Bobotov Kuk: I can see 3 countries from here!

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 Durmitor National Park for a short trek up Bobotov Kuk.

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 another 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 later of calling out “Seblo? Seblo. Seblo?” (the town where we would start the hike) to anyone who would listen, I got some help from a woman running a newsstand. She agreed to call a taxi driver and within a few minutes we were off in his car, with a taste of local Montenegrin music for extra flair. 

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.

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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.

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We didn’t have much farther to go, though. 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, which included views into neighboring Kosovo, Bosnia, and Serbia in all different directions.

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Heading back down and without a ride for the way back, we 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, following 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.

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Basics:

  • 8,278 ft (or 2,522 m)
  • Hike time: ~7 hours (can be much shorter if you get a round-trip ride)
    • From Seblo, about 3 hours to the top.
    • From top of Bobotov Kuk walking all the way back to Zabljak: ~4/5 hours (including a break and some wrong turns).

Tips:

  • 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.
  • Stay in Zabljak (buses run there from Belgrade, from Kotor, from Mostar, and other surrounding cities) and, unless you want to pay for a taxi from Zabljak to Seblo like we did (20 euro 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.
  • There are only a few hostels in Zabljak – I’d recommend the Hostel Hiker’s Den, where Alex and Gina make great hosts. Most of the time they’ll hang out in the main room and provide lots of tips for the area and next stops. (Beds run about $12-20 and the hostel is open roughly mid-April through late October).
  • Spend another day hiking around the lake or biking up to the top of a viewpoint to look down into the Tara River Canyon.

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