European Yosemite from an eagle’s perspective

Ljiljana Krejic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

If you are a passionate hiker, I bet you would not think twice if someone invited you to explore European Yosemite. Sounds new to you? Indeed, very few hikers know about this hidden gem in the heart of the Balkans, which gives them the privilege of having this treasure only for themselves when they come to explore it. In three words, an untouched nature, crystal-clear water, wild animals and surreal views – National Park Sutjeska, the most important one in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Who would not like to observe magnificent lakes hugged by splendid mountains and adorned by pure wildness? Who would not want to be among the first to discover such an amazingly peaceful corner? No one can resist this splendour. Let me tell you how to see European Yosemite from an eagle’s perspective.

Remote hiking trails 

© istock/mapraest

Whether you come from Sarajevo, the capital city, or Trebinje, the southernmost beauty of Bosnia & Herzegovina, keep in mind that National Park Sutjeska is some 100 km away from both locations. Situated in the southeastern part of the country, it is very close to the border with Montenegro. Either way, you will arrive at Tjentište, the starting point of many trails. Do not worry, most of the hiking paths are obvious and with many signposts. I mean, it is not as well marked as in the Alps, but that is the beauty of this remote hiking trail. The untamed mountains make hiking here a thrilling experience, and you can be sure that every single step brings some surprises.  

Where to stay

When you come to explore Sutjeska National Park, finding accommodation might be a bit tricky. Hence, I have two suggestions to make your stay even more enjoyable - Vila Volujak and Vila Maglić. Both villas are actually charming wooden cottages boasting a seasonal outdoor swimming pool and stunning mountain views. Vila Maglić even has a sauna. They are situated at Tjentište, the starting point for all your trips. An à la carte, continental or vegetarian breakfast is available every morning at the property. 

Awe-inspiring Mt. Zelengora

© National Park Sutjeska / unknown author

After leaving Tjentište, awe-inspiring Mt. Zelengora will welcome you with its conifer forests and green meadows. Considered the gentlest of all mountains in the Dinaric Alps, Mt. Zelengora is not a demanding mountain and, therefore, ideal for hiking, trekking and cycling thanks to its arranged and well-marked trails. This beauty spreads from Mt. Lelija on the north to Neretva River on the southwest and Sutjeska River on the east. However, its most valuable treasures are eight glacial lakes, also known as “mountain eyes”. Located at the foothills of the massif, Zelengora Lakes are true hidden gems peppered by God’s hand all over the mountain and its peaks.  

The first glacial lake - Donje Bare

© National Park Sutjeska / unknown author

Starting from Tjentište, a 20 km long road will guide you to the first glacial lake – Donje Bare. Located on the northeastern side of Mt. Zelengora and 1500 m above sea level, this lake is also nestled at the foothill of Mt. Tovarnica and its peak Planinica (1722 m). It is only 200 m long, 140 m wide, and has a maximum depth of four meters. As its name suggests, Donje Bare (Down Pond) is surrounded by alpine meadows with small ponds that boost marsh flora. The water of this glacial lake comes from different springs and flows through a network of underground channels. The irresistible beauty of this place stole the heart of former Yugoslav president Tito, who had a mountain chalet by this lake. And while you are at Donje Bare, there is one walkway you should not miss if you want to have the best view of the nearby area.

A priceless view from Borić Viewpoint 

© Ljiljana Krejic

A beautiful 400 meters long path through the meadows and forests of Mt. Zelengora will lead you to the edge of the Sutjeska River canyon. This wild river has carved a fabulous canyon amid National Park, which naturally separates Mt. Zelengora from Mt. Maglić and Mt. Volujak. After a pleasant and short walk, you will reach the Borić Viewpoint. Nested between the peaks Šiljevica and Planinica, this viewpoint is located 1475 m above sea level. Even though surrounded by two higher peaks, the position of Borić Viewpoint dominates the sharp slope. From here, you can see the entire Sutjeska canyon, but also many mountains - Maglić, Volujak, Vučevo, Dragoš Sedlo, Prijevor, as well as Perućica Rainforest and the remnants of old towns Vratar, Vratac and Kosman. The breathtaking view that opens in front of your eyes leaves everyone speechless. After taking countless photos here, I am convinced you will agree that the view of European Yosemite from an eagle’s perspective is priceless. 

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