Bicycle touring Montenegro: crossing the mountains

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.

IMG_20220429_133954_4010 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220429_154730 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20220430_083333 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220430_124838 by bryandkeith on flickr
20220430_141737 by bryandkeith on flickr

The Đurđevi Stupovi Monastery was an excuse for a short stop in Berane.

IMG_20220430_100737 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220430_100827 by bryandkeith on flickr

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 and his father, offering us some slivovitz by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220430_191845 by bryandkeith on flickr
20220430_192017 by bryandkeith on flickr

Radovan had explained to us how to find this viewpoint of Montenegro’s second highest peak, shortly after cresting the pass:

This might be Montenegro's 2nd highest peak by bryandkeith on flickr

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.”

The potato dish on the right is kačamak, surprisingly good by bryandkeith on flickr

For our second night (we took a rain/rest day in in Kolašin) we tried our first pizza of the trip.

IMG_20220502_190905 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20220503_110149 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220503_131651 by bryandkeith on flickr
20220503_132429 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220503_152739 by bryandkeith on flickr

Another camp, another valley, another climb — our story of Montenegro. We passed pretty Šavnik at the valley bottom at the confluence of three rivers.

IMG_20220503_172326 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220504_084336 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220504_114933 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220504_131104 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

We stopped to ask for water -- which they gave us -- and they also gave us jabuka (apple) brandy, beets, prosciutto, bread, and probably other things I'm forgetting.  I believe the older man pointed out the highest mountain in Montenegro. by bryandkeith on flickr

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).

IMG_20220504_160838 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220504_163425 by bryandkeith on flickr
20220504_172121 by bryandkeith on flickr

Nikšić is Montenegro’s second largest city, but the only things we could find as diversions were this 19th century Russia-funded bridge:

IMG_20220505_103643 by bryandkeith on flickr

and another bridge, Moštanica, built perhaps 1600 years earlier by the Romans.

IMG_20220505_114728 by bryandkeith on flickr

By now, finally — whew — we’re running out of Montenegro. Our last camp was on what we learned later was an old railroad line.

IMG_20220505_174542 by bryandkeith on flickr

Doviđenja, Crna Gora!

IMG_20220506_094118 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220505_144827 by bryandkeith on flickr
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One Response to Bicycle touring Montenegro: crossing the mountains

  1. Mike Painter says:

    It’s wonderful to see all these new places. Thanks!

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