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Clare
Clare

Day 14: Ćurevac

The weather had improved dramtically overnight and there was a beautifully clear blue sky when we woke up this morning. Our plan for the day was to walk to a place called Ćurevac, where there was supposed to be an amazing viewpoint over the Tara River Canyon. You may never have heard of it, but the Tara River Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in Europe, being 51 miles long and 1,300m deep at its deepest point. The main reason people come to Žabljak in the winter is for skiing, but the main reason in the summer is for rafting on the Tara river, which is effectively the only way to get a view of most of the canyon. There was no way we were going to go rafting though(!) and so this paragraph in the Lonely Planet Guide to Montenegro had caught my attention when planning the holiday.

""If you’d rather stay dry and admire the canyon from afar, head to the top of Mt Ćurevac (1625m) – although even this view is restricted by the canyon walls. The viewpoint isn't well signposted and it's difficult to find. From Žabljak's central square take the main road east and before you leave the town, turn left at a sign reading 'Restoran Momčilov Grad'. Shortly after, turn right and follow this road as it climbs the hill. Where there are any forks, chose the road that loops up and follow any signs that say 'Tepca'. Eventually there are some small wooden signs pointing to Ćurevac or vidikovac (viewpoint). Stop at the grassy parking spot with the national park information boards and clamber up the small track behind."

We hadn't got a map of the national park which showed the viewpoint but we looked it up on Google Maps and found it was about 7.5km from where we were staying, so it ought to be possible to walk there and back, if only we could find the correct road. We almost fell at the first hurdle, when we walked on the main road east out of Žabljak until we had completely left the town and at no point found a sign which said 'Restoran Momčilov Grad', but on the way back we did spot an info-board with a map of paths around the town, and this suggested that we ought to be taking a road which started behind the supermarket.

The main town is only really a couple of rows of houses deep, and so almost immediately upon walking behind the supermarket, we found ourselves in the meadows.

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There were some beautiful views of the mountains in the distance as we started following the road in what we hoped was the right direction.

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The road took us upwards through a number of small villages outside the main town.

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After some of experiences with scary dogs in out-of-the-way parts of Lithuania last summer, I was a bit worried every time we approached a new group of houses that we might attract the attention of a vicious canine. A lot of the houses we walked past did have kennels outside, but the dogs mostly seemed to be off elsewhere.

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Then we walked past one particular row of houses and could hear a dog alternatively barking and crying. He was tied up outside his house though so not going to cause us any trouble... until his owner untied him. There was a rather fraught moment when I suddenly became aware of the sound of paws coming up behind us!

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Luckily it turned out to be a very friendly dog who didn't try and chase us away, but instead decided to accompany us for some of our walk.

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He trotted along, alternatively ahead of and behind us, for several kilometres as we made our way through the forest. He wasn't too fond of cars though, and every time one passed close by he started chasing it, accompanied by loud barking.

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We were grateful for the guidance in the Lonely Planet book which had said to follow signs towards Tepca, because we must have been walking for about two hours before we came across the first sign that mentioned Ćurevac.

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We lost the dog at this point and continued walking through the forest on our own. At one point a car of Russian tourists pulled over and asked us if this was the way to Ćurevac, so at least we weren't the only people trying to find it. We told them we hoped it was only another couple of kilometres!

Around midday we finally arrived at the car park with the national park boards which had been mentioned in the guidebook :)

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From here there was indeed a small rocky track leading up towards the viewpoint. We began to follow it, and soon got our first views of the canyon.

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It was so deep that it was actually really difficult to see the river at the bottom (this photo is very zoomed in to show it!).

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This is more what it looked like zoomed out.

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The views were qutie vertigo-inducing, but luckily there was a handrail on this part of the path!

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The rocks were extremely steep in places.

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At this point we met the Russians who had overtaken us in their car. The reason I'm laughing in this photo is that the man we'd spoken to recognised us and said in English "Oh, I should have given you a tramp!", whereupon his companion corrected him with "A ride. You should have given them a ride!" :) I don't know enough Russian to know what the word is in that language, but in German "trampen" is a word for "to hitchhike", so I'm guessing the confusion came from something like that.

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From the nice handrailed part of the viewpoint, a narrow path continued to lead further uphill. We followed it carefully - it was a long way down!

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After a couple of minutes we came to a slightly higher viewpoint.

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Wow.

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Slightly higher up again, we came to what may be officially the world's scariest bench.

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It was the sort of bench where you definitely wanted to hold on!

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Or, at least, I did; Tim was a bit more confident :)

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From there it was possible to go a bit higher again.

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This position gave a bit of a better view of the river at the bottom of the canyon.

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It was a very long way down!

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That was about as far as the path went, so we turned around to head back down again.

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Luckily these rocks weren't slippy like yesterday's!

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On the way back down there was just time to take some more photos on the bench.

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Then we were on our way back through the forest again, this time without any intervention from dogs! It was a quicker walk this time because we knew where we were going and it was overall downhill, but I was quite tired by this point. Overall our step count for the day was just short of 12 miles.

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By mid-afternoon we were back in the meadows outside Žabljak again...

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...admiring the views of the mountains.

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It was an exhausting, but very beautiful walk, and definitely worth it for the spectacular views of the canyon :)

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