minaret was built from stacked stones. Never seen it like that before. “It is very old, extraordinary and tells many stories, like many places here” Faruk explains to me. “Do you also know the legend of the village? About the stone dragon that you can still see even today?” No I don’t know. “Then I will take you there over the next few days!” Nothing sounds more tempting to my ears.
– Two-stage transfer case (on-road/off-road reduction)
– 20 inch alloy wheel with 5 spokes, Gloss Sparkle Silver (Style 5094)
– Panoramic sunroof, with electric sun visor
– Santorini Black
– 19 inch alloy wheel with 6 double spokes, Gloss Black (Style 6010)
Copyright: Mirella Sidro / www.lelaswelt.de / www.lelas-world.com