Hiking dates: 15. – 16. August 2016
Out of many hiking routes which you may choose when staying on Durmitor, this one certainly leaves the most powerful impression, mainly because of its diversity and everything you get to see during the hike, including flora, wildlife and quite astonishing and almost surreal scenery. Tijana and I have been planning to take this hike for some time, and finally, on 15th of August, 2016 followed by a nice weather we headed into this amazing adventure.
Hiking starts beneath Durmitor’s village Bosaca, passes near Zminje Lake (Snake’s Lake) and goes further to Planinica peak, down to Skrka Lakes Valley and ends at Susica Hut, at the very heart of Susica Canyon. GPX log is available for download here.
This hiking route requires certain logistic since almost diagonally intersect Durmitor and ends on the other side of this magnificent mountain range. In order to return from Susica Canyon, you will need to arrange someone to pick you up or call a taxi. We paid 30 EUR for a 25km ride back to Zabljak. I suggest arranging price of a ride in advance in order to avoid being overcharged. Also, since it is a two-day hiking route you will need equipment for sleeping over at Skrka Lakes Valley, where you have the option to stay in a mountain hut or bring your own tent.
Hiking starts at the altitude of 1528m, with a flat walk through deep pine forest, ideally for warming up. At the very beginning, if you have not been already, it is definitely worth to take a short detour and see magical Zminje Lake (Snake’s Lake), one of 18 glacial lakes found on Durmitor. Don’t be afraid, the name was given because of fallen pine trees which look like snakes emerging from the lake.
After 2.3km we started ascending while making a transition from pine to dense mixed beech and silver birch forest. This transition point is named Poljanak – grassy field with an amazing view on Crvena Greda (Red Shelf) Peak. Such name was given due to beautiful red light which reflects from this spectacular shelf during sunrises. It resembles bit on Yellowstone El Capitan. So, before starting to ascend take a moment and enjoy the view.
At the end of the forest, at 3.3km from the starting point, you will reach Crepulj Poljana (1648m) – another grassy field with two decrepit shepherd’s cottages. It is a nice, calm place, perfect for a family picnic or if you just want to come deep into nature and read a book in a shade.
Next part of the route leads up to Donja Alisnica Valley (1931m) and continues to Gornja Alisnica Valley (2064m). Those two valleys used to be places where people from Durmitor area brought animals for feeding during summer months. Tijana’s mom used to come here as a child to help her parents with guarding animals, so it was quite emotional for her to hike along the path of her ancestors. Nowadays you can see wild goats and horses running down the valleys, astonishing scenery, resembling on scenes from Lord of the Rings movie.
Finally, after the 7.6km hike, we reached a top of Planinca (2330m). Best views come with the price – effort! The reward for invested effort definitively goes beyond our expectations. We are hypnotized by magical landscapes unfolds in front of us. The most beautiful view on Skrka Lakes Valley is from this peak, and you can also see the highest peak of Durmitor – Bobotov Kuk on the left, as well as the second highest peak – Bezimeni vrh (Nameless Peak). On the other side of Skrka Lakes Valley is magnificent Prutas. Between Prutas and Bobotov Kuk our sight is captured by Sareni Pasovi (Colorful Layers), behind of which you can see Krnovo plateau, also known as Montenegrin Tibet, with its recently installed windmills. On the west Susica Canyon is visible as well as Bosnian mountain Maglic.
After having a lunch and hot fresh tea prepared at the top of Planinica, we headed a descent down to Skrka Lakes Valley. The shortest way leads directly from Planinica peak and is quite steep so we move at really slow pace and quite carefully, having in mind all the time that we carry heavy backpacks, and a small mistake could roll us all the way to Large Skrka Lake. During our descent, we made short breaks in order to take photos and enjoy beautiful view on the valley. Luckily, we did not test Newton’s law and safely arrived at the mountain hut. Skrka Lake Valley is an absolutely unique place, settled deep into the heart of Durmitor massive. I will write more about it in a separate blog post.
Mountain hut has four sleeping areas, one used by rangers working at National Park Durmitor. Unfortunately, rooms were quite messy and dirty. Even though we did not expect that comfort in the hut would be like in a four-star hotel, but I saw stalls which looked cleaner. Also, the ranger was not helpful since he was not informed whether route toward Susica Canyon is passable. Do not expect from rangers to know the English language. Anyhow, knowing local language did not help us anyway. Skrka Lake Valley is After settling, we took a short swim in Small Skrka Lake. However, it was already a sunset, and the lake was in a shade for some time so it was a little bit more refreshing than expected. To wrap up the day, Tijana made delicious risotto so we enjoyed dinner while having an amazing view on moonrise over Sareni Pasovi (Colourful Layers).
The next day we continue our journey, feeling a little bit tired from the previous day and also not having enough sleep due to the noise made by mountain rats. Next time we will definitely go with camping option. Quickly we leave the Valley and start to descend in order to enter Susica Canyon.
This is one of the four canyons surrounding Durmitor and is quite impressive. It is long 14km, but in order to reach Susica Hut we only need to walk for about 4km after entering the Canyon. Enough to be completely in love with this magical place. While going through layers of pine, beech and silver birch forest we enjoy forest bathing and listening sounds of river Susica, feeling completely like Alice in Wonderland. River Susica goes underneath the surface for most of its course, so this part of the canyon is easy to go by without canyoning equipment. Before going on the hiking we were warned to watch out for bears since they could be found in Susica Canyon. However, there was no sign of them, we only saw a couple of frogs.
Researches show that forest bathing is quite beneficial for our health and may have a preventive effect on cancer generation and development. In Japan, a forest bathing trips are regarded as being similar to natural aromatherapy.
After 8km walking on the second day, we arrived at end of the route at Susica Hut, while going over drained Susica Lake. We felt tired, but relaxed, calm and satisfied.
What surprised me the most is the fact that during this hike, namely second part from Skrka Lake Valley to Susica Canyon, we have not met a single human being, in the midst of hiking season! Normally at this time of year, you can see a lot of hikers from all over the world at various Durmitor’s routes, but this one seems to be somehow forgotten, despite its exceptional diversity.
If you have limited time to spend on Durmitor and want to take at least one hiking tour – look no further, this is the one!