I just had to get out. After two years, the pandemic really frustrated me and I was desperate to explore another country. Until then, I’ve already been through many places.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was obvious. But why did I choose this country? What is unique about it? I want to take you on a little trip to a very special place in the remote and remote northern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A trip I made just to take one photo.
SEARCH VODOPAD BLIHE
Although most people associate Bosnia and Herzegovina with poverty and pollution (which is true), this beautiful Balkan country really has a lot to offer.
This way you can easily find delicious food, pleasant conversations with friendly locals and exciting history. In addition, Bosnia is relatively cheap, making it a perfect destination for a budget holiday.
However, I was most fascinated by a certain landmark. A place in nature that looked so beautiful in the pictures that I had to go there in person: Vodopad Blihe (locals call Blihe Skoki).
This waterfall drops about 56 meters (183 feet) and is located in a hidden valley near the northwestern border of Croatia. After discovering this natural beauty during my online research, both my flight and rental car were booked in no time.
Just three days later, in early March 2022, my journey began in a small town called Banja Luka, about 3 hours north of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. For the first hour I found myself heading west on the M4 to a town called Prijedor. In short, you could say that there wasn’t much to see on the whole trip.
However, if you like photography and love old abandoned buildings like me, this is heaven. Every town I passed had dozens of abandoned buildings and war ruins.
They were all readily available and right in front of me. No detour needed. Parking for a few minutes was enough to take beautiful pictures.
A cold cloudy winter day added to the already depressing feeling of those places as I passed through them. Again, as on many of my previous trips, I wondered how people could possibly live here.
Time seemed to have stopped a long time ago. No people on the street, no restaurants, no entertainment. Just lots of trash and the occasional stray dog crossing the road.
From Prijedor I continued on the R405 southwest to Donji Kamengrad and then to Fajtovc. The GPS was set to a waterfall (“Vodopad Blihe”) and was getting me nowhere.
TURN BLIHE TO VODOPADI
When I turned around and walked back for a few minutes, I saw a bright yellow “Vodopad Blihe” sign on the side of the road. Looks like he just ignored it. “Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to stick to the road more than the GPS,” I thought.
After following the designated road for another 2 minutes, I came to a small wooden information point, a playground and a tent that serves as a restaurant (by the way, the GPS was set to “Bistro Vodopad Blihe” instead of just Vodopad Blihe” would have brought me here correctly). Apparently everything was closed and no one was visible.
Like the last 30 minutes of my trip, it was exactly what I was hoping for. Personally, I see a strong correlation between off-season travel and the level of happiness I get from my experiences in nature.
The less people, the happier I am. Not just for my photography, but in general. I feel mentally energized when I am alone in nature as much as possible.
And at that moment I was the only person in the entire nature reserve. I decided to park the car next to the tree under the playground and started walking downhill in what seemed like the right direction.
It was cold and it started to rain/snow when I took my first steps on the wooden path. I had to be very careful because the slippery ground didn’t make it easy to advance without risking falling. After a few minutes the wooden steps turn into a real walkway and then back into a wooden path that leads to a small refuge.
I used this still to make the tripod, drone and camera lenses. According to the GPS, I was right in front of the waterfall, but I couldn’t see it. At this point I couldn’t even hear it through the wind and rain.
When I felt sufficiently prepared, I continued walking for another 30 seconds and suddenly saw a waterfall just around a small right turn. It was majestic and beautiful and overwhelming.
Much bigger than it looked in any of the photos I found online and much more impressive than I could have ever imagined. At the end of the wooden path, I reached a small platform that served as a lookout point.
CALCULATION OF VODOPAD BLIHE
It was open at the front so people could walk as close to the waterfall as possible. Easier said that done. The force of the water falling into the pond in front of me created so much wind and water mist that it was difficult for me to get very close. The muddy and slippery terrain added to the difficult work.
Before I could even think about which lens and camera angle to choose, all of my gear, myself included, was completely soaked. At that moment I was very depressed.
I wanted a photo. I knew exactly how I wanted it to be, but I didn’t know how to work in this difficult environment.
It seemed nearly impossible to position the tripod far enough from the waterfall so that the mist wouldn’t wet the camera, but close enough to safely reach the desired position on the camera’s 10-second timer. All this without hurting me sipping wet rocks while I run.
Just as I was about to give up and walk away with “just” a few pictures of the waterfall, the wind in the valley changed to push against the mist coming from the waterfall. This was my time window. I put everything back in seconds and was able to seize the opportunity.
After checking the image quality, I gathered my things and stepped back a few steps to sit in the small shelter I’d passed earlier. I only sat for about an hour.
Sure, it was cold and wet, but that’s always what I love the most. After all the effort of finding places, preparing and taking photos, after all the stress, what I love most is sitting and enjoying nature. ‘
No cell phone, no camera, no drone. Just nature and me. After about an hour it started to get dark in the valley, so I got up slowly, walked up the wooden path and walked back to Banja Luka.
If you love nature and landscape, this country definitely deserves a place on your bucket list. Especially since Bosnia and Herzegovina is not (yet) very developed for tourism, there are plenty of opportunities to experience untouched landscapes without hundreds of other visitors.
If you’re willing to brave a colder environment and walk that extra mile, you stand an even greater chance of true insulation in the off-season. No matter where exactly you end up in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you should definitely make Vodopad Blihe a must visit.