We need to travel right until the Bosniak border to reach the delta of river Neretva. There’s a boom is ecotourism in the valley, may it be mandarin picking, boating in a traditional ladja, photo-safari or kitesurfing; those wanting to admire the beauty of nature in a glass of wine’s company are in the best place.
The Neretva begins at mountain Zelengora at Bosnia-Herzegovina, and twists through 225 kilometers by the coast lined with canyons and cliffs through the Dinari mountains to the Adriatic, crossing Konjic, Mostar and Metkovic on the way to the delta’s chop at Ploce.
WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) is the world’s biggest civil conservationist organization, which operates in more than 100 countries and was founded in 1961 to save our planet’s biological diversity, and help the long-term sustainable use of our natural resources, beside reducing environmental pollution.
WWF’s youngest party is part of the Mediterranean division of WWF. WWF Adria, officially founded in the beginning of 2015 tries to reach sustainable sylviculture in the whole Adrian region, and the protection of the rich fauna of rivers, lakes of the Dinari-mountains, which is one of the 200 most important ecoregions of the world. Their highlighted project is the issue of the unsustainable hydropower stations causing severe problems in the Dinari-mountains.
If we plan a trip to the Neretva, the Croatian Opuzen can be a good starting point. Its distance is ideal from everything that’s worth seeing or trying in the area. And wine lovers will also find their place here, as Neretva-valley’s unique microclimate and fields rich in minerals give a good base for a special tasting wine. Vinarija Provic creates special Sauvignon, Merlot-Cabernet, Zlatarica and Chardonnay. It’s advised to visit a wine-tasting event, but we can also stay here, as Hotel Merlot stands above the wine-cellar.
35 kilometers west from Opuzen lies the cozy town of Rogotin, from where we can start a motorboat trip on one of the offsets of the Neretva until the sea. But there’s also an opportunity to use a kayak, a canoe or wakeboards too, and a lot arrive here for training camps, either it’s rowing or cycling. At the moment, there aren’t too much places for rent in the area, but those existing are a good value for money, just like Holiday Home Rogotin.
From Rogotin we can reach the sea with one hour of leisure boating. On the way, it’s worth checking how the water changes its color as we head to the sea from sweet water. Right at the exit we find a wreath reaching far into the sea, where it’s worth to stop for a bath, because it’s really a special experience, and a must for passionate shelf collectors.
Those who prefer walking and looking should visit the ancient village’s ruins at Slivno Ravno, where we find the area’s oldest cemetery among the olive trees, and the little chapel from where believers start their Way of the Cross every year on Good Friday.
Flourishing ecotourism in the valley
The Neretva-delta and its area attracts ecotourists, and is the Mecca of fowlers, as Hutovo Blato National Park is not far, which is one of the biggest bird protecting areas in Europe. Hutovo Blato and Neretva’s valley is located in one of the four main transit lines where migratory birds start their way from Northern-, and Middle-Europe to Africa and Asia in the autumn, and where the moorland’s rich fauna provides them a perfect place for a rest.
Local fauna is diverse too; we find 150 distinct species of fish, from which 9 is indigenous, and there are 300 bird species in the sedge, reedy, moorland territory
Unfortunately, in the last few years, the growing construction of hydropower stations are endangering local ecosystem. They are planning to add 4 more hydropower stations to the already existing 11 in the Neretva and Trebisnjica. The aftermath of blundering constructions could be salinization and water-level change, which causes the continuous devastation of the fauna, and the disappearance of ecotourism at the area of the Neretva-delta. WWF, with the help of specialists and local colligation, tries to stop oppressing the river in a rate that endangers the ecosystem of the valley and the delta.
If we visit the valley, we can’t miss boating in a traditional Neretva boat, the ladja. In the 7-8 meters long and 3 meters wide wooden boat we can experience what the life of the boatmen was like, who were transporting ware on the Neretva and its offsets. Though actually it’s not the same, as today most ladjas are motoric, but we can imagine how hard could it be to boat through the jammed, narrow canals with the packed boat, with a single raver. (And how hard could it be for the wives who sometimes had to pull the boats with ropes at some parts of the canal.)
If we wish, locals will serve us delicacies at the boat, or we can even dock at one of their private lay-by places resurging unexpectedly from the reed, to spend a few calm hours, have lunch or just enjoy placidity and take photos of birds, whichever we prefer.
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