We decided fairly last minute that as our insurance covered us we would visit Bosnia so came into the country having done no research and with no preconceived ideas. And having toured through a lot of the western part of the country, we are so glad that we did make it here!
We entered Bosnia though one of the main border crossings at Metkovic, at the eastern end of the Neretva Delta, the large area of agricultural land we had driven through in Croatia. It was an easy border crossing in that we had the necessary documents – passports, van registration and COVID vaccination details (first time we’d been asked for them!) and we were soon able to continue our drive along the stunning Neretva River.
On our way to our first campsite we stopped at the Kravica Waterfalls. We don’t know if the man in the ticket booth overcharged us having seen us arrive in the van, but we hadn’t got our head around the exchange rate at that point so paid the KM40 (approx £17) without questioning it. On reflection this was very expensive for what was there but in the summer, there are accessible man made beaches (I use the term loosely!), a decked bar area, restaurants and boat trips and you can spend the day there and swim in the river which makes the entrance fee more reasonable.
There is a second waterfall about 1km downstream from the main falls. It is walkable unless there has been a lot of rain (there had!) in which case the river banks are waterlogged and slippy. We speak from experience as Bob had to grab June by the belt to stop her sliding face down in the mud into the river!
Our first campsite was Autocamp Green Park on the banks of the Neretva in Zitomislic. The high running river meant that the only parking was the main car park and being out of season, the bar, restaurant and other facilities were shut, but we had EHU, water and WiFi so needed nothing else. The site also has a few rooms (we were offered the use of a toilet and shower in one) and more building was going on. We were also able to use a washing machine (€3 per use) although it seemed to be the owner’s personal machine as it was in their bathroom! We had great fun with the owners who spoke little English muddling through in a mix of GCE German and holiday Italian but thankfully they had a couple of English speaking younger workers who were able to help out.
Before we arrived we had received warnings from the UK FCO of flooding in Bosnia and it continued to rain throughout most of our time here! Luckily we are fairy hardy souls and did our best not to let that stop us getting out and about.
The next stop was a few miles away at Autocamp Blagaj, a 15 minute taxi ride from Mostar. With not having a local SIM and with the MiFi having been fried in Croatia navigating between places became a bit hit and miss if we’d not saved the details offline. We weren’t 100% sure of where we were staying which wasn’t helped by having muddled the name of one campsite with the location of another park up in the sat nav! As we were trying to work out the details a car pulled up in front of us and man jumped out into the pouring rain to ask if we were looking for his campsite. In hindsight we realise he was trying to be helpful but we were wary of being taken to somewhere we hadn’t booked and so brushed him off. Having got to the park up and with the owner given us his WiFi password, we soon realised that we were in the wrong place so snuck out very quickly! We finally worked out where we should be, and yes it was the campsite of the man who had tried to help us earlier. As we would find out over the next few days, Alen was a genuinely friendly guy and he was so generous during our stay.
The rain continued but managed to hold of during our visit to Mostar for which we took a return taxi from the campsite for KM30 (£13). Like most people of our age most of our memories of the region come from the division of the former Yugoslavia and the war of the early to mid 1990s. Parts of Mostar have been totally rebuilt including the famous Stari Most, the Old Bridge, although at this time of year there was little sign of the divers who, for the right price, will dive from the bridge into the Neretva some distance below!
We had a wander through the streets of the Old Town (very similar to the souks in Morocco and bazaars in Turkey, ie tourist trap and heaving during the summer!) and walked a little further afield in the city. It’s a real mix of old and new, lots of bullet hole riddled buildings and rather strangely, a statue of Bruce Lee in one of the parks. It’s definitely a place worth visiting.
A short distance from the campsite (not quite walking though) is the Tejika Blagaj, or the Dervish House. Parts of the site have been dated back to the late 1400s and the first written history is from 1664. Its location at the base of steep cliffs plus at times due to neglect, has meant that the buildings have ben destroyed and reconstructed several times with the last building in 2012.
The site is now a pilgrimage destination to celebrate the birth of the prophet Mohammad and one of the most visited for followers of Sufism.
Entrance fee to the complex was KM5 each (a little over £2) but it can been seen easily from a number of restaurants just across the river or a path that runs behind the restaurants down to the base of the cliff. It would seem that in the summer there are a number of souvenir stalls on the road at the entrance to the site but we were lucky to miss those!
Autocamp Green Park, Zitomislic: €15 per night. Winter hard standing, grass in summer. EHU, water, grey and WC dumping.
Autocamp Blagaj, Blagaj, near Mostar: €15 per night (possibly because it was winter but that reduces for stays of 3 nights or longer). Hard standing pitches with EHU and water, grey and black disposal. Shower and toilet block and washing machine. Bar and restaurant which seemed to be open.