The Rugova Canyon lies about 3 kilometer outside of Peja. To be more precisely, in western Kosovo, at the foot of Prokletia, the “Cursed Mountains” (also called the Albanian Alps). It is one of the longest and deepest canyons in Europe. We explore this impressive canyon along the ropes, bridges and ladders of the Rugova Canyon Via Ferrata, the most impressive (and only one for that matter) via ferrata in Kosovo. Adventurers, hats off!
In a nutshell
- Coordinates; 42°41′32″N 20°10′07″E.
- 25 kilometer long and 1000 meters deep.
- Formed by water erosion of the retreating Peć Glacier.
- Main cave: the Gryka e Madhe (or Great Canyon Cave)
In depht (literally)
The Rugova Canyon is located in the Rugova region. According to village stories, the region has been inhabited since the 12th century. In 2013, the Kosovar Parliament pointed the region as a national park and the Rugova Canyon received the status of monumental natural heritage as early as 1985. The region consists mainly out of forest land and alpine meadows. The mountains have an average slope of 15° to 30°, but there are also slopes of +45°. The highest peak is called Hajla and reaches up to 2403 meters.
The plan in the Rugova Canyon
We first visit the Patriarchate of Peć Monastery at the foot of the Canyon. The Serbian Orthodox monastery dates from the 13th century and was founded by Saint Sava of Serbia.
After visiting the monastery, we move on into the mountains. Here, we will explore the canyon by means of a via ferrata. We are given a helmet, climbing harness and climing gear, and start in a maze of steel ladders, bridges and impressive views of the jagged cliffs of the canyon. Far below us flows the Peć Bistrica (Bistrica e Pejës or Lumbardhi i Pejës in Albanian, Пећка Бистрица in Serbian). After less than an hour we are safe and sound again with both feet on the ground.
Fun fact: Rugova is (besides a region and a canyon) also a traditional Albanian sword dance, named after the Rugova region. Check it out here (we must say it is quite impressive).