Croatia & Bosnia May 19th 2015
I had visited Croatia and Bosnia before, but in May this year I visited Croatia and Bosnia as a supporter of the GB national rafting teams in the European Rafting Championships which my son was captaining.
Travelling in my rented car I drove from Croatia to Bosnia over the mountains to the rafting event on the Vrbas River in Banja Luka in Bosnia.
After four days of great competition I drove back to Croatia following the path of the Vrbas river almost as far as the spectacular Dalmatian coast then down to Omis in Croatia, the home of the wonderfully scenic Chetina river and then on to Split for my flight home.
During my travels I had no spare time to raft or paddle the river as it was busy with competition but I collected all the information required to put together a weeks adventure holiday in these two countries as I knew I had to return, to try out these wonderful rivers and associated activities these two countries have to offer.
Croatia & Bosnia,
Tuesday August 25th 2015
We left Stanstead airport in bright sunshine at 10.30am on a packed Split flight and took our seats. It was the first visit for my travelling companion John Ridout an ex semi pro footballer, so window seats were booked as the spectacular Croatian coast is not something to be missed. We arrived late morning in great weather, sunny and 30 ° with great views of the white outlined islands dotted around the coast of the Croatian mainland, picked up our car and followed the coast road to Kastel where we had breakfast/lunch in an old sea side village restaurant.
We arrived in Omis at 2pm, found our rented apartment, downed bags and headed for the beach for a dip in the sea.
Omis lies below the high limestone mountains on the Dalmatian coast and is a warren of little back streets off a busy main street with restaurants on every corner and filling the streets. Beer and pizza filled the gap before we turned in for the night as we were going Zip Wiring in the morning.
Wednesday August 26th 2015
I had pre arranged with Ivana, a morning Zip wiring courtesy of “Zipline Omis-Croatia” and we met 9am at their office in Omis, the sun was shining and the temperature was 25 ° and rising. We met up with an English family of four, holidaying in Croatia who had also booked the 9am trip and were transported to the start. After a short ride we were kitted out with all the safety equipment, had a small climb to the practice area where we were given instructions from two qualified instructors before we started the 8 cable trip through the amazing mountainside and across the Chetina River.
After two hours we had speed down eight cables and completed the course which was a fantastic experience in the most wonderful scenery, and in great company. Next stop, the beach bar, beer and a swim kept us busy all afternoon and as day crept into night we called it a day.
Next stop, the beach bar and a swim.
Thursday 27th August 2015
An early morning drive took us high in the mountains above Omis to the town/village of Zadvarje where we had a great breakfast and coffee before driving back down to the coast to meet our guide for the afternoon’s canyoning expedition in the Chetina Canyon. This was booked through Adventure Omis who came highly recommended and were indeed a first class company with new equipment, fabulous clubhouse and Ivan an excellent guide. Four hours of adventure action including walking, swimming, sliding, abseiling and jumping from heights of 3 metres to 15 metres in a stunning limestone canyon with the highlight being a 50 metre abseil to a beautiful waterfall where we could swim underneath and get behind filled a truly wonderful afternoon. We could not escape the hospitality of Ivo the owner and Ivan who treated us to a fantastic sea food meal in Omis at Restaurant Babilo, then drove us home. Great guys!!
Friday 28th August 2015
The next day we packed our bags, jumped in the car and drove across the border into Bosnia & Herzegovina our destination Banja Luka, a modern town on the banks of the Vrbas River. The roads to Banja Luka were almost traffic free as crossed the high coastal mountains, flat mountain valleys passing small villages to the flooded valley forming Busko Jezeo (Lake) with the main dam, the main road at the head of the valley. From here the road lead to Livno then on to Glamoc then Mrkonjic Grad where we met the Vrbas River. We took the road as it followed the river down to Banja Luka through a magnificent 10 kilometre gorge cut by the Vrbas over thousands or millions of years narrowing to just 30 metres wide creating white water to plunge and turn as it drops towards the town, the reason for our visit, great for White water rafting.
We checked out our starting time when we called in at the Kanjon Raft and Kayak club before we drove the last 5 kilometre to our hotel, an ex palatial family house hotel, situated on the banks of the Vrbas River, but like all in Bosnia, short of maintenance. After a short walk into and around town, a few beers and a great steak later, we called it a night at midnight and walked back to the Hotel.
Saturday 29th August
The next day we explored the town on foot and by car checking out the football stadium before heading to the Kanjon club to meet our rafting crew. Luck was on our side, a giant German Electrical component manufacture Bosnian branch had booked a firms day out on the river and we were invited to join in, so join in we did.
We travelled 14 k up the gorge on the firms hired bus donned our wet suits, buoyancy aids and helmets and boarded the rafts. Our raft guide Vito went through the safety talk and we started to paddle downstream towards Banja Luka, again in brilliant sunshine. The water was crystal clear and underwater rock shelves and formations were visible along with the brown trout. We splashed the other rafts and jumped from a bridge on route to the gorge area where we spent time jumping form a large boulder in the middle of the rapids. The water was not high due to the lack of rainfall but was good enough for a fun day out on the river. White water, not really, class 2 yes but great fun.
Email Sanja, firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings and information on river running.
We would like to thank the Kanjon club especially Sanja for the hospitality given to us.
Sunday 30th August
The next day we head of as tourist as we have no activities planned and make our way following the Vrbas River down past Bugojno to Prozor and on to the town of Mostar with its famous bridge over the Neretva River.
The bridge and most of the town was destroyed during the Balkan war separating the two sides. Now rebuilt the town again is flooded with tourist’s walking over the famous cobbled floor bridge and shopping for souvenirs in the tiny cobbled streets that lead to and from the bridge. Their is a multitude of restaurants catering for the coach loads of tourist who flock here in the summer from cruise ships from nearby Dubrovnik and holiday resorts in other Croatian towns, hoping to see a bridge diver whilst dining out, will not be disappointed.
A few beers and a meal by the bridge followed by a few beers in the new town area closed our evening and we headed back over the bridge to our hotel.
Monday 31st August
Sightseeing over, we drove back to Croatia along back roads through wonderful scenery almost crossing the border and back down to the Croatian coast near Baska Voda then along the coast to Trogir. We arrived at three in the afternoon in blistering heat and after booking in the hotel in the old town area we hit the beach for a swim followed by a few beers and a kebab at midnight to finish off the evening. We fly in the morning.