Rich biodiversity at the heart of the Dinaric Alps
Another beautiful gem of Herzegovina which should be on your travel list is Blidinje Nature Park. Around 360 km2 of this incredibly rich and biodiverse park lies at the heart of Dinaric Alps in the northern part of Herzegovina. Almost half of the Park is covered in forest and due to its rich biodiversity the whole area was recognized and protected as a National Park in 1995.
Importance of the lake
The Park covers the area of three formidable mountains: Čvrsnica, the highest mountain of Herzegovina (Pločno peak at 2.228 m), Vran mountain (Veliki Vran peak at 2.074 m) and Čabulja mountain. It also includes Grabovica valley, Nature Reserve Masna Luka and the vast valley of Dugo polje dotted with stećci (medieval tombstones) and the beautiful Blidinje Lake. The Lake is the largest alpine lake in Bosnia and Herzegovina and depending on the time of the year it spans 3 to 6 km2 in size, but is relatively shallow. Still, it has always been incredibly important for local people and provided a safe heaven for them and their live stock from unbearable heat.
Home to the famous Bosnian pine
The park has incredibly rich flora and fauna with 1.500 different species of plants, 200 of which are endemic. It is a home to the famous Bosnian pine or white-bark pine (Pinus heldreichii), an endemic species of pine native to the mountainous areas of the Balkans and southern Italy. It also provides home to wolves, brown bears, foxes, chamois, 91 kinds of butterfly and 122 kinds of birds.
Entrance to the park
There are many access roads to the park, but the three main ones are via Rakitno from Posušje, Jablanica via Doljani and Lipa from Tomislavgrad. It is only around 70 km drive from the city of Mostar and from the Adriatic coast and a bit longer from the capital.
The drive from Sarajevo via Doljani and Sovićka vrata (where I was coming from) took over 2 hours, but it was definitely worth it. The surreal landscapes and deserted roads gave me a feeling I was far from the country I know as Bosnia and Herzegovina. For me it brought back memories of South America, particularly some of the Peruvian mountain landscapes.
Main hub for the Via Dinarica White Trail
The park is opened all year round and there are no entrance fees. It has well marked trails and you are free to roam around by yourself or with a tour. Čvrsnica and Prenj mountains are some of the most attractive parts of the Via Dinarica White Trail and Blidinje NP is the best starting point. So if you are around make sure you don’t miss the experience. If you plan to do it yourself all the info you need can be found on the Via Dinarica site.
Variety of activities
Blidinje NP is also popular as a ski destination in winter time particularly for people from Herzegovina and the coast. There is a ski center at Risovac with almost a km long modern ski lift, children’s lift and several ski slopes coming down the Čvrsnica mountain. Besides snow activities you can find guided tours, hiking tours, cycling and MTB, horseback riding, archery, medicinal herb picking and organized visits to rural homesteads at Visit Blidinje Association.
That’s not all folks
There is plenty more to see in this rich park and next time I will dive into some of the rich cultural heritage of the area and I’ll take you to the seat of an imaginary republic for some delicious food :). Stay tuned.