This column, Inspired Travel, seeks to highlight some of the most beautiful places on the planet through the eyes of some of the most forward-thinking tourism companies, which promote responsibility, sustainability and authenticity to its clients.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, the heart-shaped country with a rolling vista of massifs in the center of the Dinaric Alps Range, continues to experience soaring tourism interest because of an abundance of farm-fresh food and unspoiled scenery. This untouched landscape combined with a dense, old world culture has made the nation one of the stars of European travel.
A big reason for Bosnia’s success is due to the work of, arguably, the best adventure travel operator and tourism advocate in the country: Green Visions. Founded in 2000, the ecotourism company seeks to promote sustainability and nature preservation throughout the country. The outfitter’s goal is “to preserve the ancient traditions that have allowed generation after generation to maintain healthy lifestyles and ecological harmony,” and to “introduce new, modern methods of eco-tourism, farming, scientific research, and other economic endeavors in hopes of securing traditional familial and community ways.”
Through projects such as the Via Dinarica mega-hiking trail, Green Visions tours help to provide an economic engine across the country’s remote highlands while protecting its most valuable resources: its rivers, lakes, mountains and traditions. To truly experience this breathtaking country and culture—while sidestepping throngs of tourists—Paste Travel looks to three inspired tours.
The Via Dinarica is a 1,000-mile hiking trail and cultural corridor connecting eight countries across Western Balkan borders. For travelers, the trail represents a regional collaborative effort among private operators, which are members of a Via Dinarica Alliance. As the Bosnian Alliance member, Green Visions leads hikers through the Dinaric Alps for eight days to Montenegro. Still under the radar, this tour traverses fields of wildflowers, climbs limestone peaks and ventures through medieval villages. One highlight includes scrambling up the 7,828-feet Maglic Mountain, Bosnia’s highest summit. During this memorable week, travelers can also plan to raft the Tara River Canyon, a UNESCO Nature site.
The soul of BiH is in its people and their culture. An hour and a half outside of Sarajevo is Lukomir, Bosnia’s highest and most isolated mountain village. Peer into the past by visiting with the highlanders: people who continue to wear traditional dress and herd sheep. After viewing the secluded Rakitnica Canyon and Peruce Waterfall, stay overnight to really understand a completely different way of life.
Traditional cuisine, such as that prepared by Lukomir villagers, lend a deeper understanding to the rural culture. Farm-to-table cannot cut any closer than eating with farmers at their tables. Try burek, a spiraled savory pastry. Experience the Balkans through the senses.
To pick up the pace, hop on a bike and ride along ancient highland caravan routes that once connected Bosnia’s mountain villages. This five-day journey offers challenging climbs with the reward of zipping down descents. After pedaling through remote areas, the trail gives way to stunning mountain-top views. Enjoy overnights in mountain cabins, feasting on local cuisine, and taking part in culture that has thankfully frozen in time. Stops include Igman Olympic mountain, Lukomir, and the final destination of Mostar.
While the beauty of old growth forests and preserved nature is reason enough to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, the hospitality and generosity there will resonate long after the outdoor adventure is finished. New experiences—such as those offered at Green Visions—breathe new life into old world traditions. From outdoor adventure to culture and food, a bountiful, beautiful Bosnia awaits … all that is left is to go.
Molly Harris is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.