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Balkans 2017

Pumpy

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Looking forward to your pics, we're contemplating next years trip and Serbia is high on the list!
 

SpinDrift

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After a few days on the Croatian coast, I headed inland and up into the hills. There have been thunder storms and rain over the last couple of days - to the extent that i have had to resort to eating salad sitting in the back of the land cruiser. It is great that i have the option to sleep in the back.

The route has taken me along backroads through some amazing scenery, even in the rain. There are still quite a few war damaged buildings and there are mine fields in some areas so will be staying on hard top or routes that are known to be safe. No stopping on the verge or ducking behind the bushes for a pee!

Ive now crossed into Bosnia, currently in Bihac. As i am out of the EU, free roaming no longer applies. I am using camp site wifi but it cuts out and is not really good for uploading pics - ill do that when i get back.
 

clivehorridge

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I like the concept of relaxing, I've just had a couple of weeks doing mostly just that, and it's great!

Trouble is, I'm behind my desk again now, and it's come as a bit of a shock!
 

SpinDrift

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Well the trip is over and Im back. I could easily spend the next 6 months or longer on the road. Happy to report that the new alternator solved the problem and that the truck gave me no further issues.

The trip was brilliant. I did spend some down time on the coast. It was great to roll out of the rooftent straight into the sea for a swim before breakfast. It meant that I had to replan the route and not do everything in the road book, but thats fine. Croatia and Bosnia were amazing with long dirt tracks in mountains and forest. Serbia I felt at the time less so partly because there were a lot of tarmac miles, however Ive since looked at the photos and there were some great places there as well. Definitely recommend the Balkans.

I carried the all usual full kit of recovery gear - so apart from the winch I had the hi lift jack, ex mil ground anchor (which weighs a ton), various straps and chains, waffle boards etc. As it turned out, I didnt need any recovery equipment (slightly disappointed) - not even the bottle opener as the beer I bought was in cans! Actually Ive just remebered .... I used the waffle boards and a rock to level out the truck in the campsite by the sea.

I'll write up a report but will need a little time as I am already back on tbe road, now for work.
 

Animal Mother

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Trips like that are food for the soul. More strength to you for just geting on and doing it. Here's to the next trip!
 
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clivehorridge

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All the above Reinhard, glad you had no more issues....

You're welcome here again, you know, anytime. And maybe we'll even meet up one day... :lol::thumbup:
 

SpinDrift

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Time to get started on the write up for the trip.

Some quick stats: The trip covered 6070kms using 842 litres of diesel at a cost of £976, giving a 7.2 litres per km or 20 miles per mile.

The trip started and ended with a quick transit through the Netherlands, Germany and Austria.

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The route should have taken me through Bosnia into Montenegro, then into Serbia and on th Croatia. As I spent time waiting for the alternator and spent time on the coast I skipped Montenegro, crossing from Bosnia stright into Serbia - which meant that I missed out on Montenego, which apparently is brilliant.

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SpinDrift

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Croatia Part 1

Once the replacement alternator was fitted I drove straight to Croatia. I spent a couple of days in a camp site on the coast before heading further south to another campsite in a failed attempt to avoid an incoming storm. It was great to be able to roll out of the tent straight into the sea for a swim before breakfast. The villages were mix of old and new houses. BBQs are very popular, with most houses sporting one in the garden, and roast pig seems to be a favorite.

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I then headed for the hills, unfortunately picking up the planned route later than planned in a search for diesel - the closest fuel station was on a motor way which ran parallel to the route, and which tunneled through a mountain instead of go over it. At the point were I joined, the route was mostly country lanes. The landscape was one of peaceful scenic hills and country side.

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But all was not as it seemed. The first give away was a red ribbon in a tree.

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I had researched the problem of land mines and unexploded ordinance prior to the trip and recognised this as a sign of such danger in the area. This was quickly confirmed by a sign round the bend.

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This handbook provides information on the threat and the warning signs to look out for. I'm no expert on such matters - all I can say is that if you visit the region, be aware and beware. DSC_3285.jpg
 

SpinDrift

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oops the pig is out of sequences! It was the tourists that got him!
 

SpinDrift

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I deviated off the Vibraction route to visit the largest abandoned military base in Europe. Zeljava airbase, code name Objective 505, straddles the border between Croatia and Bosnia. It was built in the 1950's at a cost of $6 billion. It has 5 runways, four of which emerge from a mountain that houses 3.5 km's of hangers, workshops, fuel storage and accommodation. The facility could shelter a 1000 men for a month in lock down. The hangers had blast doors capable of witstanding a direct hit from a 20 kiloton nuclear bomb. The tunnel system was blown up by the Yugoslave army durig the Balakn wars. Not happy with the level of destruction, the Serbian Krajina Army blew it up a second time a year later using 56 tons of explosives - apparently it smoked for 6 months after the second attempt. I ventured into the tunnels. Anyone visiting needs to be aware that there is a cocktail of carcinogens in the tunnels in the form of asbestos and low level radiation from Americanum from the smoke detectors that were destroyed in the blasts. There is also a risk of encountering illegals coming across the border through tunnels, and it seems bears and wolves seeking shelter in the winter.

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This last blast door is still intact. There is a pedestrian entrance to the side of it.

The fourth tunnel entrance is on the Bosnian side of the facility. I stayed firmly on the Croatian side, making sure I did not cross the border accidentally.

On the outside the surrounding fields and forests harbour other delights in the form of land mines and unexploded ordinance - so staying strictly on the tarmac / concrete is a must. No wandering off into the bushes for a quick pee!

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There are landmine clearance operations in the area using machines, but the forests will probably need to be cleared manually.

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SpinDrift

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I crossed into Bosnia at the Bihac crossing. It was a Sunday and the insurance office was closed. I got insurance the following morning in the centre of Bihac. I picked up the Vibraction route just outside of Bihac. The route started with a visit to the Una National Park with its magnificent cascade. A track cut through the park. The surroundings were wooded, but breaks in the trees allowed you to see the surrunding hills. There are signs and information boards showing bear and wolf, but I didnt see any. The route continued into the hills and mountains - the Dinaric Alps - with the altitude rising to some 1300 metres. The country side was part wild and rugged and part agricutural. Towns and villages dotted the hills, some still with war damaged buildings.

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It was evening by the time I got onto the 'Plateau of Horses' as its called inthe road book and light was fading fast. The single track entered a thick forest which continued adding to the gloom. All of a sudden there were land mine signs on either side of the track. It had been my intension to find some where to wild camp - change of plan. Although I did not see anymore signs, I drove the track to the end. It was one of the nicer tracks, some 40 kms long. Unfortunately I didnt get to see most of it in the darkness. I'll have to revisit.
 

clivehorridge

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This is a great photo-write-up Reinhard, enjoying it immensely!

I presume that “horseshoe” of colored boxes (7 photos up) is beehives. There are a lot of them in my area here, mostly stacked on trailers and moved from place to place, but sometimes set up in fields like in your photo.

Please keep posting... :thumbup:
 

JOHN OF LONDON

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Very interesting. I'm thinking about do the Vibraction route next summer so please keep writing it up. Also if you're going back perhaps we could make a plan to meet up in 2018. Anyone else interested?
J
 

SpinDrift

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I presume that “horseshoe” of colored boxes (7 photos up) is beehives. There are a lot of them in my area here, mostly stacked on trailers and moved from place to place, but sometimes set up in fields like in your photo.


Yep, they are beehives. Quite a few of them around either laid out in fields or on trailers, just like Romania.
 

SpinDrift

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Thanks all. There are more photos to come. I just need some time to work through them. I'm keeping the words to a minimum :)

The Vibraction books are good. Worth the cost imo. In this case because they showed a route that had been researched and driven, so could be assumed to be safe. But normally they simplify planning a route through a region you do not know. They are in French but not difficult to understand with some basic knowledge and G00gle. I dont know why we dont have equivelent in English. I met two French LC's following the same route. We crossed paths several times over 2 or 3 days.
 

MarkW

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Airbase is amazing, I thought it was completely off limits but obviously not. I'll have to head that way sometime :D
 
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