DURMITOR: THE SEDLO PASS ROUTE IN SPRINGTIME

Six years ago I wrote a short post about our car trip from Plužine to Žabljak: the Sedlo Pass Route. It was in August and the Durmitor pastures were arid and yellow after a period of extreme drought. But that did not influence my opinion that this is one of the most thrilling roads of Montenegro.

The road is open

This year we wanted to drive this spectacular route early in June, starting from Žabljak. We knew that snow removal vehicles had started to clean the road in the beginning of May, but unfortunately, they had to give up due to the thick snow cover. In a second attempt, they finally succeeded: the road from Žabljak to Plužine was opened in late May as the last inaccessible road after the harsh winter in the Durmitor region.

Many tourists had impatiently waited for the road to be opened, as this route is also part of the popular “Ring around Durmitor” that passes through the most attractive areas of Durmitor’s untouched nature. Although this “Ring” is mostly offered as a jeep safari tour, it is also possible to make the trip with your own car, as the last macadam stretch was paved in 2015.

The opening of the road was also important for the cattle breeders who could not wait to bring their cattle – sheep, cows and horses – to the green pastures of Dobri Do and Todorov Do. And we got the impression that there have never been more sheep on the Durmitor pastures than this year.

Description of the Sedlo Pass Route

To reach the Sedlo Pass from Žabljak we took the road to Šavnik, over an undulating grassy plateau, and turned right after 5 km to Trsa. After having passed the ski center of Savin Kuk, we kept left and followed the winding road uphill through the village of Virak. On the left side, below the road, we saw the Pošćensko Lake (1487m).

The narrow winding road passed under the picturesque cone-shaped rock called Stožina and entered the upper part of the valley of Pošćenska Dolina. Patches of old snow were still remaining along the road. On the left we could see the sharp tops of Sedlena Greda (2227m) and right above the road were the slopes of Šljeme (2455m).

We parked our car at the parking lot near the Sedlo Pass, which is – with its 1907 m above sea level – the highest paved pass in Montenegro. Mount Sedlo really looks like an enormous saddle (in translation, “sedlo” means “saddle”). Local people sometimes call it “Saddle of God”.

Wooden benches have been placed here for those who want to enjoy the breathtaking view. Deep down we saw the picturesque lake of Valovito Jezero. “Valovito” means “undulating” and that is the right word for this lake situated among weird “undulating” rocks and vegetation, while the water is shimmering in many different colors.

On the other side of the – always windy – pass were the green pastures of Dobri Do. The silence – and beauty – of nature was absolute.

What a difference in landscape! We continued downhill over a plateau covered by juicy grass, unbelievably green, almost fluorescent. Small wooden shacks everywhere, flocks of sheep and their shepherds roaming over the pastures, always accompanied by their big dogs. Yes, the southern side of Durmtor is a real paradise.

As we had left early, we were happy to see hundreds of sheep within a wooden fence deep below the road. The shepherds and dogs were just preparing them for another day of pasturing and we could not stop admiring the geometric patterns that were created by these “preparations”.

We made a stop at the foot of Mount Prutaš (2393 m) (“prut” means “twig” in the local language). Cows and sheep were, strangely enough, bathing in an ice-cold pool, surrounded by snow remains.

The road continued over the Pišće plateau with its amazing panoramas and landscapes. The endless meadows were covered by a carpet of colorful flowers. Here and there we saw patches of arable land, and flocks of sheep were grazing around a small cheese factory.

Finally we arrived in the village of Trsa, where we ate fresh trout in a nice national restaurant called Milogora. They also serve lamb, and a small shop offers domestic honey, “raki” and other home-made products. Would you like to spend the night in this isolated village? There are several possibilities to rent a cottage or a room here, or to sleep in your own tent!

The last part of the road descended, at first through dense forests and then winding down steeply through a labyrinth of small tunnels. The view of Piva Lake, a deep blue-green storage lake, was fantastic. This switchback road is mostly cut into the rocks, with numerous hairpin bends and narrow tunnels, some of them with intersections. Can you imagine a hairpin bend trough a tunnel with an intersection somewhere in the middle of it all?

Our Sedlo Pass tour ended in Plužine with a good cup of coffee at the Zvono Guest House.

Details about the road

The Sedlo Pass road is paved, but very narrow and winding. It is not protected by guardrails and in some places it is only wide enough for one vehicle.

During the summer season – when the traffic can be more dense – you should drive very carefully, in particular if you are not used to driving in the mountains.

We did the tour with our own camper (6.30 m long), but we would not recommend it to caravans and campers longer than 7 m, not in the last place because of the narrow tunnels above the Piva Lake.

Sheep and cattle breeding

During the summer, Montenegrin farmers and shepherds move to the Durmitor plateaus with their flocks in order to pasture their sheep and cows, and to make delicious ecological dairy products, like cheese and “kaymak”, a type of clotted cream. The living conditions in the mountains are not easy at all. The weather can be very rough and wolves may attack the sheep, even when they are locked within the fence.

Shepherds who are hired for the summer are paid, at the average, around 600 Euro per month, including food and accommodation. But it is hard to find people who are willing to spend day and night in the harsh and isolated mountains of Durmitor.

 

Why is the Sedlo Pass Route so attractive? It is not only the wild beauty of the mountains that takes your breath away. The charm of this route is that you travel (by car, but also hiking and biking) through many different landscapes. High mountains and sharp rocks, glacier lakes, forests, grassy plateaus, a deep blue storage lake and… breathtaking panoramas. Around each corner you will experience another surprise!

Piva Lake

 

4 Comment

  1. […] An update of this article was posted on June 27, 2018, see: Durmitor: the Sedlo Pass Route in springtime […]

  2. Forest Ray says: Reply

    I rove this route on a misty day just a week and a half ago. ItsIsimply stunning, in all of it’s different and varied areas!

  3. Forest Ray says: Reply

    I just drove this route on a misty day a week and a half ago. It’s simply stunning in all of it’s different and varied areas!

  4. Reinhard Kempter says: Reply

    Hi,
    fantastic tour in fantastic landscape! I enjoy nice pictures in springtime. We made this trip, too, 2 years ago in early summer by camper-van (length 6,36m+carrry-bike). We took the road from Piva Lake to Trsa and Zabljak hoping to pass the tunnels without any other traffic….and it worked fine!

    Greatz to MNE & Netherland!

Leave a Reply