The official Peaks of the Balkans Trail connects the larger, more famous village of Valbona to the tiny, more authentic summer village of Cerem through a trail that is quite unremarkable and honestly, not worth doing. The majority of the trail is actually not a trail at all, It’s a road. That being said, I recommend just taking a transfer to the small village of Cerem or taking a much more exciting alternate route over the Zla Kolata pass. I know that there are some serious hikers out there who would rather stick to the official trail, so in this Valbona to Cerem Hiking Guide I will include both options.
DURATION: 7 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 541m
ELEVATION LOSS: 382m
NAVIGATING THE HIKE FROM VALBONA TO CEREM
The trail begins in the valley of Valbona. Follow the asphalt road Northwest for about 7km. First you will pass the “Valbona Tourist Information Center.” Don’t bother going inside it is a deceiving marketing trick. Then, you will cross the bridge. Continue for the remaining 5km until you reach the junction to turn left for Cerem. The left turn will be marked by an old trail sign and a classic red/white trail marker painted on the concrete. For good measure, there is small dam in the river where the left turn is.
Take the left and proceed with a small scramble through dense brush and forest until you reach the dirt road to Cerem. Follow this road for the remainder of the trek and soon enough you will be in Cerem. Yes, the dirt road section does offer some nice views of the Valbona Valley below you, but as you can see by the short hiking guide, the trek is quite boring. That is why I will include the alternate and beautiful hike to Cerem through the Zla Kolata pass.
ALTERNATE ROUTE TO CEREM THROUGH THE ZLA KOLATA PASS
The trek to Cerem through the Zla Kolata pass is simply the way to go. It features beautiful views, big mountains and the highest point in Montenegro. Begin the hike as described above, following the road Northwest out of Valbona. After about 4km you will come to a sign on the left side of the road marking the trail to Zla Kolata. Follow this trail to the peak.
When you arrive to the top take all the time you need to enjoy the experience. When you are ready, instead of retuning back where you came from, continue in the opposite direction towards Montenegro. Once you get down the mountain, bear right towards the village of Cerem. Continue the short decent for a few more kilometers until you reach the village.
MY EXPERIENCE HIKE
I began the hike from Valbona to Cerem with some idea of what to expect. Previously, I read the it wasn’t very exciting and that it was mostly road, but I want to do the trail in it’s entirety, so I threw my pack on and got started. While I was walking on the asphalt road in Valbona, I met a 21 year old Albanian named Niko. He happened to live in Cerem. He told me he was going to drink some coffee and head back to the village. Offering me a ride if I wanted to hang out for about an hour. I kindly declined and continued.
Then, I took a left turn off the road and finally started doing some hiking. The trail was old, I had no GPS and got lost in the thick brush for about half an hour. After getting frustrated, I turned back to the road and just in the nick of time, Niko was passing by. I waved him down and accepted the ride.
I spent the day and slept the following night at his families summer house. That was the highlight of my trek to Cerem. Making a new friend and getting the local experience.
HIKE WITH ME!
If you like what you see and want to be guided by a local, this hike is a my specialized Peaks of the Balkans tour I provide with Balkan Mountain Adventure Company. Adventure is what we do. These experiences have changed my life forever. I want everyone to share the joy of the mountains with me and experience my beautiful home. BLKNMTN gives you the opportunity to explore like a local and have the adventure of a lifetime. Click the link for more information and feel free to reach out with any questions!
ADVENTURE IS WHAT WE DO
CONTINUING THE PEAKS OF THE BALKANS TRAIL
Clockwise: Visit Cerem to Doberdol Hiking Guide
Counter-clockwise: Theth to Valbona Hiking Guide