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Chasing waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Aren’t waterfalls one of the most beautiful things to witness when spending time in nature? I truly believe so and really can’t get enough of them. In March 2022, I visited the underrated Balkan country Bosnia & Herzegovina to explore the breathtaking waterfall, Vodopad Blihe off-season.
With some extra days to spare, I decided to pack my itinerary with some more intense driving to also see Sarajevo. Two days after arriving Banja Luka, the northernmost airport of the country, I packed up early in the morning, walked to my rental car, and made my way south towards Sarajevo.
Starting the trip in Sarajevo
After almost 4 hours of driving, I arrived in Bosnia’s capital well and did some sightseeing. As a major city, Sarajevo had a variety of hotels for relatively cheap rates to offer. This makes it a good stop on the way to explore further locations around the area.
And that was exactly what I was planning to do. I wanted to desperately squeeze in Kravica Waterfalls, which are located about 175 km southwest of Sarajevo. To get some good rest, I went to dinner and ended up in bed before 10 PM.
The next thing I remember was waking up from my alarm at 06:30 AM. Whenever this happens on work days at home, I have a really hard time getting up.
Now? Not so much. I jumped out of bed, took a shower, grabbed my backpack (which I prepared the night before), and left the hotel without even thinking about breakfast (yes, skipping meals is a big thing for me!).
Despite all my excitement, I soon realized that it started snowing overnight. Knowing that this would prolong my travel time, I got a bit stressed out.
Don’t miss the city of Mostar
Although I was eager to get to the waterfalls as quickly as possible, I also wanted to make the drive bearable. After all, I did not book any accommodation at the waterfalls directly and had to return to my hotel in Sarajevo at the end of the day, which resulted in a total of about 6 hours of driving.
I decided to take a short break in the city of Mostar, which is directly located on the route from Sarajevo to Kravice Waterfalls. Definitely the right decision! It was about 09:00 AM when I arrived Mostar. I followed the signs pointing me to the city center and immediately found on-street parking.
The parking wasn’t free, so I had to get a ticket from one of the close-by parking machines. I couldn’t quite figure out how to get the ticket at first. Luckily, two policemen walked down the street and detected my dilemma.
They came over to me and helped me to get the ticket without any word of English. I thought that this was a really nice gesture. They could have also just not helped me to try fining me later (thank you, guys!). Once I placed the ticket visibly on my car’s dashboard, I walked toward the pedestrian area.
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Exploring the old city center
Walking from the car to what looked like the official pedestrian area only took me 1 minute! Although Mostar is technically a “city”, everything is really small-scaled and close to each other. The entire city reminded me of a museum.
Its structure, the narrow and old-looking cobblestone streets, the little markets that were just about to open. Such a nice atmosphere!
Before I knew it, I faced a slight incline that would lead up to a bridge overlooking the Neretva River. Once I reached the highest point of the bridge, I realized where I was! How could I have not realized this? Sometimes, I lose track of certain things during my research.
Especially during short trips, I often only briefly look up certain trips and distances because I know that I don’t have enough time for everything. At some point, I found pictures of this bridge while browsing through the internet and thought “Wow! What a cool and picturesque place”.
This must have been at a time when I didn’t plan to visit Sarajevo yet, so I dismissed this location. Only at the very moment, I set foot on it, I recalled that I was on this very bridge. In fact, calling “Stari Most” only “a bridge” is definitely an understatement, since it is officially listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Moving on towards the waterfalls
In no time, I was back at my car, grabbing my drone and DSLR, which I purposely left behind since I just wanted a quick stop to stretch my legs. Now, totally different story!
I made my way down to the water’s edge, took about one hundred pictures with my camera, and sent my drone right up to get me some other perspectives of the bridge. All in all, this stop took me about an hour and a half and was totally worth it.
On my way back to the car, I realized that there were now at least 5 times more people walking around the city center. “Good thing I got there early,” I thought as I got back into my car to head out to my final destination.
Easy to find and easy to explore
From Mostar, I only had to handle one more hour of driving. The GPS was set to the official parking structure of the waterfalls. At the time of my arrival (around noon), there was not a single car. My first thought was “what if it’s closed?”.
After all, it was off-season and there was a certain chance that, due to a lack of visitors, there may not even be a chance to get to the waterfalls. I parked the car, got out, ad saw that someone was sitting inside the ticket counter, which was located right at the side of the parking structure.
For only 4 Euros, I received my ticket, walked back to my rental car, and grabbed my photo equipment. Just a few meters passed the ticket counter, there was a barrier, a toilet building, and a large map illustrating the possible hiking paths around the area.
Although none of the descriptions were displayed in English, it was pretty self-explanatory.
Descending into the valley of the waterfalls
I followed down the stairs to my right and could already hear a distant sound of dropping water. I got excited, accelerated my speed, and dismissed the thought for a second that I had to walk all these stairs back up later.
Along the way down, there were several spots that gave me a nice view of the waterfalls. At least of the upper parts of them. Since I was the only person at this point, I didn’t feel rushed and took my time.
As I was moving further down the stairs, I also realized that the surroundings and temperature were completely different from when I woke up in Sarajevo. Although it was only March, the trees already turned green, birds were singing, and occasionally I was even warm without my thick winter jacket.
But most importantly: There was no snow anymore. Even including all 3 possible stops for photo-taking, the entire walk from the parking structure to the viewpoint of the waterfall only took about 5 minutes.
And the viewpoint was perfect! It was located right in front of the falls and gave me lots of room to play with different angles while shooting my pictures.
Enjoying every minute at Kravica Waterfalls
I spent an entire hour only at this spot. Half an hour for taking pictures and another 30 minutes just sitting down to take in the scenery. A little further down, there was an opening through which the water could be reached.
Unusual for a beautiful place like this, it is even allowed to swim in the water underneath the falls. Obviously not this time of the year. Not me. Not in the cold. But if you are up for it, go ahead anytime!
Other than a campground at the very end of the path, there was not much more to see down there. I walked around for another hour and made my way back to the car. During March, days are still pretty short and I didn’t want to drive in the dark.
I talked to my new friend inside the ticket booth for a few minutes, showed him some pictures, exchanged Instagram accounts, and was on my way back to Sarajevo. The drive felt really long and exhausting now.
As always, when returning from an exciting trip when there is nothing more to look forward to. I got back to my hotel at around 7:00 PM, had a huge (probably completely out of proportion) dinner, and went back to bed.
Unfortunately, the driving wasn’t over yet. My flight would depart from Banja Luka the next morning, allowing me only to sleep for 5 hours.
With the perfect images of a perfect day on my mind, I quickly drifted into a deep and very peaceful sleep while still not understanding why people don’t consider Balkan countries tourist destinations.
Ready to explore the southwest of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
For anybody that wants to specifically see Kravica Waterfalls, I highly recommend starting the trip from Sarajevo. First of all, the city itself is definitely worth a visit. Secondly, Sarajevo is the closest hub with the biggest selection of affordable hotels.
Especially when traveling on a budget, this will definitely give you the best selection. The city is doing a great job summarizing various topics of interest (things do to/see, accommodations, events) on its website, so make sure to check it out.
As a second source of information, you can visit the official website of Destination Sarajevo as well. If you are planning to arrive with a rental car, I highly recommend browsing for hotels on common websites, such as hotels.com or booking.com, and filtering for “free parking”.
Many hotels in Sarajevo are located on very small side streets with no parking anywhere close by. The last thing you want is having to expensively park your car 1 km away from your hotel.
In terms of driving, I also recommend splitting the trip into two days and finding accommodation close to Kravica Waterfalls. Since I spontaneously included this stop in my itinerary, I was very limited in time.
However, for somebody with an extra day or two, a night close to the falls sure makes sense. Cheap and nice options are Herceg Etno Selo Medugorje Hotel as well as the Hotel Bigeste. Both these places are only about 10 minutes of driving from the waterfalls.
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Author Bio: Thomas Später is an experienced backpacking traveler that specializes in adventurous trips around the globe. He has traveled to remote and exotic places, such as Namibia or Mongolia and focuses on landscape and wildlife photography to share the beauty of our planet with others. In 2021, Thomas published a (German) book about Overpopulation and overconsumption (Die Überbevölkerung). With his awareness of current global issues, he uses his travels to support particularly local hotels and restaurants to raise awareness for the nature and culture of his destinations.