The research work of Trans Dinarica’s Bosnia and Herzegovina southern leg is completed

Why are there two legs (northern and southern) of the Trans Dinarica cycle route in Bosnia and Herzegovina, what can you expect from cycling and what interesting things did we learn along the way.

 

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina lies in the heart of Trans Dinarica. Already at the beginning of planning, we decided that there should be two legs in this country. Why? We were able to connect Bosnia and Herzegovina with the two neighboring countries — Serbia to the east and Montenegro to the south — and thus the Trans Dinarica cycle route is now a full circle. At the same time, it was already clear that this country is so diverse that it will be worth spending a little more time in it. And we were right.

 

The most adventurous section of Trans Dinarica?

After last year’s exploration of the ‘northern leg’, from the border with Serbia via Sarajevo to Livno, we have just completed the route from Livno through Herzegovina, Mostar and the mountains south of Sarajevo to the border with Montenegro. The GPS tracks are still being processed, but our impression is that this is one of the more adventurous sections of the Trans Dinarica with a mixture of challenging, rolling terrain that mixes asphalt with gravel. In this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, expect wonderful scenery, but also exhausting cycling. Sometimes, from morning to evening, you will encounter nothing but some remote farm, where a sign ‘jaja’ (homemade eggs) will invite you to stop and say ‘dobar dan’. But these are also the moments when you realize (again) how friendly, warm and hospitable the locals are and that they are excellent cooks.

 

People are comming back to live (and work in the outdoor tourism!)

On the other hand, we realized that outdoor tourism is developing. In the middle of wild Bjelašnica mountain we slept in a comfortable new wooden cabin with a bicycle workshop in the basement, while in Mostar we met two active sportswomen who returned to Mostar to live – one from Slovenia, the other from Australia. Maybe the emigration trend is reversing? We hope so and believe travelers on bicycles can help with this.

Go to Bosnia and Herzegovina physically fit, equipped for all kinds of weather conditions, but also with a heart longing for adventure and warm human relations.

Gallery of Trans Dinarica’s Bosnia and Herzegovina southern part:

What’s the situation with mines along the Trans Dinarica cycle route?

On a few occasions, we’ve received the following question: “Does the Trans Dinarica come close to former minefields? Where?”

Three cyclists on gravel bikes, riding the Trans Dinarica in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

Let us be clear about this: if you stay on the route, there is no chance for danger from mines. This, however, doesn’t mean that a few areas crossed by the Trans Dinarica have recently suffered from the war of the 1990s. In some parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina you will come across red signs “Mine! Zabranjen prolaz!” (Mines! Do not pass!) on the side of the road. In other places there are also signs with maps where mined areas are specially marked (see the two photos bellow).

 

All the roads on our route have been in frequent use for many years, and there is no fear of encountering a mine. But, also, to reiterate: in places where you see such signs, keep to the route. These are not the places to wonder into the woods to pitch a tent.

Although we are strongly aware of this situation, we encourage cyclists not to focus on or emphasize the Balkan wars when communicating about the region or the cycling route. We encourage you to facilitate peace and focus on the nature and the people. We want to focus on the love of life, not the fear.

 

 

A word from a member of our team: why do I believe in Trans Dinarica?

In short posts on social networks, it is difficult to say or show why I like to participate in the creation of Trans Dinarica so much. Therefore, this time a slightly longer note about the project and why I believe our work has higher meaning.

1. I simply love the countries of the Western Balkans: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia. I traveled to some of these countries as a child, and I got to know them even better in the last decade guiding tourists from all over the world. People often have preconceived notions about countries along the route. These opinions are related to, for instance, the collapse of Yugoslavia, the 20th century regime in Albania, and the conflicts from the 90s. But holding onto those judgments is passe. I’m not saying history should be forgotten. Far from it. But focusing on decades-old news clouds today’s Western Balkans, which is one of Europe’s most original regions.

2. The Balkans, if we exclude the coast and a few other hotspots, have thus managed to avoid mass tourism. That’s good … but it means the region’s integrity is so fragile that we must be careful what and who we’re inviting to this pleasant wilderness. Care is necessary because, first, it is good for nature. Secondly, it is good for preserving authentic communities. And third, you will get to know the essence of the Balkans best on a bike powered by your own energy and curiosity. A tourist on a bus socializes with other tourists. A cyclist socializes with locals. And, cyclists leave almost no trace. No need for mega hotels that spoil the mountain views. A room in a private house or three square meters of land to set up a tent are just fine.

I believe the Western Balkans and the sustainable way of exploring new lands — cycling — were born for each other. After we explored the first part of Trans Dinarica, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, I am even more convinced of this.

Matevž Hribar, content creator, copywriter, cyclist, van driver

Live from Trans Dinarica: Bosnia and Herzegovina is even wilder than we thought

The work in the field continues: late-night planning for the next day, getting up early, a hearty breakfast (of course, we are in the Balkans!), driving in a van combined with cycling, turning around, asking locals for directions, and looking for the best alternatives for cyclists. In between, we’re taking photos and filming until the evening, when we usually we reach the destination of the stage after sunset.

From wild Drina NP to lively Sarajevo

After we left Serbia — crossing the Drina River — and entered Bosnia and Herzegovina, we got to see a fairly unknown part of this country: Drina National Park, established only in 2017. We viewed the river both from the bank and from the nearly 1,000-meter-high edge of the canyon. This is wilderness in the truest sense. Apart from a local man carrying felled trees with his horse, a park ranger with a VW Golf 2, and no more than five cars (in two days!), we didn’t meet a soul. This will be a more adventurous part of the Trans Dinarica, which some — more accustomed to shops and hotels — would likely miss altogether.

The complete opposite, but no less exciting, was Sarajevo — a place we all love and return every chance we get. We come for tastes like burek, ćevapčići, baklava, and Bosnian coffee at Čajdžinica Džirlo. We also come for the handmade crafts, like coffee sets made by Abdulah Hadžić at Manufaktura. In the evening, we stopped in for some of the city’s best traditional food at the restaurant Žara iz Duvara. The lively city life was enjoyed by the whole team, but as soon as we left the traffic behind, we felt the essence of the Trans Dinarica return to the wilderness.

Reaching Livno, we concluded our first research expedition in the field. We will continue with the work, but until then, thanks to everyone who helped us along the way and to everyone who expressed interest in the wildest bicycle transfer through the countries of the Western Balkans via social media and e-mail. Let’s keep in touch!

Photo Gallery:

Live from Serbia’s section of Trans Dinarica: We love it. Honestly.

Dear cyclists, adventure lovers … and Western Balkans devotees:

It is with great pleasure that — after many months of office research, studying maps, dissecting the terrain, browsing through memory, and coordinating routes and sites with local experts — we are officially working from the field along the Trans Dinarica Cycle Route: the first cycling route to connect all eight countries of the Western Balkans.

Our trail development fieldwork began along the Serbian and Bosnian sections of Trans Dinarica, and, after a few days, we can report the following brief impressions:

  • Although we have all visited Serbia many times, the country, its south and west, stunned us. It’s hard to say what’s more exceptional: the nature or the hospitable locals.
  • The Trans Dinarica is exactly what we wanted: bicycle exploration of these incredible countries on forest paths and quiet roads as possible, and at the same time getting to know the local culture, history, and cuisine.
  • The type of tourism mentioned in the previous point (yes, even cycling is tourism) is exactly what the Trans Dinarica intends to present: An authentic, pure, original, enriching, inspiring window into beautiful culture.

Keep up with us for more updates on our Facebook and Instagram pages. We also invite you to sign up for our email newsletters, in which we will inform you about the continuing development of Trans Dinarica. The final result — a cycling route through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia — will be ready in July 2024.

We can’t wait to see you on the Trans Dinarica.

Gallery from the last few days: