Top Posts & Pages

Whitewater rafting & hiking to Trnovačko Lake in Bosnia

May 8, 2024 No Comments

One of my mottos for travelling is to go beyond the obvious. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes the obvious can be thrilling and absolutely worthwhile- like seeing the gorillas in Uganda or hiking Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala. However other times I just feel like people are ticking off a list of places they’ve seen on Instagram to get the exact same photos in the exact same places. 

Goodness, how boring. Surely there is more to see than the same old places?

That is what I aimed to do on my trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina. I tried to look beyond the obvious. Sure, Mostar and Sarajevo are quaint but they’re also crowded and expensive. I wanted to know- where do the locals go when they want a change of scenery?

That is how I stumbled upon whitewater rafting & hiking to Trnovačko Lake in Bosnia. The great news is that they are both accessible from the same area so off I went to a little town called Foča (pronounced For-cha). 

 How to get to Foča?

The easiest way to get to Foča is to hire a car. This is what I did and I do not regret it. The drive is an easy 1.5 hours from Sarajevo. You will be on a windy narrow mountain road for most of the route and there are police along the route monitoring speed. All roads are tarred and are suitable for all cars. 

However, if you don’t drive, it’s possible to get a bus from Sarajevo to Foča. You can check Flixbus for routes and prices. 

How much time do I need for these activities?

  • Rafting in Tara Canyon is a one day affair (from 09:45-17:00)
  • Hiking to Trnovačko Lake also requires a day (from 09:00) but the ending time does depend on how much time you spend at the lake and how fast you hike. The views are spectacular so I would not rush.

As a result, I recommend booking 3 nights accommodation in Foča. I cannot recommend where I stayed (did not like it) but there are plenty of options on booking.com.

Here’s a detailed guide to each day and activity:

Day 1: White Water Rafting in Tara Canyon

The Tara River offers something for everyone. In May and June, the rapids rage, providing a thrilling challenge for experienced rafters. Later in summer, the waters calm down, making it perfect for a family outing.

The day began with us making our way to the rafting camp. (If you stay in Foča, you can request to be picked up from your accommodation for an additional fee). The road-while not in the best condition- is fine for all vehicles.

Upon arrival, we were served breakfast and after we were given our attire for the day. Wetsuits, shoes, helmets and even a water resistant jacket were provided. Our party of 2 was allocated a clean cabin for the day where we stored our belongings and changed. The cabin has its own bathroom. 

Once we were all kitted up, we joined the rest of our party (there were 8 of us in total including the skipper) and climbed into a van with the raft secured on top. We drove for around an hour on some harrowing roads while the atmosphere in the raft got more and more festive as members in our party passed around a litre of rakija. I was slightly concerned watching this as a sober person but oh well- it’s the Balkans!

The rafting itself was pretty smooth and completely unlike what I had experienced in Uganda! The rafting journey began with stunning vistas. Lush greenery carpets the canyon walls, while crystal-clear turquoise waters carve their path through the dramatic landscape. As the team navigated the rapids, there were a few heart-pounding moments of exhilaration – but it was overall pretty tame!

The Tara Canyon rafting experience extends beyond the adrenaline rush. We kept an eye out for diverse wildlife, including birds of prey soaring overhead and otters frolicking in the water (sadly, did not spot any!)  Our tour included breaks for cliff jumping and waterfall hunting, allowing us to soak in the beauty of this canyon.

We were on the river for around 2.5 hours and eventually made our way back to the shore near the rafting camp (so there was no long drive back). After collecting our cabin key from the restaurant, we headed to our cabin to peel off our wetsuits and take a hot shower. 

Afterwards we were served a 3 course meal (our dietary preferences were asked when making the booking) and the skipper gave me his GoPro to transfer the videos. Our day ended around 17:00 when we headed back to our accommodation, exhausted and in need of a good night’s sleep.

What to wear when rafting in Tara Canyon?

Rafting companies provide all the necessary equipment,  including life jackets, helmets, and paddles.  Just bring your swimsuit, a towel, some good spirits, and a sense of adventure!

Day 2: Hiking to Trnovačko Lake

I started the day with a fabulous hot chocolate and breakfast sandwich at Mozart Cafe in Foca and then we met our guide who fetched us with this vehicle. 

This was necessary as the road to the hiking starting point consists of an hour long drive on terrible roads and we did not have a 4WD vehicle. As we drove, he collected our lunch from a restaurant on the way and told us about the history of the area.

At the start of the trail, we put on our raincoats and traversed through the fog  as our route started from the Prijevor saddle. This path is a moderate 1.5-hour hike, with a well-maintained trail that winds through scenic mountains. The incline is gradual, making it suitable for hikers of most fitness levels.

As you hike to the lake, the beauty of Sutjeska National Park surrounds you every step of the way. Lush forests, teeming with life, while you’re enveloped by majestic mountains on all sides. 

Once you reach Trnovačko Lake, prepare to be stunned. The crystal-clear water reflects the surrounding peaks, and the heart shape is most visible from a slightly higher vantage point. I took a moment to soak it all in, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and savoured the sense of accomplishment.

Note: Although you start the hike in Bosnia, the lake itself is actually part of Montenegro. If you go with a guide, he serves as your guarantor and you will not need to produce ID. However I have read reports that if you go unaccompanied, the guardian of the lake will ask for ID and there might be a fee to pay. 

We enjoyed our lunch and took a billion photos at the lake while walking around it. Soon enough it was time to start the return journey back to our vehicle. It felt weird to know we had walked into another country just for a few hours!

As the sun started to set, we made our way back to Foča satisfied and fulfilled. We spotted a wild boar and fox as we drove alongside the Perucica primaeval forest. On the drive I reflected on how hiking to Trnovačko Lake was an adventure I would not soon forget. The stunning scenery, the challenge of the hike, and the reward of seeing this natural wonder definitely left a lasting impression on me.

What to wear when for hiking to Trnovačko Lake:

  • Wear comfortable shoes with good grip, as the path can be slightly slippery in certain areas.
  • The weather can change in an instant. We experienced rain, sunshine and icy wind in the space of a few hours. Pack accordingly. 
  • Bring a water bottle- there’s a few places you can refill with pure clean water. 

Costs:

Rafting in Tara Canyon: €70 per person (€10 was for the gopro footage I took from our skipper)

Hiking to Trnovačko Lake with private guide: €71 per person (includes all entry fees) 

We paid full price for these activities which were organised by Active Holidays Bosnia. They are prompt, efficient and great with taking care of details. I would highly recommend using their services!

LASTLY,

Go beyond Mostar and Sarajevo; travelling in Bosnia is an unforgettable journey into a place of raw beauty and exhilarating adventure.  So, pack your bags, grab a paddle, lace up your boots and get ready to explore!

If you liked this post, and are travelling around the Balkans, you may also be interested in my other content from the region:

A Detailed Guide to visiting Peja (Kosovo)

Tips for Visiting the Tetovo Painted Mosque (Macedonia)

Hiking to Duf Waterfall (Macedonia)

Visiting Golubac Fortress and Veliki Buk Waterfall (Serbia)

A Guide for visiting Subotica (Serbia)

Spending a weekend in Uvac Canyon (Serbia)

If you enjoyed this detailed guide to whitewater rafting & hiking to Trnovačko Lake in Bosnia, please pin it using the pins below:

Have you considered whitewater rafting & hiking to Trnovačko Lake in Bosnia? Or has this detailed guide just put these activities on your list? Let me know in the comments below!

expatpanda

All posts

No Comments

Let's converse with a comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog Stats

  • 509,581 visits

Follow with Wordpress

Follow Expat Panda on WordPress.com

Instagram

Delve into the archives!

Goodreads

×