Deravica/Djeravica (2656m) is a country highpoint no matter how one defines the territory of Kosovo and Serbia. The previous war and the ongoing struggle to liberate Kosovo from Serbia, makes this a more risky and unstable destination than the rest of Balkan.
In deep shit if we crash our rental car
From Tetovo in Macedonia we drove across the border to Kosovo. At the border we had to buy an extra car insurance (30 Euro). This insurance is mandatory but we have no idea how much it covers, if anything at all, in case of accident or damage. Our rental car company had explicitly excluded this war-torn country from the rental agreement, so we were certainly aware of the risk. In case we were unlucky (accident or theft), we would probably be in deep shit. Hopefully the Kosovo car insurance would then pick up part of the bill. Driving around in Kosovo with Croatian plates should not pose any problems though, unlike cars with Serbian plates, which certainly would be vandalised after short time in Kosovo.
Well across the border we stopped for a while in the lovely historic city of Prizren. There were a lot of local tourists strolling around in the streets but Lars didn't find the Kosovo t-shirt he had been looking for. He said he would never buy a t-shirt from Croatia, because everyone wear them back home in Norway. A Kosovo t-shirt, however, would give him more bragging rights and make him more unique.
Arrangement of a 4x4 vehicle in Junik
We proceeded to Junik where we tried to find Hotel Deravica. This hotel was closed because the owner had been shot by the local mafia. Instead we found Hotel Juniku where they had nice rooms and wireless internet. They could even make arrangement for a 4x4 vehicle to bring us up to the village Erenic, located at the source of the river with the same name, not far from the summit of Deravica. The total price for this arrangement was 110 Euro, which we thought was a reasonable price given the nature of this drive (a 1.5 hours drive each way on very rough roads plus a few hours waiting time for the driver). We had a pleasant evening at Hotel Juniku, eating good food and chatting with the young manager at the hotel.
Next morning before sunrise, the 4x4 pickup brought us up one of the worst roads ever. I would certainly not recommend people with expensive SUVs to attempt this road. A few places we even had to get out of the vehicle, despite of reduction gear and stuff like that. After many turns and bends we arrived Erenic (1700 m.a.s.l.) about 1.5 hours later. Surprisingly there is a brand new lodge in Erenic, but it rarely accommodates any hikers or tourists due to the difficult access. Our driver was going to wait at the lodge, while we were hiking up Deravica.
Shooting and possibly land mines
We didn't find any trails, so we just went straight up a steep slope, trying to avoid wet grass and bushes. Higher up we heard some shooting, but that didn't scare us off. It was probably just some of the local guys who were hunting rabbits for breakfast. We were more worried hitting a landmine, because walking outside of established trails can be dangerous in Kosovo. Hopefully the majority of explosives have been cleared in Kosovo.
After the initial steep slope, we came on top of the ridge and continued more gently along this to the summit. We gained 900 meters of elevation during the 3.2 km walk to the summit. By all means a very easy hike but the rain and wind made it very unpleasant. The visibility was close to zero, but thanks to my GPS, navigation was easy. We took a couple of photos at the summit and our fingers immidiately went numb. We hurried down again and spent an enjoying hour or so in the lodge together with the driver and a few locals.
Heading to Montenegro
We said goodbye to the friendly locals in Erenic and started down on the dangerous 4x4 drive. The pickup almost slid off the muddy road a number of times, but eventually we arrived safely back in Junik. We enjoyed a late lunch at the hotel before we started to drive our VW Polo in the direction of Montenegro. We had to cross a mountain pass at nearly 1800 meters before we entered into Montenegro. After a few hours in the car we found a nice hotel next to Lake Plav, not far from the highest mountain in Montenegro (Zla Kolata).
Deravica at EveryTrail