Durmitor Ice cave: Hidden winter in Montenegro

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I was born and raised on Durmitor Mountain and I’m so grateful that I have had the opportunity to be surrounded by the art of Mother Nature for so long. I think that the contours of the mountains, glaciers, lakes, mountain plants and that crispy air has had a big impact on who I am today. My house is located near the entrance of the Durmitor National Park.

A few days ago we had planned something for this morning. If you live in Zabljak, either to go to the shop, have a coffee in some of the local places (Kino pub and sometimes Or’o – when they don’t play shitty music) or have a walk with a friend, you always see the peaks of Durmitor, sometimes illuminated by the sun, sometimes immersed in fog. But they are always there to remind you that you are not where you should be. The Mountain is calling. After a few warnings, we decided to climb up to one of my favorite places on Durmitor. If I may choose a favorite.

If you look from Zabljak (1456 m) town (highest town in the Balkans) you will notice easily on the right side of Durmitor massif, one peak with a very special outlook and form which makes it a very important part of Durmitor’s panorama. Because of it’s rounded peak, Durmitorians gave this peak the name “Obla Glava”(Rounded head). This peak is very famous because of Ledena Pecina (Ice Cave), which is placed on the NE side of the Obla Glava massif. The ice cave is the natural beauty of Durmitor National Park. In this cave there are beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations made of ice. It’s one of the closest things to the Zabljak that one should visit on Durmitor, so we decided to do it. Black lake is the starting point for a lot of trips on Durmitor, so, when we woke up, and finished our breakfast, we went to the Black lake, which is located 2 km from the center of Zabljak. The easiest and the most beautiful way that you can reach the Ice cave is via katun Lokvice (summer pasture), where you can see the most diverse landscapes as you go on. The road is not overly demanding, and you need 3 hours to reach the cave. We went a little bit longer this time and went a more difficult route by Crno Jezero (Black lake) (1416 m) – Jaksica Mlin (1514 m) – Stari Katun (1931 m) – Ledena Pecina (Ice Cave) (2303 m). This hike is not difficult, but we are taking breaks.

The Ice cave is our goal, but each step that we are making to reach that goal is so delightful that we have to stop and save it somewhere in our heads to always have that picture with us. And of course, with every step we can see spomenak (forget me not), my favorite flower. I have to pay attention to that beauty and Violeta as my friend is urging me to over and over again. And I swear to you, anywhere else food is not as tasty as when you take it up the mountain. Especially chocolate. I always carry chocolate, because it can give me strength in the moment. The best chocolate you can find in Montenegro is Najljepse zelje, remember that. Any place that you choose is wonderful, because it’s Durmitor, but this one I particularly like.

My favorite childhood memory is that morning, when I open my eyes and peer through the window to see snow topped pine trees and a metre white-layer of snow that has fallen over one night. I still remember that smell of winter and sparkling snow that I loved so much. One morning, every year when the end of winter came, I would take a plastic bowl and fill it with snow and keep it in the freezer until next winter. And then came the moment when I realized that Durmitor does that for me; somewhere in his massive body he carefully preserved the eternal winter, winter that we visit to this autumn day.

When we came to the Ice cave we were so tired. All the way to the cave is quite steep, so we sat down and took out all the food that we brought and ate the greater part of it and drank beer, Niksicko beer. Then it was time to get down there. At the entrance, which is pretty steep and covered with snow, it’s great if you have a rope, which we had, but it is not necessary. You can just dig your shoes into the snow. For this tour you don’t need anything more than hiking shoes, beer and chocolate.

We were greeted by a hall of eternal ice and snow. At the bottom of the cave, there are numerous icy stalagmites, some small, and some a few meters high. At the end of the summer season they are smaller, as they were this time. We walked around the stalagmites and breathed the cold air that looked like cigarette smoke. We were in there for about ten minutes. Two of us, one guy from Zabljak and a bunch of Russians. Before we came out of the cave, we sang Russian songs, while the cave echoed our voices and we were all happy and very calm. All our problems were 2160m below us. That’s why we love the mountain.

We decided to come down over the summer pasture of Vuk Kovacevic, which is a little easier and a shorter way, but delightful. If you pass this way (Katun Lokvice), come and visit Vuk. He lives there in the mountains and does not speak English, but people can make some kind of conversation in Serbian, Russian, or simply gestures; very interesting man. I mean, he lives high in the mountain all by himself. So, if you are on Durmitor and want to go to this magical place, you don’t need a guide, a map is enough. This is one of the shortest, but not less impressive tours. In September hiking is more impressive than cave. So, if you can, do it in the spring or beginning of summer. We did it in September and it was beautiful, but the snow had melted. If you have just one opportunity to go there, choose the right time. I will share some photos with you, so you can see how it looks in autumn. Anyway, I think that the Ice cave is the perfect place if you want to find your moment out of time and out of space. In the heart of the most beautiful Montenegrin mountain.

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19 thoughts on “Durmitor Ice cave: Hidden winter in Montenegro

  1. Rebecca says:

    Your writing is so vivid. Sounds like a wonderful experience. Vuk sounds like an interesting man. And sometimes I would like to live alone, away from civilization and technology!

    Like

  2. gingerinmontenegro says:

    Thank you, that’s the one thing that i like to hear the most ❤
    It would be easy – maybe not in the middle of nowhere, but in a random vilagge, with 10 other people .. and little wooden house 🙂

    Like

  3. eostories says:

    Such a hidden gem! And magnificent views from above. The road to the cave looks so beautiful and peaceful apart from the parts that are so steep and rocky.

    Like

  4. Jill says:

    I had no idea this would be a destination that I’d want to add to my MUST SEE list!!! Thanks so much for sharing! Your pics are beautiful!

    Like

  5. gingerinmontenegro says:

    There is a lot of places like this, hidden and breathtaking – that’s why i started this blog. I feel like i’ll always have something to write about. 🙂
    It is peaceful, even when it’s rocky.. just a different state of mind. Mountain state of mind. 🙂

    Like

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