Corfu, Gjirokastër, Ohrid, Prizren — in each country Jeff and I had been to before Montenegro we had an exciting cultural destination as well as good scenery. Montenegro ended up being all about the mountains. We crossed the border at Kulla Pass and descended into Rožaje.
Like the region NW of Skopje in North Macedonia, the area around Rožaje seems to be a Muslim and Albanian speaking area in a majority Christian and Slavic speaking country.
We camped next to the snow for the first time that night. The climb continued to one of the longer tunnels of the trip (~1 km). We popped out to a ski area (with less snow than at our camp!) and beautiful blue skies for the descent into Berane followed by a much bigger climb (just under 1000m) out the other side of that valley.
The Đurđevi Stupovi Monastery was an excuse for a short stop in Berane.
It was just starting to sprinkle when we passed Radovan’s house in Trešnjevik. With still another 400m of climbing to go, we took Radovan up on his offer to sleep in his basement and drink slivovitz. His mother put together a wonderful meal for us that evening, and his father served us coffee and more slivovitz in the morning.
Radovan had explained to us how to find this viewpoint of Montenegro’s second highest peak, shortly after cresting the pass:
I had been a bit worried about the holiday at the end of Ramadan for traffic and shop closures. We knew May 1st was approaching, but who knew Labor Day is a three day holiday in Montenegro with all stores closed? Our accommodation in Kolašin had a kitchen, but we ended up eating out since there was really nothing to buy.
Montenegro’s traditional kačamak — the stuff that looks like Mac and Cheese in this crappy photo — was surprisingly tasty. “Why not?,” Jeff said. “It’s just cheesy potatoes.”
For our second night (we took a rain/rest day in in Kolašin) we tried our first pizza of the trip.
The next pass was one of the best climbs. We dropped to 400m to lush green rain forest-like scenery. Then we climbed up to the snow (again!) at 1600m. The views were inspiring.
Another camp, another valley, another climb — our story of Montenegro. We passed pretty Šavnik at the valley bottom at the confluence of three rivers.
With still 300m of climbing to go, it was getting late enough to think about camping so we stopped at a house to ask for water. The man happily filled our bottles and then offered jabuka (apple brandy) — which turned into beets, prosciutto, and bread as well. He also pointed out Montenegro’s highest peak, visible from their place.
Our camp that night was one of the higher ones, but overnight it wasn’t a hard frost (as it had been the night before).
Nikšić is Montenegro’s second largest city, but the only things we could find as diversions were this 19th century Russia-funded bridge:
and another bridge, Moštanica, built perhaps 1600 years earlier by the Romans.
By now, finally — whew — we’re running out of Montenegro. Our last camp was on what we learned later was an old railroad line.
Doviđenja, Crna Gora!