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Hike: Kotor-Lovćen....and back!!

Manchester, United...
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Hike: Kotor-Lovćen....and back!!

Some people on this forum have asked questions about hiking around Kotor. If anyone wants to follow in our footsteps, these notes may be of use.

We decided to ascend Jezerski Vrh - the peak topped by the Njegoš Mausoleum on Mount Lovćen -from Kotor and back on foot. It was brutal.

It was a Sunday so I think there was a limited bus service. We considered getting a bus to Cetinje and walking back down to Kotor via Jezerski Vrh. This might have been even tougher than our walk.

There did not appear to be any buses to Njeguši but I'm not sure if this was because it was Sunday or not. You can get a private taxi or minibus directly to the mausoleum but this might be expensive. The views from the roads between Kotor and the mausoleum are stunning, as is the view from the top.

After adding an extra mile to our walk by traipsing from our hotel to the bus station and back in a fruitless effort to find a bus, we set off on foot.

We set off at 0900 from the bottom of the Cattaro ladder (relatively gentle old mule track with numerous switchbacks that lead up past the fort overlooking Kotor old town).

As you walk from the bus station southwards towards Perast, with the water on your left hand side, you pass the market and the city walls on your right side. Cross the bridge over the moat where the city wall turns northwest.

Take the second right, directly after the Tito-era concrete Jugo building with a hint of Milton Keynes. You will now be heading parallel to the city walls as they go northeast, and will be walking through quite an industrial area towards the small, old power station. The road bends left but you bend slightly right, cross a bridge back across the water and you should be at the base of the endless switchbacks of the Cattaro ladder.

After 20-30 minutes you will reach a few small mountain huts selling fresh goat and sheep's cheese. Just after the hut, the path to Lovćen is clearly marked heading up the mountain to the left. To the right lies a hidden church and the path up to the whole in the wall / window where you can gain alternative entry to the fort.

The Cattaro ladder continues to climb. Due to it being an old mule track it isn't particularly steep but the series of switchbacks is demoralising as you appear to be making little vertical progress.

After 50-90 minutes you will reach a cairn, which marks the end of the Cattaro Ladder (presumably) and the start of a small plateau. After another 20 mins you come to a detailed German style signpost that bears left for Jezerski Vrh. This route steepens through a pine forest until after 20 mins the path becomes a steep rocky scrambling path. Although the path at this point is steep and loose, it never becomes close to true 'scrambling', it's is completely safe and exposure is minimal.

After a further 20-30 mins you reach the Kotor-Cetinje main road, as you pop through a gap between the barriers at the side of the road.

Turning left to follow the road to Njeguši and Cetinje for 400m, you will reach a junction with a restaurant. Straight on is the mountain hamlet of Njeguši - with it's famous Pršut (Montenegrin prosciutto) and cheese - and Cetinje. To the right is the road to Jezerski Vrh and the mausoleum (signposted Lovćen).

We then followed this road all the way to the top (about 11km from the restaurant junction to the top). There were various paths leading off the road that looked like they might have offered more direct access to the peak. However, the paths looked overgrown and, without a detailed walking map, it wasn't clear where they ended up.

Therefore, we stuck to the road - it was September so the narrow road was fairly quiet. The road was not that steep, it was smooth with a consistent gradient.

About 45 minutes from the restaurant junction there is a viewpoint with stunning views over the Bay of Kotor. You can see the whole bay separated by the Vrmac peninsula (other walks can be done along the Vrrnac peninsula but we did not have time to do this).

At the viewpoint there is a shack selling Rakija, honey and wooden artisan products carved into a likeness of Stevan Jovetić. It didn't appear to sell any drinks other than Rakija, and a homemade lethal liquor wasn't what we needed after 2.5 hrs of hiking uphill.

We pressed on, rounding the highest mountain in the area – štirovnik - it's summit covered in communication towers and access to the top of the peak is prohibited.

After 4 hrs, we were beneath the Jezerski Vrh, with the mausoleum just 30 minutes hiking away.

4.5 hours after setting off, we reached the car park and the steps to the mausoleum. Renovation work was being done and scaffolding covered most of the building. There is a smart cafe / restaurant that you walk through before reaching the mausoleum.

I think entry to the mausoleum was €3 per person.

The views from the top of were spectacular. It was a very clear today and I think we could see five countries - including Montenegro - from the summit. Cetinje is nestled in the valley to the north and to the east lies Lake Skadar and the far shoreline of Albania and Macedonia.

It was chilly at the summit with a strong wind, despite the temperature in Kotor being 25 degrees. You will need to take some warm clothing, as we shivered for 30 minutes at the top (we hiked in late September and it was beginning to get dark on a return down the Cattaro ladder).

We descended down the same route but, tired from our morning ascent, it took longer to get down to Kotor than our ascent. Including 30 minutes at the summit, the return trip took about 9 hours.

If you do this walk, set off early, allow enough time to get back in daylight and take plenty of water.

Some people managed to hitch a lift along the road up to the mausoleum. However, we appeared to be in the only people daft enough to walk the whole route from Kotor and the locals kept slowing down in their cars to stare in bewilderment.

Conclusion – navigation was simple, the walk was tough but some of the views were breathtaking.

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1. Re: Hike: Kotor-Lovćen....and back!!

I was in a group of experienced but admittedly "mature" walkers that walked up the Cattaro ladder in September (but then to Njegusi, not direct to Lovcen). I agree with the directions set out in OP's post, but it took us longer than it took OP. I think that it took us close to three hours to where the tracks branched and we then went up through the pine forest. This part would have taken us nearly an to reach the road - and was pretty "challenging" at times.

More generally, based on our experience on a number of days of walking in Montenegro, I would strongly suggest carrying a good map. We were well prepared, but even so, took wrong turnings on a couple of occasions. Yes, there are often signs, and the paths are usually marked, but it's still quite possible to take a wrong turning and to lose as much as half an hour or even more (which can have a big impact on a long day). Moreover, the signs often refer to paths by their numbers (as well as ultimate destination), so a map assists in understanding just where they lead. In fact, in one or 2 cases, we thought the signs mis-stated the distances. It may have been that we mis-understood what was intended. but it certainly helped to be able to double-check.

Brussels, Belgium
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2. Re: Hike: Kotor-Lovćen....and back!!

I hiked Cetinje to Kotor with a detour to Njegusi peak, in one and a half day. A much better idea, I think.

3. Re: Hike: Kotor-Lovćen....and back!!

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