In the far western corner of Kosovo, beyond the town of Peja (or Peć, as it is known to Serbs), there’s a narrow pass that enters one of the most spectacular areas in the Balkans: the Rugova Gorge, where granite walls vault 609 meters (2,000 feet) above the Drini River. The gorge is traversed by M9 road. This gorge runs due west from Peja to the Montenegren border. The road ends abruptly on the border.
The Rugova Canyon Road, from Peć to Kućište, is 25 km (16 mi) long. The road takes startling hairpin turns and plunges into hand-made tunnels to reemerge beneath vistas of soaring peaks and alluring caves. Rock climbers will be thrilled at the challenge of these immense rock faces, but they should bring their own gear. The ropes left dangling down to the road aren’t to be trusted. For less technical adventures, continue up the road to the villages of Bo-gaj and Stankaj, the best launching points for hikes in these mountains.
It’s a real challenging road and a true test of your vehicle and your stamina because the road abounds in twists and turns with wheels sometimes hanging above the precipice. Accross this road, Serbian Army during the withdrawal over rugged Albanian mountains in 1915 was throwing its guns to prevent Austrians and Bulgarians to take them and continued its journey towards coldness and hunger.
The surface of the road is asphalt, and chains or snow tyres can be required anytime. Rugova Gorge and Valley is the central area of Rugova Mountains. The Gorge starts at the 3rd kilometer from Peja City up to Drelaj Village at 12th kilometer, followed by Rugova Valley. The whole distance of 25 km is linked with asphalt coat road along the crystal clear and deep blue water of Lumi Bardhi River. This cache is located near a convenient parking area with fresh spring water closeby.
The road through the gorges is asphalted but pretty narrow. It ends abruptly on the border with Montenegro. It’s highly recommended to stay always in the road, because the zone is very dangerous offside the path. The whole area was frontline during the war and the authorities have posted several signs along the road, warning the danger of mines.
A quick glance at the map, at its sheer drops and serpentine twists and turns, confirms that this is no hype. The zone offers great opportunities for hikers, rock-climbers and cave explorers. The views are stunning especially during rainstorms, with big waterfalls. In winter the road is covered with ice and snow.
Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime and can sometimes block some sections of the road, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. The road is very narrow and passing cars and trucks is problematic as they approach. You can see granite walls on either side rising up and a drop-off below into a gulley and there appears to be a river. You can also see short tunnels carved out of the mountains. The lumber trucks approach periodically and are tough to pass. Some parts are carved into the side of a granite wall and are basically up against a wall and the edge. A couple of tunnels are very narrow and there is only room for one vehicle.
Pic: Arian Sheremeti