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Finnish tour operators and a travel blogger discover magic of tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina

 
A couple of tour operators and a travel blogger - journalist from Finland, visited Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) this week, and explored some of Via Dinarica trails, aiming to inform Finnish tourists about this destination, and prepare attractive programs for them. Via Dinarica corridor consists of the three main Trails – Green, Blue and White. The Green Trail follows the lower forest belt of the Dinaric Alps, and the Blue Trail goes across the coastal Dinarides with a magnificent view of the Adriatic Sea. The White Trail follows the highest limestone peaks of the Dinaric Alps, that are covered in snow most of the time. During their 5-day trip, a group from Finland had a chance to explore the Via Dinarica, an area that is yet to be discovered by many hikers and cyclists. On this adventure, they found a playground for active travelers on the Via Dinarica: exciting trails, amazing views, colorful wildflowers, and welcoming culture.

I think that (Via Dinarica) is unique. There is no such a thing anywhere else in the world, it’s fantastic. I think it’s something many people and countries would like to have, but they can’t. It’s the most amazing hiking trail in the world. It’s a place where not so many have been to, and that matters to Finns.  It’s a place that is a really well-kept (tourist) secret, and that is something that attracts us,” said Ms. Marinnella “Nella” Himari, a travel blogger and journalist from Finland. Ms. Himari writes stories about Via Dinarica in her travel blog and in the major outdoor magazines in Finland. She visited Bosnia and Herzegovina for the third time and she keeps returning: “I don’t know what is magical in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but there is something that not so many countries have, (…) and that’s why I am coming back all the time.”

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The Finnish tour operators and a blogger hiked in the great Dinaric Alps - undiscovered by tourists, and saw spectacular limestone peaks and caves. They experienced the wilderness of Sutjeska National Park, a stunning area located at the heart of the Dinaric Alps, and visited Perućica, one of Europe’s last remaining Primeval forests. The Finns visited Lukomir Highland Village on the Olympic mountain of Bjelašnica, cycled around the Blidinje glacier lake, walked over the old Ottoman Mostar Bridge, rafted the emerald waters of the Neretva river, and visited Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital Sarajevo. The Finnish tourism experts believe that cultural heritage, historic places, beautiful nature and affordable prices are the key things, which would attract Finnish tourist to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I’ve done a lot of tracks and hikes around the world, but I got very excited when I saw pictures and heard about Via Dinarica. It is definitely a world class hiking and tracking area,” said Mr. Mikka Ukkonen, representative of the Finish tour operator Mandala Travel. He plans to bring Finish tourists to Via Dinarica trails: “Our plan is to offer more tours in the Balkans, and we can easily offer active tourism with hiking tours around the major culture sites on Via Dinarica. I think the selling points would be pristine nature, unique warm culture, good food, very welcoming people, and no mass tourism, (…) so you have a feeling of exploration.”

 “I think there are a lot of different things to see (on Via Dinarica). We don’t have mountains in Finland, and in Bosnia and Herzegovina there are great mountain ranges, a lot of almost untouched nature to be seen, clear rivers, good fishing, rafting, canoeing, climbing, tracking and a lot of cultural and historic attractions throughout the country,” said Mr. Tatu Kullberg, representative of the Finish tour operator Aventura, and elaborated: “The Balkans is a still unknown (tourist) destination, but I think there is an interest for the Balkans, it’s becoming more and more popular destination.”

The tour for tour operators and a travel blogger - journalist from Finland was organized within the scope of the “Via Dinarica: A Platform for Sustainable Tourism Development and Local Economic Growth” Project, which aims at the development of potentials of the Dinaric Alps’ corridor and its promotion. It has been designed to reduce economic, social, and regional disparities in Bosnia and Herzegovina through promotion of Via Dinarica as a regional tourism attraction and to increase Bosnia and Herzegovina’s standing in the competitive nature-based tourism sphere. Via Dinarica Project aims to support the process of establishing the Via Dinarica corridor as a tourist product that provides sustainable livelihoods for a broad spectrum of stakeholders in local communities along the trail.

“The arrival of the Finnish tour operators is a step towards expanding the market of Via Dinarica as an international outdoor destination. Moreover, the FAM/Press trip is an opportunity to local tour agencies, with networks of other service providers in BiH, to connect with international tour operators and journalist to promote and sell the Via Dinarica. It is very encouraging that the initial feedback we received from the Finnish tour operators and a journalist is overly positive,” said Božena Kaltak, Via Dinarica project manager.

Via Dinarica is an initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme Country Office Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNDP BiH), and is implemented with the support of Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH, Ministry of Environment and Tourism of the Federation of BiH, and Ministry of Trade and Tourism of Republika Srpska.

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Finns discover magic of @Via_Dinarica tourism in BiH: http://bit.ly/2wctHXJ @USAIDBIH @UNDPBiH

 

HIKERS SUPPORT

Via Dinarica Support Center

VIA DINARICA portal 2

 

 

Call for the Via Dinarica Volunteering camp

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If you wish to experience real adventure, to enjoy the untouched nature of Dinaric Alps, and get to know some of the Via Dinarica trails in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we are inviting you to apply for the Via Dinarica camp.

Cleaning and maintaining the trail, sleeping in tents, camp fire, orienteering, and carthographie are some of the activities and skills you can acquire during this camp, from 21st april to 2nd may 2017 on some of the most beautiful locations of the Via Dinarica White trail. How do you feel about visiting Prenj, Čvrsnica, the area of the river Rakitnica and the National Park of Sutjeska?

Age is not that important, but you have to count on rather difficult terrains. However you have time for a training and preparation until April. Participants are required to have standard hiking equipement with them, and the other equipement and tools will be provided.

Accomodation and food are covered by the organizer but participants are responsible for their travel expenses. Participants will be accomodated in the mountain huts and shelters, households and tents (depending of the accomodation capacity at the specific location).

The deadline for the aplication is 15.02.2017., and the maximal number of participants is 50.

After the selection, the chosen candidates will be informed about the details concerning the camp. Selected candidates are required to pay a deposit, which will be refunded to them upon the arrival to the camp. The payment of the deposit is a guaranty that the chosen candidates will come and participate, so that the organizer wouldn't have excess costs due to cancellations of candidates.

If you are interested please send your CV and motivation letter to email address  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This is a great opportunity for all interested adventurers, outdoor enthusiasts, activists, volunteers and nature lovers. Spend your time in an useful and noble way!

For all informations contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 


 

Adopt a Trail Program

Adopt a Trail Program

Do you or your company consider yourselves to be socially responsible?  Are you looking for a tangible, effective and affordable way to give back to local communities in a sustainable manner that will make a lasting impact?

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The Via Dinarica is a mega-trail that extends through the entire Dinaric Alps from Slovenia to Albania. National Geographic has named it as one of the best new destinations in the world for 2017. We want to make sure that the Via Dinarica lives up to its name! If you or your company consider yourselves to be socially responsible and looking for a tangible, effective and affordable way to give back to local communities that will make a lasting impact, our program might be something for you. The Via Dinarica needs your help to sustain as one of the key locomotives to the development the Dinaric Alps region. In order to promote sustainability and support the local communities benefitting from the Via Dinarica, the trail needs to be maintained and prepared for every season to ensure safety and access to visitors and domestic hikers alike. This difficult work is usually conducted by selfless volunteers from various hiking clubs throughout the region. More often than not they have to supply their own tools and materials to keep the trails in good shape. We’re aiming to help them do their volunteer work even better.  

With the generous support of UNDP and USAID in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the EU, GIZ and local institutions in other countries, most of the hiking trails have been marked and signposts placed. However, maintenance of trail infrastructure remains an open issue in most places. 

Maintenance and preparation of the trails is a serious responsibility. Every spring the trails need to be cleared of branches and rocks, landslides or wash-off need fixing, and markings refreshed. Sometimes signposts are damaged by weather or animals and need replacing. Unfortunately, trees with trail markers are occasionally cut down by loggers. All these issues need to be fixed promptly.

Most hikers and tourists are not aware how much work stands behind properly maintained trails in popular hiking destinations. Most places have institutional support or mechanisms in place to ensure the safety and enjoyment of hikers. Our region struggles with resources to keep up this type of support…and that’s why we’ve developed this concept to create a sustainable support system that is beneficial to all.  

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So, how can you help?

You, as an individual or socially responsible company, can also take a part in maintaining the Via Dinarica trails and the Via Dinarica initiative by adopting a section of the trail. You can also adopt a shelter or support the work of the Via Dinarica support center.

How to adopt a trail?

Maintenance of the trail and accompanying infrastructure costs about 60 euros per kilometer per year. Simply pick a number of non-adopted kilometers of the trail to financially support Via Dinarica for a year, OR in order to adopt a section, just click the link  ADOPT A TRAIL from the selected Via Dinarica section.
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How do you know that trail will actually be maintained?

In order to guarantee accountability and reliability for your assistance we will send each sponsor a short report each year on the activities along your adopted section of the trail. Also, any registered individual on the trail.viadinarica.com site can rate and leave a comment and/or describe the current conditions at the trail. Inspected spots can be marked on the map and photos uploaded to the site. These reviews cannot be controlled by site administrators and are placed on the heading photo on each trail description as seen below:

ADOPTMOCKUP

The reviews are published automatically on the Via Dinarica site, but also on several other channels of the Outdooractive platform, the largest outdoor portal in Europe. When someone reports on a trail conditions, the Via Dinarica support centre is alerted by e-mail. Local volunteers will be informed to check on reported condition and provide feedback. The report will not be removed from the site, but followed by the response from the field. This ensures that the entire history of interventions will be always be visible on the site. It is a highly transparent and efficient system!

How would people know that you have adopted the trail and supported Via Dinarica?

Those who adopt a section of the trail will be listed on the supporters’ page and among the partners.

Those companies and individuals supporting maintenance of sections and stages enjoy following benefits:

1. On-site plaques (15x 20 cm) with the name and/or logo of the sponsor with desired inscriptions will be place on the trail on signposts or other location on at least each fourth kilometer along particular section.

2. The trail description includes remarks about and link to sponsors website (if applicable). In case the sponsor adopts an entire stage of the Via Dinarica trail, the author’s avatar can be replaced with the sponsors logo.

3. Number of photos from the trail are stamped by adopter’s logo and inscription supported by.

4. All sponsors are listed as partners and are included in the stories and blogs section to the particular section of the trail that you adopted.

How many people walk along this trails and who will actually see it? How about visits to viadinarica.com site?

Although many aspects of the project and the trail are still under development, the Via Dinarica popularity has been on the rise. During our first year in 2016 our content was displayed through our partners network, Outdooractive.com, more than 5,5 million times. Small print-out booklets and GPS tracks were downloaded over 5000 times.

The Via Dinarica has been listed among the top destinations in Europe and the world by several well-known publications. The Guardian included Via Dinarica tour among the 10 best holidays in Europe. Vogue recommends the Mountain Travel Sobek journey along the Via Dinarica as a top honeymoon trip, but also as the one of 9 destinations every woman should visit in 2017. Lonely Planet has regularly written about us and the German Geo lists Via Dinarica as a top trend destination. The most prestige recognition, however, was inclusion of Via Dinarica among the best travel destinations for 2017 by National Geographic Traveler. So our visibility and popularity continue to increase which makes it more important than ever to make sure we live up to the high quality expectations of international guests.

OK. All of this is nice, but why should you support it?

The Via Dinarica is more than just a trail. It is a one of a kind product that connects communities and pristine nature that represents the backbone of one the last European wilderness corridors.  It is a hope for a better tomorrow for the people living in rural communities all along Dinaric Alps and a positive experience for every hiker, tourist or adventurer undertaking this challenge and taking that message home with them. 

Here is the list of the Via Dinarica trail sections in Bosnia and Herzegovina available for "adoption": 


  Stage/ section Length Adopted/Supported by Maintained by
28 BHW03- Lib and Svinjar 22 km
PD OrlovaStina
29 BHW04- Vran mountain 20 km
PD OrlovaStina
30 BHW05-1 Čvrsnica: Vilinac 10 km
PD Plocno
30 BHW05-2 Čvrsnica: Plasa 18 km
PD Vilinac
31 BHW06-1 Prenj: Međuprenje 8 km
PD Prenj-Gl 1979
32 BHW06-2Prenj:Zakantar/Tisovica 10 km
PD Prenj-Gl 1979
32 BHW06-2a Lučine-Poljica 10 km
HPD Prenj
32 BHW06-3a Poljica-Vršine 8 km
HPD Prenj
34 BHW08-2:Blaca/Lukomir 13 km
PD Zeljeznicar
35 BHW09-1 Umoljani-Tušila 18 km
PD Zeljeznicar
35 BHW09-2 Tušila-Ljuta 12 km
PD Zeljeznicar
35 BHW09-1a Umoljani –B.Vode 12 km
PD Zeljeznicar
36 BHW10 around Treskavica 31 km
PD Lelija

 

For more information about adopt-a- trail program, please e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +387 62 393 393.

National Geographic Traveler: Via Dinarica amongst world's best destinations

Prestigious National Geographic Traveler included Via Dinarica Trail amongst world’s best destinations in 2017. Via Dinarica, mega-mountaineering and hiking trail, connecting natural and cultural sights in Dinarids, is recognized and acknowledged as a great chance and potential for development, especially for Bosnia and Herzegovina. This wonderful news was published late last night in National Geographic website. Complete article will be available in print magazines across the World in the end of this month in special edition National Geographic Traveler Best of the World.

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This way, including Via Dinarica in "Travellers 21 Best of the World" programme, National Geographic Traveler, except from recognizing Balkan's natural beauties, acknowledged all organizations, mountain clubs and unions, mountaineers, adventurers and all other enthusiasts devoted to this concept in past several years.

NGT BOTW 2017In Terra Dinarica, coordinating Via Dinarica organization in BH, outline that this prestigious acknowledgement is a result of persistent, hard, but also visionary work of partnering organizations, volunteers network and support of international development agencies, UNDP and USAID in B&H. It is important to notice that Bosnia and Herzegovina is the first in region that prepared and marked all stages of Via Dinarica White Trail going through this country, officially opened in Blidinje this year in June.

Via Dinarica is not only chance for development, but also our reality and confirmed fact, say in Terra Dinarica. Due to this, it is necessary to encourage local governments and partnering organizations to give even bigger efforts to preserve natural heritage in BH, which can be and has to be used in sustainable manner that secures economic prosper to local people.

„Via Dinairca has replaced politics with nature. What could be more beautiful?!“ says Thierry Joubert, owner of Green Visions agency from Sarajevo.
Via Dinarica encompasses three trails in B&H: Green, White and Blue. Green trail passes through BH forests and it is ideal for family mountaineering and recreation; Blue Trail passes through SE Herzegovina and connects this region with Adriatic coast. White Trail, connecting summits of our highest mountains is most interesting to thru-hikers, adventurers, mountaineers and all other people looking for untouched natural beauty and mountain peace and tranquility.



 

PARTNERS

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Via Dinarica in BiH – Assessment and Capacity Development project office

Terra Dinarica Džemala Bijedića 185, 71000 Sarajevo, BiH
Phone: Phone: +387 63 272 935
e-mail: viadinarica@viadinarica.com

Via Dinarica Croatia
Palmotićeva 27, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Phone: +385 91 51 41 740, Alan Čaplar
e-mail: info@viadinarica.hr

 

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