The village of Lukomir is perhaps the finest example of a highland village in Bosnia and Herzegovina; it is the highest and most isolated permanent settlement in the country at 1,469m. The village, with its traditional architecture, has been deemed by the Historical Architecture Society of the United Kingdom as one of the longest continually inhabited villages in all of Europe. The stone homes with cherry-wood roof shingles mark a practice that can no longer be found elsewhere on Bjelašnica. The villagers are mainly shepherds who live off the sale of sheep products.

Lukomir is known for its traditional attire as well, and the women still wear hand-knitted costume styles that have been worn for centuries. Electricity was introduced to the village and running water installation was completed in 2002. Access to the village is impossible between the first snows in December and late April, and sometimes even later, except by skis or on foot.

There is magnificent hiking in the area along the ridge of the Rakitnica Canyon, which drops 800m below. This is the least-explored canyon in southern Europe. It stretches 26km and feeds the Neretva River in Herzegovina near Konjic.

Rakitnica is a natural wonderland. Hundreds of thousands of years of tectonic shifts have created the steep limestone walls of Visočica and Bjelašnica mountains. The crystal-clear river below is fed by the melting snows and the hundreds of underground aquifer systems, making Rakitnica River water potable for the entire length of the canyon. Thirty-two endemic species of plants, flowers and trees can be found in this tiny region of the Dinaric Alps.

Getting there and away

Getting to Lukomir is possible by private transportation only and takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes from Sarajevo. It is best to visit the village as part of an organised tour, for example with Green Visions or Funky Tours. However, if you decide to go on your own, you can drive from Sarajevo directly, (note that roads are not paved all the way but are decent) or to Umoljani and hike (approx 6½ hrs return) the remainder of the way. This is mountainous terrain, so you should go prepared with hiking boots and other necessities.

One way to hike is to go northwest on the road leading to the village of Gradina. Right before a place named ‘Crveni Klanac’ turn left (west). This is a marked trail leading to Obalj ridge. Following the edge of the ridge to the top, you can then descend to Lukomir. From Lukomir, you can continue on longer and even more scenic hikes, including Rakitnica. These hikes, too, are best organised with a tour guide, but if you are an experienced hiker and want to venture out on your own, visit and search for ‘Lukomir’ for directions and more information.