Feeling on top of the world on Bear Mountain

Posted on February 28, 2016
Archive : February 2016
Category : News
  • Environmentally savvy travellers are drawn to Kosovo and Montenegro
  • In Kosovo, visitors can organise self-guided treks to the Rugova mountains
  • Meanwhile, Montenegro's Bear Mountain offers another challenging hike

By Peter Duncan The Mail On Sunday

Published: 28 February 2016

When two neighbouring countries both seek to talk up their green credentials in a bid to attract environmentally savvy travellers, it can be difficult to select one over the other.

So I came up with an ingenious plan to get around the problem of choosing between Kosovo and Montenegro I decided to visit both on a dual-centre holiday.

After taking a flight to Pristina, the Kosovan capital, I headed towards the lively town of Peya from where I could organise my self-guided treks to the nearby Rugova mountains.

Breathtaking: Unable to choose, Peter travelled to both Kosovo and Montenegro. Pictured: Montenegro's Durmitor mountain range

Breathtaking: Unable to choose, Peter travelled to both Kosovo and Montenegro. Pictured: Montenegro's Durmitor mountain range.

This area has all the obvious attractions for seasoned trekkers in addition to plenty of family-run places to feast and rest after a long day walking.

During my trip, I scaled Gjeravica, the tallest mountain in Kosovo, which is part of the Peaks of the Balkans trail.

The terrain was steep but I came across many hill farmers and their families making a living from their produce in the warm summer months.


In the winter, visitors can ski at a small resort called Boge.

After my week in Kosovo I was impressed by the enthusiasm of its people for a better life despite the obvious economic challenges that the country faces.

I then made my way across the border into Montenegro, and my first stop was the Biogradska National Park an extraordinary primeval forest which includes a lake where you can swim, and beautifully constructed walkways to protect the virgin territory.

If you want to see a magnificent woodland with 350-year-old ash trees then this is a good place to go.


Rising to the challenge: Peter on Bear Mountain in Montenegro, which he says was the most exciting part of his two-week adventure holiday

Rising to the challenge: Peter on Bear Mountain in Montenegro, which he says was the most exciting part of his two-week adventure holiday.

In the middle of the park an enterprising pig farmer had placed a sign which read: 'Cafe food 8km.'

I followed the trail, and sure enough there was a cafe, where I ate a cheese omelette in the company of plenty of other hungry walkers.

The most exciting adventure on my two-week holiday was reaching the summit of Bear Mountain in the Durmitor National Park.

I ignored the sensible instructions of my GPS directing me to a more sedate circuit and instead traversed a thin ridge with huge drops either side. I reached safety just before dusk and felt elated.

I'm sure even Chief Scout Bear Grylls (no relation to the mountain) would have been proud of his predecessor in the role.

Although I am a keen walker, I also hired a car to reach some of Montenegro's more inaccessible locations.

If you're keen on driving in endless loops with spectacular views and sheer drops then the Adriatic coastal roads are not to be missed.

Adventurous: Peter also visited the Rugova mountains in Kosovo for a self-guided trek

Adventurous: Peter also visited the Rugova mountains in Kosovo for a self-guided trek

My final destination was Kotor, an elegant walled city full of expensive designer goods for wealthy yacht owners who moor there in summer, and a string of good restaurants. 

Visiting Kotor at night is particularly enchanting, if a little noisy.

Another place worth visiting is the Njegos Mausoleum, where you will find a majestic statue of Montenegro's greatest hero Petar II Petrovic.

One of the best things about self-guided holidays is that although everything is planned in advance in terms of transport and baggage transfers, you can still break out of the planned itinerary if you wish.

On the way back to Podgorica airport I took a gentle cruise on Lake Skadar, passing a former island prison where pelicans and pygmy cormorants now hold sway. 

The picnic on board the vessel and a swim in the sea provided a wonderful end to my Balkan adventure.






 





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