Katuns or huts are mountain settlements of Herzegovinians and Montenegrins, and they were created out of the need for the simple survival of people and their livestock. Every mountain village cherishes the story of how it was created. Journalist team stayed in cabins on Zelengora. Hundreds of thousands of cattle used to graze on Zelengora pastures. Today, only a few herders take their herds, often to the grandiose cliffs of Zelengora, among them Rajko Dobranic from Berkovici. And this summer he brought out a herd of 600 sheep, cows, horses, and pigs.
“It’s not about what we have to do, but we have the opportunity to choose a better pasture for the livestock. It is healthier for the livestock to change the terrain,” Rajko Dobranic told.
There are fewer and fewer of them, and those who take cattle out to graze, like Dobranic, have given up making traditional cheeses, because, they say, there are no enough hands to milk sheep and cows, so cattle are raised exclusively for meat. Namely, Dobranici are among few in the central part of Zelengora who have cattle.
“There were over 30 katuns, over 30 herders here. There were approximately 500-600 sheep in the herds. Later, when the number of herders decreased, the size of the herd increased. Herds could grow up to 1400 heads. We had 1400 sheep for several years in a row. You have no company. That is one of the needs, and the other thing is that there is no competition. Every business needs healthy competition. It was practically like one village. Namely, that’s how the katuns were divided, it was known from the municipality which part was inhabited and which part by which village. I think this is the last year that we work in this way, not that I think, but I am sure of it”, says Dobranic.
Some katuns were extinguished due to the departure of people from Herzegovina, others due to the establishment of the National Park (NP) Sutjeska. It was these mountain houses that sheltered the partisans during the battle on Sutjeska.
“There were katuns here until the formation of the NP until 1962, when the expropriation took place. With the formation of the national park, the katuns, which include Donje and Gornje Bare, disappeared. Until ’62. there were katuns there, and now the walls are recognisable,” says Milos Zivanovic, curator of theMuseum NP Sutjeska.
Zivanovic points out that fierce battles were fought at that place by the 2nd Dalmatia Brigade, which was the predecessor of the 1st Proletarian Brigade.
And on the shore of Donje Bare, Tito himself once rested, and in 1964, before his arrival, the Mountaineer’s Home was built. Even today, it is possible to rest here, but not in that demolished building, but in the hunting lodge managed by NP Sutjeska.
On the other side of the mountain ranges, in Prijevor at the foot of Maglic, there is the last katun in this part of the mountain. But there are also huts where you can spend the night. Radovan Bjeletic keeps a herd of cows there in the glades. It is one of the few that still produces cheese from the bellows.
“That’s milk. Cows are milked in the morning and in the evening. The cream is poured into the tub. And it can stay in the tree as long as you want. And then it is mixed into mixtures, traditionally, in a sheep skin that has been prepared beforehand. It can stay there for 5-6 months”, says Bjeletic.
And katuns follow modern trends. Solar panels are installed on the roofs, so there is light. Bjeletic also found a solution for hot water in the outdoor bathroom. Well, those who visit Prijevor can also spend the night at his place.
The closest to Radovan‘s katun is the katun on Lake Trnovackoin Montenegro, where Dragoslav Komlenic spends the summer with his family. Trnovacko lake can be reached by horse, so Dragoslav welcomes tourists at Radovan’s place.
“I take care of tourists, that’s a tradition left to me from my father, and then my brother also did that“, says Dragoslav Komlenic.
There is not always a network, so Dragoslav and Radovan establish the cross-border connection between Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)-Montenegro with a Motorola. In this area, apart from them, the guard at Trnovacko lake also has a Motorola.
In addition to their katuns, which are still alive, there are also three huts, built by the NP in order to offer tourists, during the summer, the atmosphere of living in a mountain hut.
“That atmosphere of sleeping under the clear sky, next to the fire, playing the guitar. People are returning more and more to nature, where there is a complete digital detox, where you don’t have the right signal. You are completely isolated,” says Nevena Novovic from NP Sutjeska.
This certainly does not mean lonely, as journalists were convinced, since there are a large number of those who visit the peaks of Zelengora, Maglic, Volujak, Vucevo and other mountains in this part of BiH, but also in Montenegro, every day, during the season, N1 reports.