If you’re in the Balkans and looking for a (relatively) easy, off-the-beaten track day-hike to the tallest mountain in the country, you should make it out to Bobotov Kuk in Durmitor National Park.
So, after a decently adventure-filled day of biking and hiking the day before, today it was time to hike the tallest mountain in Montenegro – Bobotov Kuk. The whole reason I’d come to Montenegro (OK, there are obviously many more things to do in Montenegro, but with my short amount of time and desperate need for more nature, this was it). Somehow the Polish guy from the hostel and I ended up as the only ones without a ride from hostel host Alex to the start of the Bobotov Kuk hike. Undeterred, we of course took matters into our own hands. There was no way either of us was leaving Montenegro without climbing to this peak. So, after a hearty breakfast, we set out (with the dogs in tow) to the parking lot next to the supermarket. A few attempts at calling out “Seblo? Seblo. Seblo?” (the town where we would start the hike) to anyone who would listen, I found a woman in a newsstand who called a taxi driver to come drive us up the mountain, a ride which included a nice taste of local Montenegrin music with our white-haired driver.
The hike up Bobotov Kuk itself is strenuous, but nothing you can’t do if you’re not in average to decent shape. The terrain is definitely Middle Earth-like, mostly barren and rocky, but impressive – unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Climbing to the top was pretty straightforward – and straight up. Just like in Austria, the trail was well-marked with red and white markers, which is helpful when you’re sometimes climbing straight up a big pile of rocks. About halfway to the top, we caught up with the rest of the group from the hostel. I was definitely ready when we took a quick snack break at a spot with a view of the lake down below.
Little did we realize, though, we didn’t have much farther to go. The last few minutes did involve some iron ropes, but unless you’re wildly out of shape or deathly afraid of heights, this only added to the fun and made the end more rewarding. And, man, did making it to the top feel like a mini accomplishment after almost 3 hours straight of hiking uphill on rocks- and we had 2 mini bottles of wine to celebrate. The whole group of us from the hostel sat up at the top for a while to marvel at the scenery from up top, including views into distant Kosovo, Bosnia, and Serbia in different directions.
Heading back down and without a ride for the way back, the Polish guy and I decided to walk all the way back down to Zabljak. Let’s just say this part was maybe harder than the uphill, since it basically involved rocky descents, wrong turns, and a couple abandoned huts (dashing some hopes of a cold beer at the bar). Finally, though, we found our way on the map and got to the same trail I’d taken the other day, and followed it down to the Crno Jezero Lake, and then all the way back to the town center. A full day of hiking, but well, well worth it.
- 8,278 ft (or 2,522 m)
- Hike time: from Seblo, about 3 hours to the top. Hiking all the way back down to Zabljak, about 4-5 hours (including some wrong turns and a break).
- If you’re in the area and enjoy hiking, I highly recommend coming out to Durmitor and making it to Bobotov Kuk. Even if you can’t make it all the way up to the top, it’s worth seeing some of the terrain on the way up.
- Unless you want to pay for a taxi from Zabljak to Seblo like we did (20euro total each way), or hike all the way back down (like we also did, and which took about 4 hours), I’d recommend getting a ride through your hostel. As evidenced by our trip, though, you can definitely do it without if you’re feeling adventurous and in good shape and spirits.
- Spend another day hiking around the lake or biking up to the top of a viewpoint to look down into the Tara River Canyon.