We headed off eager and full of energy to be hiking the Accursed Mountains. This hike would take us high up one of the mountains, to the meadows at the top. We hit the road with some new friends we’d made the night before, Colin and Barbara.
The last thing we expected on our hike was that we’d end up being part of a wedding photo-shoot, but that’s exactly what happened.
We were just 15 minutes down the road and were about to cross the bridge that is the starting point of the hike, when we noticed a young couple happily posing for their wedding pictures. The next few minutes were quite surreal, the photographer and relatives called us all over and suddenly we were being added to the photos. We weren’t in our best outfits, but they didn’t seem to mind!
After striking a pose or two with the bride and groom, we said our farewells and pushed onwards, as we had six hours of fun ahead of us. Let the fun and games begin.
Up, up and away.
As Valbona is surrounded by tall mountains, the only way to go is up! The hike itself was much tougher than I imagined, but it was also one of the best experiences of the trip so far.
The early part of the hike saw us passing some beautiful farmhouses in the lower part of the valley.
Despite the threat of rain we pushed on, only needing to stop once to take shelter when the skies opened. The rain and clouds were actually a welcome relief from the heat, so we were happy to have the moodier skies. Now we were out of the valley, we were walking through woodland and pine forests.
We soon cleared the forest, and the views back down into the valley as we got higher up were just stunning. Stopping to take photos was a welcome relief and a chance to get our breath back.
We were in Valbona in summer, but as we climbed higher the seasons rewinded and spring flowers were in abundance. The going was tough, it was very hot and steep – but when surrounded by such stunning scenery, you want to push on to see more.
The perfect time for a break.
We were able to take a drinks break at a farmhouse a few hours into the walk. The team at Hotel Rilindija have tried to ensure that all the local community benefit from visitors in the area. Depending on where you hike, you can stop for lunch with a local family, or as in our case, we stopped for a cold drink. It’s a nice way to spend some time with the locals, but also gives them something back. Given the family lived in a small house, consisting of just the one room, and were without electricity or running water, we were happy to contribute.
We sat with the father, mother and their 2 boys for a while, before waving goodbye to set off for the last part of the hike – the steepest and most spectacular.
We’d hiked to over 2000m high, and here in the high-mountain meadows, there were explosions of colourful flowers everywhere. The mountain backdrop, the flowery meadows, and the ringing of the cowbells through the valley was Kristen’s idea of paradise.
I’d like to say I was equally enjoying the views but the last hour up, for me, was the toughest. I honestly didn’t think I would make it. But thankfully, with the encouragement of the others, I finally made it to the top.
And the pain was worth the reward.
We sat down between the flowers and just took it all in, looking out across the mountains of Montenegro in front of us.
What a memorable day, spent with new friends in such a stunning part of the world. You can’t ask for much more. Except perhaps a horse-ride back to town, because what goes up, must come down..
It took us 4 hours to reach the top, and just 2 to get back down again.
We arrived back at Rilindja ready to collapse, just as it was getting dark in the valley. We sat down to some amazing food and the four of us treated ourselves to a bottle of wine or two to celebrate our achievements. Yay us!
Recommended hiking in the Accursed Mountains:
This hike was up Maja e Rosit. From the village of Valbona to Stanet te Plan. And from Stanet the Plan to Piramida 18.