Volusnica, Prokletije National Park, Montenegro | Moon & Honey Travel - the hiking blog for travelers

Prokletije National Park

Prokletije National Park, Montenegro

Prokletije National Park is the most dramatic hiking destination in Montenegro. Vertical peaks pierce the sky. Wild chamois sprint between jagged cliffs. And, herds of goats roam about freely. The park encompasses most of the Prokletije mountains, which form the natural border between Montenegro and Albania. Hence, this mountain range is also called the Albanian Alps, Bjeshket e Nemuna (in Albanian) as well as the Accursed Mountains. It’s possible to access Prokletije National Park from both Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo. However, we think it’s easier to do so from Montenegro, provided that you have a car.

Given the remoteness of this region, you’ll see very few people hiking here. Trails are mostly easy to follow, but signage is infrequent. We relied on the Wikiloc app to navigate and to figure out where to hike in the Prokletije mountains. We highly recommend saving and downloading trails using Wikiloc before you go to the park. Once you start your hike, you can follow the trail. Maps.me has very limited coverage in this area.

 

When to Visit Prokletije National Park

July, August, or September. We hiked in the Prokletije mountains in early September, which proved to be a perfect time to be in the Accursed Mountains. The climate was mild, though chilly during the evening.

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Prokletije National Park - Hiking in Montenegro's Accursed Mountains

Prokletije National Park Guide Overview

  • Where is Prokletije National Park
  • How to get to Prokletije National Park
  • Where to Stay in Prokletije National Park
  • Best Hikes in Prokletije National Park
  • Waymarking and Border Crossings in the Accursed Mountains
  • Hiking Essentials
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Krosnja - Šuplja vrata Hike in Prokletije National Park, Montenegro

Where is Prokletije National Park

Prokletije National Park is located in southeast Montenegro along the Albanian and Kosovan borders. The Prokletije mountains make up the southernmost part of the Dinaric Alps. The closest towns to the park are Gusinje and Plav. This park is also home to Montenegro’s highest peak, Maja Kolata (2528 m), which is 5 meters taller than Bobotov Kuk in Durmitor.

Prokletije National Park Hiking Map
  • Trailheads
  • Hiking Trails
  • Where to Stay
Volusnica Day Hike from Grebaje Valley, Hiking in Prokletije National Park, Montenegro

How to Get to Prokletije National Park

We highly recommend renting a car to explore this region of Montenegro. If you don’t have a car, there are Elan mini-buses that run to the town of Gusinje from Podgorica (via Mojkovac, Berane, and Plav) daily.

Next, you need to decide whether to explore the Prokletije Mountains from Grebaje Valley or Ropojana Valley. 

How to get to Grebaje Valley

Grebaje Valley (also spelled Grbaja and Grebaja) is the best base for exploring the Prokletije mountains. From Grbaja, you have access to the most impressive day hikes in Prokletije National Park. It’s also an appealing destination in the Accursed Mountains because it’s way off the beaten path. Even the Peaks of the Balkans trekking route doesn’t traverse Grebaja.

The closest town to Grebaje Valley (Dolina Grebjaje) is Gusinje. From Gusinj, it’s a 20-minute drive to Grebaje Valley. The entrance of Prokletije National Park is marked by a gate. You’ll be charged an entrance fee of 1 EUR (as of 2018) per person per day. If you’re arriving by mini-bus in Gusinj, you can hire a taxi (hopefully), or walk 7 km directly to Grebaje Valley.

How to get to Ropojana Valley

You can also explore the Prokeltije mountains from Ropojana Valley, accessed from Vusanje (also spelled Vusinje). Vusanje is a 15-minute drive (5.4 km) from Gusinje, and lies directly on the Peaks of the Balkans long-distance hiking route. If you’re arriving by mini-bus, you’ll have to take a taxi or walk in. From Vusanje, you can hike along the Peaks of the Balkans route to a large lake on the Albanian border (4-hour return). If you have a cross-border permit, you can continue to the village of Theth in Albania.

| Bungalows Katun Maja Karanfil, Where to stay in Prokletije National Park

Where to Stay in Prokletije National Park

Grebaje Valley – Best Base for Exploring Prokeltije National Park

While the town of Gusinje may have more accommodation options, we don’t recommend staying there. Opt for a bungalow in Grebaje Valley, where you’ll be surrounded by incredible scenery, grazing animals, and very little development. Note: camping is also permitted. There are a few restaurants, so no need to bring any food (other than hiking snacks).

Budget | Bungalows Katun Maja Karanfil is a bungalow-style accommodation in the Grebaje Valley. This is where we stayed. The location is perfect, as it’s directly in the park and at the trailhead. The bungalows sleep four people each, but it’s best for two people. Each bungalow is equipped with a fire-burning oven. Our host kindly started the fire for us at night.

Budget | Bungalows Prokletije is another bungalow-style accommodation in the Grebaje Valley, very close to the first option. Their wooden cabins are a bit larger than the ones in Katun Karanfil. Guests are really pleased with the hospitality and food here.

 

Ropojana Valley – Best Base for Starting or Continuing the Peaks of the Balkans Trek

Look for accommodation in Vusanje.

Budget | Eko Katun ROSI – Old Tower is a bungalow-style accommodation in Vusanje. There’s an on-site restaurant at Eko Katun Rosi, and breakfast is included. Eko Katun ROSI is well-positioned for hiking in the Ropojana Valley.

Budget | Riverside Guesthouse is a family-run guesthouse in Vusanje. Guests have access to a terrace with a fireplace and can order delicious homemade food. Breakfast costs 4 EUR per person.

Volusnica, View of Karanfili Peaks - Hiking in Montenegro - Prokletije National Park

Best Hikes in Prokletije National Park

Day Hikes
Volusnica, View of Karanfili Peaks - Hiking in Montenegro - Prokletije National Park
Volusnica, View of Karanfili Peaks

Volušnica

If you only have time for one hike in Prokletije National Park, choose Volušnica. This moderate hike delivers the most incredible view of the Karanfili peaks, the most photogenic massif in the Accursed Mountains. This hike isn’t difficult, though don’t expect a flat trail. When you reach Volusnica, the hike continues along the ridge to Talijanka (2057 m), the peak that straddles Montenegro and Albania. Prepare yourself to be wowed. Note: Talijanka is often called Popadija.

Type of Hike: Day Hike

Trailhead: Grebaje Valley

Length: 5 hours

When to Hike: Mid-late afternoon. If you hike in the morning, the sun will blind your view of the Karanfili peaks.

Šuplja vrata, Kissing Cats, Prokletije National Park, Montenegro
Šuplja vrata, Kissing Cats

Krosnja – Šuplja vrata

Krosnja is a glacial cirque high up in the Karanfili mountains. It’s a long slog to the top. As you ascend, you’ll have impressive views of Grebaje valley. But, to be honest, Krosnja isn’t the highlight of this hike. If you continue the trail past Krosnja, you enter an alpine paradise. The trail traverses mountain slopes surrounded by peaks and brings you to a natural arch appropriately named Šuplja vrata, or kissing cats. You’ll climb through the arch, traverse another slope and then descend into a gully. The views are epic!

This hike is difficult and best undertaken by experienced hikers. Half the trail is well-marked and the second-half is not marked at all.

Type of Hike: Day Hike, Loop Trail

Trailhead: Grebaje Valley

Length: 6 Hours

When to Hike: Start in the morning (no later than 10 am).

Prokletije National Park Best Hiking Trails, Montenegro
Prokletije National Park

Other Hikes in Grebaje Valley

Maja Karanfili provides guests with a hiking pamphlet. According to the sheet, here are some other trails to consider:

  • Koplje
  • Lepushe (Albania) – if you intend to hike and stay in Albania, you’ll need to secure a cross-border permit.
  • Trojan – Ravni ključ
  • Vezirova brada
  • Ljubokuč – Karanfil Ljuljaševića
  • Maje e Podgojs – Mali Karanfil / Očnjak
  • Krošnja – Svjeverjni vrj – Veliki vrh
  • Zastan – Vojuša
Hridsko Jezero, Peaks of the Balkans Trek, Montenegro Prokletije Mountains
Hridsko Jezero, Peaks of the Balkans

Peaks of the Balkans Trek

The Peaks of the Balkans is a multi-day hiking route that traverses the mountains of Montenegro, Albania, and Kosovo. The route doesn’t overlap with the hikes above (Volusnica, or Kissing Cats) and doesn’t enter Grebaja Valley. So, if you want to hop on the Peaks of the Balkans trail, head to Vusanje on the Montenegro side.

We hiked different segments of the trek, including Theth to Valbone in Albania and Bajrovića katun to Hridsko Jezero (Ridsko Lake) in Montenegro.

After spending a few nights in Grebaja Valley, we drove to another part of Prokletije National Park. We stayed in a Meanderbug Farm Stay in the temporary herdsmen settlement of Bajrovića katun. It was a long and tedious journey to get there (try to imagine the most hellish road you can), but of course the experience was unforgettable. After a hearty farm-to-table dinner inside our host’s seasonal home, we slept in tiny A-frame huts in the middle of Prokletije. The next morning, we hiked along the Peaks of the Balkans trail to the glacial lake of Hridsko Jezero (Ridsko Lake). Only do this, if you plan on spending the night in the katun.

Type of Hike: Long Distance Trek, though you can do certain segments as day hikes.

Trailhead: Mulitple

Volusnica, Prokletije National Park, Montenegro - where to hike, where to stay, how to get there

Other Considerations for Hiking in the Accursed Mountains

Border Crossings & Permits

If you plan on hiking across the border to Albania and return the same day, you don’t need to secure a border permit. However, if you plan in overnighting in Albania, you do. This isn’t something we did, so we can’t offer our personal experience. Read this guide about cross-border procedures.

Waymarking

The best way to describe waymarking in Prokletije National Park is inconsistent. We saw Austrian-style waymarks as well as Knafelc Waymarks (red circle with a white center). Don’t expect frequent waymarks or signage.

Prokletije National Park, Hiking in the Accursed Mountains of Montenegro

What to Pack for a Prokletije Hiking Trip

1-Liter Reusable Water Bottle. We both carry at least 1 water bottle each.

Hiking Pants. When buying hiking pants, we think flexibility and ability to shed water are two important criteria. We both bought two pairs of these Macpac Women’s Hike Tight Pants and we love them. They’re breathable and extremely comfortable in all types of weather. Bonus: you don’t need to wear a belt.

Hiking Boots for Women. If you want to invest in a serious hiking boot that will serve you well in rocky, high alpine terrain, look into buying a pair of Hanwag Tatra Light Lady GTX. These shoes have an extraordinary profile and aren’t rigid like traditional alpine boots.

Merino Wool Hiking Socks. Icebreaker makes the best hiking socks out there. Socks have lifetime warranty.

Sleeping Pants + Shirt

Hiking Poles. Opt for poles with lever locks (flick lock mechanism), as opposed to twisting locks. They’re more durable.

Hiking Backpack + Raincover. Ideal trekking backpack: Osprey Packs Women’s Kyte 46 Backpack.

Sun Hat + Beanie

Rain Jacket. There’s always a chance of rain in the Alps. It’s essential to always carry a proper rain jacket. Kati’s North Face Venture Rain Jacket is excellent quality and truly waterproof.

Down Vest or Hiking Vest. Everyone has different preferences, but when it comes to keeping your core warm on the trail, but not overheating, vests are your best friend. Sabrina never hikes without her Eddie Bauer StormDown Vest.

Fleece (one for hiking, one for sleeping). It’s always good to have a fleece with you for added warmth. Fleece sweaters are lightweight and dry quickly. We recommend this Marmot Norhiem Women’s Sweater Knit Fleece Jacket.

Long-sleeve and Short-sleeve quick-dry hiking shirts

Montenegro Travel Guide - Top Experiences

Montenegro Travel Resources

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