(Also to be known as the first day in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Callum’s birthday!)
Waking up in Ljut, I see that it’s become super windy again. Good lord. I’ve never been in such a windy place in my life. To be honest, I’ve never really considered ‘wind’ to be an independent weather system, always just a byproduct or herald of another more important one, like rain or thunderstorms. But not here. Here, we have beautiful sunny days and wind like it’s the middle of a cyclone. Or rather, nearer the edges of a cyclone… Wherever the windiest bit is.
I’m clearly not the only one to have noticed this, given that we walk out of the tiny clump of houses that is Ljut and straight into a wind farm. We walk past a huge, thrumming tower so close we could go up and touch it… But the sign says no touching, and given we’re so close to the Croatian-Bosnian border crossing at Kamensko, we’re on our best behaviour for the scores of police and border officials we’re about to meet.
The other day in fact, on our walk from Glavaš kuća to Peručko jezero (Callum forgot to mention it), a police car stopped us with his siren, beckoned us over and asked to see our documents. We were in the middle of taking shortcut across a field. Oh no, I thought, we’re definitely trespassing… But he’s happy to see our Australian passports after I eventually managed to extricate them from my backpack. He told us that he thought perhaps we were Syrian refugees having just illegally crossed the border from Bosnia into Croatia. But my happy blathering on about our hiking trip and our passports were thankfully enough to satisfy him that we had no ulterior motives, and he waved us on.
I’m really excited for this next section of the walk, however. The route takes us right through the mountains, hopefully avoiding a lot of the road bash that has characterised the last few weeks of walking. Plus, there’s a published guidebook for the Via Dinarica here! Not that we have a copy, but still, it’s good to know the route is considered good enough to write up officially. It gives me hope for more mountain, less road.
Just before the border in the town of Kamensko is a cafe, so we try to spend the last of our Kunas on lunch as border police come and go. The barman points us in the right direction along the main road. We hop along excitedly, decide to classify ourselves as ‘car’ and make it into no-mans-land and out the other side into Bosnia and Herzegovina without a hitch!
Past the border, we finally leave the windy hills behind and descend slowly towards a large, artificial freshwater lake, Buško jezero. As we get close, the soil begins to feel sandy and the smattering of pale houses makes me feel like we’re at the seaside. We’re headed for Marinovac plaža, a small beach where we hope to find a campsite to call our own and have a rest day. Wild camping is legal here, so we shouldn’t have any problems.
The lake is much bigger than I expected. White caps form on the tiny waves which ruffle briskly and continuously across the surface. It’s too cold to swim despite the warm sun, so we duck into the trees past the tiny, sand car park and find a lovely spot to pitch the tent. There are wildflowers in purple and yellow all around the grassy paths. It’s clearly been used as a campsite before, with a few bare, dusty patches, but it’s still up to scratch.
It’s Callum’s birthday today, the big ol’ two three, so I’ve bought a packet of sparkler candles (unwittingly – I thought they were regular candles) and some little chocolates (stashed in my pocket since Sinj – they’re a little squished, but since my pockets are always bulging with odds and ends, it was the best place to hide them). It takes me about 10 minutes and a lot of swearing to get them lit inside the windshield, and half of them are out again by the time I’ve told Callum to open his eyes and hastily sung Happy Birthday. But the chocolate is good and the candles burn with haphazard sparkly bursts. We raise our plastic hiking mugs of wine – to new years, new mountains, and new countries!
Start and end points: Picnic shelter near Ljut to Marinovac plaža at Buško jezero
Approximate distance: 21 km
Villages: Ljut – Kamensko – Kazaginac
Features: Bar/restaurant in Kamensko (Restoran ALKAR) – Supermarket on the Bosnian side of the border (Kamensko d.o.o – surprisingly well-stocked) – Mini market (attached to this petrol station) – Pizza restaurant with wi-fi (down from the petrol station) – Marinovac plaža (Marinovac beach) – Buško jezero (Buško blato/lake)