Winter Fun in Sarajevo: Snowshoeing to a Magic Frozen Waterfall

  • Samer Hajric
  • 11 January 2011
Frozen Skakavac Waterfall, outside Sarajevo, capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Reachable on snowshoes outside Sarajevo, capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Skakavac Waterfall is found frozen at high noon on Christmas. Photo courtesy of Dzenita Delibasic

The city of Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, lies in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains, which makes it the perfect location for winter activities. In fact, because of the fantastic winter sport opportunities on the surrounding mountains of Bjelašnica and Jahorina, Sarajevo was chosen to host the XIV Winter Olympic Games in 1984.

Fortunately, there is ample winter fun for non-skiers as much as skiers. For example, thanks to the deep masses of powdery snow on the hills around Sarajevo, snowshoeing is an excellent alternative to the mogul fields and becoming more and more popular in this part of the world.

In response to that, outdoor adventure tour operators like Green Visions, the whl.travel local connection in Sarajevo, offers trips and activities throughout the year, including options that peek into Sarajevo’s magical winter world. For the past 10 years, Green Visions has been developing year-round tourism that taps into the beauty of a frozen wonderland in close proximity to the city. Trips begin in a village just outside town, yet the trails lead to places so deeply natural and buried in white that they feel like they’re part of a different universe.

The Renowned Skakavac Waterfall

One of the most memorable hidden places in winter is Skakavac Waterfall. Skakavac is the Bosnian word for ‘grasshopper’ and the beautiful waterfall it denotes is a staggering 98 metres high, making it the largest continually flowing chute in the country. As such it is listed as a Monument of Nature and afforded special protections. Besides being very attractive in the summer, though, it takes on a new personality during winter months when it is almost completely frozen.

Skakavac is located north of the Sarajevo city centre. Green Visions has mastered the route and perfected a day trip, called the Grasshopper Waterfall Snow Adventure tour, mostly because we love getting out there so much ourselves.

The giant icicles of Skakavac Waterfall outside of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sandra shows the scale of the giant icicles of Skakavac Waterfall outside of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo courtesy of Dzenita Delibasic

In summer, the three-hour hike of easy walking is accessible to just about anyone. The trek begins in Nahorevo, a village right at the trail head, just beyond which you are immediately embraced by the beautiful slopes of Bukovik Mountain. In extreme winter conditions, however, the story is a little bit different. Because the waterfall is located on the far (northern) side of the mountain, low temperatures virtually guarantee lots of snow from the end of December until the end of March. Without proper equipment, reaching the waterfall is almost impossible. That’s where the snowshoes come in; they are they perfect way to reach the waterfall and enjoy the sublime scenery.

A Christmas Adventure to Remember

On 25th December 2010, the Green Visions team organised a special snowshoe Christmas hike to this enchanting place. On this particular morning, the sun was shining brightly in a crystal-clear sky and the air was a sharp cold. It was the perfect weather for snowshoeing. We really enjoyed the winter sun as the snow grated beneath our feet for the almost four strenuous hours it took us to reach our destination.

Waiting for us there was a fantastic view of water, mist and ice, transformed into fabulous frozen waterfall. We first arrived at the top and took a couple of photos of the vista. After a short lunch break and a soak in the sun, we decided to follow a narrow to the bottom.

Once below, we admired the waterfall in all its beauty, a natural ice sculpture reaching upward, touching the skies high above. We also realised that the icicles were more than five metres long! It was definitely a scene to remember.

The extreme cold discouraged us from staying any longer. Since noon had already passed, it was time to head home where warmth awaited. We all took one last look at Skakavac and said goodbye to it, promising that we would return soon, definitely before spring.

Mist-filled valley of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The trip back to Sarajevo led into the mist of the valley against a beautiful mountain backdrop. Photo courtesy of Dzenita Delibasic

Local Amazement

Walking back we observed the spectacle of the whole city of Sarajevo covered in mist. Only the Hum communication tower seemed to float above it all against the backdrop of the Treskavica and Bjelašnica mountains, both completely white and beckoning to us like beautiful ladies in their amazing gowns. That will have to be another adventure for another day.

On the way home we stopped in a local village to warm up in a tiny hut owned by Dragan. A lively character and impeccable host, he offered us his best rakija (plum brandy). After he found out where we’d been, he was more than surprised, saying that nobody had passed this way in more than two weeks. It was just too cold this time of year. As we thawed in the warmth of his home, the astonishment in his comments made us swell with pride.

Contact your whl.travel local connection in Sarajevo for more about Skakavac Waterfall and the Grasshopper Waterfall Showshoeing Hike or exploring other fun snowshoeing options, not to mention accommodation, other tours and local hints about the city.

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Samer Hajric

Samer is originally from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo is his home to this day. He is a certified mountain guide by Mountaineering Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina and UIAA standards (Official International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, partner of the International Olympic Committee), and has a degree in Sociology. He has been guiding Green Visions mountain trips for 10 years.
Samer Hajric
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adventure travel, Bosnia and Herzegovina, ecotours, Europe, local knowledge, mountains, outdoors, personal experience, responsible travel, Southern Europe, waterfalls, weather extremes, whl.travel,

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