Kosovo is an amazingly interesting country, with the majority of the population under 25, all seeking out their professional careers and trying to find their place in the world, it's a country which feels bursting with potential. It seemed to us that through so many wars and changing borders, a lot has been lost and forgotten, like the beautiful Rugova Gorge.
From what we can tell, Rugova used to be a very popular tourist destination for the region. These days, its very hard to find any information - where to go, what to see and how to get there. We saw a few pictures online, a few sites mentioned walks to lakes or villages, but we just had no idea what to expect when we got there.
Getting there is actually pretty straight forward. Buses in Pristina are very regular and head to the closest town, Peja, every twenty minutes. Jump on the bus from the main station and pay the driver later, he'll come around and collect the €4 fare - not bad for crossing pretty much the entire country!
We arrived at the main bus station in Peja, and decided to walk to into town for a coffee, and then head towards the other main attraction, the Patriarchate of Peć (think of it as the Vatican to the Serbian people), which ended up being a lot longer walk than expected through the hot and dusty streets. From the road, it was still another 10 minutes walk along the old walls of the Monastery to find the entrance. You would think, being an UNESCO heritage site, there might be some signage? Nope. Tip: Remember to take your passport as a form of ID. As it is a Serbian Monastery within Kosovo, its protected by KFOR troops who will take your passport ransom whilst you visit.
We also thought that being an UNESCO site, we’d be able to find a taxi to take us onward through the Canyon. Nope again! Luckily we made friends with the chain-smoking KFOR troops (who spoke almost no English) and managed to communicate that we wanted to get a taxi to drive us through the canyon and back again. Somehow this seemed to work; a taxi driver appeared (again no English), and we had an incredibly scenic drive, waving our hands energetically when we wanted him to stop for a photo. One of the most beautiful stops, the old stone bridge, is about 10 mins into the canyon. There is a makeshift bar below where you can stop for a beer that has been chilled in the icy waters if you feel like you’re ready for a break.
So, recommendations for getting around Rugova?
Grab a taxi as soon as you get into town, even if you are keen to see the Patriarchate of Peć (which is well worth the stop). The taxi driver should happily wait for you, then take you through the canyon. We paid €30 for our driver to drive us from the Monastery, through the Canyon with lots of photo stops, and then back into town again where he dropped us at his favourite lunch spot about an hour and a half later. The first 10km of the canyon are the most beautiful, after that it opens up and is less dramatic.
If you are interested in doing some hikes in the area, easiest place to get information is from the tourist information centre which is on the main road out of town towards the canyon. It was closed when we got there (very helpful), but there is a very useful map showing some of the walks in the area. They also have some info up on their website:
EMMA & PETE
We're just two Aussie's who met in London, married in Prague and travelled overland back to Australia.