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Mostarska Bijela – Glacier Teardrops dissolved into Canyon and created a true Nature Wonder – One of the best hiking trails near Mostar

[At the bottom of Mostarska Bijela river canyon, looking up it’s magnificent wall, some reaching more than 25m high. The upper canyon is around 80 m long, while the lower canyon in more than 1200 m long.]
Mostarska Bijela is one of the most amazing hiking trails near Mostar
Explore the cave-alike 80 meters long canyon and amazing waterfall inside
It is great experience when traveling between Sarajevo and Mostar
The best time to explore Mostarska Bijela is later spring or early autumn
The tour is a cca 15km long, with very low altitude gain (around 300m) and is adjusted to any fitness level

Twenty kilometres north from Mostar by M-17 Road to Sarajevo, at the left side of Salakovac Lake, where Mostarska Bijela (eng. Mostar’s White) river enters Salakovac lake, is the starting point of the spectacular 3-hour hiking trail to Mostarska Bijela River canyon.

Located at the bottom of glorious Prenj Mountain, Mostarska Bijela is the typical torrent flow. 

Being at its water level peaks during the spring and early summer, the canyon is quite but not completely inaccessible. While for the rest of the year, when most of the river bed is dry, the Mostarska Bijela is offering an amazing opportunity to walk the trails of perfectly untouched nature, and explore the most amazing part of this natural wonder, the 80m long cave-like canyon of Bijela River with an amazing waterfall at the very end of the canyon.

[Alem overlooking the stunning Bijela river waterfall. It is approximately 10m high and no further progress can be made beyond this point just by walking. To access the upper flow of the Bijela river one must use alpine equipment, with experienced guide.]
[The water temperature inside the cave is approximately 8 degrees Celsius and is quite chilly. During the periods of high waters, it is recommended to have extra pair of shoes in aim to explore the cave properly without being worried to be wet all the way during the hike.]

Glaciologically, this valley starts at the western slopes of the glorious Prenj Mountain, where during the ice age, huge glacier was formed. Thousands of years later during the glacial movements and melting processes, where the starting point of the glacier was at around 1500m above the sea level, huge amounts of water were falling 1000m lower, and simply forming this amazing and wild valley.

The valley of Mostarska Bijela is around 6 km long, where in the upper flow there is a narrow, somewhere less than a meter wide, 1200m long canyon, of unimaginable beauty. 

[The valley of Bijela river is approximately 6km long. In the upper river flow there is 1200m long canyon, and being less than a meter wide, it is totally unaccessible without proper equipment and experienced guide.]

During the spring and summer months, the river flows through waterfalls, cascades and in places abysses of unimaginable beauty where only few people have ever stepped in. To pass the whole canyon itself, you need to have alpine climbing experience and a good set of equipment, along with a great guide.

The beginning of the trail where Mostarska bijela enters Neretva river accumulation called Salakovac, is locally called Pećina (eng. Cave). That is where we leave our car and start our one way, roughly 2.5 to 3h long hike.

The trail takes us slightly higher, and we are passing by few concrete barrages created during the Yugoslavian days, to prevent major flooding and overaccumulation of the dirt and stone at the delta of Mostarska Bijela, entering Salakovac lake.

[These concrete barrages have been created during the Yugoslavian days, to prevent major flooding and overaccumulation of the dirt and stone usually carried down by the Bijela river during the spring days, when large amounts of snow are being melted at Prenj mountain.]

Later on, the trail is taking us through the wider region of Mostarska Bijela canyon. Depending on the season and river height, passing through this region requires us to jump over and cross the river several times. Attempting to cross the river at certain points without getting wet is completely an adventure of its own. Therefore, always keep in mind that regardless of the time of the year you plan to visit this stunning region, not getting wet will be quite an adventure.

During the 1990s Bosnian War, this trail was used to connect besieged Mostar and Jablanica town. It was a two day hike across the Prenj mountain, where thousands of people sought salvation from war and hunger. 

[Three hour hiking trail via Mostarska Bijela river valley goes through karst terrain, where it is easy to loose the marked trail, but if you follow the river flow, even at times during the year being almost totally dry, you can not get lost.]
[Hiking trail is well marked, making sure that you are always or the right track. The total length of circular tour through the Mostarska Bijela valley is around 15km and is accessible for anyone of normal or medium fitness. When hiking in the summer time, it is recommended to have enough water for 3 hour hike as later you can refill at Mostarska Bijela spring.]

The last third of the trail is easy ascent through beautifully dense hornbeam and beech forest. The forest hides a lot of amazing rock formations, small side streams, animal wildlife, and few tree trunks so burned out and cut in half by the lightning, where you stop by and admire the sheer power of nature. 

Passing by the ruin of one mountain lodge and next to the old, horror movies alike, 1920s cemetery of the natives Lojpur family, we reach another amazing set of rock formations called “Kravlje pećine” (eng. Cow caves). 

The rock formation is an amazing place for shelter, which can host hundreds of people if needed. It is some 100m long limestone rock, looking like the giant frozen wave, where at its side-bottom are thousands of years old, beautiful, sometimes several meter high stalactite and stalagmite formations.

[So called “Kravlje Pećine” (eng. Cow caves), are natural phenomenon of created by millennial long rainwater eroding the limestone and creating the formation that looks alike frozen wave. Being nearly 100m long, it is perfect shelter in case of rain or other bad weather conditions. Stalactite formations at the very bottom of the wave shape are exceptional.]
[Lojpur family graves. The graves of ancestors of the Lojpur family who lived in this region are located just on the right side of the trail. Graves date to 1920ies.]

As soon as we leave caves behind, the canyon and the forest opens up and we reach our star of the day, the beginning of the 80m long cave-canyon of Bijela river.

[The entrance to the cave is easily accessible and not hard to find. Just follow the water stream and you are there.]

The cave is extremely narrow, at places being 1 metre wide and over 20 metre high, with Bijela river passing through. It is recommended if the water levels are high during the spring and post heavy rain periods, to have an extra pair of shoes or flip-flops to wear, in order not to get your hiking boots wet. Cave is cold and the water temperature is around 6-8 Celsius.

Cave being 80m long, is a 15-20 minute walk through the ice cold, crystal clear, drinkable water flow. Perfectly polished, non slippery rocks are quite easy to walk, and if you are an expert jumper, you can even avoid wet feet too. (But where is the fun then? Get wet and enjoy this amazing nature creation as much as you can!) 

[Inside the 80 meters long cave water is usually shallow and the whole canyon is accessible during the most of the year. For comfortable cave explorations it is recommended to carry flashlight and spare water shoes. Going inside you will probably get wet, so avoid having wet shoes for the rest of the day.]

At the very end of the cave is a kind of, “heavens open” above us, 10m high waterfall. The water comes from higher parts of Prenj mountain and via these karst crafted holes, canyons and passages, eventually ending in the beautiful Neretva river. Upper flow of the river is not accessible beyond the point of the waterfall. At the very bottom the waterfall is river spring too.

[The biggest attraction of the day is 10m high waterfall at the very end of the cave. Spending several tens of minute to an hour inside the cave is recommended, while taking amazing photos and enjoying the beauty of this amazing place.]

Spending 30min to an hour inside the cave is recommended and stunning photos can be taken.

After an amazing time in the cave, reluctantly we decided, it is time to go back. After having a well deserved lunch by the Bijela creek just outside the cave, we took a 2.30 hours hike back.

[After amazing time in the cave it is time to go back. Another 2.30 hours of easy return through amazing Bijela creek, jumping over the rocks is truly an amazing experience.]

Roughly half-way back, there is a left turn towards one of the most amazing peaks of Prenj mountain, called Lupoglav. During the summer time long days, roughly 8 hours hike can take you from our starting point at 70m asl to Lupoglav at 2012m asl. Amazing experience for fit travellers.

During the walk animal wildlife is so easy to spot. We had an amazing chance to meet up with viper snakes (Vipera ammodytes) and several types of differently sized frogs and lizards. The region is known to be home for chamois, wild horses and eagles, with stunning biodiversity of herbs and trees.

[Meeting Mediterranean toad (most probably Bufo bufo spinosus) is one of the most amazing moments of the whole hiking trip.]
[The karst, dry and hot regions of Herzegovina are rich with Viper snakes. The valley of Mostarska Bijela river is no exception to this. When hiking these trails, make sure to have good-above-ankle hiking boots and wear long trousers.]
Video by Funky Tours Magazine covering the hiking trip through Mostarska Bijela canyon

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