Aqua path established in Hutovo blato

Aqua path of Hutovo blato allows visitors to experience the magical world of aquatic habitats and unique flora and fauna, providing unforgettable moments that will be remembered for a long time

Lake Deran, photo by Dijana Bošnjak

Capljina, BiH: As part of the EU project “Explore Cross-border Aquatic Biodiversity – EXChAngE”,  Aqua path was established as a new tourist offer of the Hutovo Blato Nature Park. It is part of a new tourist product – Blue Pass, which will enable visits to project partners and their new thematic routes with improved infrastructure: Dubrovnik and Aquarium (University of Dubrovnik, Croatia), Kotor and Boka Aquarium (Kotor Tourist Board and Institute of Marine Biology, Montenegro ), and the Aqua path in Mostar and the Neretva River (HNŽ Tourist Board, Bosnia and Herzegovina), and will attract more tourists to this region.

Hutovo blato is part of the Neretva Delta wetland complex and with 61 occasional or permanently active springs, the Krupa River and six lakes  witch are connected by canals and ravines, Hutovo blato Nature parke offers habitat for numerous rare, endangered and endemic species.

This route starts in Karaotok, where the gathering place and boarding of boats on the plateau of the pier. After boarding the boats, visitors with expert guidance sail from the Karaotok through the Kanal Sunca to the river Krupa, and then to Lake Deran. Through canals and ravines through untouched nature, the road leads further to the lake pearls: Drijen and Orah, deep lakes, supplied with cold water of the Bregava by underground canals. After a rest and refreshment at Lake Orah, visitors return the same way.

Professor Ph.D. Svjetlana Stanić-Koštroman, who worked on theAqua path, said that the route was chosen in a way that provides visitors with a unique experience of the exceptional biological and landscape diversity of this sub-Mediterranean Ramsar site and nature park.

“The backbone of the Aqua path consists of very diverse aquatic ecosystems, there are the Krupa River, and Lakes Deran, Orah and Drijen, which are the best preserved part of the Neretva Delta wetland complex. Sailing surrounded by dense reeds, visitors have the opportunity to see a very diverse fauna of birds, which are a special natural wealth of Hut blato. Of the 163 bird species recorded in this area, almost all (160) are protected under international conventions and directives. Hutovo blato is also a significant fish hatchery in the Neretva river basin, including 12 endemic species. Lake Deran is a habitat for as many as nine endemic fish species, and the ecosystems of Lakes Oraha and Drijena are a breeding ground for endangered endemic species, the Neretva roaches ”.

The whole ride lasts about two hours, and during it, visitors can enjoy not only the natural beauty but also the unique local specialties and drinks.

Hutovo Blato Nature Park implements the project “EXChAngE” within the program “Interreg IPA cross-border cooperation of Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Montenegro 2014-2020” – a trilateral program dedicated to strengthening the social, economic and territorial development of the cross-border area. The program covers 12 counties in Croatia, 109 municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Brcko District, and 11 municipalities in Montenegro. By implementing joint projects, the Program contributes to better quality of services in the public health and social welfare sector, protects the environment and biodiversity of the region, promotes sustainable energy; nurtures cultural and natural heritage and provides a better business environment for the program area. The basic goal of the Program is to achieve a better quality of life for people living in border regions.