Waiting Outside Sarajevo
Events described at Boračko Lake happened on Saturday 2nd of May, 2015
It was my first time in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I hope not my last visit. I had stayed only a few days in Sarajevo when I wanted to hitchhike onward to Mostar. I stayed the night somewhere more outside the city in a sort of campus area. This day, I started hiking towards my hitchhiking spot fairly early in the morning. But I didn’t have much luck besides a short ride past Ilidža in the direction of Konjic. My sign said ‘Mostar’.
Eventually, a car with three guys stopped for me. I got in and found out they were Slovenians on holidays. We drove on to Konjic, where we got out shortly to admire the bridge and the river. That’s where I told them my idea of visiting Boračko Lake or Boračko Jezero. It was something I had spotted on my map, and it looked like a nice place to visit and maybe even stay the night. They liked the idea and changed their route slightly. So we drove together the alternative route.
En route, we saw some of the warning signs for landmines. This is the primary reason why I didn’t go freecamping in Bosnia and Herzegovina; the off-chance that a landmine maims or kills you is not really worth the risk. The rains that had flooded the Balkan peninsula in the previous year (2014), also likely disturbed the location of the landmines. They might have moved, and nobody really knows then where they are.
At Boračko Lake
We talked a lot on the way to the lake. I liked my three drivers, who all seemed like friendly guys with a fondness of the outdoors. Most of their outdoors experiences are from their home country Slovenia, which has plenty of beautiful nature to hike in. Unfortunately, I haven’t experienced the Slovenian Alps yet to such an extent, as I’ve spent most of my multiple times in Slovenia hitchhiking through, not about.
We arrived at the lake, parked the car, and hiked around the area for a bit. There was a good boardwalk to get closer to the lake without getting soggy feet. While the infrastructure for summer holiday tourism was there, there were no people at this time of the year, even though it was the weekend. It wasn’t cold in the daytime, but I’m sure I would have been very cold in my tent and sleeping bag in the night time. I was still looking out for camping spots, but also enjoyed the company of my drivers quite a bit.
The water was quite cold, and we settled for dipping our feet in from the jetty instead of swimming. The water was very clear, and the surrounding reflections of the mountains so beautiful. Beautiful, yet inaccessible and tragic, ten years after the end of the Bosnian War. My guess is that one reason why nature is so beautiful in Bosnia and Herzegovina is because of the landmines, which has forced humans to not approach. That’s at least my experience with abandoned places: once humans won’t go there anymore, nature takes back quite quickly. Still, it’s best for both humans and nature if the landmines are cleared.
The Adventurous Road to Mostar
On our way out, I suggested taking the road from Borci to Potoci (the R435a). My drivers thought sure, why not, so we took the side road through the mountains. I had to do the navigating because they didn’t have the same map. The road was semi-paved at the time, getting much better near the end with a fresh layer of asphalt. We even encountered some heaps of dirty snow on the side of the road.
Sometimes it was a little sandy or slippery due to some rains. My drivers were a little more worried whether this road would take us to Mostar that day before sunset, or if it would just randomly end at some point. The road was only 38 kilometers long, but that feels like a lot when the quality isn’t very great. But I assured my drivers we would end up in Mostar that evening. My mind was set now helping them get to Mostar, and not freecamp somewhere here in the middle of nowhere.
When we hit the freshly asphalted stretch before Potoci, my friends were a little relieved. I gave a guesstimate to our arrival time in Mostar and continued the verbal navigation. We arrived in Mostar at a pretty decent time. I paid for my dorm bed in the hostel David, and we discussed what plans we had for the next days.
They were going to Dubrovnik in Croatia the next day, and I said that was also my general direction as I was trying to go to Montenegro, Albania, and Corfu in Greece to hitchhike a boat to Malta. I was invited to journey on with them for a little longer.