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14river ribnik, Bosnia & Herzegovina

continued from page 07Following my arrival into this country having crossed the Bosnian border from Croatia where my in-bound flight docked, I passed through several eerie 'ghost-towns,' evidently heavy victims of the Balkan war of the early 90's, with little or no life present. All around me the architecture boasts horrific battle scars, with machine gun pepper sprayed walls common on the derelict dwellings. All too aware of the atrocities that happened here a mere15 years ago, a stone-cold silence washed over me, replacing my boisterous, adrenaline-fuelled mood. That was until I arrived at our destination in the Srnetica mountains, a small village - the Gornji Ribnik - named after the river which divides it. The economy here thrives on eco-tourism, preservation being a vital factor in its success. The people here are extremely pleasant. As we trek the banks they purposely vacate their homes to welcome me and offer me fruit. In accepting the gifts they offer I immediately ponder over the horrific plight they have lived through, but it's now what defines them. Grateful their ordeal has now passed, they are illuminated by an unprecedented 'high on life' aura. With such a small population in the surrounding village every occupant plays their role in the conservation of the River Ribnik, fostering a true community spirit.The Ribnik is in total six miles long, quickly contributing to the mighty Sana, and to say it is quite unique is an understatement. At the source of the river are not one, but two natural springs gushing from the base of a mountain, capable of reaching up to 2m high in the spring season - it is a breathtaking sight and almost defies belief! This unique natural source offers several favouring attributes, the first being crystal-clear water. Trying to find the words to describe this clarity is beyond literature, as deep turquoise lagoons mesmerise all that gaze into them. The second, its clarity, is solely due to its glacial origin and its speed, which prevents any sediment from clinging to the rock-strewn river floor.15continued on page 22river ribnik, Bosnia & Herzegovina