Category archives: Trip Impressions

My Return to Bjelašnica

Faruk explains the habits of the wild boars in the area

“We live in a fast-paced society. Walking slows us down.”
– Robert Sweetgall

Avery the Intern here again reporting for duty. My second walk/hike with Green Visions started at the village of Umoljani, which is a village located near Lukomir, about an hour south of Sarajevo. Both Lukomir and Umoljani are settlements on the mountain of Bjelašnica.  I was participating in the Seven Watermills Definite Departure hike. We were led by Faruk Karabegovic, a 56 year old mountain guide for Green Visions who is originally from Sarajevo. Faruk, in my opinion, wins the ‘Most Interesting Man’ award for all of Sarajevo, but that is a blog post for another day.

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Exploring Sutjeska

The team up at the summit

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…”
― C.S. LewisThe Four Loves

Loading into the van at the Baščaršija tram station is always the first exciting part of Green Visions hikes. When I enter the van, I get to see the people who I will be hiking with for, in this case, the next two days. It’s always interesting to see the different languages, experiences, opinions about traveling in the Balkans, etc. The mountains are absolutely stunning, don’t get me wrong, but one of my favorite parts about these hikes that I have been doing with the company is the ability that I have to converse with the people that I am hiking with. It never gets old and each hike brings new and exciting people into my life who I often learn from. Peeling little bits of knowledge from all the different people allows me to slowly obtain a better understanding of international similarities and differences.
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My First Outdoor Experience in Bosnia

Lukomir 27/6/2014

“He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.”
– Socrates

My name is Avery Nelson and I am a sophomore undergrad at the University of Denver. I am working as an intern with Green Visions for 8 weeks this summer. As a part of my internship here, I am encouraged to participate in as many hikes and trips as possible. Here is a little bit about my experience with the Definite Departure hike to Lukomir with a group of other University of Denver students.

As we loaded into our mini bus that was waiting for us at the Bascarcia tram stop, we were greeted by our guide who goes by Benjo (full name is Benjamin Mujkic if you would like to check him out on our website). Benjo is full of energy and it is hard to find him without a smile. As we left Sarajevo into the surrounding hills Benjo explained some of Sarajevo’s history and explained some of the mountains we were driving into, etc. As we got closer to finishing our drive to Lukomir, we stopped at a natural spring that was built into the side of one of the mountains. It was a pretty cool experience to fill up our water bottles here. The water was cold, fresh, and apparently pretty clean. I’m used to throwing a couple iodine pills into my Nalgene before I feel safe drinking it, but all over the mountains surrounding Sarajevo and greater Bosnia are these little springs where everyone fills up their water with clean glacial melt.
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Into the High Country

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The summer blog is back in action! My name is Katie, and I’m the seasonal intern for Green Visions this year. I study Global Finance and Trade at the Korbel School of International Studies in Denver, Colorado, but my background is in environmental science and conservation, which originally drew me to Green Visions. I’m from Lexington, Kentucky, I enjoy long walks in the woods, good cheese, and funky yoga classes.

I help Green Visions with social media and outreach initiatives to get the word out about the Balkans, because they’re stunning, vibrant, and much less traveled than their Western European neighbors. To help with that, I’d like to post information and stories of unique places in Bosnia that visitors can find during their adventures here.

Green Visions offers a biweekly trip to Bosnia’s highest inhabited town, Lukomir, for 40 euros a person. The town is nestled high in the hills at 1500 meters on the western slope of Bjelasnica Mountain, above the Rakitnica River Canyon, which is one of the main tributaries to the Neretva. The water of the Rakitnica cannot be seen from the cliffs alongside Lukomir, but its influence is evidenced from the winding valley scoured out from millenniums of water erosion. The dendritic pattern of the valley below inspires folk lore of dragons, and if you happen to be a fan of Game of Thrones, Lukomir and the surrounding geography has that, “north of the wall” feel.
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Pridruzite se Nasem Timu!

Green Visions Guide ad 2017

Tražimo kandidate za nove planinarske, kulturološke i biciklističke vodiče među osobama sa ljubavlju prema prirodi i planinama. Znanje o planinama i navedenim aktivnostima je dobro došlo, dok prethodno vodičko iskustvo nije neophodno.

Ako imate 19 godina i više i odgovara vam povremeni i sezonski angažman, uglavnom tokom ljetnih mjeseci, prijavite se! Nakon selekcije, kandidati prolaze internu obuku novih vodiča, koju organizuje Green Visions. Ženski kandidati se pozivaju da se ravnopravno prijavljuju!

Inače, Green Visions je firma koja daje jednake mogućnosti svima, i svi kvalifikovani kandidati će imati jednaku šansu za angažman bez obzira na rasu, boju kože, vjersku pripadnost, nacionalnu pripadnost, dob, spol ili seksualnu orijentaciju.

Ukoliko imate pitanja i/ ili se želite prijaviti, molimo zainteresovane žene i muškarce da nas kontaktiraju na email do 16.12.2016.

Hvala.

Green Visions

Bosnian Food 101

Pita, ćevapi, & burek. Photocred Kaleb Fulgham/Flickr

Whenever I travel, my general impression of a place is based on food. The food I have encountered in the Balkans never ceases to surprise my taste buds and I. Whether its traditional Bosnian dishes or modern vegetarian twists, travelers can fill their bellies without breaking the bank.

Traditional Dishes

Bosnia has three main food groups: dairy, bread, and meat. The cheese, creams, and milk from the region are unlike anything I’ve tasted before. The salty goat cheese, similar to feta in texture in color, goes great with salads, sandwiches, pasta…I slice and eat it by itself. If you see the words, “Vlasicki sir”, buy the cheese. In bulk. This cheese comes from the town of Travnik, a metropolis below the Vlašić Mountain, known for its goat cheese, medieval history, and as the birthplace of Noble Laureate Ivan “Ivo” Andrić.

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Exploring the Una River

River Una in BiH. Photocred Muhamed Toromanovic/Flickr

The Una River forms the natural border between Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, meandering mostly north to south and covering a watershed area of almost 10,000 square kilometers. The river Una runs through Bosnia’s newest and largest national park, which was founded in 2008 as a conservation effort for the diverse woodlands and karst geography of northwestern BiH. When traveling to Una National Park, visitors can expect blue-green rivers and lakes reminiscent of Plitvice National Park, its Croatian cousin to the north.

National Park Una contains three river bodies within its territories: the Una, Unac, and Krka. Boasted on the park’s website as, “the largest fly fishing grounds in Europe”, the rivers most notably contain native Stream Trout and Grayling (although I believe some species of Salmon and Grayling here are endangered…please feel free to comment below). A one-day fishing permit costs 40km (or 20 euros), and other price packages can be found on the park’s website.

The Una River near Bihac. Photocred TKnoxb/Flickr

The rivers and lakes of National Park Una are its biggest tourist attraction. Although it is roughly a 4-hour trip from Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo, there is more than enough to do during a weekend visit here, and cooling off in the Una River is far less crowded than the Croatian coastline. If you are more of a mountains-and-rivers sort of traveler (which is probably why you’re reading this blog), then I definitely recommend a weekend trip to Bihać and neighboring Una National Park.

White water rafting tours, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, and diving are all offered within the park, and guided activities can be organized through your travel partners here at Green Visions.

Car Rentals in Sarajevo

Renting a car is the best way to explore the Balkans in terms of price and convenience. Other modes of transport are inexpensive (buses, taxis, hitchhiking, biking, walking) or easy (by plane), but rarely both. I spent the past weekend traveling through Bosnia and Montenegro by car, and although the trip itself was beautiful and relaxing, the act of getting a car during peak tourist season proved to be the true adventure. If you keep your cool and take these bits of advice to heart, the whole process can be nema problema (no problem).

Tip #1: Rent from an actual rent-a-car business IN town

The first step I took on rental cars was going online to compare prices. With great access to wifi at hostels, hotels, and cafes, this is the easiest option for travelers who may be wary of the language barrier. And this is a great option. But. But, make sure that you are renting through an actual company/business in the area, and not a middle-man provider. “Booking” sites serve as the secretary for rent-a-car’s but work internationally, with no real knowledge of the car availability. They show super low prices, but the car may not exist by the time your rental request gets into the business.

Go straight to the business itself. Either online, by phone, or in person. For Sarajevo, use the internet to search rental car businesses at the airport or town center and look for the familiar rental car names of Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, Alamo.

Tip #2: Use Local Resources

The best resource I have had while traveling in Bosnia (outside of GV staff), has been the owners of our hostel at Residence Rooms. Utilize the local knowledge by asking Bosnians at your hotel or hostel about where to rent cars and find the best prices. Green Visions can help you out with this part of your Balkan adventure as well.

Swimming in the Bay of Kotor outside of Herceg Novi, MNE

Swimming in the Bay of Kotor outside of Herceg Novi, MNE

Tip #3: Manual or Automatic?

While looking for cars in Sarajevo, I never came across offers for automatic cars. I know they exist (although more expensive), but it may be best to assume that your only means of road tripping is if you or a travel buddy can drive stick. So maybe this is the time to bring along your friend Karen on the trip. Yes she’s annoying, but she can drive manual and she loves paying for drinks late night at the bar, so there are trade-offs.

Tip #4: Book in Advance

In the peak summer travel season, it is possible for an entire city to run out of rental cars. No, I am not clear on exactly how this works, and yes, expensive cars are still available, but who wants to drive a Mercedes through the Balkans for 100 euros a day? Regardless, book your car two-weeks in advance just to be safe, and make sure you are clear on the pick up and drop off location.

The road through Sutjeska National Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina

The road through Sutjeska National Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Tip #5: Search for Rentals in Surrounding Towns

If you have waited until the day before to finally book your car (I’m guilty), and you have found everything sold out, you do still have options. If you’re coming out of Sarajevo, search and call rental places in Tuzla and Mostar. Both towns are a few hours away by bus, and buses leave several times from Sarajevo every day of the week.

Tip #6: Go for the GPS

If you are given the option, spend a little extra for the GPS. Google Maps overall works well in the Balkans, but it can lead you down some shady side streets and abandoned gravel roads that may be too narrow or difficult to traverse. Save a map offline on your Google Maps for backup, and use the GPS as you go. Before you leave the rent-a-car, be sure that the GPS turns on, you know how to use it, and the car charger works as well. Extra note: If the GPS tells you it will take 3-hours to get somewhere, tack on another 2-hours for your driving “cushion”.

The zipline at Đurđevića Tara Bridge overlooking the Tara River

The zipline at Đurđevića Tara Bridge overlooking the Tara River in Montenegro

Tip #7: Enjoy the Ride

The Balkans are stunning. They offer mountains, vineyards and wine country, the coast, and secluded highlands all within a few-hours drive of Sarajevo. Take your time with the journey, signal for the speed demons to pass, and stop frequently for coffee and fresh fruit. The road trip may be the highlight of your summer travel adventure.

Bosanskohercegovačke zmije otrovnice

Autor teksta i fotografija: Adnan Zimić (magistrirao na Odsjeku za biologiju, Prirodno-matematičkog fakulteta Univerziteta u Sarajevu, a aktivno učestvuje u vođenju Green Visions programa kao planinski vodič).

U Bosni i Hercegovini živi 14 vrsta zmija među kojima su tri prave zmije otrovnice iz porodice Viperidae: poskok (Vipera ammodytes), bosanska šarka (Vipera berus bosniensis) i balkanski šargan (Vipera ursinii macrops). Njihovi otrovni zubi smješteni na prednjem dijelu gornje čeljusti. Zbog svojih otrovnih žlijezda glava ovih otrovnica je trouglasta, a kao adaptacija na dodatno-nokturalnu aktivnost imaju okomitu zjenicu. Postoje i dvije „poluotrovnice“, a to su: Telescopus fallax (zmija mačka) i Malpolon insignitus (zmajur, crnostrik). Zovemo ih tako jer su im otrovni zubi smješteni na zadnjem dijelu gornje čeljusti, iza redova „običnih“ zuba. Nalazimo ih samo u mediteranskom dijelu BiH, a njihov otrov je vrlo slab i najčešće stvara manju oteklinu.

Poskok –Vipera ammodytes (Linnaeus, 1758) kao najotrovnija i najveća zmija otrovnica u Evropi naraste u prosjeku oko 65cm, vrlo rijetko prelazi 90cm. Najmarkantnija morfološka karakteristika poskoka je roščić koji se nalazi na vrhu njuške. Spolni dimorfizam je uočljiv po samoj obojenosti jedinki: mužjaci su najčešće sive boje sa crnom cik-cak šarom, dok su ženke najčešće smeđkaste ili crvenkaste, sa ne tako upadljivom cik-cak šarom. Poskok je viviparna vrsta, te na jesen ženka okoti od 5 do 20 mladih dugih do 24cm koji su već opremljeni otrovom. Poskok naseljava širok spektar staništa, ali u pravilu preferira osunčana područja, kamene, travnate padine i svijetle šume, te se često može naći u blizini ljudskih naselja. Na proljeće se ženke poskoka (ali i drugih pomenutih otrovnica) često mogu naći i pored ostataka snijega – zbog instinktivne potrebe koja će omogućiti potpuno sazrijevanje jajnih ćelija. Naseljava gotovo čitavu BiH od nivoa mora do visokih planinskih ekosistema. Odrasle jedinke se hrane uglavnom sitnim sisarima i pticama, većim gušterima i drugim zmijama. Vrlo često se poskoci, osobito krajem ljeta i u toku jeseni, penju na drveće, grmovito rastinje i visoke stijene (zbog ishrane i termoregulacije). Zbog toga, neoprezni ljudi bivaju ugriženi od strane takvih jedinki u glavenim ili vratnim predijelima tijela, pa je po narodnom vjerovanju dobio ime po tome da visoko skače. Otrov poskoka je snažan, te je jedina po život opasna vrsta zmije u BiH. Međutim, pretpostavlja se da su smrtni slučajevi ujeda poskoka u BiH oko 2 %, a potpuno zdrava i odrasla osoba se vrlo brzo oporavi bez ikakvih posljedica.




Bosanska šarka – Vipera berus bosniensis Boettger, 1880. Adultne jedinke gotovo da jedva dostižu 60cm. Spolni domorfizam je također uočljiv u obojenosti jedinki: mužjak je siv ili smeđe boje sa crnom (u pravilu isprekidanom) šarom, dok su ženke smeđe ili crvenakste sa manje izraženom smeđom šarom. Pojava melanizma je vrlo česta kod ove vrste u BiH (kao termoregulaciona adapatacija) i važno je napomenuti da se crne zmije trebaju tretirati kao forme, a ne kao (pod)vrste. Šarka je također viviparna vrsta, a ženka rađa od 3 do 15 mladunaca. Rasprostranjenje šarke u BiH je neobično. Nizijske populacije naseljavaju šumske predjele i rubove starih očuvanih šuma Posavine. S obzirom da su ovakvi ekosistemi u BiH vrlo rijetki, nizijske populacije su ekstremno fragmentirane i kritično ugrožene. Trenutno je poznata samo jedna takva populacija u zapadnoj Posavini. S druge strane, visokoplaninske populacije naseljavaju uglavnom alpske livade (iznad granice šume), pa su prirodno fragmentirane (kao da se nalaze na posebnim otocima). Još uvijek nije poznato da li se na svim bosanskohercegovačkim planinama nalaze populacije šarki, ali su poznate sa slijedećih: Cincar, Dinara, Čvrsnica, Zelengora, Lelija, Maglić, Bjelašnica, Igman, Treskavica, Vran, Vlašić, Vranica. Šarka ne naseljava mediteranski dio Hercegovine. Iako se mogu naći zajedno, šarka nerado dijeli stanište sa poskokom zbog kompeticije za prostor i hranu. Ujed šarke je bolan, ali smrtni slučajevi su ekstremno rijetki (npr. u slučaju povrede glavnog krvnog suda).




Vipera ursinii macrops – balkanski šargan je najmanja zmija otrovnica u Evropi. Adultne jedinke narastu do 50cm. Mužjaci su svijetlo smeđi ili sivi, dok su ženke žućkaste. Na sredini leđa nalazi se gotovo uvijek jasna smeđa ili tamno siva cik-cak šara. U Bosni i Hercegovini šargan naseljava alpske livade iznad granice šume, uglavnom submediteranskih planina (Čvrsnica, Velež, Čabulja, Dinara, Šator, Zelengora, Maglić, Bjelašnica). Često dijeli stanište sa šarkom, nerijetko i sa poskokom. Ishrana vrste je vrlo specifična: hrani se isključivo skakakavcima i zrikavcima. Otrov šargana je vrlo slab te se često poredi sa ubodom pčela. U BiH, ali i globalno, šargan je vrlo rijetka i ugožena vrsta sa ekstremno fragmetiranim populacijama.


Come meet us at the ITB Berlin: The Western Balkans and Via Dinarica Hiking Trail Aim for the Stars

Come meet us at the ITB Berlin: The Western Balkans and Via Dinarica Hiking Trail Aim for the Stars

Named one of National Geographic Traveler’s “Best of the World” destinations for 2017, the Western Balkans’ Via Dinarica Trail is Europe’s new adventure darling. From March 8-12, tourism professionals from the region—Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia—will attend the ITB Berlin travel trade show—Hall 4.1, stand 213. Stop by for conversation and daily networking opportunities presented by the Via Dinarica Alliance, the Western Balkans Network, and a host of other operators from the Balkans. Activities include workshops and two trip giveaways.

The Western Balkans also welcome all visitors to attend two special presentations—both on the Pow-Wow (Responsible Tourism) Stage located in Hall 4.1.b:

Via Dinarica Mega Trail: Where Mountain Summits meet the Stars
Thursday, March 9, 15:30 – 16:00
Conservation Tourism: a new model for Macedonia
Friday, March 10, 16:00 – 16:30

#besttrips2017, #itb2017, #viadinarica

Picture courtesy of Adnan Bubalo / Balkanvibe

TripAdvisor 2017 Certificate of Excellence!

We’re pleased to announce that Green Visions has been recognized with a 2017 Certificate of Excellence, based on the consistently great reviews we have earned on TripAdvisor. What people say about our trips and services matters to us.

We have been fortunate to be recognized consistently over the past 5 years.
We would like to thank all our guests who have taken the time to share their feedback about their experience with Green Visions.

Curious about our tours? Why not visit our Trip Advisor page to see what our guests are saying about us.