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Rafting in Bosnia - (continued)

By Cindy-Lou Dale

The Tara River
The Tara River

Crisp Spring Excellence

It was one of those splendid days, the world full of crisp spring excellence, with the heavens so fresh and sparkling that you felt as if you could ping it with a finger, as you would a polished champagne glass.

This is about as raw as nature gets, I thought, making myself comfortable in the raft. I watched the powerful flow of the Tara rush by, as she has done for eons, hollowing out a soft limestone surface, creating sculptured gorges and chasms, and forging an 51-mile (82-km) long canyon, the deepest in the world, and second in length only to the Colorado’s Grand Canyon.

A Rude Awakening

I downed a Fanta then unzipped my wet-suit, tying the arms loosely around my waist. I readjusted my bikini top and relaxed somewhat, basking in the sun as we gently paddled down the River Tara.

Rafting on the Tara
Rafting on the Tara

I awoke to sharp jolt and a rafter’s paddle beating my forearm instead of the water. We were in white waters rivalling none that I had yet seen. The raft tilted dangerously and for some inexplicable reason, whilst grasping at an evasive sky-hook and falling into a slow backward summersault, I recalled a bottle of wine I had forgotten in my deepfreeze back home.

It took a moment before the coldness registered but when it did I paddled furiously for the surface, which was fast receding. Despite my vigorous attempts I continued to sink. Water had filled my wet-suit, and the arms, which I had earlier tied around my waist, now embraced my knees.

Waiting for Death's Sweet Kiss

This was not at all how I had imagined my life would end. None of my family or friends would believe it either as I, after all, only required a color TV and coffee-making facilities for a bit of excitement. Would they understand, I wondered, that I’d had enough of being the cupcake and also wanted a bit of that swagger that comes from doing insane things.

White water on the Tara
White water on the Tara

I waited patiently for death’s sweet kiss but instead slowly rose to the surface where I was unceremoniously plucked out of the water and man-handled into the raft.

I gasped and spluttered, frothing little nose rings of Fanta. Sherpas looked at me the way you might look at a road accident victim, then picked up my life-jacket from the floor of the raft and threw it at my feet.

"Do you not remember the safety rules we discussed?" Sherpas demanded. I nodded sheepishly, unable to speak, and put my life jacket back on again.

Campfire Talk

By the time we reached base camp I was almost calm. Following another feast, campfire talk focused on a brown bear which lived on the opposite bank.

Miljo Drak
Miljo Drak

"The mountains are full of perils," a fellow rafter announced. "Snakes, nests of spiders, bears and even a scattering of small antelope, all lethally deranged by parasitic worms that burrow into their brains."

"Nonsense," said Sherpas, tossing his black tresses out of his face, reminiscent of the rather fetching Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.

"If Drak’s around, there is nothing dangerous out there."

Drak was a mountain-man, Sherpas claimed, who lived nearby, and who had no concept of plumbing or how it worked, nor electricity.

"A few years ago," Sherpas said, "I visited Drak’s hut. I noticed an Ikea-type kitchen clock leaning up against a wall, still in its Styrofoam and plastic wrapping. I enquired if Drak needed batteries to get the clock working."

Sherpas chuckled at the recollection, then continued, "Drak claimed it had not worked since the day he bought it and he did not want to waste any more money on it."

"What caused him to become like that?" a fellow first-timer asked.

No family was untouched.
No family was untouched.

We all quietly reflected on this for a moment. Then someone volunteered:

"Massive amounts of home brewed liquor and generations of unbiblical sex, is probably what bred Drak."

Fearless Fools

I quietly observed the mannerisms of the hardened adrenaline-junkie extreme sportsmen around the campfire, then asked Sherpas about the war.

He grew thoughtful then took a long drag from his cigarette and told how no family was left untouched. He recounted, with difficulty, his own losses, occasionally averting his moist eyes. He took a moment to recompose himself and used that time to light another cigarette.

"We were fearless fools and certain we were indestructible. I lost most of my friends, and many members of my family."

"But," he added, "there’s a constant feeling that nature is reaching out to heal the wounds caused by human wrong-doings." He contemplated his statement for a moment, then added. "Bosnia is both irretrievably scarred and infinitely capable of renewing herself."

Falls on the Vrbas River
Falls on the Vrbas River

On the flight home an over accessorized fur-coated lady sat beside me. Her sighs of discontent were clearly intended to encourage a conversation, so I ignored her. Clearly she could bear this no longer and despite herself enquired after the blue black bruises on my arm.

"That looks awfully painful," she exclaimed. "What on earth happened to you, dear child?"

"Nothing serious," I said, "just some bloke that beat me up and then tried to drown me because I took my top off."


Rafting Companies:

Neretva River: Rafting Europe
Phone +387 61 817209, +387 61 264996
Owner: Samir Krivić
email

Morning mist on the Una River
Morning mist on the Una River

Pricing: £35 per person per day which includes breakfast, a day’s rafting, transport to departure point, lunch al fresco, dinner and drinks on return, taxes, insurance and all equipment. No accommodation is provided.

Tara River: Encijan Rafting
Phone + 387 58 211150, +387 65 626588, +387 65 475201
Owner: Milan Supic-Sherpas
email

For a minimum number of six people, the rafting prices ranges from £17 for a 3-hour rafting trip to £52 for a 3-day trip. These prices include a qualified rafting guide/navigator, wetsuits, equipment, tax, and insurance.

Accommodation:

Encijan offer 2-bed bungalows from £5 pppn; 5- and 6-bed bungalows at £3.50 pppn - overall maximum capacity of 100 guests.

The Una River
The Una River

Food:

No food is included in this price but kitchen is available for guests to use. Additional costs: breakfast - £3.50, lunch £5,50, dinner £5, drink range in price from £0.35 to £1.

Vrbas River: Klub Kanjon
Phone +387 65 420000
Owner: Aleksandar Pastir
email

The 2005 European Whitewater Rafting Championship was held on the Vrbas. Klub Kanjon is 11km south of Banjaluka.

For a minimum number of six people, the rafting prices ranges from £7 for a 1-hour rafting trip to £18 for a 3-hour trip. These prices include a qualified rafting guide/navigator, wetsuits, and equipment.

Accommodation:

The Kanjon Klub in Banjaluka
The Kanjon Klub in Banjaluka

Klub Kanjon offer 2-room tents, sleeping up to four for £3.50 pppn - overall maximum capacity of 500 guests. There is a Motel 100m down the road from Klub Kanjon at £20 pppn, including breakfast.

Food:

Breakfast –£3.50, lunch £5,50, dinner £5,50.

Una River: Una-Kiro Rafting
+387 37 223760
Owner: Mersad Coralic
email

The Una is in the western part of Bosnia, bordering Croatia, some 5km upstream from Bihać, and set is set on a long stretch of the riverfront.

Pricing: For a minimum number of six people, the rafting prices ranges from £10 to £27 pppd, and covers rafting routes whose durations range between 90-minutes and five hours. These prices include a qualified rafting guide/navigator, wetsuits, equipment, tax, and insurance.

Accommodation:

Una-Kiro offer two fully equipped, self catering, guest houses (total 14 beds) at £9 pppn, including breakfast on the river bank, and one villa (five double-bedrooms en suite) at £17 pppn, including breakfast. There is also a large tent in the camping site with beds at £4 pppn. Lunch and dinner is charged extra at £10 pppd.

 

Cindy-Lou Dale
Cindy-Lou Dale is an award-winning writer and photo journalist with bases in Brussels and London. Visit her website, cindyloudale.com.

Visit our Cindy-Lou Dale Page with links to all her stories.

Skimlinks

Hi Cindy,

Your story on rafting in Bosnia in Go nomad is great. I've been to all those places you describe because my wife is from Bosnia and we live in Munich, Germany, which is a night long drive away.

I got weary of the nightly "drink and smoke like there is no tomorrow" routine a few years ago on one of our frequent visits and started travelling around the country.

You really captured the spirit of the place!

Regards,
Ralf
Germany


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