The Balkans (again)

My first taste of the Balkans was a few years ago, in Bulgaria. I enjoyed Balkans’ landscapes very much and decided that that would be the first of many hikes on this mountain chain. For me, it was compulsory to include in this trip to Montenegro, even if short, a day hike in the Balkans and I was happy to see that my friends agreed with me.

Even if Montenegro is a small country, it has many national parks. We chose Durmitor National Park and spent the previous night in Žabljak, a small village at an altitude of 1450 m which is a good base for many hikes around.

The region has a scattering of glacial lakes known as gorske oci (mountain eyes), each one with its own personality. The largest and most visited is Crno Jezero (Black Lake), a short walk or drive west of Žabljak. The lake is dominated by the rocky peaks of Durmitor on one side, and deep conifer forest on the other.

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From Crno Jezero we chose the hike to the  Ice Cave (Ledena Pecina). It’s a 4 hours marked steep climbing route from the black lake and 3 hours back (total 7 hours walking time and return from Crno Jezero). At the end, I enjoyed more the landscapes that I crossed during the climbing than the cave itself. It was  early autumn and colors in the Balkans were fantastic. We found some snow on the higher altitudes as well.

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We stopped for lunch in front of the cave. It was very difficult to enter inside because it’s very deep and slippery so I just contented myself to take a picture from the entrance.

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The way back to Crno Jezero was very steep and it was a hard test for the knees. I was happy that V. had decided not to come because her fragile knees would have suffered a lot. Back to Zabljak she was waiting for us on the car and drove us to a fantastic mountain hotel (she had been doing some field searching meanwhile, he hee) with sauna, spa and massage ! Can you find a better way to end a hike like that ? After a super dinner, buffet type, we slept tight that night 😉

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