Early in May I finally had the opportunity to visit Kapetanovo Jezero (Captain’s Lake – photo 1). Unfortunately, the weather was cold and rainy, and at the altitude of around 1700 m above sea level spring had hardly begun. But maybe it was exactly the barrenness and lonelyness of this area that gave us a surrealistic feeling. Driving and walking through a kind of moon landscape without meeting anybody, we asked ourselves: are we in Europe or in another world?
Kapetanovo Jezero (1673 m above sea level) is a 37 m deep glacial lake, situated at a distance of around 45 km from Nikšić. The road leads along the “Zagrad” mine and turns into a dirt road at Bare Bojovića near Mount Mali Žurim, from where it continues to the lake. The last macadam stretch (8.5 km) is suitable for 4×4 only, but you can also continue on foot (or by bike). This is an easy walk along a country road, without climbing, with a duration of about 2-2.5 hours.
The rough summits of the surrounding mountains called Moračke Planine were still covered with snow (photo 2). A lonely shepherd was on his way with a flock of sheep (photo 3), shivering from the cold wind, but the pastures were already covered with flowers. Thousands of grape hyacinths (photo 4), cowslips (Primula veris) and marsh marigolds offered a colorful contrast to the threatening dark mountains. Fields of sweet violets and wild daffodils (Narcis poeticus – photo 5) could be spotted everywhere.
A Common Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis), rarely seen in Northern Europe, was quietly sitting on a rock, waiting to be photographed (photo 6). We also spotted a Seebohm’s Wheatear (Oenanthe seebohmi), hardly visible against the black-and-white rocks.
Kapetanovo Jezero itself was totally abandoned. Unless many other lakes in Montenegro, there are no trees around the lake, but the view of the surrounding mountains gives the lake a special beauty. Although a new church and several houses were built around the lake, there are also old traditional mountain huts (photo 7) for the shepherds, who spend the hot summer months – with their cattle – in this grassy area.
By the way, do you know why the lake is called Captain’s Lake? There is an interesting story about it. During the Ottoman occupation of Montenegro, a certain Captain Mušović, head of the Nikšić district, was very fond of his beautiful summer pastures and house that stood at the place of today’s lake. In the rocks above this point was a spring that bubbled up from the cliffs. The keys to the spring were kept by the mountain fairies. Every night, the fairies would come to the spring to unlock it and bathe in its transparent waters. But one night, the last fairy to leave forgot to lock the spring and its waters flooded the valley below. The next evening, when the fairies returned and saw the flooded valley, they were enchanted by the striking beauty of the scenery and decided to move the spring into the depths of the emerald-green floodwaters to source this newly-created lake forever. This is how – by the negligence of a fairy (or the magic of nature) Kapetanovo Jezero was created – and Captain Mušović lost his mountain pastures.
On our way back we admired the vast Lukavica plateau that is crossed by numerous – even 380 – springs and water streams (photo 8) (see my blogpost http://montenegro-for.me/2014/05/zupa-niksicka-roaming-around-the-lukavica-plateau/). With the impressive mountain tops of Veliki Žurim (2036 m above sea level) and Mali Žurim (1984 m above sea level), it is one of the most beautiful parts of Župa Nikšićka. Together with Kapetanovo Jezero, this area is a paradise for nature lovers, bikers and hikers!