Bosnia and Herzegovina – A day swimming with snakes in Kravice Falls and exploring the Ottoman town of Mostar

We had heard so much about this little gem of a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina we decided to take a side trip and visit for the day. We did have our own car but were advised to take a driver to guide through the mostly unposted roads. We were glad we did. Once we crossed the Croatian border it was evident we were “not in Kansas anymore”.

The roads were pot holed and most of the major road signs were covered in graffiti. I don’t know if the driver took us through a sort of short cut as we were driving on small country roads without any clue as to the direction we should turn.

The war may have ended over 20 years ago, but it’s still everywhere: in the bombed-out shells of buildings are still everywhere, abandoned villages overgrown. At the same time, those war remnants are mixed with beautiful countryside.

We had never heard of Kravice Falls until our guide started winding down the mountain and parked in a graveled clearing. He then explained to the kids to slide down the steep path as we toddled slipping and sliding down a well worn muddy track. A rumbling sound could be heard close by but we did not expect to see one of the most beautiful scenic waterfalls before us. Void of mass tourism this place was truly a pleasure. Kravice is a waterfall on the Trebižat River in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The waterfall was created by the Trebižat river with its tuff deposits, and has been declared a natural phenomenon which is under state protection. Tuff is typical for rivers rich in calcium carbonate. Grass, moss and lichen grow on the tuff deposits. It is forty kilometers south of Mostar. Its height is between 25 metres and the radius of the lake in the base of the waterfall is 120 metres.

There is a small cafe/restaurant serving delicious grilled meats, a wooden walkway leading you to the waterfall and a handful of people, mainly locals.

Walking to the Kravice Falls - Bosnia
Walking to the Kravice Falls – Bosnia

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The wooden path leading to the falls - Kravice
The wooden path leading to the falls – Kravice

The kids were quick to strip down to their swimming togs and take a dip. They tip toed to the edge of the river bank and dipped their toes in. It was freezing, on average the pools are around 10 degrees celsius. Thomas opted out but the other two dived in.

I didn’t think they’d last long especially when they realised there were water snakes having a swim with them also (harmless I was told).

Kravice waterfall - Bosnia
Kravice waterfall – Bosnia
Enjoying a cool off - Kravice waterfalls
Enjoying a cool off – Kravice waterfalls
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That’s as crowded as it get at Kravice – Bosnia
Did Allanah notice the snakes?
Did Allanah notice the snakes?

Luckily they didn’t even notice any snakes as I’m sure the echo of Allanah’s screams would of cleared every human being from the area. The freezing cold temperature of the water had them out and refreshed in fifteen minutes.

Enough time to enjoying our Bosnian meal, dry off and head back up the path and onto our destination of Mostar.

As we pulled up to Mostar we were handed over to our Bosnian tour guide. Tensions here still run high and it is law that only an official Bosnian tour guide can guide you through Mostar or any other tourist sight in this country. Mostar endured more bombings than any other Bosnian city, and its scars show. The city’s Red Cross building is still speckled with bullet holes, and just a few blocks past the borders of Old Town, there are cemeteries. The death dates on the gravestones are devastatingly consistent: 1993. 1993. 1993. 1993.

For nine months in 1993, Mostar was under siege, and its people were entirely cut off from electricity and access to food. It was the year that those cemeteries filled, and then overfilled, with young men. It was also the year that Stari Most, the elegant bridge that had connected the city over the Neretva River for 427 years, was destroyed.

The famous Stari Most- Old Bridge
The famous Stari Most- Old Bridge

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Originally built by the Turks in 1566, after it was it was rebuilt in 2004 as an exact replica. The bridge is 21m high and you will frequently see members of the Mostar Diving Club dive off the bridge.

The town has kept a truly Ottoman feel, We walked to the Koski Mehemed Pasha Mosque to take in the 360 degree view of the Neretva Valley from atop the mosque’s minaret.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Thomas taking in the view – Mostar / It is apparent that the war is still raw here…many casualties 
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Neretva River
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Buildings just outside the the Old town of Mostar still bullet ridden. – Bosnia

There are plenty of other sights around town — religious buildings, historic houses and the Herzegovina Museum. Speaking to our tour guide made us realise that even though they are trying to forget the past tensions continuously rear their ugly head. Bosnia and Herzegovina is now an independent state, but under international administration. Its three main ethnic groups are Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Croats and Serbs. The war left Bosnia’s infrastructure and economy in tatters. Around two million people – about half the population – were displaced. Around two million people – about half the population – were displaced. It is considered one of the most corruption-prone states in Europe, mainly on account of the legacy of deep ethnic and political divisions left by the 1992-1995 war.

As it was explained to us over 50% off mixed ethnic marriages ended in divorce due to the division left by the war. A bitter pill to swallow I think.

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