The Livno region is known for stories of people leaving for work in neighboring Croatia, and even further, to Germany and Austria. What is less talked about are the unique stories of those who have returned and decided to apply their newly acquired knowledge and experience in their hometown. Marin Mamuza was born in 1992 in Livno, the far west of Bosnia’s frontier with Croatia. He belongs to the generation focused on Zagreb, the capital of neighboring Croatia, where many youth from his local community left in search of education and new opportunities. Although Marin too left for Zagreb to receive his higher education, his love for photography and the landscapes and nature of Livno area brought him back once he finished. He started by sharing photos via social networks that brought the interest of many people from the country and, eventually, the world to visit Livno.
What is the main magnet to the vast landscapes of Livno? If you ask Marin, without hesitation he’d say that wild horses are the biggest asset for tourism development in the Livno area. With over 700 wild horses roaming the high alpine meadows of Cincar Mountain, he has carved out an interesting niche for himself – wild horse safari’s. When asked where all these horses came from, Marin said there were several theories but the most logical one goes like this. Livno was always a poor and isolated area. Before the era of mechanization in the former Yugoslavia, most of the work was done my hand and, well, with horse power. Literally. Most farms had horses for the heaving pulling. Feeding these horses over the winter was an expensive endeavor. Whereas cutting grass and making haystacks for the sheep and cows over the winter gave the farmers something in return, such as meat or milk, the horses were seen as a heavy winter overhead. So many would let the horses roam to graze and fend for themselves over the winter months. With the intensification of mechanization in the region, the farmers had less and less need for real horse power and opted for the mechanical one. So a small population of horses, already semi-wild, were set free in the highlands. Now the area boasts of Europe’s largest population of wild horses, most of which were born in the wild and have never been domesticized.
So with a passion for photography, nature and filming, the next logical step for Marin was how to turn this into a way to protect the horses and allow himself to make a sustainable living in Livno and not Zagreb. His answer was Continental Adventure, a company currently focused on organizing photo safaris, with ambition for further expanding their offer to hiking, mountain biking and glamping on the hillside overlooking Busko Lake. Continental tours is now a team of two – with Marin’s fiancée Marija joining him to expand the business. With a grant from USAID Diaspora Invest project they plan to increase their accommodation capacity with glamping facilities and purchase electric mountain bikes to explore the highlands and observe the horses by bike instead of a jeep. The tours are truly one-of-a-kind where one can not only witness the raw strength and beauty of these untamed animals, but can approach them, pet them and even sit in the middle of a herd and admire the sheer grace to be in the presence of such magnificent creatures.