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Hiking in Bosnia: 5 Days on Bjelasnica Mountain

Thinking about hiking in Bosnia, but not sure where? If you would like to base yourself in one place, and from there to go on one-day hikes, then Mrtvanjski Stanari at Bjelasnica Mountain are the best choice. 

These single-day hikes will leave you breathless as you will explore the hearth of this incredible mountain. You will enjoy awe-inspiring 360-degree panorama views from numerous pastures and meadows or Bjelasnica’s high peaks.

For my first hike in 2020, I decided to go to Mrtvanjski Stanari because it’s well-positioned and not busy. It’s situated in the center of Bjelasnica, and the best thing is that with so many different one-day hikes you can do from here, it possible to explore almost all parts of Bjelasnica. 

The trails are well-marked, but please don’t go without a GPS and navigation smartphone application or Garmin handheld, or compass and map. Applications like Outdooractive and Wikiloc have numerous GPS trails uploaded by locals who have hiked around Mrtvanjski Stanari. Also, the book ‘Mountaineering – tourist guide on mountains around Sarajevo‘ written by Braco Babic is very useful, because it has descriptions and maps of trails you can hike from Mrtvanjski Stanari. 

The weather on Bjelasnica mountain is very unpredictable! This mountain is a natural border between two climates (the Mediterranean and continental), so the weather can change in a just few minutes. Also, the majority of trails go across the alpine meadows, where can be hard to orientate yourself if the cloud drops low. Therefore, it’s good to have a GPS and experience mountain guide who knows the area very well.

In this post read about my 5-day stay and exploration of Bjelasnica Mountain! My base was a cottage owned by Green Visions, where I stayed with my boyfriend, and later our two friends and one local dog also joined us. Every day we explored a different trail. 

There are numerous mountains you can choose from for your hiking trip in Bosnia, but I would highly recommend Mrtvanjski Stanari and Bjelasnica Mountain. It’s quiet and perfect for one-day hikes while staying at one place. Therefore, get your boots ready and come hiking in Bosnia!

Day 1: Coming to Mrtvanjski Stanari

It was around 9 am, and I was encouraging myself to get up to finish packing my backpack and to fry falafel that we planned to bring for our lunch. I told to myself: ‘I’m not drinking anymore.’ A famous sentence that I assume many of us have said numerous times. The alarm clock ring at least 3 times before I could push myself to get out of bed and have a long refreshing shower. 

You know when you try to plan every step of your trip there is always at least one thing that will not go as you have planned it. The plan was to drink 3 glasses of wine for New Year’s Eve and go to bed around 1 am. But, I ended up drinking Greek rakia Ouzo, Japanese Sake, white wine, champaign and went to bed around 4 am. 

Luckily, I have the best mum ever and she fried falafel while I was finishing my packing and got dressed. The forecast was great, four days of sun, and the only prediction of snow was for the last day when we are coming back home. Perfect! I met my boyfriend, and our first adventure in 2020 began.  

As we were driving toward Ljubovcici village (junction for the village in Pazaric), a starting point for a hike to Mrtvanjski Stanari, we decided to try to drive to Salihagina Bajta. Our backpacks were quite heavy, and I had a huge hangover, so I was happy to walk less than we were planned at first (around 2 hours less). Also, that meant we will have more daylight to open the cottage and heat it. 

I phoned Jasa, a host in Stanari hut to check the situation of the road from Lokve village to Salihagina Bajta. Jasa said he came with this road, and he didn’t have to use winter chains. That was great news! So, we turned one kilometer back to Lokve village and drove for around half an hour to Salihagina Bajta, where we left our car. 

Salihagina Bajta is a wide glade within the thick forest, that it is impossible to miss because it’s the only one you will see after exiting Lokve village. Beside our car, there were 4 more cars parked here. If I remember correctly, there is also one signpost on the tree pointing toward Salihagina Bajta. This place was named after one wooden cottage built here. Today, only foundations of the cottage exist.

As soon as I got out of the car, and had a deep breath of fresh mountain air, and began to walk I felt much better. The trail slowly started to climb up through a dense forest, a combination of fir, pine and beech trees. I love the smell of forest and snow. After 15 minutes of walking, we passed a turn toward Podgradina hut. It took us around 1 hour of slow walk to come to Mrtvanjski Stanari. 

 

Distance: Salihagina Bajta – Mrtvanjski Stanari 2 km (1 mile) as described in the post

Driving from Lokve Village to Salihagina Bajta around 10 km on the gravel road.

Length of time: 1 hour

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Stanari Mountain Hut
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Paradise

Day 2: Hike to Sitnik

The hike to Sitnik is an easy one-hour-hike that we decided to take on our first day of stay at Stanari. We had a late sleep and also wanted to have time just to chill on the sun in front of the Stanari Mountain Hut.

A trail to Sitnik is a section of 4 hours long trail that goes to the highest peak of Bjelasnica, Opservatorij or just know as Bjelasnica (2067 m or 6781 ft.). As the hut wasn’t opened we just enjoyed the sun and a great view of surrounding peaks. Next to the hut, there is even a small lake, Sitnicko Lake that was now completely frozen.

On our way to Sitnik, we have passed beside the remains of Krosnje Village, we hardly notice due to snow. Bjelasnica has numerous summer shepherd settlements scattered around the mountain because it’s rich in pastures. Some of them are still in use, and some are forgotten. Others have disappeared with time.

 

Distance: 3 km or 1,8 miles

Length of time: 1 hour

Day 3: Snowshoeing to the Hranisava Peak

Hranisava is one of Stanari’s most popular hikes, for good reason. This hill is teasing all hikers while they are sitting on the bench in front of the hut and enjoying in sun. It’s whispering through a breeze: ‘Come and climb to the top and see what a wonderful view I can reward you with!’

This hike can challenge your stamina because of the steep ascend. But, it is so enjoyable because the terrain and its views are changing as you climb higher. And it’s only two hours hike to the top to enjoy in amazing panorama view!

The trail is winding between small cottages, and some of them are still used by shepherds as their overnighter during the whole summer when they take their sheep for grazing. After passing cottages, the trail goes through a forest. In the beginning, we saw some fir and pain trees, and later we could only see high beech trees. 

Our only break was a stop we made after exiting the forest, at summer shepherd settlement Birdzine Kolibe. It’s much smaller then Mrtvanjski Stanari but offers an amazing view of the plateau with cute small cottages scattered around. We saw Pazaric Village and Bitovnja Mountain with its peak Lisin. Bitovnja is very popular for hiking and mountain biking. The snowshoes helped us to stay on the surface when crossing snowdrifts. It was just two of us and the mountain. We could only hear the breeze. 

The next one-hour climb became steeper as we were getting closer to the top. There are no winter markings, therefore you either follow steps someone else made before you or find for yourself a less-difficult way to ascend. From Birdzine Kolibe you can see the top of Hranisava, and the final section of the trail. Also, you can download a GPS track and use it in offline mode. 

I was happy our snowshoes have spikes. They were useful for the last few steps of a very steep ascent before reaching the top. There was no ice but the wind and sun made a hard layer of snow above the powder. 

From Hranisava you have a bird’s eye view of the amazing landscape of Bjelasnica with its high peaks and vast pastures, and surrounding Bosnian mountains.

 

Distance: 4 km or 2,5 miles

Length of time: 2 hours

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Sitnik Hut
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We are ready to chill on the sun and try some homemade mountain food with rakia
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Mrtvanjski Stanari and Hranisava in the background

Day 4: Circular hike Stanari to Lokvanjsko Lake

The night before our two friends had arrived from the town. Suddenly, in the morning as we were drinking coffee in the hut, a four-leg hiker also joined our crew. The dog followed a man from Ljubovcici Village. He joined us without thinking, excitedly wagging his tail and sniffing around. 

Now and then, a dog would start to dig the snow, putting his head deep in the snow as he was sniffing. It was fun to watch him. Especially, as once he dug up all snow and came to the soil, but continued to dig even deeper. He made a big hole in the ground. ‘Maybe he is searching for truffles’ said Dado, and we all burst into laughter. After a few minutes of digging, he gave up and continued to walk with us.

This hike is not demanding. We only had a little bit of adventure on the way from Lokvanjsko Lake to Stanari while we were crossing through a juniper. Almost all of the juniper trees were thudded down to the ground because of a heavy snow-crust. In some parts, it was hard to find a way to cross over and to stay on the trail. Therefore, when we came to the section where we could decide to stay on a trail or take a detour, we went with the second option. 

The detour was just half-an-hour longer. Given that the weather was amazing, sunny and not windy, I was happy to stay longer on the trail. For a while, we followed a marked route toward Javornik and lost a little bit of altitude that we had to gain back. 

My favorite part was when we came to a huge plateau facing Hranisava. It felt like walking on the moon. There were no steps in the snow. We were first to walk this part after the last snow fell. Or maybe the wind erased all tracks in the snow.

 

Distance: 10 km or 6 miles

Length of time: 3-4 hours

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A first peak we climbed to in 2020

Day 5: Arriving back to town

The snow was falling almost all night. We were thinking, is it going to be possible to drive back to town. One year Jasa, the host of Stanari hut, had to leave his car the entire winter at Salihagina Bajta. We were hoping that will not happen now.

We woke up early in the morning and immediately packed our stuff and walked back to our cars. Even Jasa and visitors of the hut came with a car to Salihagina Bajta and had to leave early. There was no one else left at Mrtvanjski Stanari. It was overwhelmed by the silence.

As we were leaving Stanari I looked toward Hranisava. The clouds we were moving very fast pushed by the wind. The wind and snow will cover all tracks, it will be like we have never hiked all these trails. Fresh new snow is waiting for the next weekend, and new hikers seeking to enjoy this beautiful mountain.

Luckily, new snow didn’t block the road. It took us 10 minutes to clean our cars. It was time to say goodbye to Bjelasnica, at least for now. I took a deep breath and whispered: ‘Thank you. Until next time!’

Useful Information:

  • If you have any questions about the hut Stanari or need help to contact the host, e-mail me.
  • Stanari Hut is pet-friendly
  • For organized guided or self-guided tours check Green Visions tours that include a hike to Stanari and hikes from Stanari.

Bjelasnica Mountain Self-Guided Tour

Private Via Dinarica Bosnia – Bjelasnica Mountain (4 days)

  • Organised hiking tours at Bjelasnica in winter

Snowshoeing Weekend 

Via Dinarica Snowshoeing Week 

  • Hike from Ljubovcici to Stanari is 5 km (3 miles) long. It will take you around 3 hours. 
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You can't find me!
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I will dig up anything you want!
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Stunning view of Mrtvanjski Stanari from Birdzine Kolibe
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It's like walking on the moon
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Loved the walk through this beech forest
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Birdzine Kolibe Summer Shepherd Settlement
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We were exiting first part of juniper and suddenly we saw it - Lokvanjsko Lake
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Finding a trail through fallen juniper
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Heading toward Lokvanjsko Lake
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Is in it beautiful?
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