The morning starts of nice and sunny again. I have another look at my luggage rack. The bolt I found in the cook’s shed is way too long and would end up penetrating about halfway through the exhaust pipe. Fortunately, while contemplating options, I take a look at the other side. The exhaust is routed slightly differently on that side, so there’s plenty of room there. A simple swap over of the bolts solves the problem nicely. But this time I give the bolts a good extra dollop of loctite, just to be sure.
So after the rainy weather we suffered a week ago, this time we are really looking forward some sunshine up at Orlovačko Jezero. It is not that long of a ride , so we’ll have plenty of time en route to visit the Sutjeska National Park and the war memorial. We take our time to enjoy another lovely breakfast and it is past 10AM when we finally hit the road.
Because the road from the camp site ends up in the middle of the no man’s land between the Montenegrin and Bosnian border posts, we first have to make a U-turn through the Montenegrin post, before crossing the bridge towards BIH. I’m not sure if it would actually cause a problem if you didn’t, but we’ve got plenty of time.
We have a quick stop in Foča for fuel, food and beer. The fuel station attendant is a very talkative guy. He keeps asking away about our travels, our bikes, where we are from and where we are going. When I walk inside with him to pay, he starts to enthusiastically tell a story about a movie with Monica Bellucci being shot up at Orlovačko and him being in it as an extra. The girl behind the counter makes fun of him thinking he still has a chance with Monica.
Our next stop is at Sutjeska NP. According to the travel guide Sofie is carrying there’s a primeval forest, a view on mount Maglić and the Skakavac waterfall to enjoy. We need to take a small side road to get there. Halfway up to the parking area there’s a little cabin where you pay for access. The rest of the way is a pretty good gravel road to the parking area. We leave the bikes and follow the foot path through the forest towards the viewpoint on the waterfall. It is only a short walk, right on the top of a rocky ridge line with steep drops covered in trees on both sides.
The Skakavac waterfall with its 70m is supposedly the highest in BIH (see, you do learn something from those travel guides). From this far it doesn’t look very impressive though.
But, the rest of the views are pretty nice.
There’s also a small war memorial a bit further along another path from the parking area. Not quite as impressive as what we are expecting to see at the Sutjeska memorial for WW2, but still worth the short walk.
The WW2 memorial is only a 10 minute ride away. There’s no one around so we just ride the bikes to the bottom of the steps up to the memorial itself.
While I am walking back from taking this picture I start talking to some tourists that had just arrived. It turns out to be a family with Bosnian-Serb roots who have been living in the US for a number of years. They are spending their holiday with family in Foča and want to teach their kids (a couple of all-american teensters) something about their heritage. Dad is clearly very proud of it and explains about the site and its history. He also shares some of his personal history. Apparently with the rising tensions before the civil war, he decided to move to Germany and later to the US where he still works as a trucker.
I offer to take a picture of the entire family and they return the favor.
After they have left we hang around to enjoy the quiet and the atmosphere of the place.
We eat our lunch in the shade of a tree surrounded by the swaying grass.
So, after a long lunch and some further chilling in the sun we spot more and more clouds moving in and the wind is picking up as well. Time to get going again.
For a while we follow the main road in the direction of Mostar, until we reach the turnoff towards Kalinovik. The tarmac soon makes way for gravel again. We climb up out of the forested area and are treated to some more amazing mountain vistas.
The road continues to climb and its quality deteriorates a bit. But the views certainly don’t. We end up on sort of a high plateau that looks completely deserted, safe by some wild horses. There’s a strong side wind, which makes the riding a bit more challenging. We pass a number of lovely looking lakes, but the potential spots to set up camp are very exposed to the wind.
So we press on to Orlovačko Jezero. We need to look a bit for the correct track down towards the lake itself. But when we get there it has everything you’d want from a wild camp spot: Idyllic, desolate, rough and an oasis of tranquility.
We find a spot that was used by other campers in the previous days and decide it is a good location to set up our own tent as well. Both the tent and the tarp are pitched and we make use of the steady wind to dry some of our laundry.
There’s even a fridge to cool our beer:
Very important, because it is almost beer o’clock again.
Over dinner we’re attacked by a swarm of flies, but when the sun starts to disappear behind the mountains, so do the flies.
Which is also our cue to hit the sack.