This article was written by our client.
Bosnia and Hercegovina offers great opportunities for outdoor adventures. I've already done 2 trips aimed at hiking and exploring places and culture of Bosnia. I also wrote down a comprehensive 10-day travel guide for Bosnia. This time, a biker Luboš, my dad (62 yrs, respect!) and me, went to Bosnia solely for biking.
Why and how
Bosnia is an undiscovered country by tourists so biking there was something new to us. With its interesting culture and history, it's a close exotic destination.
Our bike trip was a "transalp" (or "alpencross") style trip, which is specific for 3 things:
- NO tent. Sleeping is in B&Bs or mountain huts (so it's a good idea to carry a thin 300g "second skin" sleeping bag).
- NO or minimum of asphalt, trails are preferred. Pushing and carrying a bike is required sometimes.
- NO bike bags. Carry stuff in a backpack so a bike is light and agile.
We don't like to ride on asphalt roads, so we rode mostly on gravel roads and unpaved tracks during our trip. The roughest yet amazingly beautiful part was Čvrsnica mountains with 2 hike-a-bike days. So if you don't want to push your bike, you can change just this part of our trip and have a quite easy trip for every mountain biker. Download our GPX track logs or read tips for route planning at the end of this article.
Day 0: Visoko mountain
We drove our car all day long to Konjic. Only one stop is worth mentioning and that's a so-called pyramid in Visoko.
Technically it's a mountain in an exact shape of a pyramid geometrically located near 2 other "pyramids" covered with an interesting rock layer (see picture below). There are also tunnels nearby. Some archeologists proclaim it's the largest pyramid on Earth that also emits a healing field from the top, some say it's a normal mountain. Whether or not it's a wonder of a man or nature, it's worth visiting because it's 2 minutes off the highway.
Day 1: Konjic → Prokoško jezero
After a good sleep at Jablaničko jezero near Konjic, we used services of Shuttle Kor to get us to the starting point in Kiseljak. Last check of brake pads, suspension sag and off we went!
A road to Fojnica was an easy start. 15 km along a river on a quiet road was exactly what we needed to increase our appetite for typical Bosnian Čevapi (ground beef with onion and pita bread) in Fojnica. Afternoon climb to Prokoško jezero was long but well worth. The setting sun lightened picturesque Prokoško jezero and traditional wooden houses around it.
I was a bit afraid, that the only accommodation that I found on the internet would be closed. Fortunately, there were a dozen of accommodations in kuća (house) and a few places to eat. So we took the first suitable kuća, washed in a nearby brook and went to have fresh trouts and beers. Our trip could not have started any better!
Day 2: Prokoško jezero → Ramsko jezero
Morning sun melted our stiff bodies from yesterday's pedaling and cold night. Eat burek, dring bosanska kava (a traditional bosnian coffee) and hop on our bikes as fast as we could. We climbed west up a dirt road to a saddle and turned from a road to path. First pushing, but definitely not last. The goal was to explore and ride a hiking trail on a rigde above this dirtroad that eventually went through a local summit Nadkrstac.
The trail on the ridge offered unmatched 360° views to all the mountains far away. Moreover, the trail turned out to be pretty rideable with just a few short pushing parts. Reccommended!
Unfortunately, the first and the biggest problem as well appeared. Luboš lost his passport and wallet, probably while he was getting his phone out of a backpack to take a picture :( So we splited for a while. Me and my dad searching for trails and Luboš searching for his wallet.
When we met again later that day, Luboš came with no luck. His valuables were definitely lost. So rode down to Gornji Vakuf and over a road saddle to the lake Ramsko Jezero. An evening swim in the lake saved the bad mood of the day.
Day 3: Ramsko Jezero → Vilinac
It has never happened to me before, especially in Bosnia, but we ate bad čevapi the evening before and had a terrible night because of that. I was the only one whose stomach wasn't floating on water – until the evening.
It was fortunately a short trip so we spent most of the time resting in shadow, recovering our digestive system. Our destination was a winter ski resort Vilinac under Čvršnica mountain range. Nice seldom used gravel roads took us there, exactly to Pansion Vilinac.
The owner of this nice B&B is a mountain biker himself (tours available). After dinner, I approached to him to give us an advice about tomorrow's trip. Our plan was to cross Čvršnica on bikes. But I got an unpleasant reply:
"No, that's a bad idea, you can't ride a bike there."
"Ok, I guess we'd have to hike our bikes but we're going to cross Čvršnica anyway."
Day 4: Vilinac → Planinarsky dom Vilinac
We took the easiest way to Planinarsky dom Vilinac in Čvršnica mountains. 15 km and 600 m elevation gain in a day look easy on paper. In reality, we had to push and carry our bikes the last 6 km and almost all elevation gain on a hiking trail – as expected.
Planinarsky dom Vilinac is a true mountain hut with wonderful views around it. Almost all the material used on the building has been carried on the backs of local mountaineers. You can get a simple accommodation on mattresses and a simple dinner and a breakfast. The hut is usually locked, so you have to call a couple of days before to make a reservation! See vilinac.ba.
Because we booked our stay a week ago, 3 people from Planinarsko družstvo Jablanica hiked to the hut, hosted us and fed us. They did it only for the 3 of us, how privileged we felt!
Day 5: Planinarsky dom Vilinac → Konjic
This day was the core of our trip. Cross Čvršnica on bikes, where not many bikers rode before and return to Konjic. More or less 1800 m elevation drop to Jablanica, mostly on a trail. But again, we spent most of the time pushing our bikes. Fortunately, not most of the distance.
One of the top highlights of this Bosnian bike adventure was Hajdučka vrata. It's a natural wonder, the product of wind erosion. Take an obligatory bike picture and let's continue!
The trail isn't used by many tourists so dwarf pines expand to the trail. They scratched the heck out of our shins so I can definitely recommend knee high socks for this part.
In the last quarter of our descent to Jablanica, the trail got interesting. When we entered a forest, it started to be very fun to ride! One fast turn after another and because of the surrounding vegetation we didn't quite know what's at every turn. Sharp focus needed!
The very last part of the descent was a really steep forest hillside with the trail zigzagging in 20 switchbacks below us. Phew, don't look down, focus on the bike. I managed to ride through some of them by drifting my back wheel on fallen leaves, but I rather pushed it afterward. Too dangerous to ride.
Day 5: Rafting on Neretva
We gave our legs a little rest and went rafting instead. Wow, such a great rafting! We were amazed by the crystal clear water, beautiful canyon surrounding us on every turn and of course our sought-after adrenaline (4 rapids and jumping from cliffs and bridge).
Paddling can be exhausting, so Sanel from Raft Kor – Neretva Rafting company prepared us a delicious barbecue straight on the beach.
Day 6: Konjic → Umoljani
We planned to ride to the famous village Lukomir, remote Visočica mountains and beautiful Prenj mountains for the last 3 days of our trip.
The first day began with a nice climb on a gravel road from Konjic (250 m) to Džepi (800 m). We counted that there will be a restaurant or a shop in Džepi, but there was none on our way. Fortunately, Bosnians are really hospitable, so we got a bread and water when we humbly asked at one of the houses.
The highest altitude of 1600 m was 4 km before Lukomir, so it was a technically an easy day, but physically not that much. But Lukomir with its magnificent views to Rakytnica canyon was worth it.
The village of Lukomir (1495 m) is the highest altitude and most remote village in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is only a couple of years ago that they started using electricity there. Lukomir is known for its traditional way of life. You may buy handmade socks and other wool stuff made by local villagers. There’s also a pub with local cheese specialties so we ordered Cokes and Sarajevsko pivo. Refilled sugars fueled us for the last 15 km to Umoljani, where we stayed at Pansion Umoljani for a night.
Day 7: Umoljani → Boračko jezero
These days the whole way from Umoljani to Luka village in Visočica mountains should be already asphalted. It has being built when we were riding there.
We turned right just before Luka village to climb on a gravel road to the heart of Visočica. It's a pretty rocky terrain that leaves a sense of remoteness. When rode down to the edge of Rakytnica canyon, a stunning view appeared. We were looking to the 800 m deep Rakytnica canyon from the other side than the day before from Lukomir.
This road from Visočica to Glavatičevo was the most scenic descent of our trip with 1250 m altitude drop. When the road turned to the southern hillside above Neretva river, the landscape changed from rocky to forested. We could se lots of cypresses on the high rocks above us and majestic Prenj mountains on the other side of Neretva river.
Our day ended at lake Boračko with a few B&Bs, restaurants, a camping and a grocery store.
Day 8: Boračko jezero → Konjic
A heavy storm was waking us up during the last night. We needed to have a good weather and a very early start to handle the last stage over Prenj with a longer hike-a-bike part. Instead, there was rain, low clouds and no electricity all over Boračko jezero.
After the electricity was kicked on, we ate the earliest breakfast we could get – at the local grocery store.
We climbed 1000 m to Crno Polje where a gravel road ended. We thought about continuing to Prenj according to our plan for a second. But the idea, to push and carry our bikes through Prejn with no views because of the clouds, get our shoes wet in a minute and arrive in Konjic after 9 p.m., wasn't tempting at all.
So we decided to go back and ride a hard MTB trail. We discovered the trail from a local MTB map – I recommend to ask for it at Planinarsko društvo Jablanica.
The trail from Gakići to Džajići was actually a pretty nice rideable forest path. Except for overgrown raspberries with monstrous thorns, especially on the beginning. If the trail was pruned, I could really recommend it, but in this case, it was a bit of torture.
All in all, I could not think of a better mountain biking in Bosnia than our 8-day trip around Konjic. Please, share it to other bikers and travelers, so that everybody knows, that Bosnia offers unexplored (well not yet!) opportunities for mountain biking.
Thanks for reading!
Appendix: route planning
Download our GPX track logs. You'll find there the exact route that we took plus some alternatives, mostly harder ones.
But if you want to plan your own route, then good luck. You won't find many people riding a bike as a hobby in Bosnia. You won't find many tourists in the mountains anyway. So Bosnia is a pretty uncharted land, especially smaller roads and paths.
The best maps for planning are usually Open Street Maps combined with local tracklogs.
After months of searching and planning, these sites and tools helped the most:
- DinaridesTrails.org – pretty good GPX tracklogs from Bosnia, Croatia, etc.
- MTBmap.cz – one of the best online mountain bike map with highlighted MTB difficulty scale, but it can somewhere show data months old.
- BikeMap.net – lots of GPX tracklogs, a pretty useful heatmap of uploaded tracklogs.
- QMapShack – software for planning your route. It's my core bike planning tool, but it's not straightforward to make it work (you need to download vector maps or elevation data & routing database).