In 1984, back when Bosnia-Herzegovina was still part of a unified Yugoslavia, the Winter Olympics were held in and around Sarajevo. Some of the Alpine events were held at Jahorina mountain, a short drive from the center of Sarajevo.
I remember watching the 1984 Winter Olympics and being enthralled by the scenes of Sarajevo and the surrounding mountains. The area was immediately placed on my "list" of places to see one day. Within a few years, however, Sarajevo became famous for a different reason. War had come and my hopes of visiting Sarajevo were put on hold.
I finally got my chance in January 2006 both to visit Sarajevo and to ski at Jahorina. Although Jahorina – one of Bosnia's premier ski areas – is only a short distance from Sarajevo – the capital of the country – getting from one to the other proved difficult. Jahorina is in the Republika Srpska (Serb Republic) area of Bosnia, while Sarajevo is in the Muslim-Croat Federation area. Public transportation does not run directly between the two (in the end we ended up renting a car, which solved the problem).
Jahorina mountain reaches 6,276 feet (1913 meters) above sea level. The terrain is largely wide open, though there are also some narrower trails through the trees. The area offers excellent skiing and the prices are – by U.S. and western European standards – a wonderful bargain. An all-day lift ticket was less than $15! While the mountain itself is world class, the facilities are not. The chair lifts were old and slow. No ski maps were available and signs were rare, making getting around on the mountain somewhat hit or miss. But the people were friendly (though few spoke English) and we managed to have a very enjoyable few days here.
In the surrounding countryside, damage from the war remains apparent. Fortunately, however, new hotels and other facilities are being built (a sign of optimism for the future). It won't be too long before the ski area itself is upgraded. The terrain is just too good to ignore. So, if you're looking for a bargain, come soon!
A special thanks to my friend and traveling companion, Michael Kreidler, not only for his pleasant company and deep knowledge of the Bosnia's history, but for his small camera that was more easily carried to the slopes. Many of the photos on this page are his and are used here with his kind permission.