We visited Jahorina from the 3rd-10th January 2015 and had a great week’s skiing. I thought I'd write a brief overview of the trip on th TripAdvisor forums to inform any future travellers/skiers from the UK considering the trip.
Our trip was organised by www.ski-sarajevo.com, a British owned company with a fantastic small group of local Bosnian staff on the ground in Sarajevo and Jahorina. There are currently no direct flights from the UK to Bosnia, so we flew from Heathrow to Sarajevo with Air Austria via Vienna. The flights were easy and smooth with only a short wait of less than an hour in Vienna and the stop-over was really no extra hassle, I wouldn’t let this initial hurdle put you off visiting Bosnia.
Our fixer/guide for the trip Mustafa collected us from the airport and drove us up to the ski resort at Jahorina, a journey of about an hour on good roads, winding up out of Sarajevo and through the mountains with great views if the visibility is good. Mustafa was just the best and really turned the trip into something special for us. After dropping us in Jahorina, he returned to his home in Sarajevo but stayed in contact throughout the week via text to ensure we were getting on ok and to arrange our pick-up at the end of the week. Nothing was a problem for him, he's totally fascinating guy on a personal level and he has the driest sense of humour... We decided to drop half a day’s skiing on the Thursday so we could take a visit to Mostar on the Friday for some sight-seeing. Mustafa collected us early from Jahorina, sorted out an extra nights accommodation in a fantastic apartment in Sarajevo, made sure we knew what busses to get from Sarajevo to Mostar and when, gave us a brilliant and really personal tour of Sarajevo then took us out for drinks at one his favourite clubs which for me was the highlight of the trip, totally unexpected and authentic. He was in touch with us constantly via text making sure everything was going smoothly, in a way that was not at all pushy and totally genuine.
In Jahorina, we stayed at the family run Hotel Snjesko and Dragica and her staff at the hotel looked after us fantastically. They made such an effort with the food for my partner who is a vegetarian with a severe nut allergy, the chefs came out of the kitchen at every meal to chat with us, explain what they had prepared and make sure it was ok – vegetarian cooking is not common in Bosnia! The hotel is small and personal, our room and ensuite was perfectly clean and neat and everything we needed. The staff’s English was limited, Dragica’s spoken English was ok but her understanding was excellent and we had no problem organising/co-ordinating our day’s activities. When my partner caught a bad head cold confining her to bed, Dragica went down to the nearest town Pala (there is no pharmacy in Jahorina, just a very small convenience shop which doesn’t sell more than basic food stuffs and toiletries) to get some medicine for Hannah which was fantastic. I also enjoyed chatting with Dragica’s daughters who were keen to practise their English for university.
Jahorina resort is very small compared to most European resorts but there are still plenty of places to get food and bars which range from small and family run to large 5 star hotels but all are affordable and we were on a budget. Two pints of beer were about €4 and a meal for one was €5-€10. You can affordably chill out at the fancy bars at Hotel Termag and Hotel Vucko every night if you wish, we did and we’re poor university students! I would certainly recommend taking local currency (KM) not just Euros if you can as most places outside of big hotels prefer KM and you will get things cheaper. You can change Euros at the resort – there is an ATM which converts currency (Euros and USD) to KM at the Hotel Termag (€20 notes and larger) with a decent exchange rate, however if the machine runs our of cash you might have to wait a few days for it to be refilled so don’t rely solely on this.
www.ski-sarajevo.com organised our ski hire and tuition for us before we left. We were able to collect and store our skis and boots at the hotel, and the gear was set up and adjusted for us at the hotel so there was very little effort involved in organising the kit hire which can sometimes waste a morning or afternoons skiing. Our ski instructor Nikola was fantastic, his English was fluent and perfect, ski-instructing was his hobby/passion – his day job involved working for various international aid agencies and NGO in Sarajevo so this may be why! The quality of the instruction was as good as I have experienced in France, Austria and Switzerland so no qualms here. Nicola gave us a great tour of all of the pistes and some history of the areas development as a ski resort since the 1984 Winter Olympics.
I am an intermediate skier and thought the infrastructure and the skiing itself was great. The resort receiving a €20 million investment a couple of years ago meaning that all of the old lifts have been replaced with modern ones comparable to anything else you’d fine in Europe. The ski area was big enough to keep us amused for 5 days and was well maintained, the pistes were bashed nightly although there are only snow cannons on the ‘Olympic runs’ so some areas, particularly at the very top of the mountain where it could be very winding meaning the snow couldn’t settle as easily could be a little rough.
Finally Graeme, the owner of ww.ski-sarajevo.com is a top guy. We have stayed in communication via email since coming home 6 weeks ago and he certainly is a real specialist on the country and its history and current socio-economic and political situation. He has clearly put a lot of effort into the company and we can’t help but recommend them. There is no Tourism Ministry in Bosnia and so small companies really rely on reputation and word-of-mouth for their business so you can be confident that Graeme and all of his local staff will work really hard to ensure that you have a good time. I have written this review as a little ‘thank you’ and I hope that it drives some more business their way.
So for what we thought was a 'budget' holiday we actually ended up having one of the most personal and exciting trips we have ever taken - I don't think I have ever fitted so many varied experiences into a one week holiday in my life, from skiing, a war-tour of Sarajevo, trips to Bosnian social clubs and breweries to photos on the bridge at Mostar! Bosnia has really got under my skin and I'll certainly be back. The hospitality of everyone was just above and beyond.