National Park Prokletije, majestically spanning across Montenegro, Albania, and Kosovo, presents a stunning display of natural beauty. Known as the “Alps of the Balkans,” this extraordinary park mesmerizes tourists with its towering peaks, wild terrains, and spectacular views. It’s a paradise where hikes range from tranquil valley walks to exhilarating climbs along jagged cliffs. Prokletije is a splendid blend of nature’s finest, providing a varied haven for thrill-seekers and a peaceful retreat for those who adore the great outdoors. This national gem is a true embodiment of the Balkans’ pristine splendor.
Officially recognized as a national park in 2009, this is Montenegro’s most recent addition to its collection of national parks. Alongside this park, Montenegro is home to four other national parks: Lovćen, Lake Skadar, Durmitor, and Biogradska Gora. Each of these parks boasts numerous peaks and some of the largest lakes in the region, showcasing the country’s diverse and rich natural heritage.
Although it may be the newest, this national park in Montenegro stands out as one of the most extraordinary and impressive destinations you’ll ever experience.
What has yet to be fully established is the motive for which this mountain range has been named Prokletije (pro-kle-tiy-e). Numerous myths surround the name’s origin, with some even suggesting that the devil unleashed the mountain range from hell. However, the most widely accepted explanation is that these mountains were viewed as untamed and impassable. The local population primarily relied on livestock as their main source of income. During the summer months, herders would take their cattle to the highest peaks of Prokletije. They referred to this massive range as “Proklete Planine” or Accursed Mountains (Prokletije) because of the harsh weather conditions and the constant threat posed by bears and wolves.
Spanning roughly 16,000 hectares, Prokletije National Park is a treasure trove of natural marvels, encompassing glacial lakes, cascading waterfalls, and a rich array of Balkan flora and fauna. The park’s crown jewel is the Prokletije mountain range, renowned for its towering mountain peaks, including several that soar over 2,500 meters. Among these is Zla Kolata, the tallest peak in Montenegro, reaching an impressive height of 2,534 meters, and the picturesque Grebaja Valley.
Hiking and trekking at National Park Prokletije
Guests at Prokletije National Park can partake in a variety of outdoor pursuits, including hiking, trekking, and mountain biking. The park offers an array of hiking trails, ranging from leisurely strolls to demanding multi-day excursions, all of which reveal stunning vistas of the encompassing scenery.
One of the best hiking trails in this national park is the Talijaka Loop which goes from Grebaje Valley (1100 meters) to the plateau of Volušnica, following further to Mountain Talijanka (Maja Vajushes – 2057 meters), then back to Grebaje Valley.
The second trail is Veliki Vrh, which goes by Krošnjina vrata, South Peak, and Eko-Katun Grebaje.
Hiking trails are marked, but still, it is recommended to go hiking accompanied by equipped guides.
Unsurprisingly, every ascent on Prokletije is a real challenge, even for the most experienced mountaineers and alpinists. More than 50 peaks have a height of over 2000 m, while 20 exceed 2500 meters.
The park has numerous glacial lakes, of which the most beautiful is Hrid Lake. The lake is located at 1.970 meters above sea level.
Hridsko Lake, one of the enchanting mountain lakes in the area, is a paradise for swimming enthusiasts. Immersing oneself in its waters is believed to bestow health benefits, good fortune, beauty, and inner peace. Often hailed as the Lake of Happiness, it’s said to have the power to fulfill wishes. According to legend, this lake was formed by the gods as a hidden sanctuary for their swimming, away from the gaze of mortals. The lake is also a haven for various flora species, adding to its mystical and serene ambiance.
Besides Lake Hrid, Lake Plav and Visitor Lake (vee-see-tor) are worth a visit. Visitor Lake, at 1.820 meters above sea level, is of glacial origin and known for its island that floats around.
The park is also home to several small villages where visitors can experience the local culture and cuisine. Traditional dishes include lamb, cheese, other dairy products, local wines, and rakija (fruit brandy).
Cultural-historical places at National Park Prokletije
The park is home to many cultural-historical sites that are worth exploring. It boasts a rich cultural heritage, teemed with archaeological sites, fortresses, churches, mosques, settlements, and burial sites.
One of the most famous cultural-historical places in Prokletije National Park is the Redžepagić Tower. This tower was built in the 17th century in Plav. It served as a fortress for the Redžepagić clan to protect themselves from the attacks from the Banjani tribe. The tower has been restored and is protected as a cultural and historical monument of the second category.
The Old Mosque in Plav is another significant cultural-historical place in National Park Prokletije. It is located in the town of Plav and is one of the oldest mosques in the region. The mosque was built in the 15th century during the Ottoman Empire’s rule over the area. Sultan Abdul Hamid himself financed the construction of the mosque.
The Monastery of the Holy Trinity, located in Plav, is one of the oldest sacred monuments. It is a Serbian Orthodox monastery that was built in the 14th century during the reign of Emperor Stefan Dušan Nemanjić. The monastery is on a hill overlooking Plav Lake, and a beautiful forest of beech and pine trees surrounds it.
Bio-diversity of the National Park Prokletije
The most dominant feature of the Prokletije National Park is its biodiversity, which is the most diverse in the Balkans.
This region is home to a multitude of endemic species, including several with medicinal properties. The park is a habitat for over 1,700 species of plants, encompassing nearly half of Montenegro’s flora. This includes a variety of glacial flora, unique to this environment. The park’s borders also encompass a rich animal kingdom, thriving in the alpine climate. This specific setting allows for the survival of distinct plant types and animal species, highlighting the area’s great biodiversity.
How to reach the National Park Prokletije
The entrance to this national park is €1. The park doesn’t have one main entrance, as you can access the park from three different directions: Grebaje Valley, Ropojani-Gusinje, and Gradine-Plav.
Accommodation at National Park Prokletije
Ethno House Bektesevic in Gusinje, Montenegro, is a delightful choice for travelers exploring the region, especially given the scarcity of hotels in the vicinity, where the majority of accommodations are holiday homes. Situated just 11 km from Plav Lake and 14 km from Prokletije National Park, it offers a serene and authentic experience. Guests have access to a garden, a terrace, and a shared kitchen, with the option of free WiFi and parking.
The holiday home also features mountain and garden views, ensuring a peaceful and picturesque stay. Whether you’re looking for a cozy retreat or a base for exploring the stunning landscapes of Montenegro, Ethno House Bektesevic provides a unique and comfortable stay, highly rated by previous guests for its excellent location, facilities, and hospitality.
Tucked away in the Southern Edge of Montenegro, the Montenegrin Prokletije National Park is a spectacular retreat, offering a perfect mix of breathtaking scenery, exhilarating adventures, and deep cultural experiences. This captivating sanctuary is ideal for everyone, from avid hikers seeking beautiful hikes on steep slopes to those looking for a serene getaway from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Prokletije National Park, with its array of activities set in a stunning landscape, is an essential visit for anyone seeking extraordinary travel experiences. Whether it’s exploring new horizons or finding a moment of calm, this park guarantees an unforgettable journey that will linger in the heart and mind.