Zla Kolata

Aug 20, 2023
An expedition to the highest peak in Montenegro

A few days after conquering Maglić in Bosnia, we head to Montenegro for camping near Herceg Novi. Another long journey awaits us, starting from Međugorje, heading towards Trebinje. We explore the coastline and the spectacular Bay of Kotor, which is simply a must-see. Along the coast, we check off Budva, Sveti Stefan, Lake Skadar National Park, and the country's capital. Initially, we planned to use our trusty bicycles for sightseeing, but it's worth noting that this country isn't very cyclist-friendly. You can see that from the almost non-existent cycling traffic. The roads are narrow, and there's heavy car traffic. The significant elevation gains on every stretch also play a role.

Zla Kolata is located in the Prokletije National Park, on the border between Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo. The peak belongs to the North Albanian Mountains range, known as the Prokletije Mountains (Serbian: Prokletije), which are part of the Dinaric Mountains. Our starting point was the village of Plav, where we stayed for two nights. On the eve of the mountain action as well as after it. A pleasant village where you can feel the authenticity of the Balkans. Our attention was also attracted by the large number of cars with American plates, as well as more cars simply without plates. Kids behind the wheel were also the norm. Just a day like every day on the streets.

I had planned the route based on guidebooks, but I wanted to start at the highest possible elevation to reduce the overall ascent throughout the day. After a preliminary assessment of the access route to one of the guesthouses along the trail, I concluded that our car wouldn't make it. In hindsight, this was a mistake because later on, we encountered people, including fellow Poles, who mentioned that this road might have been recently added. It's a local novelty. It added an extra 2 kilometers and around 200 meters of elevation to our hike, but it was nothing a bit of extra training couldn't handle.

Other than the mentioned tourists, we don't come across too many people on the trail. Once again, it's reinforced that even the mountains leading to the crown of Europe in the Balkans remain relatively uncrowded.

The panoramas are simply irreplaceable. There's a better shot everywhere you look. We continue the ascent, which seems never-ending. Along the way, you can clearly spot Kolata – Dobra and Zla. We take the ascent route up the slopes of Dobra, and in just under an hour, we reach the summit, which we conquer after 10 kilometers from the starting point. As usual, we enjoy something warm and engage in some summit chit-chat with fellow hikers. With good timing and after a few souvenir photos, we push forward because time is ticking.

We descend along the same path we used for the ascent. The whole descent took us 9 hours, covering a distance of 20 kilometers with an elevation gain of 1600 meters.

The locals suggested that we should also check out 'The Eye of a Grasshopper,' an unusual spring or mini-pond in the area, but we ran out of time to get there. I decided to give it a shot by car; however, our fully loaded Corolla struggled on the first off-road obstacles. I gave up, and we returned to Plav before nightfall to celebrate our achievements and experience the nightlife in the Balkan province.

A short video below