Adventure2017 Bosnia

Adventure2017: Ajla’s Story, Bosnia

For any child, a summer excursion to the mountains would be classed as an adventure. But for nine-year-old Ajla and her classmates, it was all the more special for being the first time they had been to the countryside. Not even that, but most of the children had never left the urban setting of Sarajevo before.

Adventure2017 Bosnia group in the forest

It was early when the 10 children from the School of Friendship organisation set off for Sutjeska National Park, one of the natural wonders of Bosnia. After spending their whole lives in the city of Sarajevo, to spend an idyllic day roaming the mountainside – visiting multiple lakes and peering into their clear depths in search of life, learning to identify different plants in the woodland, and foraging for miniscule wild strawberries on the side of trail – is an impossibly different outlook for only a few hour’s drive from home. “I drank the water straight from the natural spring, for the first time in my life,” Ajla enthused. Doesn’t sound like much at first, but for someone to experience for the first time the purity and beauty of nature is an undeniably exciting thing.

Adventure2017 Bosnia at the lake

But it wasn’t just the simple pleasure of being surrounded by nature. A whole host of activities had been planned, from lakeside picnic lunches to an adrenaline-rushing rafting trip.

“The best moment on the whole trip was when we came to the viewpoint, from where we saw the canyon and Zelengora Mountain and had most spectacular view.” Ajla continued. This viewpoint is the Boric viewpoint, and it’s a firm favourite with trekkers. In fact, this is the area of the park that we take Exodus travellers to on the first day of our popular Walking in Bosnia & Herzegovina trip. These are the most spectacular of Bosnia’s dazzlingly white limestone peaks, surrounded by lush green valleys and sparkling lakes. Nearby is Maglic Mountain, the highest point in the country. And the children couldn’t have asked for a better person to show them around.

Adventure2017 Bosnia Maglic Mountain

Samer Hajric is an Exodus leader, and he knows these mountains like the back of his hand. In summer he leads walking groups, in winter it’s snowshoeing. He was our 2013 overall winner in the Tour Leader of the Year Awards – but for this weekend, he was their guide for their trip into the mountains.

“It was just great seeing a smile on the face of the children. They were not only able to learn and see things outside their area but they were able to be children.” Samer said. Adventure2017 would have been impossible without people like him, and our other leaders all over the world, who volunteered their time and expertise.

Adventure2017 Bosnia Donje Bare Lake

Unlike most Adventure2017 trips, this one didn’t finish at sunset.

The team in Bosnia had arranged for the children to spend the night camping in the mountains. After gathering firewood, they lit a good old fashioned bonfire to gather round and ate their dinner outside. And it was this that proved to be Ajla’s favourite part of the weekend. “My favourite part was the dinner around the fire and little houses where we were sleeping. Like a fairytale!”

This is the goal of Adventure2017. It’s to give the same sense of joy and wonder at the world that we strive to share with our travellers to these children, who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance.

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