The 6th day of our travel to Albania was a busy piece of trip and ended our transit along Croatia! From the Neretva River wetlands and trough Dubrovnik, we moved to ex-military base at Prevlaka peninsula, right at the Montenegro border, along the way paying a visit to less touristy, but still worth seeing spots – the town that stinks, the bay, where hotels are dead and the southernmost Croatia fort.

The Raba olive grove base camp

We woke up early to the sound of some bird scuffling angrily in the olive trees’ leaves. The sky was still gray with no trace of sun, so even the grove colors were faded.

The olive grove at camping near Croatian Raba spot

Good morning!

When we were pitching up our tent in the dusk the day before, I wasn’t so sure if we are invisible to the outsiders passing by the road from Raba to the Slivno Ravno. After all, the trees didn’t grow densely, bark-to-bark. But now, in the daylight, we could plainly see that, although the olives were planted sparsely, each next row of trees was filling in the space left by the previous one. So we were actually nicely covered from the unwanted public by a nice green wall.

The olive grove at camping near Croatian Raba

Our cagily hidden tent

Africa Twin with luggage

Still sleepy Africa

However, we wanted to spare ourselves some morning adventures, because we’d got enough morning adventure dose the day before (✌ ゚ ∀ ゚)☞ So we didn’t hesitate with packing.

Snail in the tent

Tent intruder

Packing procedure is rather dull, but I discovered some weird flowers…

Tons of snails sitting on the grass and resembling flowers

What a nice looking…

Tons of snails sitting on the grass and resembling flowers

Oh.

When the sun stuck out its nose above the horizon, we were ready to leave.

Africa Twin in the olive grove in Croatia

Ready for a ride! \(• ◡ •)/

Tough, only now the grove was getting more interesting as the light started to play in leaves and the colors flared up.

Africa Twin in the olive grove in Croatia

Only last inspections!

So our emergency wild camping wasn’t so bad after all. It has its charms and got us covered well.

Riding the motorcycle in the olive grove

But let’s move on!

Seeking the hidden fortress around the Kuti Lake

When we returned to the Adriatic Highway from our unnamed road, we were only 16km from the Bosnia and Herzegovina border crossing in Neum. But we decided on one more adventure before!

unnamed road to the olive grove between Raba and Slivno Ravno

The unnamed road to the olive grove

Adriatic Highway near Raba

Back on the Adriatic Highway track

We were about to find the Smrdan Grad – a 17th century fortress build upon the ruins of an older, medieval keep.

The fortress lies above the Klek town, so we rode down the Adriatic Highway, almost to the Croatia and Bosnia border crossing.

Adriatic Highway near Klek

The sea is back!

This was maybe about 13 km from our olive grove base camp. Although, the way that branches from the Adriatic Highway to the Smrdan Grad is quite inconspicuous, so we missed it at first and had to turn back. But eventually we got it right ;)

Turn to Smrden Grad from the Adriatic Highway

There it is!

And we were quite surprised! We were expecting just a nice fortress sightseeing. And what we got a twisty road climbing up the hills with an amazing view on the sea  behind our backs!

Adriatic Sea seen from the road leading to Zavala from the Adriatic Highway

Woah

Did I said it was a surprise? This was a double surprise, actually. Because it even looked like, besides us, no one was tempted to try this route… Like… What?! (ʘ‿ʘ)

If you think that, oh, the road must have been full of holes like a Swiss cheese, then not at all! Of course, it wasn’t so nice and smooth as the Adriatic Highway surface, but really decent. No need for the 4×4 tanks :)

Road to Zavala and Kuti Lake

Just easy riding with awesome views

However, before we found the right road branch that led us to the Smrdan Grad, we got lost a little in the net of local roads with our GPS, which was so besotted with the heat, that it stopped functioning  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But it turned out for our good. We stumbled upon the Kuti Lake (ʘ‿ʘ)

Africa Twin at the Kuti Lake, Croatia

Aren’t those plains looking strange, stretching right at the mountains’ feet?

Though, maybe saying that we stumbled upon it isn’t quite accurate phrase. The lake is big if you check the map! But this awesomeness wasn’t in our trip plan ;)

I’ve read that during the summer the lake dries out a little. But still… what a view!

The Kuti Lake, Croatia

Watercourses flowing into the Kuti Lake seemed a little dried out

I wondered if there are some field crops down there, but I later learnt that people used to cultivate land here some time ago, but now the Kuti Lake is more of a local attraction for tourists… which we have not seen.

The Kuti Lake seen from the roadbetween Zavala and border between Croatia and Bosnia

Meet the Kuti Lake ᕕ(•ᗜ•)ᕗ

The views were so unexpectedly enjoyable that we rode this little unnamed road up to the border crossing.

Road between Zavala and border crossing between Croatia and Bosnia

The around the Kuti Lake trip ended here

Just then we turned back for another round of ride around the Kuti Lake and for further seeking the Smrdan Grad,because it became obvious we missed a turn and have to look around more carefully to find it.

Road from Croatia and Bosnia border crossing to Zavala around the Kuti Lake

Heading back

The right turn was just near Zavala.

Road to the Smrden Grad

Quite inconspicuous road

Road to the Smrden Grad

But let’s go up

At first the road was okayish. But then it got us some gravel and sand. Maybe the 4×4 tank wouldn’t be necessary again, but the cars with a specially low clearance might have a hard time.

Road to Smrdan Grad

Ah, some gravel! Finally!

Our little offroad route was making the bike’s back wheel happily slipping every dozen meters when moving forward,  so I did hide the camera, expecting some closer contact with the ground. And, unfortunately, this is the reason we don’t have much photos from this part of our road.

Africa Twin Parked at the Smrdan Grad

But we made it!

The Stinky Town – Smrdan Grad

We found the Smrdan Grad desolated.

Entrance to the Smrden Grad fortress

Entrance

No tourists were here either. We had the whole courtyard for ourselves ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Maybe the hour was still too early (around 9 AM?), although, the ruins didn’t look much like someone tends to them and there weren’t any traces of human beings etc., so I belief it isn’t much popular spot.

The Smrden Grad fortress

The trees eat away the fortress walls

You have only around 30 minutes of driving to Dubrovnik from here, so I guess most of the people are more keen on seeing some of the Game of Thrones scenes background, then visiting a place, which is literally called a Stinky Town (ʘ‿ʘ)

Smrdan Grad courtyard

Some of the ruins are even more damaged

Although, it’s not that something really extremely stinks there testing your strength limit, actually ;)

The legend says that the fortress was occupied by the Turks for some time. But then the locals recaptured it and when the Turks attempted to take over the fortress again, the things came to a really bloody fight, where about 60 Croatians were defending the place against 6000 enemies. In the result there were so many unburied dead, that the stink of rotting bodies gave the name to this fortifications  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Smrdan Grad lookout point on the Adriatic Sea

This path seems to lead to something interesting…

We didn’t know if there’s something special to look for around the fortress, so we just kept exploring the terrain on our own. The abandoned and forgotten walls, of course, can’t compete with the better preserved historical monuments of Dubrovnik. But this place definitely has its own unique atmosphere – a strange, mysterious aura, which is hard to put into the words. Moreover, apart from that, it is also not out of nice views on the Adriatic Sea!

View from the Smrdan grad escarpment

… A dead end. But at least with a nice view!

At first, during my terrain inspection, I met a dead end escarpment with not so wide view on the sea as for my liking. But a little more traversing along the cliff edge…

Smrdan Grad courtyard with old ruins

Let’s check it out!

And here you have it!

Lookout point from the Smrdan Grad on the Klek city

Lookout point on the Klek city

A nice place to rest and have a breakfast. Though you might some company here… This time we were getting to know local arthropods (◉‿◉)

Cicada

Like fat cicadas… Howdy!

Cricket

Or giant crickets

There was also a little temple with belfry, which looked better than the other fortification walls, but it was closed.

Temple at Smrdan Grad

Temple at Smrdan Grad

All in all, the Smrdan Grad is a really lovely place, to which you can easily drop by on your way to epic Dubrovnik. And another pros – if you’re less lazy than we, it can be also reached on feet by a picturesque trail ᕙ(◉‿◉)ᕗ

Wooden bench at tke lookout point on Klek

But we were only chillin’ (▰ᗜ▰)

From Neum to Dubrovnik

From the Smrdan Grad we rode down to the border crossing in Klek.

From Smrdan Grad to border crossing in Klek

Again awesome views on the way down

From Smrdan Grad to border crossing in Klek

And more twisties!

There was a little queue at the crossing, but it was not so bad. We didn’t wait long.

Border crossing Klek and Neum

Waiting politely (ᴗ‸ᴗ)

We were in Neum maybe in half an hour.

Neum welcome sign

Hello, Neum

It looked like Neum is also a nice beach resort, but we, being we, just payed the local bakery a visit and asked for a burek, of course :P

Eating local pastery in Neum bakery

This was not burek :( But it was good anyway :)

So our Neum sightseeing was short as we didn’t get our butts anywhere around. But anyway, I think Neum is best for those who seek more sunbathing or are after a cheaper holidays option, when they want to see Dubrovnik, Mostar and other attractions around.

Adriatic Highway in Neum

The street was busy and was getting jammed every few minutes

After stop in Neum, we rode up straight to the next border crossing to get back to Croatia. From there we stuck to the road 8, of course, so we could keep an eye on the sea, which didn’t let us down, as again we could soak in some picturesque views.

Bistrina Bridge and oysters farms in the sea

The oysters farms seen from the Bistrina Bridge

Adriatic Highway between Doli and Banici

View on the Adriatic Sea between Doli and Banici

Adriatic Highway between Doli and Banici

But not only the sea made the way rich in the vivid landscapes

Near Mali Zaton the coastline started to be more dappled with marinas filled with white ferries.

Mali Zaton bay coastline

Mali Zaton bay

And as we were approaching Dubrovnik, the boats traffic was growing and the ferries themselves too.

Tudman Bridge seen from Lozica

Tudman Bridge seen from Lozica – suburb of Dubrovnik

We took our time to admire those monstrosities from a closer distance, when we decided to leave the Adriatic Highway and go beneath the Tudman’s bridge in hope to find a place, where we could jump into the water as we were tired with the heat.

Ships beneath the Tudman's Bridge

Huge piece of ship!

There was no way to get wet safely, but it was cool anyway ;)

Ship seen from Adriatic Highway in Lozica

Another fatty

This is one of my favorite things in the Dubrovnik coastline. Without all those big, majestic ships cruising around, Dubrovnik would lost lots of its appeal.

Dubrovnik north bay

Dubrovnik north bay

Dubrovnik north bay

A little closeup

However, this time we rejected the Dubrovnik’s advances. We’ve already visited the Croatia capital city 2 years ago, when we stayed there for 2 days of sightseeing. Dubrovnik is beautiful and also its neighborhood (like the Lokrum Island) is worth of anchoring there for few days.

Dubrovnik Old Town and Lokrum Island seen from the Adriatic Highway

Dubrovnik Old Town and Lokrum Island seen from the Adriatic Highway

But we were planning 2 more attractions away from Dubrovnik this day and we wanted to find more remote place to stay over the night. So we gave Dubrovnik a pass, hungry for new places and new views.

Ramp to Dubrovnik

Bye, bye, Dubrovnik

The abandoned hotels graveyard – Kupari Beach

Instead of roaming around Dubrovnik, we chose something for the entry level urban explorators ;) We rode the Adriatic Highway up to Kupari and its abandoned hotels complex, which is sometimes poetically called the bay of the dead hotels.

Adriatic Sea on the way to Dubac

More epic views on the way, of course ᕙ(^▾^)ᕗ

Back in the day luxurious hotels were the favorite rest site for the upper crust of Yugoslavia, especially officers, but sadly today they are the Yugoslavia’s civil war memento – their skeletons towering silently above the little sandy beach, where only few decide to bath in the perfectly azure water.

Africa Twin against the Pelegrin Hotel in Kupari

To bath or not to bath?

But although I’ve read in some sources that most of the people don’t have enough courage to rest there on the beach, because of the legends about dump squibs still lying there after the war, it’s not that the beach is completely empty.

Kupari beach seen from the Pelegrin Hotel

Kupari beach seen from the Pelegrin Hotel

Kupari beach seen from the Pelegrin Hotel, Hotel Goričina II in the background

As you see there actually are some brave sunbathers! Hotel Goričina II in the background

Nevertheless, it’s not that it’s crowded by the people. The place gives up quite odd and uneasy vibe with this pristine-looking beach with crystal clear water contrasting with building noticeably pitted with bombs and bullets. Some don’t like it, some are fascinated…

Pelegrin Hotel Kupari beach

The Pelegrin Hotel

We also seized the opportunity to cool off after boiling in suits. The water was so awesome that we got stuck in it for like 2 hours, before we moved on to check out the ruins of the Pelegrin Hotel.

The Pelegrin Hotel Kupari from inside

Let’s go explore

The Pelegrin Hotel is one of the 7 hotels, which are part of the former Kupari resort, along with a camping and two residences. The oldest, Grand Hotel, was built just after the I World War, whereas the Pelegrin was brought to life in the 60s.

The Pelegrin Hotel Kupari inside

We’re in

The luxurious splendor of the whole complex ended in 1991, when it was strafed by the Yugoslav People Army from the bay’s waters and taken over by the Serbs during the Croatian War of Independence.

Hotel Pelegrin Kupari

Some hall maybe

After looting, the army burned down the hotels floor by floor. So no treasure finding here ;) Just lots of debris and broken glass (watch your feet! (づ☉.☉)づ)

What caught my attention also, were sometimes the drawings or inscriptions on the walls. Sometimes ironical, sometimes weird or creepy, sometimes contrasting with the place again, so giving this uneasy feeling…

Hotel Pelegrin Kupari

Some corridor with creepy drawings, which I… actually like in their creepiness

Hotel Pelegrin Kupari drawings

Quite odd

Hotel Pelegrin Kupari

The Pelegrin entrance

There were sign that the stairs can fall apart, but we gave it a go to see the rooms and terrace.

Hotel Pelegrin Kupari room

The rooms mostly looked the same – full of debris and roofs tumbling down

Hotel Pelegrin Kupari room

View from one of the room’s window

Hotel Pelegrin Kupari terrace view

The terrace. I think my favorite in the exploration

As far as I’ve digged into information about the future fate of the resort, I found out that there are some investors, which declared to once again build up a very expensive, luxury hotels resort  around the beach in the place of the dead hotels, but… 4 years passed and nothing actually changed.

Hotel Pelegrin Kupari corridor

Another corridor I ventured

At all, the place can feel depressing and stir some uncomfortable emotions. But maybe it’s sometimes good to put oneself in such a place…

Hotel Pelegrin Kupari seen from the road

Riding further

We ended our exploration in the Pelegrin Hotel, but as far as I know, you’re free to enter any of the hotels. At least for today. Maybe they will start rebuilding the resort someday?

The most Croatia ending end – Cape Oštro

From the Kupari beach we set our direction to Prevlaka (Croatian word for portage) – a small peninsula, which is the most southern and eastern point of Croatia.

Turn to Prevlaka from the Adriatic Highway

Leaving the Adriatic Highway for Prevlaka

Prevlaka has rather stormy history and witnessed lots of wars and battles since the XV century, because of its location as it was always a good point to control access to the Kotor Bay. Napoleon, Nazis, Yugoslav People Army… Prevlaka saw it all.

Where the Prevlaka narrows and connects to the Croatia mainland, you will find last groups of people, which are sunbathing at a little sandy beach near a small café. There is also marina from which you can observe the ship leaving the Kotor Bay.

Closed marina at Prevlaka

Where are you going?

Riding peninsula deeper, though, will leave you rather lonely. Apart from the Punta d’ Oštro fort, right at the Prevlaka tip, which was for the first time fortified in 15th century in the Bosnian Kingdom back then and which is still visited by some few tourists, despite the damages it is carrying since the II World War.

Riding to the Prevlaka tip

Riding to the Prevlaka tip

To get to the Oštro Fortress you just ride straight along the coast. The road surface is a nice asphalt. However, there is no entry point at the parking lot at the fort most bottom point.

Fort Oštro parking

Oops

As we were on the bike and it’s seemed like almost no one is around, we rode the bike up, although the road wasn’t so good here. It was steep and rather damaged.

Road to upper level of Fort Oštro

Road to upper level of Fort Oštro

Fort Oštro entrance at the upper level

And the walls seen from the upper level

Unfortunately, when we got at the top, the entrance was closed.

Fort Oštro entrance at the upper level

Entrance

So we had to be a bit cunning to get inside… We entered by a little window on the entrance left side. Some cobblestones have been already lying beneath it as if someone used it to crawl inside before us. So why not? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

View from the Cape Ostro window at the Cape entrance

This is quite high…

Inside Cape Oštro

But let’s check it out

The building was, of course, neglected and devastated.

Inside Cape Oštro

Looked like someone lived here

The coolest part, I think, was the side of the cape, which faces the sea.

Inside Punta d'Oštro

Crossing to the sea side of the Ostro Fortress and…

Sea side of the Punta d'Ostro

What view!

The information sign says that the today’s form of the fortress originates from the 1850, actually, as it was fortified again by the Austria-Hungary  back then.

Sign in Cape Ostro

Let’s have a look on the information sign

It’s a pity that it looks like no one wants to renovate this place.

Sea side of the Punta d'Ostro

You can look at the Montenegro coast…

Though, maybe it isn’t so surprising if you think that demilitarization of this territory ended just in 2002, when it was agreed to return it to Croatia.

Sea side of the Punta d'Ostro

And at the sea stretching out to the horizon

Sea side of the Punta d'Ostro

Some climbing required…

While we were searching the fortress, the sun started to set behind the horizon. So it was time to find a place to rest and endure the night.

Camping at Prevlaka

I found it odd idea to camp at the cape, as it really close to the border and I expected to see some Croatian coast guards around.

Nevertheless, we decided to try and chose some route visible on the Google maps.

Unpaved road to the Prevlaka lighthouse

The road was off a bit

It lead us up and up, through the bushes and abandoned, devastated, creepy buildings growing out of nowhere on the path sides, which are leftovers of military architecture. Prevlaka was closed since 1955 for common people as the Yugoslav People Army have begun the installation of artillery there.

Barracks on the unpaved road to the Prevlaka lighthouse

Some representatives of the buildings I’m talking about

We looked inside those barracks, but found only debris and broken furniture.

What surprised us the most, really, was that at the end of our journey up the cape we found… a loudly working power generator.

Power generator for lighthouse at Prevlaka

Power generator in the middle of nowhere

This looked super weird. But as we checkout the little entrance just around the generator…

Prevlaka lighthouse

What’s in there?

It turned out that the generator powers up the lighthouse. And, yep, no one was home. We suspect there were only some motion detectors and maybe once in a while someone drops by to check if everything is ok.

Prevlaka lighthouse

Just looking around

The views from around the lighthouse were awesome. Be it on the sea or on the Cape Ostro.

View on the Adriatic Sea from the lighthouse at Prevlaka

Aren’t they?

We also followed a small trail, past the lighthouse, passable only by feet I think, which leads to a lookout point on Fort Ostro, Fort Mamula on the little island and an incredible view on the Kotor Bay entrance.

View on Kotor Bay entrance from the lighthouse at Prevlaka

View on Kotor Bay entrance from the lighthouse

Unfortunately, we didn’t make our camp there. The bike would be too far away from us and, of course, we would have to carry all our luggage with our own hands.
So we found some branch from the way we rode up to the lighthouse, somewhere between the barracks.

Turn to the camp at Prevlaka

A little steep

It doesn’t look like it, but the ramp was really steep, so sadly the pillion rider had to walk up on his own :P

But the spot was great. Specious and with marvelous sights all around – on the open sea on one side and the coastlines on the other!

Searching for Prevlaka camping

Our to-be-camping space

Prevlaka bunker

We also had a company of some bunker

There was also a bunker hidden there, but there was nothing there, besides some small lizard.

Although, I was a little worried with the place, because of the border proximity and the fact that those terrains were so neglected and desolated that could be visited by people, which you would rather not met at all. But the night went by peacefully.

Well, almost… No one disturbed us, but there was one strange thing. When we were just about to go to sleep, I heard this strange sound like someone is slowly creeping to our tent as warily to not make much noise as he can. Step… by… step… Only the rustling of dried out grass betrayed his position.

‘What is that?!’ And I heard that my sudden, loud springing to my feet made this special someone leap away instantly somewhere into the dense darkness.

The situation didn’t repeat after that, so otherwise our camp was a great spot. Though, I was really terribly frightened and I wonder up to this day… What was that?!

Though, at some point anyone, who camps, owns some creepy story to share. Do you have some? :)

Night view from the Prevlaka lighthouse

Good night!

The only major cons of this place, was that somehow, while we were sitting there, our phones connected to the Montenegrin BTS and mobile network, though we though we are quite away from the border ヽ( ͠°෴ °)ノ So better watch out for this!

Get this adventure too

Distance ~154 km
Road surface Asphalt and gravel on special sections, like those leading to the Smrdan Grad and to the Cape Ostro lighthouse
Difficulty Small adventure