Last night we had spoken to Miljan about our plans for today, about riding to Nikšić and then on to the coast. He told us that we would love riding through Tara canyon, and when we corrected him and mentioned that we would be taking the track via Jasenovo he looked at us like we just told him we would simply beam up to Nikšić using the Star Trek transporter beam.
That road would be in way too bad a shape he assured us. But I’ve learned that although local knowledge can be greatly helpful, it can just as easily be exaggerated and not really take into account the things adventure riders look for in their trips. So I figured we would just give it a go. Besides, that track would take us right past Kapetanovo Jezero and I had read a report by some Austrian guys that had camped there and also inmate Gliga had mentioned it was a really nice place. I just didn’t think about what road they had taken to get there… And, you know, it looked like a doable road on Google Earth when I had checked it out while planning this trip.
We were up early again this morning and by 7:30AM we were on the gravel road up into the hills that turned off the main road very near to the monastery. In any case the day started off pretty nice with a promising sun.
The first part of the track was pretty nice and easy. It even looks like it is in regular use, at least for the first 10km.
But after that it deteriorates. There’s some pretty steep inclines and very tight hair pins. The stretches between the trees turn quite muddy and slippery as well. On the steeper parts the surface is a mix of gravel and fist sized rocks with plenty of washouts. The lower, flatter parts regularly have small streams crossing the road. On top of that it has started drizzling again.
About half way up we take a little breather and snack on some cookies and Snickers to get the energy levels up again.
I see that Sofie is struggling in places, but it is more a confidence issue than a lack of skills. I had to help her up a few times when she lost momentum and toppled over because she couldn’t get her feet down properly. But she’s a tough cookie and doesn’t give up. She tackles everything herself and never once asks me to ride the bike across one of the more difficult sections.
The toughest parts are the sections with a mix of cambered rock slabs that have turned very slippery from all the rain and deep washouts filled with fist-sized rocks. Weather has cleared out though and when we finally reach the top of the plateau the track becomes a lot better again. What we get to see there is definitely worth all the effort. We’re closing in on Kapetanovo but first there’s a mountain stream rushing across the path that we need to cross first.
So we’re at this little river crossing. It doesn’t look too deep at first sight, but the water is flowing pretty fast, so I decide to walk it first. In the deepest part the water comes up to just above my knees, but the current is quite strong and the boulders we’ll have to pass over are quite big. Riding it doesn’t seem like the brightest thing to do. We take the safe option and walk the bikes through.
And off we go!
The surroundings are absolutely amazing and neither our pictures, nor anything I could pit into words would do it justice.
We end up in a valley with the road snaking it’s way through the peaks and ridges around us.
There’s a few shepherd’s shacks around, but they all look deserted. This lovely little chapel seems very well maintained, but there’s not a living soul around.
To get to Kapetanovo lake we would have to take a small side road, but the progress so far had been a bit slower than we had expected, so we agree to skip that little detour and head straight for Nikšić.
Every turn we take brings another view that takes our breath away, or it could just be the thin air up here.
You cross over a crest or turn around a rock outcrop and a view like this just slams you in the face.
We are gradually losing altitude again, descending towards Nikšić. About half an hour later we ride into the city center. Just in time for a quick lunch. A good pizza always hits the spot.
Followed by a cold drink on a sunny terrace outside a very cool rock ‘n blues bar.
After that the rest of the ride is rather uneventful. The tarmac road is fast and fun. Before we know it we arrive at Kotor bay, the Norway on the Adriatic.
We’re now down at sea level and start looking for a camp site near Budva.
We find a pretty basic site, but it is near the beach and there’s plenty of choice in restaurants. The tent isn’t even fully pegged out yet when another thunderstorm moves in. Nevermind, it’s beer o’clock.
With a view on the beach, dinner has to be seafood. We pick calamares and stuffed squid, which are delicious.