Thick forests, vast wetlands, deep chasms - this is a wild, inaccessible place that belongs more to myth than reality. The landscape looks as if it was taken straight from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. But here, there are neither orcs nor elves; rather, bears and wolves. This is not Middle Earth; rather it is middle Europe - the Balkans. Through the centuries, this land has burned its way into the soul and spirit of its people. The jagged contours have thrown long, dark shadows over the history of the peninsula, always in the middle, between forces of the East and the West. It's as if the bloody history of the Balkans conspired to conceal its natural wonders. The landscape is still untouched, and in it are wild animals that have all but vanished from the rest of Europe.
Airs Wednesday, December 26, at 7pm on Channel 5.