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This summer, I want to go trekking with some friends (not in mountains). There are 3-4 of us and we have some experience in trekking in Western and Northern Europe, two months in total.

We though about going to Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro. I am really excited about this but all our parents beg us to stay away from these “mafioso and integrist” countries. I know that they have an old vision of the ex-Yugoslavia countries, but I am still a bit influenced by them. We are 23 years old, fit but like not "big muscled", and caucasians.

How should I feel about safety when it comes to camping in the nature? (And is it legal?) Also, should I believe in this “a lot of people will want to cause you trouble” speech?

What I know is mostly from http://hitchwiki.org/. Basically, it says that it's OK with people but that this zone has the biggest land mines problem in the world…

  • Can you define 'safe'? – Gayot Fow Feb 27 '15 at 0:18
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    When hiking in the Balkan, the biggest problem for us were the stray dogs... Be aware of them! – RoflcoptrException Feb 27 '15 at 6:47
  • By asking if it's safe, I was asking if there was a tendency to rob tourists, kidnap people and so on, more than in west/north Europe. I know it sounds a little stupid to ask this wuestion, but you never know. Alos I don't ask about animals and the quality of footways. I know what to expect from the nature,it doesn't judge people. – Vulpo Feb 28 '15 at 11:11
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I have not "trekked" through the Balkans but I have cycled unaccompanied with no support through Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia and found the people very friendly and helpful and the overall experience 'safe'. Although my description of safe may differ from yours.

I stayed in a hostel/b&b for one night in Podgorica but the rest of the time I was bivouacking on the side of the road, in random shelters etc.

I think the locals that I did meet either did not understand my thick Yorkshire accent so were bemused by what I was saying or thought I was completely mad cycling through Europe on my own and didn't see me as a threat. But I have to say there was not one incident in the 6-7 days I was cycling through that I was ever in an unsafe situation.

  • What do you mean by "bivouacking in random shelters", is it like unsupervised camping sited ? – Vulpo Feb 28 '15 at 11:19
  • @Vulpo its bare minimum camping on any patch of land deemed suitable. In this instance it was mainly lay-bys, central reservations, farmers fields etc. In your instance it will be making camp anywhere on route. – davidb Mar 2 '15 at 10:03
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You should go. I've never been to Montenegro, but I have been to various places in Dalmatia, and I have spent a good deal of time in and around Sarajevo, where my mother in law lives.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "trekking" (and I have no idea what you mean by "integrist"). Land mines are a problem in Bosnia, but the problem is dwindling, thanks to mine removal activities. Mined areas are well marked. Well established hiking areas are perfectly safe. Outdoor recreation is popular in Bosnia, so people have been walking on these trails for nearly two decades now since the end of the war.

My mother in law lives in Sarajevo, and she belongs to several mountaneering clubs. She routinely travels with them to Croatia and Montenegro as well as around Bosnia, and my wife and I have gone hiking with her several times in Bosnia.

As long as you take care to plan your itinerary in a well-traveled place, you will be safe from mines. The most obvious ways to achieve that are to use a guidebook or to go with a local guide or group tour.

As far as hitchhiking and land mines, sure, it's a good idea not to run off into the woods. Most of the signs I've seen for mines are in rather remote parts of the mountains. Again, if you are on well-traveled roads, you will not have to worry about mines.

I do not know what rules exist for camping. Again, if you stick to established camping areas, you will have no need to fear mines.

With respect to crime, sure, there is crime. Like organized criminals in the rest of Europe, Bosnia's organized criminals are not particularly interested in robbing tourists; their activities are more on the wholesale level. Street crime exists, too, of course, as it does in every large city. If you exercise the same caution you would exercise anywhere, you will be fine.

However many people might want to cause you trouble, 10 times more people will be friendly and helpful. The scenery is beautiful, too. I definitely recommend it.

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    (+1) Integrism is a movement within the Catholic church. The term is commonly used in France (albeit arguably improperly) to mean “radical islam”. – Relaxed Feb 27 '15 at 10:51
  • it's a sneaky way to say in english 'religious fundamentalist'. – easymoden00b Feb 27 '15 at 16:38
  • Basically, trekking is a walk which is many days long during which you sleep in your own tent. I confirm the informal (that is why I used quotes around this term) definition of "integrist" as defined above. – Vulpo Feb 28 '15 at 11:16

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