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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Off the beaten track in Bosnia Herzegovina

Off the beaten track in Bosnia Herzegovina

Off the beaten track


An hour away from Sarajevo, up Bjelasnica mountain, is the village of Lukomir. Here you'll encounter a truly foreign, ancient way of life. Perched on a cliff overlooking a breathtaking Rakitnica Canyon, at an altitude of 1,500m this is the highest and most isolated village in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Although the altitude makes for harsh winters, the village's remoteness is its greatest asset - Lukomir was the only village in the region spared during the battles of the 1990s. Access to the village is impossible from the first snows in December until late April and sometimes even later, except by skis or on foot.

Here, life is lived much as it was in the Middle Ages. Although linked to the country's electricity grid a few years ago, the place is hugely quiet. There is no buzz from television sets or radios, or modern farm equipment. And there are few, if any cars. A handful of A-shaped houses are mostly made of stone with cherrywood and corrugated iron roofs. There are no chimneys in the Lukomir homes - the wood smoke circulates in the attic as a sealant, and to cure food. Its population is fewer than 100. Local women wear the hand-knitted costumes that have been worn for centuries. Villagers lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle of shepherding and organic farming.

None of this should put you off as this is one of the most beautiful spots in the whole of Europe. The hike to the village up Bjelasnica mountain (where some of the 1984 Olympics were staged) is simply stunning. From there, you can do some hiking along the ridge of the Rakitnica Canyon, which drops 800m below. Accommodation in Lukomir is either in huts designed for walkers, or with locals.

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