A Perfect Place – Where the Rakitnica River meets the Neretva

Tobias Strahl, Sarajevo, 10 February 2018. The landscape is gorgeous but we can only gaze at it from afar. Every access to the forest, the meadows and the banks of the river Rakitnica to our left is potentially deadly. The whole scenery – the ridge, the mountain, the covert of beech trees and willows as well as the riverside is heavily covered with mines from the war of 1992 to 1996. We are in the Herzegovina, the southern part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a few kilometers south-east of the small city of Konjic (Bosnian for “Dragonfly”) and the famous Boračko Jezero; one can smell the spring aleady here where continental and Mediterranean climate meets; the meadows show first flowers and my mind repulses the idea that this beauty could be deadly. Nevertheless, I have roamed the world as a soldier for the last two decades repeatedly and therefore I strictly stick to our guide’s advice to follow his trail only.

The River Rakitnica near its mouth to the Neretva. © Tobias Strahl

To be honest – I have seen only a few places in Europe where water, mountains, rocks and forest give such an ideal combination as where the river Rakitnica meets the Neretva. The Rakitnica arises in the Bjelašnica Mountains approximately 40 kilometers South of Sarajevo. From there it winds 32 kilometers down to the Herzegovina through a rocky gorge with cliffs up to 800 meters high – finally joining the turquoise waters of the Neretva.

With a good guide – or some experience – you can hike in the mountains around the mouth of the Rakitnica without any danger. It is the former frontline between the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Serbs which is not accessible due to mines. But there are enough visible signposts and with an experienced alpinist and guide as Fikret Kahrović you won’t have any problems at all.

At the "Vetrena Vrata" (door of the winds). © Tobias Strahl

We did the classic tour of 17 kilometers and a profile of 1600 meters elevation gain around the mouth of the Rakitnica – climbing to the stormy heights of “Vetrena Vrata” (door of the wind) trough fields of sage and mountain slopes piled with limestone rubble. I would have stayed if I had a hammock and a sleeping bag with me. The place is one of those which one never ever wants to leave again. In late summer, I promised myself, I will do the three day’s tour crossing the gorge of Rakitnica at its length up to Bjelašnica.

First flowers. © Tobias Strahl

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