Eco Zone Zelenkovac
Bridge between People and Nature
Pearl of the countryside in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eco Zone Zelenkovac is all that speaks untouched nature. Fortified by a dense and completely undisturbed forest, this serene place found its safe haven in West Bosnia, off the beaten path region known for its stunning mountains and amazing water abundance.
Real Life Fairy Tale
Once upon a time… Indeed, the story of Ecco Zone Zelenkovac deserves nothing less than a fairytale beginning. Therefor, writing about this area does not allow simple promo article written in the standard journalistic alphabet. It is a fairy tale under the auspices of Mr. Borislav Jankovic. A fairy tale that deserves sorting out another form of language. The language of the lord of bridges between people and nature, maybe.
The day chose the rain to keep following us all the way through. Throwing itself underfoot it washed away the pandemic and the asphalt of the city we carried on our shoe soles and minds. We knew about Zelenkovac before, but this time we wanted to experience it outside the shackles of tour operators and guides. Henceforth, to write with impartial language and unbiased manner.
Imagine a raw nature, magnificent, wild and thick forest, undisturbed trees, and stunning streams. There is an old quartz mine, a small lake, the art of architecture without any plan, and an old wooden boat to fit in the story… Imagine absolutely untouched nature with jazz music in the background.
Contract between Nature and Human
Ecco Zone Zelenkovac means NOT to touch anything in the belt around the location where it is peacefully nested. Therefor, every tree, mill, ant, flower and bird must remain intact. Moreover, any tourism service facility including an ordinary grocery shop, must remain outside this contract of man and nature, in the area of the main road. Consequently, Ecco Zone Zelenkovac is not a lodging, it is a community of flora, fauna and humans.
You can find Zelenkovac 15km from Mrkonjic Grad, small town in Bosanska Krajina. Its location is between Banja Luka and Jajce. Therofor, it is undeniably the ideal stop for all of the travellers going direction towards Banja Luka, Bihac or Croatian coastline such as Split. Eco Zone Zelenkovac is tucked away at the foot of Lisina Mountain hills, in a tranquil forest along a river, far away from civilisation. Following the example of the Hollywood, at the entrance you will be greeted by huge Zelenkovac sign. However, contrary to Hollywood glamor, this sign is represented by modest letters, natural welcome and a little help to a random or intentional traveller.
We approach Zelenkovac on a macadam road and leave our van with all the things and equipment in the open parking lot. Regardless of the fact that it is dark and the only thing we can see are shadows of the tree-covered human creations in the shape of huts and bridges, we feel absolutely no fear. The rain accepted Zelenkovac as the last refuge and merged into the roaming of the stream. In one hut we hear laughter that echoes harmoniously in the sum of the water and our quiet footsteps. There is no one to greet us outside. The host does not go out the door as is the custom in the Balkans. They let us examine, review, and decide to enter whenever, wherever we want.
Where a raw Nature meets the finest Art
Bora and the team greeted us with a welcome drink in a hut that serves as a pub and art gallery. The interior of the main hut is an artistic expression of Bora Jankovic. Simple and wooden furniture surrounded by walls decorated with paintings represent Bora’s thoughts, struggles, inner peace and happiness. A setting that Tarkovsky himself would envy. Every moment set in this hut tells a new story. Some of them Bora will tell you himself, some you can simply make up yourself in the whirlwind of your own thoughts.
Zelenkovac has been owned by Bora’s family for a very long time. Family originally used this place as a location of a windmill. After completing his studies in Sarajevo, Bora decided it was time to move away from the world and escape to the quiet shelter of Zelenkovac. People at times thought he had become a lunatic and often called him “Crazy Boro”. Over the time, Bora managed to lay the foundations of an oasis of peace and a safe haven for many artists from writers and poets to painters and performers of the former Yugoslavia.
They served us dinner in a wonderfully clean, simple and incredibly delicious variant. There is no place for haste in Zelenkovac. Dinner preparation is done in the same manner. Slowly, modestly, but with a lot of knowledge and diversity. We were familiar with every type of food yet every taste managed to surprise us. Most importantly, smiles. Smiles at peoples’ faces all the time, no matter what. Don’t expect luxury, but you can definitely count on amazing hospitality and wonderful people.
Zelenkovac is not a regular Lodging, it is more a Community
After a hearty dinner we headed to the wooden bungalow. When you go to places such as Zelenkovac, don’t even think about insisting on the absolute comfort of hotel accommodation. Zelenkovac is not a standard lodging, it is rather a community. A place that offers you to be close with the nature while fulfilling everything you need to meet your human needs.
Zelenkovac currently has 9 bungalows of different sizes. Each lodge has a unique name which gives the whole place a special personality. The art and work which Bora incorporated in these small wooden huts deserve praise that the author of this text is not able to apply to this article. Bora made each of the huts on his own. Wood by wood and stone by stone, every single hut represents a small museum of handicrafts which Bora either made on his own, or collected over the time.
Our bungalow had two floors. On the first floor there was a spacious living room and a spotlessly clean toilet. Second floor had two comfy rooms with six beds in total. However, just because you decided to spend a night there, it does not mean that nature will come out ashamed and wait for you to leave. We assure you that the Zelenkovac team will not kill any creature inside this zone, including those that found their shelter at the rooms of wooden huts.
Every cobweb you come across is not a form of negligence but an expression of simple acceptance. Therefor, it is up to you and how you will deal with it. If you are bothered by a spider, mosquito, caterpillar or a hard wooden bed, then it may be best to spend the night somewhere else instead. Zelenkovac Eco Zone will provide a great experience even only for a day visit.
Harmony and mutual Acceptance between Nature and Human
The next morning perfectly round sun and Bora- the mountain of a man greeted us with a smile. Story of Zelenkovac reaches its climax only when it is realised how much harmony with nature and mutual acceptance it takes for a man to overcome the inherited, destructive. Therefore, Zelenkovac can never be described solely. As such, it was conceived by Bora’s harmonious relationship with nature. The story of Zelenkovac is actually Bora and his attitude towards nature.
Bora is a man you can listen to a day and night. At one point it will seem to you as if all Russian classicism has tripped over his personality and stayed there. Under the disguise of a strong, Russian like cold mountain man, you will find his charming, gentle personality and superhuman strength. His story begins with love for his family. He made some mistakes in past, he says while taking a sip of coffee and inhaling the cigar smoke that looks like a part of his hand. Bora is a man on whose face you see a whole cosmos of mistakes arising from the childish thoughts of an artist.
Armed with cameras, dictaphones and pens, we had so many questions. However, Bora is such a narrator that his story absolutely overwhelms you. Thus, it doesn’t really matter what the topic is. Bora talks very sweetly and childishly about his life. There is not a single question you can’t ask him. On the other hand, there is no question by which you would like to interrupt his story telling. He talks about love for the world, inner struggle, hedonism and childish ideology. He is the one recreating St. Petersburg streets for you. His walks with Natacha with vodka in one hand and carnations and chocolate in the another.
Village of Inner Peace and Tranquility
After a few photos, we went for a walk through the village. We stayed longer, much longer than planned. None of us expected this place to ask for anything more than a few photos and a few standard promo content lines. Although apparent negligence can deceive you, every corner of this zone is premeditated. As as result, you will find yourself crossing the Pushkin’s Bridge, following in the general’s footsteps and meeting a series of dedicated characters carved into bridges and huts.
Bora maintains Zelenkovac together with his family and volunteers who occasionally live in Zelenkovac. Surprisingly, you will not find a single peace of unwanted garbage at this place. Being placed at the foot of Lisina Mountain, hiking possibilities are limitless. Vast corridors of forest carpeted with pure green grass and colourful flowers will make simply united with nature. For mushroom lovers, Lisina mountain is the European second mountain with over 1600 of different mushroom species.
Nature and its diversity have marked Zelenkovac so much that it invokes the raw essence of you’re being. To sum up, once in this area, there is nothing in this world you would rather do at the moment but to simply wander thoughtlessly and carelessly in harmony with your inner child.
Birthplace of one of the best Jazz Festivals in region
For 20 years in a row, since 1999, in the end of July, Bora and his team have been organising the Jazz Festival. The festival is growing in popularity, especially among young people in BiH and abroad. Excellent domestic and foreign jazz musicians from all around the world have been performing in Zelenkovac. As a result, festival became a symbol for good music and friendly atmosphere. The 4-day event is all about innovative jazz.
You can participate in plethora of interesting instrument and environmental protection workshops. The specific thing about this event is the fact that small local and up-and-coming artists have the opportunity to perform on the same stage with well-known performers. In recent years, some of great jazz names who performed at this stage are: Monty Waters (USA), Hanes Backman (Germany), Imre Kesegi (Hungary), Michael Blum (Belgrade / Tel-Aviv), Vlatko Stefanovski (FYR Macedonia), Troitsa (Belarus), Let’s Quit (Netherlands), Jamaican Jukebox, Jazz Foundation (Netherlands), W5 (France)…).
In addition to music, this festival offers a chance for a deep dialogue between artists regardless their different life paths, experiences and, possibly, conflicting ideas. Hence, everyone can express everything that animates and motivates them. That is the charm of Zelenkovac, no matter if you visit it during festival days, or any other time. Recognition and reconciliation.
Jazz Festival entrance fee: 10 BAM (cca 5 EUR) per day
30 BAM (cca 15 Eur) four days
Camping spot: 10 BAM (cca 5 EUR) per day