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Old 05-29-2013, 11:21 PM   #53
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Joined: Jul 2008
Location: London
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Bosnia part 1

We continued along the Adriatic Road until shortly before Zadar, where we branched west and started heading into the mountains

The change in climate was pretty rapid as we went from coastal weather into some reasonably steep mountain climbs and were greeted with this view looking back into Croatia. Notice all the gravel bits? It looks as though there is a lot of it as it criss crosses all over the place. If you took the time to plan and had the time to do it a lot of Croatia could possibly be ridden offroad, but in saying that I'm happy I chose the Adriatic Road in this case.

As we went higher and higher it got colder and colder, wetter and wetter, foggier and foggier which is bit of a shame because I'm sure there would have been some great valleys we missed out on.

We crossed the border just north of Knin sopping wet. It doesn't seem to be a border used by many tourists and the border guards were very nice and happy to see us.

We pressed on and meandered down from the high alpine forests into Bosansko Grahovo looking for a hotel. We entered the town expecting what you would normally find in a border town but instead found empty buildings, a gas station and a pub which the guy at the gas station said was also a hotel. It wasn't, but the girls behind the bar got a laugh out of me pretending to sleep and snore to get my message across. We punched hotel into the GPS and the closest one was in Drvar about 40k's away. It lead us to a nice hotel which cost 41 euro but no matter how wet we were there was no way we were paying that in Bosnia, it was way outside our budget so as we sat in the car park sopping wet wondering what to do a guy pulled up in his car. He was interested in the bike and using my sign language indicated the hotel was too expensive and we wanted something cheaper. It turns out he (Yole) is the president of the local motorbike club (MK Grizzly) and his mate (Milan) working in the hotel was the vice president. He showed us the club house and offered for us to sleep on his floor.

After we changed into warm dry clothes we went to a local Bosnian Restaurant that they recommended and then made our way to the hotel for a drink with Milan and swapped stories.

Along the road to Drvar we spotted these signs the night before - land mines. Right next to a main road for about a kilometre.

We followed 3 basic rules when travelling through Bosnia 1) never ever walk on the grass, unless its in a city/town and is obviously being used; 2) only ever use tracks that look as though they have been used; and 3) never ever enter abandoned buildings, they may have unexploded ordnance (bombs, grenades, traps etc). We followed these basic rules and came out with both our legs. We'd heard some stories about some Austrians (I think) who had been out paragliding without first consulting the authories only to land in a mine field. One of them lost a leg and the others huddled around him until they were rescued.

There are a lot of abandoned buildings, complete abandoned villages even and it would be very tempting for someone looking for shelter from the rain or for photos but if the locals aren't doing it then why would we. The fog added an element of eeriness to the scene but of all the trip it was travelling through these parts of Bosnia and meeting the locals that has been my highlight so far.

It's estimated Bosnia will be cleaned of mines by 2019, so six more years. The difficulty with locating them as we're told is that they aren't limited to just borders as we now known them but are everywhere and also contain the absolute minimum (if any) amounts of metal making them difficult to detect. They were dropped indisciminantly without following any sort of international code. They can also be washed around in heavy rains so we didn't go swimming, not that it was warm enough anyway. We went in knowing the facts and having done the research and as I said we followed the three rules above ALWAYS.

Our plan was to reach Glomec from Bosansko Grahovo via Satorsko Lake which from my quick research used to be a popular hiking route and because of that the roads were well maintained and fast.

The puddles had a yellow ring around them which could be sulphur from a volcano, not sure if there were volcanoes around.

The lake. Behind it is a massive peak that I've seen on google but we weren't lucky with the weather.

Abandoned kiosk

The road to the lake was a deviation from the road to Glomec so we back tracked a little and continued on our way. The roads weren't as well maintained as the road to the Lake but still ok. Further on we came across more warning signs.

We gingerly carried on, not wanting the rear to kick out with a fully loaded bike and sending us spiralling onto the grass accidentally. The mine signs continued for about a kilometre so we took it extra careful, even avoiding the grass in the middle because vehicles wouldn't be driving there so we managed to hit every puddle along the way.

Eventually we came to this clearing which had what looked like an old bunker.

And by now we associated red and white with mines, and we were surrounded by it. Patty's face says it all.

There were fresh tracks on the grass though so someone had been here

But there was so much red and white, and even painted on the road.

The rule between us was that if either of us ever felt it could be too dangerous to continue we would turn back. In this case, the red and white was just too overwhelming so we did just that and used another route.

We stopped for the night in a motel just outside Livno and the guy who owned the welding shop downstairs let me store the bike in his garage.

View from our room (25 euro)

We later asked a local what all the red and white was about and he said the round circles meant hiking track and these signs said "lake" and "camping"

Slightly embarrassing we turned around because of a hiking trail but based on all available information we made the right decision at the time.

So far we have stuck to our budget, which is (for two people):

France - 75
Switzerland - 75
Italy- 75
Croatia - 40
Bosnia - 30

We've come to expect that a day in a hotel resting and catching up is equivalent to about a day spent on the road on fuel and food.

No glitches from the tiger yet whatsoever. The GPS died again and I now know it's because the tracking capacity only fills to 70% before it starts switching itself off in the mount.

Today we're going further south in Albania on some pretty twisty roads and should be in Macedonia by tomorrow afternoon. I'll continue the Bosnia report when next I have internet which I'm happy to say is more offroad without back tracking
Triumph Tiger 800 xc
Walkabout in Russia and Central Asia
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