Except for a few locations, this part of Montenegro is off the tourist map for foreign travelers. One may add, unjustly, as it abounds with natural beauties, such as fast rivers and high mountains but also monuments from the previous centuries and villages. Most of these attractions are unexploited and visited only by an adventurous few. This is mostly due to the relative isolation of the region, the second reason lies in the fact that the large part of the region ranks amongst the poorest in Montenegro with underdeveloped infrastructure and derelict industrial facilities.
The region’s main artery from times immemorial is the river Lim which spills out from Plavsko Lake, flows northwards passing Andrijevica, Berane and Bijelo Polje and continues further into Serbia. Most of its flow passes through a valley, not particularly wide but wide enough to constitute the flattest piece of terrain in the whole of his mountain region.
The river has its other face too with several sections where it speeds up and rushes thought several small gorges (the best known of which is Trifan some 5 km downstream from Berane) that make it popular with rafters. With modern roads built across the mountain ridges the valley has lost some of its former importance but in previous centuries it represented a distinctive whole and played an important agricultural and commercial role. In the early Middle Ages it was a hub of Serbian state and there are several monuments bearing witness to this era such as Djurdjevi Stupovi monastery close to Berane or the church of Saints Peter and Paul in Bijelo Polje. Later on the region was taken by the Ottoman Empire for which it was an important transit zone towards Bosnia. The Ottomans remained here util 1912 and their influence is still widely encountered, most importantly in the numerous Slav Muslim population (Bosniaks) but also in many mosques of a specific mountain type that imitate the pattern of local houses with their steps shingled roofs. The area of Plav and Gusinje in the south of the region is and alpine looking valley at the foot of the Prokletije Mountains. Once prosperous trading spots, these two towns were plunged into bare survival by new borders which left them at the dead end of the road.
Alongside Durmitor, Prokletije are the most fascinating mountain ridge in Montenegro: their sides rise steeply from the surrounding fields capped by hostile stone peaks which attract many mountaineers and alpinists.
Much more spectacular than Lim is river Morača. In the first part it descends quickly between Mt Sinjajevina and mountains Žurim and Stožac forming a pleasant bur narrow dale crowned by the impressive Kapa Moračka (“Hat of Morača”) peak towering at 2226m. After passing Morača monastery, an excellent piece of art from the 13th c, the cliffs rise higher announcing the beginnings of the forbidding Morača canyon. The motorway and railway which run along the whole length of it provide stunning sights of its peaks and chasms. Equally impressive is the canyon of river Mrtvica which joins Morača from the right, impenetrable until a few decades ago and now one of the favorite routes of seasonal hikers. Between the rivers Lim and Morača flows Tara with towns of Mojkovac and Kolašin on its bank. The latter lies below Mt. Bjelasica and its quickly developing into a mountain and ski tourism centre. Bjelasica is widely known amongst nature lovers for its Biogradska gora National Park with beautiful Bigradsko Lake and deep pristine woods around it.
At the far east of the country lies the small town Rožaje populated almost exclusively by the Muslim Bosniaks. With several good hotels the town offers possibilities for hiking in high mountains such as the imposing massif of Hajla (2403m) and even better for winter sports at its improving ( and potentially huge) skiing resorts.
Montenegro Hostel Team