HIKING IN THE MOUNTAINS OF KUČKA KRAJINA (ŽIJOVO)

 kp1 kp2Kučke Planine or Žijovo, the mountains of Kučka Krajina that are situated north-east from Podgorica, are becoming more and more attractive for hikers, mountaineers, botanists and other nature lovers, in particular those who want to visit pure and undiscovered areas. Most of the area is a magnificent mixture of wild karst and glacier soil, decorated by green pastures and farm land. It is not just because of the natural beauties that I like this area so much; I adore the silence of the vast high plateaus, the sound of the barking sheep dogs, the beauty of the wild horses roaming over the grassland and the abundance of flowers.

kp3On a very hot day last week we revisited Bukumirsko Lake (see my blog: Bukumirsko Jezero, the Heart of the Kučka Krajina Mountains): the starting point for many hiking tours to the surrounding summits that is situated at an altitude of 1448 m above sea level. Did you know that the Lake is surrounded by more than 15 peaks higher than 2000 meters? The magnificent panorama is dominated by Pasjak (2050 m), Štitan (2172 m), Velji Vrh and Surdup (2.184 m) – a wonderfully jumbled mass of rocky peaks (photo 1). Bukumirsko Lake can be reached from Podgorica within one hour and a half (45 km). It is true, the road is narrow and rather dangerous, but it is worth the effort!

kp4This time we could reach the Lake by car, although the last kilometers had to be mastered on a farm road that is in rather bad shape. The sun was hot, but the fresh mountain breeze made it an ideal day for a hiking tour in the mountains. Horses, cows and sheep were roaming over the plateaus (photo 2), while the old stone houses and cottages were mostly abandoned and dilapidated (photo 3). The pastures were covered with multi-colored mountain flowers and several local people were collecting herbs. We discovered dozens of different species, many of them protected in Western Europe (photo 4).

kp 5Although some trails to the surrounding summits are marked, it is a pity that there are no yellow signposts as you can find them in the National Parks of Montenegro. We used the Rother Mountain Guide written by Marcus Stoeckl (German) and “The Mountains of Montenegro” by Rudolf Abraham (English), and so we followed the farm track that took us to Katun Jezero and further off to the left passing a spring. We headed through open pastures, with the help of some trail markings. Towards the head of the valley, the trail ascended into a beech forest. Following the path up through the trees, we emerged via a kind of stone steps through a gap between the rocks into grassland. This plateau was of a breath-taking beauty (photo 5) and so were the deep dolines that appeared subsequently among rocky giant peaks. The silence was complete. Only wild and pure nature around us. The high grass and flora made it hard to follow the markings and finally, after two hours walking and reaching an altitude of 1780 meters we decided to walk back to Bukumirsko Jezero (photo 6), as we did not know how long it would take us to get around the mountain peaks.

kp6But nevertheless, the tour was exciting. Of course, we are aware that real mountaineers can easily climb the peaks of Surdup, Štitan or Torač. But for amateurs without a guide, like we are, this appears to be more complicated, which – of course – does not mean that “amateurs” cannot enjoy hiking and exploring this wonderful area.

It goes without saying that I would really like to see a mountain guide for Kučka Krajina – as they are already available for Durmitor, Biogradska Gora, Lovćen and Skadarsko Jezero. I am sure that such a guide would be a significant added value to the tourist offer of Montenegro! Many travelers want to escape from the crowds, noise, loud music, dense traffic and litter you can find on many places – but fortunately, not in Kučka Krajina (photo 7)!

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