A two-day hike in the Dinaric Alps in Bosnia and Herzegovina and meeting of mountain guides from Croatia and Bosnia to talk about our experiences and Via Dinarica long-distance trail.
What better place for a gathering of mountain guides, than on the white queen of Dinaric Alps- Mountain Bjelasnica. The north slopes of Bjelasnica are home for a well-known ski resort Babin do, but rest of the mountain is paradise for hikers. Our playground with dense forests and vast hilly pastures that lead us to summits with a 360-degree panoramic view.
As all good kids do, we shared our playground with friends and colleagues from the world of tourism. The three-day adventure at Mrtvanjski Stanari, Bjelasnica Mountain was organized by VMD Adventure Travel from Zagreb and my colleagues from Green Visions, Sarajevo.
Night hike to Mrtvanjski Stanari
When we arrived in Ljubovcici Village, it was just one hour of daylight before sunset. As I’m totally into chasing sunsets, I was happy we delayed our arrival for a few hours. We grab our backpacks and started hike toward a small rocky cottage in the foothill of Hranisava massif. Our home for the next two days.
In the beginning, the trail follows a gravel road through the village and then climbs through a dense forest. A colorful carpet of snowdrop and saffron rising from dried leaves marked the arrival of Spring and awakening of nature. As we went higher and higher, we had a glimpse of colorful sunset through beech branches. The sky was on fire!
The snow was getting deeper. It was hard to walk. My legs were sinking in the snow up to the knees. Luckily, we had snowshoes. The fellowship of mountain guides went in line one by one, advancing quickly. The stars slowly started to appear. There was no cloud on the sky, and we had a promise of a few weather forecast that is going to stay like that for the next three days. That meant we had a lot of time for stargazing and watching sunsets.
After two-to-three hours ascent, the fellowship happily arrived in a remote summer shepherd settlement of Mrtvanjski Stanari. Seven mountain lovers far away from the rest of humankind, under the billions of stars, enjoying in absolute silence and wilderness of Dinaric Alps.
Hranisava Massif hike
The following morning we all woke up early, super excited because of the whole day hike. When I got out of my sleeping bag, I was greeted by the warmth and crackling fire from the old wood-burning stove. Meanwhile, others were already outside brushing their teeth and enjoying in the song of birds in the background.
With the birth of a new day, new adventures are ahead of us. Today’s plan is a hike to the top of Hranisava massif and who knows maybe after that somewhere further. Therefore, we prepared a proper Balkan mountain breakfast. The table was full of regional food like different types of cheese and dried meat from Dinaric Alps, salads and jam.
After two-hour long morning ritual (drinking Bosnian coffee and eating breakfast) we strapped our backpacks and snowshoes and started the ascent toward to top of Hranisava. The majority of the trail we could see from the water source close to our cottage in the foothill of Hranisava.
On some parts, especially where the trail meanders through the forest, the snowshoes were much needed, but on exposed hilly slopes there was no snow at all. Therefore, the whole time we were putting on and taking off our snowshoes.
360 Degree Panorama view
As we were approaching the top, the view became more and more spectacular. After two hours ascent, we arrived at one of Hranisava’s summits where we saw remains of the hut built in the 1950s. The mountain hut burned down by the strike of lightning after the war in the 90s.
I left my backpack next to the hut and took deep inhale and exhale. The feelings that fulfill my soul after climbing mountains are incredible. I can not stop admiring the views and beauty of nature. The smile is always on my face and a sense of appreciation in the heart.
The landscape is dominated by the vast, undulating pastures of the mountain Bjelasnica. From other mountains is separated by canyons and valleys of rivers. The top and ridge of Hranisava massif,with its elevation of around 1964 m/ASL, are offering a view of Visocica Mountain, its northern ridge of Kaoci with dominant Vito summit and isolated Puzim massif. Then in the background parts of Sutjeska National Park, situated on the south-east of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As I’m turning toward south I see Prenj Mountain that is taking us toward Mostar town and Velez, which is rising above the town. Beside Prenj separated by the canyon of Neretva river proudly stands Cvrsnica Mountain. In my head, I’m imagining how the trail of Via Dinarica is crossing Prenj and Cvrsnica and then with the help of canyons of Neretva and Rakitnica river it arrives at Bjelasnica. Connecting naturally all those folk stories, crafts, and people and helping us to discover them.
Unexpected Hike to Krvavac Summit
After we have finished our lunch at the top of Hranisava, it was time to head back to Mrtvanjski Stanari. My soul was hungry for more stunning landscape and peacefulness. I felt like I’m meditating, so I was happy when Edo, owner of VMD Adventure Travel, proposed us to hike toward Krvavac Summit.
I didn’t actually think we will reach Krvavac. We agree we will hike in that direction and see how far we will go. But, as J. R. R. Tolkien said: “You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” The divine beauty of vast hilly pastures, still covered on some parts with deep snow, hypnotized us and took us further and further. Eventually, a few meters below the top of Krvavac Summit the strong North wind woke us from our meditation.
The sun sunk lower on the way from Krvavavc, giving us perfect light for photos. We arrived at the mountain hut Stanari around 7 pm, just in time for dinner. Our host Jasa prepared a real feast especially for us. A big pot of soup, sour cabbage and veal stew with rice. As I sat down at the table I felt tired, but I was happy!