It was our first mountain climbing experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it will by no means be our last. We have to say right away that we are excited about the indigenous wealth that we discovered in the surroundings of Mostar. This romantic old city’s diversity, culture, and good people delighted us. You can read more about it in our review of Camping Neretva.

Čabulja, the mountain whose highest peak we conquered, is just one of the many hidden gems waiting to be discovered. If you’re a nature lover and a hiker, a visit to Mostar and its surroundings is a must. The beauty you’ll encounter here is a rare find, a secret that’s been kept too well. Prepare to be inspired and captivated by the untamed beauty of this region.

Čabulja has several interesting peaks over 1,600 m: Krupna navala (1,619 m), Ošljar (1,682 m), Mala Vlajina (1,686 m), Medvjed (1,679 m), and its highest peak located on the northern side: Velika Vlajina (1,780 m). All the north peaks descend steeply towards the bottom of the Drežanka river canyon, whose cliffs take your breath away, and if viewed from the valley, they look majestic and impregnable. We heard that this part of Herzegovina is called the “Herzegovinian Colorado Canyon”. Only when we saw it did we understand why. The view from the top is truly something special.

Our journey began from Bogodol, a quaint spot just above the mountain lodge, nestled at an altitude of 846 meters. For those driving, the car can be safely parked a little lower, near the mountain lodge, along the road at the starting point. Look for the sign that points the way to Velika Vlajina. This starting point is easily accessible from Mostar, a scenic twenty-kilometer drive through the vilage of Goranci.

All in all, we walked for a little less than six hours, and you can download the GPX track on Strava.

The trail is marked as medium difficult, which is correct overall. However, we would call its first part (the first two hours) easy, and then there is a very steep ascent that can rightfully be labeled difficult. You can see how steep the climb to the top is from the elevation chart.

For the first few hundred meters, the hiking trail leads through rare maquis on a grassy rocky area to the beginning of an old-built footpath that first leads along the western slope of the Brinje canyon, then turns left to the northwest along Tanka Kosa, to the cut between the peaks of Vijarak and Veliko Razdolje. Through this notch, the ascent continues along a very well-trodden and marked hiking trail. The road continues along the southern slope of Kršna Bukva, constantly gaining a little altitude. When you get to the Kršna Bukva pass, you can see the top of Velika Vlajina for the first time.

The path follows the eastern slope of the Možani hill, bypassing the once-cultivated fields of Dolci all the way to its northern end, where the small Gonđuša puddle is or used to be. Apparently, there was drinking water there, but the puddle looked completely dry when we passed by.

After that, the path starts uphill through a tall beech forest called Cvitin Gvozd. There, you gain about 100 meters above sea level.

After that, an even steeper climb directly to the top on a path that winds just a little enough so you don’t have to get down on all fours when you ascend. After the pass that separates Velika Vlajina and Pjeskulja, the ascent continues with the same merciless ferocity towards the northwest all the way to the top of Velika Vlajina.

From the top view, the breath stops. The canyon of the Drežanka River is 1,500 meters deep and looks like it is going straight down from where you are standing. Also, from the top, you can clearly see other beauties waiting for your hiking boots: Čvrsnica, Prenj, and, of course, Velež.

As you look into the distance towards those peaks, you can’t help but decide that one day, anytime, but as soon as possible, you will also conquer those peaks and look with joy and pride at where you are standing now. But then, Velika Vlajina will be one of those distant stone peaks above which the blue sky is permeated by white clouds of freshness.

Don’t hesitate—if hiking is in your heart, Mostar is a city you must visit. You won’t regret it, we guarantee it.

Take a look at some more pictures, and you will certainly get an idea of what you are missing if you don’t come.

About the Author: Adrian

Author and writer of more than fifty books, teacher, lecturer, explorer of consciousness, avid windsurfer, and lover of outdoor activities. He’ll write mostly about windsurfing on fin and foil, spot reviews, and camping equipment.
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