Bosnia and Herzegovina may not be the first European country that springs to mind when you think about the world’s top trekking destinations, but the creation of the Via Dinarica trail a few years back, has catapulted this Balkan country onto the world trekking stage. Samer Hajric, one of our expert local guides, has been working together with his team to connect the trails of this emerging cultural corridor. Seen by most as a country with a tumultuous history, people like Samer and his team are aiming to change this outdated narrative, by bringing trekkers and communities across the Balkan states together for the first time in decades on the Via Dinarica Trail.
Stretching almost 2,000 kilometres along the Dinaric Alps, Sharr Mountain Range and through the Balkan Peninsula, this network of trails connects some of the key Balkan states including Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania. By connecting bygone strategic war routes, shepherd’s paths and newly established trails, the Via Dinarica Trail takes you through some of the finest dense beech forests, sweeping valleys and turquoise Alpine lakes in Bosnia.
Exodus Travels Ambassador, Aldo Kane, recently ventured to Bosnia and Herzegovina to discover its beautiful, untouched landscapes, and uncover the fascinating history behind the creation of the Via Dinarica Trail. As a renowned explorer himself, Aldo always stresses the importance of, “Deferring to local knowledge. Those who are born, raised and forged in our wild places are the pillar to any expedition’s success.” And this trek through Bosnia’s towering mountain ranges was no different. Leading the way, was our expert guide, Samer Hajric, whose knowledge and passion for this region remain unmatched. Born in Sarajevo, situated in the middle of the Dinaric Alps, Samer is a certified mountain guide from the Mountaineering Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina and UIAA, who began hiking in the region back in 2000 and saw an opportunity to bring communities across the Balkan’s together through trekking.
On Aldo’s trek with Samer, he summited Mt Maglić (2,386m), the highest peak in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that’s also bordering Montenegro. This spectacular spot is surrounded by karst limestone formations and wildflower meadows that overlook the turquoise Trnovacko Lake. After descending the mountain, Aldo and Samer cooled off by swimming in the glacial lake, that they had completely to themselves, like most of the trail.
Next, it was onto one of the most revered war monuments in the region, the Battle of Sutjeska Memorial Monument Complex in the Valley of the Heroes, located near the village of Tjentište in Sutjeska National Park. Completed in 1971, the magnificent 19m-high monument designed by Serbian sculptor, Miodrag Živković, was built to serve as a memorial to all the fighters and fallen soldiers in the Battle of Sutjeska between the Axis Forces and the Yugoslav partisans in 1943. Standing in the middle of the colossal abstract blocks that seem to defy gravity, was a poignant moment on the Via Dinarica trail for Samer.
He said, “Even though you have six republics in Yugoslavia that are independent countries, they all have certain values that bring people together. We have more values in common than differences that divide us. All the flowers you can see placed at this monument are from trekkers travelling all the way from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Macedonia, it’s incredible. I see it as a sign of solidarity – and despite our history, we have a future together. This trail is not only physically uniting us, but it also connects people of different religions, cultures, languages, and backgrounds. There are no real borders of Yugoslavia, but undoubtedly the people have felt psychological borders after years of conflict, so I hope that the Via Dinarica Trail helps to bring people together, who all share the unifying passion for exploring the outdoors.”
Aldo Kane echoes Samer’s words by saying, “This trail is a symbol of hope and I really believe the narrative needs to change here externally. Bosnia is a forward-thinking, incredibly beautiful country – and this region, in particular, is a hidden gem in the crown of the western Balkans that’s worth exploring.” He continues, “You’ve got primeval forests, mountains, cliffs, lakes, rivers all the things you’d expect to see in an Alpine environment, but you also have the sense of togetherness with the Balkan people. It’s somewhere I wish I’d visited years ago.”
If you’d like to discover sections of this trail for yourself with our expert local guides, you can do so on day three of our Walking in Bosnia and Herzegovina adventure. This trip not only allows you to follow in the footsteps of Aldo Kane and Samer, by trekking along sections of the Via Dinarica Trail to the top of Mt Maglić and on towards the tranquil Trnovacko Lake, but it also takes you on treks to the Skakavac waterfall and the Rakitnica Canyon, where you can go on an optional rafting experience on the Neretva River. However, this trip is not all about the hikes, when you’re not trekking in the region’s scenic national parks, you’ll visit some of the area’s most iconic sites in the spectacular cities of Sarajevo, Mostar and Dubrovnik too.
To find out more about our fantastic Walking in Bosnia and Herzegovina adventure, click here.