When I arrive in Peć, it is raining, and I decide to wait a little before I start exploring the canyon to the west - the reason I have come to this western part of Kosovo. When the sun shines again, I am on my way, get stuck in enormous traffic in town, and still see quite a lot of traffic going into the canyon, which is literally just a few kilometres from the city centre. After a few more kilometres of easy driving in a narrow canyon with massive walls on both sides, I reach the narrowest part of the canyon. Just before the first switchback, I park the car for a view of the Peć Bistrica river that rages below. When I start driving up, raindrops start falling on my windscreen, and before I know it, a heavy downpour makes driving this narrow mountain road almost impossible.
In some of the switchbacks, the road runs through a tunnel so narrow that it is a challenge to squeeze yourself through with oncoming traffic. Fortunately, in another ten minutes, the rain passes, and I can make several more stops to see the changing landscape of the canyon. I see an islet in the Peć Bistrica river, with a US flag. I walk up a dirt track, take a side road where I want to hike to a waterfall. Part of the trail is washed away, and I cautiously walk through the brook with bare feet as the bridge is also gone. I reach a waterfall with brown water gushing down: after the downpour, the water has to go somewhere after all. I drive all the way up the valley, more switchbacks, to the very last village, with commanding views over the valley below. There is still a drizzle when I walk up one of the trails, to the border with Montenegro, and back. I drive back to the top of the switchbacks again, just for the views, and then decide to have dinner in a restaurant roughly halfway the valley, with superb views. I see a full moon rise over the walls of the canyon.
The next morning, I read about the possibility of climbing a via ferrata in Rugova canyon, and to my surprise, I not only get a quick reply from the organiser, but I also understand that I can do it all by myself. I am at the office just minutes later, get a short explanation of the possibilities, and the way to work the equipment, and I am on my way. It is a clear day, and when I walk to the start of the trail, I feel excitement. I put on the climbing harness and the helmet, and before I know it, I am carefully climbing the vertical wall of Rugova canyon using the metal handles. There are easy parts, where you can walk freely, but there are parts where the extra safety of the harness clicked to the metal wire comes in handy. It does not take long before I get much better views than the day before: I have a free view of the Peć Bistrica river deep below, can look far into the canyon towards the west, and can enjoy this all by myself. There are two via ferratas here, and when I reach the top, there is an easy trail down, which brings me back to the canyon floor. When I drive back to town to hand in the equipment, I am glad I have done the via ferrata: it was a great way to experience this spectacular canyon.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Rugova canyon (Kosovo). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Rugova canyon. Read more about this site.