Montenegro’s youngest national park – designated as such in 2009 – harbours the glorious Prokletije (Bjeshket e Nemuna in Albanian), a wild and rocky region of deep glacial valleys, sharp cliffs and saw-toothed peaks – it remains one of the most remote and least-visited mountain areas in Europe.
Translated as the ‘Accursed Mountains’ – evocatively brought to life in Robert Carver’s book of the same name – this formidable alpine spine straddles the border with Albania for some 50km, though the Montenegrin share of the Prokletije represents by far the smaller part of the massif. Montenegro’s highest peak, Maja Kolata (2,528m), which trumps Bobotov kuk in Durmitor by just 5m, resides here; Prokletije’s highest peak, Maja Jezerces (2,694m), is on the Albanian side.
Hiking in the Prokletije
There’s fantastic hiking in these mountains, with the best approaches from the Grebaje Valley, a narrow 10km-long glacial valley which begins a short way southwest of Gusinje. Most walks start from the Branko Kotlajić mountain hut located deep inside the valley. A fairly easy half-day hike is up to Volušnica (1,879m), which can be extended (by about 2 hours) to include Popadija on the Albanian border. More challenging, and slightly longer, is the hike to Krošnja (2,165m), from where it’s possible to continue to the needle-sharp peaks of the Karanfili (‘Carnation’; 2,490m), though this latter part is much more difficult and very exposed in places.
A more straightforward but no less beautiful walk is along the adjacent Ropojana Valley: beginning in Vusanje, follow the flat track all the way to the Jezerce Lake which sits in a large basin at the head of the valley, on the other side of which is the Albanian border – this 11km round trip should take no more than 4 hours. For more on walks in this area, consult Rudolf Abraham’s The Mountains of Montenegro and the same author’s Peaks of the Balkans Trail.
To stay at any of the mountain huts, it is important to make arrangements in advance; expect to pay around €5 for a bed per night. Check out Karanfili Huts, Branko Kotlajić Hut or Ropojanski Zastan.