If you are a passionate hiker, I bet you wouldn’t think twice if someone invites you to explore European Yosemite. Sounds new to you? Indeed, a very few hikers know about this hidden gem in the heart of the Balkans, which gives them the privilege to have this treasure only for themselves when they come to explore it. An untouched nature, crystal-clear water, wild animals and surreal views, in three words – National Park Sutjeska, the most important one of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Who wouldn’t like to observe magnificent lakes hugged by splendid mountains and adorned by pure wildness? Who wouldn’t like to be among the first to discover such an amazingly peaceful corner? No one can resist this splendour. Let me tell you how to see European Yosemite from an eagle’s perspective.
Whether you come from Sarajevo, the capital city or Trebinje, the southernmost beauty of Bosnia & Herzegovina, keep in mind that National Park Sutjeska is some 100 km away from both locations. Situated in the south-eastern part of the country, it is very close to the border with Montenegro. Either way, you will arrive at Tjentište, the starting point of many trails. Don’t worry, most of the hiking paths are obvious and with many signposts. I mean, it is not as well marked as in the Alps, but that’s the beauty of this remote hiking trail. The untamed mountains are what makes the hiking here a thrilling experience, and you can be sure that every single step brings some surprises.
Shortly after you leave Tjentište, awe-inspiring Mt. Zelengora will welcome you with its conifer forests and green meadows. Considered the gentlest of all mountains in the Dinaric Alps, Mt. Zelengora is not a demanding mountain and therefore ideal for hiking, trekking and cycling thanks to its arranged and well-marked trails. This beauty spreads from Mt. Lelija on the north, to Neretva River on the south-west and Sutjeska River on the east. Its most valuable treasures are eight glacial lakes, also known as “mountain eyes”. Located at the foothills of the massif, Zelengora Lakes are true hidden gems peppered by God’s hand all over the mountain and its peaks.
Starting from Tjentište, a 20 km long road will guide you to the first glacial lake – Donje Bare. Located on the north-eastern side of Mt. Zelengora and 1500 m above the sea level, this lake is also nestled at the foothill of Mt. Tovarnica and its peak Planinica (1722 m). It is only 200 m long, 140 m wide, and with a maximum depth of four meters. As its name suggests, Donje Bare (Down Pond) is surrounded by alpine meadows with small ponds that boost in marsh flora. The water of this glacial lake comes from different springs, and it flows through a network of underground channels. An irresistible beauty of this place stole the heart of former Yugoslav president Tito, who had a mountain chalet by this lake. And while you are at Donje Bare, there is one walkway that you should not miss, if you want to have the best view of the nearby area.
A beautiful 400 meters long path through the meadows and forests of Mt. Zelengora will lead you to edge of the Sutjeska River canyon. This wild river has carved a fabulous canyon in the midst of National Park, the canyon that naturally separates Mt. Zelengora from Mt. Maglić and Mt. Volujak. After a pleasant and short walk, you will reach the Borić Viewpoint. Nested in-between the peaks Šiljevica and Planinica, this viewpoint is located on 1475 m above the sea level. Even though surrounded by two higher peaks, the position of Borić Viewpoint dominates the sharp slope. From here, you can see the entire Sutjeska canyon, but also many mountains - Maglić, Volujak,Vučevo, Dragoš Sedlo, Prijevor, as well as Perućica Rainforest and the remnants of old towns Vratar, Vratac and Kosman. The breathtaking view that opens in front of your eyes leaves everyone speechless. After taking countless photos here, I am convinced you will agree that the view of European Yosemite from an eagle’s perspective is priceless.
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