HERZEGOVINA & CROATIAN ISLANDS - 12 DAY GUIDED TOUR ITINERARY

DAY 5 - Herzegovina - Blagaj, Hutovo Blato marshlands, source of Trebižat river


 


  • Blagaj

Our first stop today - the village of Blagaj is just 12 minutes driving distance away from Mostar. The ancient village of Blagaj can easily be called the most valuable treasure of Herzegovina. Its small area hides the main attractions of the country: a fantastic wildlife corner (Dippers, Alpine Swifts, Blur Rock Thrush and Western Rock Nuthatch nests here), the picturesque source of the Buna River, and a popular center of pilgrimage for devout Muslims, the mystical Dervish monastery called Blagaj Tekija.
Stretching for only 9 kilometers, the incredibly beautiful Buna River with aquamarine water makes an unforgettable impression. Most of it is hidden from human eyes and flows deep underground for 19 kilometers befor emerging again in Blagaj.

  • Blagaj

The Tekke (khanqah, dervish house), set at the source of the river Buna, was and still is a venue for dervish Zikr praise-chanting three nights weekly. Built at the site of an earlier Bogomil sanctuary, it is a place of which history has no precise and stored data.
Archeological excavations have found and confirmed that this location holds the remains of a Late Antique structure. During the Middle Ages, even before the arrival of the Ottomans, it was a place of utter cultural and religious importance (1. VI 1454.). The first written track of the Tekke was made by Evlija Celebija in 1664. in his travelogues, at time when the Tekke was already well-known throughout the Ottoman empire and within the scientific community.

Throughout its history the housing complex next to the Tekija was rebuilt and redecored on multiple occasions. The Tekija was actively open until its last shaykh Sejdo Sehovic died in 1925.
After the Second World War, activities of the dervishes and the Tekke i Bosnia and Herzegovina were officially banned. Until early 70s, the Tekija was managed by the National Museum of Bosnia. Since then until 1974. it was officially without a trustee, after which time the Islamic Community, with no previous government consent, started using and protecting it from further delapidation. By reviving the tradition of the pilgrimage site, the common annual Mawlid (religious celebration of the birth of prophet Mohammad), the Tekke started reestablishing its previous importance. The last reconstruction of the Tekke was done in 2013. and a year later, in 2012. the completely destroyed housing complex – musafirhana (guest house) at its entrance were reconstructed as well.

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

After Blagaj, we will continue our journey south. Just 25 minutes of driving to Hutovo Blato Marshlands. We will take a 2 hours boat ride and explore places that are impossible to access by foot.

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

On the way to visit large mixed colony of Herons, Egrets and Pygmy Cormorants.

  • Pygmy Cormorant

Pygmy Cormorant

Microcarbo pygmaeus

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Hutovo Blato Nature Park is sub‐Mediterranean wetland oasis, located 20 km from the Adriatic Sea in the karst terrain along the lower course of the Neretva River. It is primarily composed of marshlands that were created by the underground aquifer system of the Krupa River.

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Hutovo Blato Nature Park is part of the Neretva Delta and one of the most valuable habitats for migratory birds and waterbirds in Europe. Accordingly it is protected as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. Hutovo Blato Nature Park is a crucially important stop-over site especially for those birds using the Adriatic Flyway to migrate between their summer and their winter habitats.

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Hutovo Blato marshlands provides a unique oasis amongst the harsh arid karst of Herzegovina.

  • Great Reed Warbler

Great Reed Warbler

Acrocephalus arundinaceus

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Comprising swamps, lakes, wet meadows, and riverine forest, it provides favourable conditions for many wetland species.

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Pygmy Cormorants and Squacco Herons often feed in channels between the reeds.

  • Purple Heron

Purple Heron

Ardea purpurea

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Flooded meadows - perfect habitat for waders.

  • Eastern Festoon

Eastern Festoon

Zerynthia cerisy

  • Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

Ardeola ralloides

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Hutovo Blato Nature Park - protected on all sides by arid hills and mountains.

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Flooded meadows in early spring - great habitat for migrating waders.

  • Great Egret

Great Egret and Little Egret

Ardea alba and Egretta garzetta

  • White-tailed Eagle

White-tailed Eagle

Haliaeetus albicilla

White-tailed Eagle

Haliaeetus albicilla

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Great Reed Warbler habitat.

  • Little Bittern

Little Bittern

Ixobrychus minutus

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Neretva river by Hutovo Blato marshlands.

  • Eurasian Penduline Tit

Penduline Tit nest

Remiz pendulinus

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

On the outskirts of Hutovo Blato marshlands Neretva river creates secluded pools - perfect habitat for herons.

  • Eurasian Golden Oriole

Eurasian Golden Oriole

Oriolus oriolus

  • Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid

Ophrys apifera

  • Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis

Plegadis falcinellus

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Hutovo Blato marshlands.

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

All three species of Marsh Terns (Black Tern, White-winged Tern and Whiskered Tern) are feeding on this lake during spring migration.

  • Grecian Copper

Grecian Copper

Lycaena ottomana

  • Red-crested Pochard

Red-crested Pochard

Netta rufina

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Flooded meadows in late spring.

  • Hutovo Blato Marshlands

Night Herons are often seen on migration along river Krupa.

  • Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucos

  • Restaurant

After Hutovo Blato Marshlands we will cross nearby border crossing and go to have lunch in Croatia. Konoba Vrilo is small family owner restaurant right by border with Herzegovina, serving only local and home grown produce. They produce their own, wine, olive oil and very good craft beers. They bake fresh bread every day by traditional method.

Next destination is back accros the border to Herzegovina. We will drive to the source of Trebižat river which is characterized by exceptional natural beauty.

  • Trebižat river

Source of Trebižat river.

  • Trebižat river

Source of Trebižat river.

  • Trebižat river

Source of Trebižat river.

  • Trebižat river

Source of Trebižat river.

Beautiful Demoiselle at source of Trebižat river.

Calopteryx virgo

Trebižat is 51 km long and is the second largest losing (sinking) stream in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose waters drains into the underground and reappear several times at various locations. Because the Trebižat river disappears and reappears various times and places, the people used to call it different names. At least nine names are regularly used.

The river Trebižat rises from the large karstic wellspring within cave.