this article is not a fun one, but it is incredibly important you read it. Your life literally depends on it!
Biokovo mountain attracts visitors form all sides of the world all year round. It is the second highest mountain in Croatia, and the highest one on the entire Adriatic coast. There, you will find all types of terrain, from pine tree forests, to meadows, climbing rocks and sharp karst areas with sinkholes, caves and caverns. This is what makes it one of the most beautiful and one of the most dangerous European mountains.
When looking at it from the coast, Biokovo looks like an easy mountain to conquer, but we assure you, it is not. Diverting from the marked trail, even for just a few meters, can mean the difference between life and death here. So please, do not take it lightly.
The Croatian Mountain Rescue (HGSS) service has done an incredible job in the last 70ish years of its existence, and every year they issue special warnings for hikers/climber/walkers/visitors of all Croatian mountains, Biokovo included. And they won the 'best communicator award' in 2017. This means they are always informing and warning us about the dangers of being unprepared in the mountains. However, some people simply disregard those warnings, and even the Mountain Rescue Service cannot save everyone every time. That's why people sometimes even end their lives in Biokovo. Please, avoid this at all costs!
There are safety measures that you must take when deciding to explore Biokovo. They may be a tedious read, but these rules and guidelines will save your life!
We will write down the rules of behavior issued by the Mountain Rescue Service below:
do not go to the mountains alone, and do not separate from your group
inform your family about your whereabouts and estimate return time, and stick to the plan
write your name in the 'Visitors logbook' in the mountain shelters
ask for and listen to advice from experienced hikers or the superintendent of the mountain shelter
be prepared for sudden shift in weather, always wear additional warm clothes, a hat, and wind and rain protection
be sure you take along sufficient quantity of drinking water (1 liter for 1 hour of hiking)
always wear a battery-operated torch with you
carry a mobile phone (fully charge the battery before venturing outdoors)
always have matches of a lighter and a candle with you
always have the first aid kit with you
on every tour, have a map and (preferably) a compass
stick to the marked trails
have sturdy, comfortable hiking boots with ribbed rubber soles
be especially careful in the winter months and keep in mind that the sun sets early in the day
do not go exploring new areas in the winter if you haven't been there in the summer (the scenery changes dramatically with snow)
do not go hiking to higher hills without having experienced hikers in your group
In the event of an accident, here's what you do:
keep calm, and keep those around you calm
protect the injured person(s) and yourself from any immediate danger (from falling down, sliding rocks, suffocation, the cold; keep them and yourself dry) as best as you can
provide first aid to the injured person as best as you can
mark the accident site or the place where the injured person is located (especially in wintertime)
immediately inform the HGSS (Croatian Mountain Rescue Service) of the accident by calling 112
When calling the HGSS, information on the accident should contain the following:
the caller (first name, surname, telephone/mobile phone number), to enable later contact
location from which the call is made and how the caller learned of the accident (as an eyewitness or as an intermediary)
accident location (accurate description)
data regarding the accident victim (name, surname, age, address)
what has happened (cause of the accident and type of injuries sustained)
what has been done so far(what kind of first aid kit was administered, who has been informed of the accident)
weather conditions at the site of the accident
type of access to the accident site
A distress signal on the mountain or on the rock face can be sent by light or sound signals. Distress signal and the response should be repeated until clear and stable communication is established. Distress signals are sent six times a minute, every other other minute, and they are acknowledged by repeating the signal three times a minute every other minute.
Forming the letter "Y" - "yes" with one's body (body is in upright position, with both arms raised to form letter "Y") is a signal that you need help as is the launching of a red flair.
We are aware that these rules might seem like an overkill, but all of this is extremely important and necessary for a pleasant stay in Biokovo area. If it is too much to remember, we advise you print out this article, laminate it, and keep it in your hiking backpack. Hopefully, you will never need it.
To help you navigate the Makarska Riviera area, we developed the free mobile app, containing all the basic info at the palm of your hand. Make sure you download the IOS or Android version of it for your phone. Be advised, the app is there as an orientation tool, and all the info there should be taken with a grain of salt. Also, the mountain is an unforgiving one, and you should always carry that in the back of your mind. Never go alone, always have plenty of water, proper mountaineering footwear, layers of clothing, and a full battery on your phone. Should you need it, the universal emergency number is 112, and don't hesitate to call it when in need.