Where beautiful adventure begins
In one of the most remote areas of the Via Dinarica White Trail in Bosnia and Herzegovina, at over 1, 000 m.a.s.l. lies a Hobbiton-like, tiny village of Jelašca – a starting point for a great adventure.
Zelengora Mountain and its five ‘mountain eyes’
The whole mountain hike which includes three summits and five lakes over Zelengora and Lelija Mountains is only for the really fit and adventourus hikers. It would take you 14 hours to hike over 37 km of pretty challenging terrain (stage BH-W-11). The trail connects Zelengora and Maglić Mt. within Sutjeska National Park and continues further towards Durmitor NP in Montenegro. This trail over stunning Zelengora Mt. will take you to 5 out of 8 crystal clear lakes, known as ‘mountain eyes’: Štirinsko, Jugovo, Orlovačko, Gornje and Donje Bare Lake. The last of them (Donje Bare Lake) is famous as a place to spot a bear.
Thanks to the support of Via Dinarica, the Lalović family, Milica and Dragoslav Lalović and their 3 lovely children, decided to provide shelter and food to the avid hikers walking this path. Dragoslav, a creative and enthusiastic carpenter made a cozy mountain hut and 5 bungalows with his own hands and plans to make more.
The whole place is like an etno museum filled with knick knacks from their family heritage. You can entertain yourself for hours learning about history and the way of life of their ancestors and Dragoslav is more than happy to share some of the stories with his guests. They started construction in 2016. and at the moment they can host 30 people, but they plan to continue building.
Home made and organic food
Lalović B&B also provides their guests with delicious home grown organic food. They have their own cows, chickens and sheep that provide them with meat and dairy products and a green house for veggies. Milica tells me that they are dedicated to health and don’t spray the garden with any chemicals. She also tells me how much her guests enjoy taking part in the whole rural household experience and love to work with her. You can enjoy the full experience of a mountain rural lifestyle if you like.
Naturally, they also make their own rakija (delicious fruit brandy made in the Balkans) and Dragoslav enthusiastically shows me the entire process. Making rakija is done in five main stages: harvest, preparation for fermentation, fermentation, distillation and aging & storage. In the process of distillation he is heating the fermented fruit to separate the alcohol from the water and pulp. Alcohol rises into the coils or pipes leading from the top of the still, then travels to the condenser to cool and then condenses into liquid. The purest rakija is found in the heart of the batch. The first ¼ or ½ liter is very potent, and can be poisonous. Traditional stills can be made from copper or steel and vary in size, shape and materials, and these are just part of the many elements that can influence the batch of rakija.
Even though I just came for a day visit I feel sorry to leave without spending the night in one of the lovely bungalows, enjoying the full experience. For now I am happy to get a taste of this place, as well as some home made rakija. Finally, they generously fill my bags with their delicious dairy products and wish me farewell. I am certainly looking forward to coming back here for the full experience.
Google maps: Jelašca Village