Tobacco Smuggling Road – A history close up
Herzegovina is a specific region that has a long tradition in tobacco growing, thanks to it’s geographical position. This tradition started in the time of Austro-Hungarian monarchy and is still nourished. Tobacco was known as a yellow gold in that time, mainly because growth and smuggling of it meant that life will be simpler, but more dangerous.
By occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina the Austro-Hungarian monarchy started the monopoly law on the growth, production and sales of tobacco, this could only be done by the state and not by the people. People were allowed to grow tobacco for a personal use, but sales was taxed and people didn’t have enough money to cover those expenses so they started to learn a new trade, known as tobacco smuggling.
That was a very lucrative, but dangerous job, that demanded great resourcefulness and skills to avoid police. This job needed a lot of attention, hard work, and it demanded the whole family to be included in the process, from the kids to the old members, that were helped with the irreplaceable member, a donkey.
Adventures of the tobacco smugglers are a part of the legends of the mountains in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This story is a reminder of those people and their uncertainty related to the mountains, with a wish to keep those memories and save them from being lost.
Life was hard in the parts of west Herzegovina. One of the rare agricultural products that found it’s way to success was a tobacco. Tobacco smugglers had to choose the tougher paths through the mountains to be able to avoid police ambushes, and all that was done with a big load on their backs, over the highest peaks and dangerous grounds.
They carried big rucksacks filled with tobacco and started their way without knowing for sure whether they’ll make it to their final destinations. It was a unique adventure that was dangerous and risky, they even could lose their lives along the way. Many of the smugglers ended in the newspapers as bad news or a story of death.
To bring tobacco to the seaside smugglers used paths via Biokovo mountain. The hardest road was the one leading towards Sarajevo. Sarajevo is pretty far away from the fields of tobacco and smugglers needed to pass high mountains along the way, from Prenj, Visocica, Treskavica and to Bjelasnica. Those are some of the highest mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina and they have their own weather conditions, caused by collision of Mediterranean, continental and mountain climate conditions. It’s possible to experience all four season weather conditions during one summer day on those mountains. Traveling via those mountains took a couple of days, with all day walking.
It’s possible to follow the old tracks today, to visit all places that were known as rest areas for the tobacco smugglers, and to be a part of their adventure.
Start planning your next experience today.