The next morning starts of again with the sun out in full force. Now we could go and do what every other tourist does who passes through this region and go visit the Plitviče lakes. But we did that last year. It was pretty impressive… if you can deal with the bus loads of tourists constantly waving their smart phones and tablets around to photograph every inch of themselves with a slither of lake or waterfall in the background. No, we have better things to do this year. There are far more interesting sights around here that hardly anyone cares or even knows about, like the Željava airbase. We have been looking forward to go there ever since we found out how to get there at the Montenegro HUBB meeting last year.
Again it is not even 8AM when we leave the camp site. And before we know it we’re riding on some overgrown tarmac roads that used to be part of the air base. It doesn’t take long before we come upon the first run down buildings.
Supposedly the terrain isn’t yet completely cleared of mines, so we don’t take any chances and stick to the tarmacked areas. It is impressive though to see how nature takes over again not long after humans have left.
There’s even still a few planes around.
We take our time exploring the place and finally end up on what looks like one of the 3 landing strips. It is already pretty overgrown by now.
And then it is on to the border. The border post here is pretty big and busy, but everything is well organized and efficient. After a quick check of our ID cards, the motorcycle paperwork and our insurance papers we’re back into Bosnia.
Riding into Bihać we stop to fill up on fuel and stock up on provisions and some Snickers bars (breakfast of champions ). Contrary to Slovenia and Croatia, where the Euro is the official currency, Bosnia is still on the Mark. So before setting off again, we get some cash from an ATM in the city center.
We choose the smaller roads to get out of Bihać, aiming to join the main road between Bosanska Krupa and Bosanska Petrovac somewhere along the way. The region was heavily mined during the civil war and many places have not been completely cleared yet.
The road to Petrovac is a proper gravel highway. Wide and fast, but also potholed and rather busy with trucks. Due to the warm and dry weather of the last few weeks it is also very dusty.
After Petrovac we continue further south for a while along a tarmacked road until a little before Drvar, where we again choose a smaller road that leads into the mountains. Roughly in the direction of Jajce. It turns into a winding gravel road through dense forest area. Fun to ride, but besides trees there’s not a lot to see so we didn’t take a lot of pictures. We do have to squeeze around some tractors and trucks hauling lumber though. On the wider sections we need to keep concentrated though, as the trucks are really thundering down the mountain like they own the road, kicking up big clouds of dust in their wake.
We pass through Jajce halfway the afternoon, but there’s a nice quiet, cheap and well equipped camp site so we decide to call it a day.
About an hour later the recognizable sound of a boxer engine announces a big GS arriving. The bike is well loaded and blinged out with a full alu pannier set and a pair of spare tyres tied on top.
The rider is Roberto, a Brazilian that has been living in Portugal for a number of years. He decided one day to ride his bike to Iceland… the long way around via Turkey… without any fixed plans or the annoying overhead of using maps. I like his style.
We spend the evening together sharing beers and a meal and comparing notes, tips and pictures. Roberto has a drone along which he uses to make some impressive clips.