While NP Plitvice and NP Krka in neighbor Croatia are overrun by hordes of tourists, nearby NP Una in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still relatively unknown and pleasantly quiet.
Bright blue water, huge waterfalls, lots of green – enough natural beauty to enjoy! And important: without hurdles of people around you!
The Štrbački buk is with 24.5 meters the highest and most spectacular waterfall of NP Una. The waterfall can actually be seen from two sides: from the Bosnian and Herzegovinian side it is at Una National Park, on the Croatian side it is Una Mamea Park. The Bosnian side is by far the most enjoyable with decent paths, excellent view points and facilities.
Amazing nature phenomenon and an unforgettable experience!
Good to know for your visit to Štrbački buk:
- The gravel road from the village to the parking lot close to the falls takes about 20-30 min.
- The entrance fee for Štrbački buk is 12 BAM for 2 persons.
- Opening hours are 08:00-21:00h, 7 days a week, May 1st – September 30th.
- The fall is easy to access by a good wooden foot path with 5 min from the parking lot.
- Nearby the parking lot there are a restaurant (cash!), toilet, souvenir shop and picnic tables.
- Una National Park is a great playground for people who love or would like to try rafting.
That blue water of Una River looks attractive, right? Especially on a hot summer day… Forgot to bring your swimwear? No worries! Just take off your clothes and jump into the water. Yep, nude. Like the locals do! Apparently, nudism is accepted in Bosnia.
Brown bears, lynxes, wolves, foxes, chamois, fishes and birds are Una’s inhabitants, next to a few people. Locals sell honey, juices, etc. alongside the road of the entrance of the park.
Where to find
Nacionalni Park Una as it’s called in Bosnian, is located in, or actually south of, Bihać. This is also the town where you can find ATMs to get Bosnian cash (BAM) for the entrance fee for example.
- The northeastern point of where NP Una starts at the E761 near Ripac is just 25 km (30 min) southeast of the border crossing with Croatia at Novo Selo Koreničko, which is only 20 km (20 min) east of the entrance of Plitvice Lakes NP.
- Una NP stretches out 65 km southwards along the Una River, which forms a natural border between Croatia and Bosnia.
- Exits 3 (Štrbački buk) and 5 (Martin Brod) lead to the most attractive waterfalls of Una NP.
- The most southern point of NP Una at R408 near Vrtoče is 115 km (2 hours) northeast to Krka NP.
- GPS coordinates: 44° 29′ NB, 16° 8′ OL
Una National Park opened up to the public in 2008. Nevertheless there are still mostly gravel roads that lead to the main attractions. I guess this makes the park less accessible or attractive for the average tourist, but more adventurous and peaceful for us!
24 km upstream from Štrbački buk, in the direction of Kulen Vakuf (south of Štrbački buk), are the Martin Brod waterfalls, the largest complex of waterfalls on the river Una. The largest waterfall of the Martin Brod complex (Vodopad Veliki Una) is Milancev buk.
Where to stay
You can either visit Una National Park from your accommodation near Plitvice Lakes, or NP Krka in Croatia, or decide to spend the night in Bosnia. The ones I would recommend near/in Una NP:
- Number of inhabitants: >3.5 million
- Size: 51,129 km2 (19,741 sq. mi)
- Capital: Sarajevo
- Official languages: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian
- Currency: Bosnian Convertible Marka (BAM)
- President: the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina is a three-member body which collectively serves as Head of State of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Currently (since 2014) these are: Dragan Čović (Bosnian Croat), Mladen Ivanić (Bosnian Serb) and Bakir Izetbegović (Bosniak).
- The two other national parks in Bosnia-Herzegovina are: Kozara National Park and Sutjeska National Park, which are both much older yet smaller than Una National Park.
Bosnia is not part of the European Union, so a valid passport is required to enter. In most cases a European identity card is also accepted by the Bosnian authorities, but since there is no official agreement, bringing your passport is recommended.
As soon as you cross the border into Bosnia, you will notice the minarets of mosques. Islam is the most widespread religion in Bosnia Herzegovina (half of the population), originating from the 15th and 16th centuries as a result of Ottoman (Turkish) conquest of the area.
Bosnia-Herzegovina still shows lots of scars from the Yugoslav Wars (1991-1999). Many destroyed and abandoned houses with bullet holes in the walls. In Croatia you also see some abandoned houses here and there, but by far not as many as in Bosnia, especially in the border region. Such contrast with the beauty of National Park Una!
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I wrote several articles about Croatia. Check them out here.