From the hill Plavno to the hill Stražbenica, across the river Una, says the tradition, the epic hero Mujo Hrnjica jumped over Bosanska Otoka on his horse. On Plavno, there is a print in the stone that resembles a horse hoof and now locals “knit” stories of an epic hero, Hrnjica. At that time, in the first half of the 1600s, this small place in northwestern Bosnia, green oasis, was called Adai Kebir (Big Island).
Big Island or in the Illyrian time Insula, actually is one of 24 river islands on the Una River, on which shores today’s Bosanska Krupa was built. The fact which is related to Otoka and is most commonly encountered, is that only European mosque on the river island was built here. A fortress that could be reached via wooden bridge used to be at this place.
The locals will be happy to tell you that the bridges were raised when the fortress was attacked by foreign armies, so it was unconquerable. Slightly lower, on the banks of the Una river in ancient times a Franciscan monastery has been built. Although it has a rich history, and there is abound of traditional stories, the fact is that it was first mentioned in 1264 under the Latin name Insula.
KEREP AND A TENT
Bosanska Krupa today is a small, but a place that has a huge tourist potential, primarily because of the Una and the opportunities provided by such a geographical location. Former water mills along the flow of the Una have been renovated and transformed into restaurants and cafes. Especially in the summer time this place offers its guests an excellent atmosphere.
Although, in Bosanska Otoka and Bosanska Krupa, which are only 11 kilometers distant, convenient and comfortable hotel or motel accommodation can be found, for visitors who have adventurous spirit, the best option is camping in a tent. Such an option provides one of the islands – Mlinčići. For just a few Euros per day, visitors can enjoy good food at a nearby restaurants, sports fields and well-tended beach.
For decades, this resort has been in private possession of the family Ičanović. During summer days a raft or as the locals say “kerep“ will take you to an island surrounded by deep Una and waterfalls. You will have to bring a tent and a break with barbecue, volleyball, soccer, tennis, and extremely clean beach can begin.
– Arabs came here. They offered me to buy all this, but I did not want to sell. I have a price, and they are offered less. I will not give it easily; it is not that I have to sell. However, I can tell you, if someone bought it and was willing to invest money, that someone could do a miracle. There is a potential. Unfortunately, my family has no money to invest – says Đemal Ičanović, successor of the island, during one of our visits to Mlinčići.
Although it is like heaven on earth, visitors to this small town will stay only for a few days, so it is best to plan the visit to the Islands as one of the destinations of the wider area of Bosanska Krajina.
From Bosanska Otoka upstream, first next destination is Bosanska Krupa, a town with a rich history, nature, landscaped parks, walking paths and beaches. Real ships are made here and skillful hands of artisan Himzo Bužimkić are responsible that those ships now sail even the Thames, and some Italian rivers. Ships are more than five meters long and are entirely made of wood. Best wood is spruce, fi ris good too, but only the one that grew on the west side of the forest, where there was no plenty of sun and where the tree did not grow too fast. This is how artisan Himzo will explain what kind of wood was used to make ships that sail through Europe, but other secrets he will not disclose.
If you go through this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, inevitably you have to visit spring of the river Krušnica. If you are diving, this could be the perfect place for you, just be cautious. This is recommended for professionals.
ONLY FOR THE BRAVE
The diving team, expedition performed by the Czech-Hungarian team from the Association of TDI SDI for South East Europe, led by Michal Piskula, years ago, with the assistance of local divers dived to a depth of 112 meters and have not reached the bottom of the spring Krušnica. Czech and Hungarian divers did not even glimpse the bottom, so it is assumed that the spring of the river Krušnica and Crno Lake in the canyon of the Una, between Bihać and Bosanska Krupa, are connected and contain incredible amounts of drinking water. The spring is much deeper and much wider than it was assumed until then. So far unknown galleries of unusually large sizes – length of 750 meters, which descend below the stunning depth of 112 meters were found, this was an explanation of the members of the expedition that in 2008 appeared in the local media.
– In addition to the incredible water potential, all the way one can find olm, lots of isopoda, and unusual shrimp that we have not had a chance to see. This ranks Krušnica among the very few completely ecologically preserved sources with rich cave-fauna – said Željko Mirković, a diving instructor.
In the previous period the most famous divers from France, Czech Republic, Hungary and England dived in the springs and flooded caves, and studies have been carried out in the local largest karst springs Klokot, Dobrenica, Pećina, Crno Lake, Krušnica, Zdena, Dabar and Sanica.
– In these studies, we have reached an incredible knowledge about morphology and capacity of our karst springs, as this area is ranked in the world top when water resources are concerned. This wealth in a relatively small area exists only in a few places on the entire planet – said Mirković.
Sounds good, but for those who are not fond of such adventures and research under water, rafting on the Una is still a better option. Rafting or a shorter sailing in Una boats also will be an unforgettable experience. Moreover, while you are there, join the local fishermen and catch your dinner. Bon appetite and have a good time on the banks of the Una River!