Reading about Bosnia we saw that campsites were few and far between and that wild camping was potentially dangerous due to the risk of landmines. To date we had camped around 70% of the time across Europe and we weren’t too keen to change our plans (and budget) to encompass hotels or something similar.
After asking for stamps at the Bosnian border to avoid any issues when later crossing to Serbia (and to prove we reached it by bicycle), we began cycling under unforgiving 40 degree sunshine towards Medugorje (some gas stations reported temperatures as high as 48 degrees – surely broken). We had picked Medugorje for our first night as it had a campsite and seemed a little touristic due to being the location of a recent sighting of the Virgin Mary by local residents. Arriving in the town we found endless rows of religious “artefacts” for sale, a huge cathedral with outdoor seating for thousands with multi-lingual confessions under way and a campground filled with campervans and surfaced entirely in gravel. We gritted our teeth, camped near the fence with a glimpse of grass beyond and bought our cheapest beers to date (40 pence for a pint)… not all bad then.
Our second day we headed North towards the town of Mostar dreading the fact that it too might be filled with touristic stalls. The riding on the previous day had seen the landscape change only slightly from the rockiness of Croatia but travelling into Mostar we saw a return to rolling farmland and steep tree covered mountains. Mostar old town was a small jumble of old-style shops rebuilt after the town was heavily bombed in the early 1990s, including destruction of the bridge itself. The attraction here is to pay young men to dive into the river below, however all we saw was much posturing by potential divers and dousing themselves under a hose to give the impression they had recently dived. The Mostar bridge was the first of many Bosnian bridges we were to see and did impress with its sweeping curves across the river gorge. Emma located the Mostar Inn for lunch where we had our first (and still best) Bosnian Pie (Burek), while watching locals dash in and out for takeaways.
We cycled out of town in the late afternoon headed north towards Sarajevo along a wind filled gorge with many potential free camp spots, but none that quite hit the mark. After passing a town where our map indicated a campsite and finding nothing there, we asked for assistance (between swatting hordes of flies from our sweaty faces) and were directed to a fishing camp. Us on bicycles were a novelty to the campsite residents, as was drifting off to sleep in the tent listening to drunken fishermen through the night for us.
Day three in Bosnia we were up early (hoping to escape the flies of the previous day – they were up earlier though) and on the road. Stopping for coffee in Konjic we were surprised at the number of German soldiers around until we discovered that this town’s main bridge had been rebuilt with assistance from the German army with work being completed just last year.
After Konjic the road climbed steeply for 13km to a tunnel and beyond this was a welcoming spit roast restaurant where we stopped for a well deserved meal. Our afternoon ride was sedate until the outskirts of Sarajevo where it swiftly became a four lane motorway. Spotting a sign for a campsite we tried to follow it only to discover the road was closed due to a broken bridge. Luckily a passing horse and cart driver directed us to a foot bridge and our first proper campsite in Bosnia. Soft ground, hot showers and plenty of shade from trees.