One of the beautiful hiking adventures you can do while in BiH is to hike up Čvrsnica Mountain, the highest mountain of Herzegovina. Čvrsnica boasts many summits above 2000 m.a.s.l. and several plateaus. Its unique beauty attracts mountaineers from the whole region. Depending on your enthusiasm and fitness level you could go all the way to the famous Rebel’s Gate (2000 masl – 6 hr), to Tise (1380 masl – 3,5 hr) or, like me, you could just go to the Žlijeb viewpoint at 1090 masl (2 hr). The view, as well as the hike are rewarding wherever you decide to go.
Diva Grabovica Valley
The hiking journey starts at Diva Grabovica Valley, some 35 km north of Mostar. Just drive the main M-17 road until you reach the turnoff point for HE Grabovica (hydroelectric power plant) where you cross the Neretva River. There is another 5 km to drive on macadam road until you reach the starting point with an information board at 250 masl. From there it is an 1.5 hr – 2 hr hike (quite seriously uphill though), but the journey is pleasant as you go through a beautiful beech and pine forest.
Flora and fauna
Being that the area is a natural boundary between the Mediterranean and continental climates you will find a very interesting mix of flora here. It abounds in the beautiful endemic Bosnian pine, dwarf pines, beech and hornbeam trees, and plateaus are filled with grass and juniper. Before the war the area was teaming with wildlife and throughout history hunting lodges were built here for famous kings and rulers including Tito. It used to be full of mouflon, chamois, bears and wolves. Unfortunately, the war destroyed much of wildlife. It is no longer a hunting zone and these animals are few and far between.
There are two water sources on the way to Žlijeb house and you should stock up, specially if you plan to spend the night there (which I really liked). There is no running water or electricity in the hut so plan accordingly. You should bring your own food, coffee as well as some candles, lighters and matches and I would advise some rakija as well. You will thank me at the magnificent viewpoint which is only 5 min from the hut.
Žlijeb mountain hut
To me Žlijeb hut feels like a ruggedly romantic little place where you can come with friends and spend the night around the fire telling stories or playing (listening to) music. It is a basic, but fully functional mountain hut that can fit 3 or 4 people downstairs and 5 people upstairs though you can stretch this a bit if you’re coming with friends. There is an inside and outside fireplace and an outdoor shower filled with rainwater. Bring sleeping bags and flash lights.
Only a few minutes away from the hut you will reach a viewpoint providing you with some stunning views of rocks and cliffs of Čvrsnica Mountain. There is a wooden bench just perfectly positioned for a grand view of the area. This is a place to bring out rakija :).
If you are not in a rush you could spend the night here and continue towards Tise or Rebel’s Gate in the morning or simply come back down the next day and chill in Mostar, Boračko or Blidinje Lake. Neither of these places are far away and you can check all the details on how to get there and what to see and do in my Boračko and Blidinje travel guides. Rebel’s Gate in itself is one of the highlights of BiH and of Via Dinarica (Stage 30: BH-W-05) and should not be missed, but unless you are a very experienced hiker I would recommend coming with a guide. For me, Tise and Rebel’s Gate adventure will wait for another time, hopefully soon.