In a country blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and magnificent mountain scenery, the Prokletije stands somewhere close to the pinnacle of it all. Part of the Dinaric Alps, a chain of mountains running some 700 kilometres south-eastwards from Slovenia to Albania, these spectacular peaks in the east of the country are some of the wildest and most remote terrain in Europe.
There are bears here, as well as wolf and lynx, although you are unlikely to encounter them whilst walking. Take a look at the map and note the vast swathes of trackless forest and inaccessible peaks and you’ll see why.
Straddling the borders with Albania and Kosovo, the area is accessed via the towns of Plav and Gusinje. Characterised by grassy hillsides, thickly-wooded slopes and rocky peaks, there are numerous routes through the valleys and up to nearby summits, some of the highest in Montenegro. These paths are often well-signed and clear on the ground, but be warned – there is some tough walking in these mountains, and routes should not be underestimated.
We have hiked in the area on a couple of occasions. Once we walked from a beautiful eco-lodge base in Bibino Polje, first to Hridsko Lake, then as the start of a memorable four-day hike over the border into Kosovo, culminating in an ascent of Hajla Peak.
The second time, following the Ropojana valley, we gazed in awe at the thundering power of the Grlja waterfall and bathed our feet in the icy waters of the Oko Skakavice spring on the way to Thethi in Albania on the Peaks of the Balkans route.
Hiking in a place like the Prokletije will form indelible memories, such is the power of the place to inspire. On the ridge walk between the Zavoj and Jelenak passes, the ground was so thick with wild flowers that we couldn’t pick a route to avoid them all, and these borderlands between Montenegro and Kosovo are so remote that at the time of walking the precise line of the boundary had yet to be defined.
So, if you are thinking of going to Montenegro, the Prokletije should be high on your hit list. There are guidebooks and maps available (see the Writings section of the Montenegro page) so you can explore for yourself. However, it is worth noting that if you are considering cross-border hikes (to Kosovo or Albania) you may need to advise the local police to get the right permissions. We met one couple who lost 2-3 days of their trip waiting for the proper authorisation, so employing a mountain guide who knows the area and the system can be useful in many ways!
Ali Pasha Springs
Heading into the Ropojana Valley
Signpost near Ali Pasha Springs
From Jelenak Pass
Looking into Kosovo