The White Trail of the new Via Dinarica long-distance hiking route was officially declared open to the public this week in the Blidinje National Park in Bosnia & Hercegovina.
The Via Dinarica consists of almost 2000 kilometres of hiking trails that connect up seven separate countries in southeastern Europe: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia and Albania. It is similar to the Via Alpina, which runs through eight countries in the European Alps, and the Appalachian Trail in the eastern USA. There are three separate trails: the White Trail, which connects up the highest peaks of the Dinaric Alps, the Green Trail, which runs through the conifer forests of the lower Dinaric Alps and the Blue Trail, which follows the coastline of the Adriatic sea. Activities on offer in the area include hiking, cycling, mountain biking, skiing, kayaking and rafting.
The project is being financed and implemented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as a way to strengthen tourism and the economy in Bosnia & Hercegovina. USAID and the UNDP have so far contributed almost US$1.5 million towards improving the quality of walking paths, signage, outdoor activities facilities, mountain huts and other accommodation.
Maureen Cormack, Ambassador of the USA to Bosnia & Hercegovina said, “the US Government believes that tourism is important as a driving force for the strengthening of economy in Bosnia & Hercegovina. Tourism is one of the fastest growing branches of economy in Bosnia & Hercegovina and I firmly believe that there is still a lot of space for growth in this area.” The ceremony to declare the White Trail open was marked not with the traditional cutting of a ribbon, but instead with the tying together of alpine rope, to symbolise the project’s intention to help bond together the people, nature and cultural heritage of the region.