Route PL01: Plav – Gusinje – Plav
total ascent: 260m (the route is flat so it does not require an elevation profile)
surface: asphalt (26km), macadam and a track across fields (3km)
biking conditions: throughout the year, except in the event of heavy snowfall. (In the event of heavy rain we will skip a short section over the Zanoge Peninsula, because of the local dirt track).
Everyone can go on this interesting and easy ”figure-of-eight”, and it is particularly suitable for those who do not normally ride a bike and are not sure of their physical ability when it comes to longer tours. Along the northern shore of the lake the traffic is pleasantly light, and on the southern side (Gusinje – Kruševo – Hakanje – Plav) there is almost no traffic.
We head from the roundabout in the centre of Plav, and about 2km later we cross the bridge over the River Lim and then turn left (to the right is the main road towards Andrijevica). This is the only section with slightly heavier traffic.
The road soon brings us near the mouth of the River Ljuča at Lake Plav. In this place, 3.3km from the start, we will go past the Aqua Pansion (on the left) in which there is also a restaurant with a very nice view of the lake and town of Plav. An easy trundle towards Gusinje and we will continue between the high and steep mass of Mt. Visitor on the right and the marshy green kingdom of birds on the left. Passing the little village of Martinovići we come quite close to the River Ljuča which restlessly winds through a spacious, flat and wide valley, conquering and weaving in that space a special world which belongs neither to the mountains nor to the plain but to itself only, and in which it rules with full sovereignty.
7.5km from the start, in the little village of Martinovići, we abandon the main road and turn left: in order to make the tour more interesting we will not go directly to Gusinje but we will venture into the first loop of our “figure-of-eight”. At the very beginning we will go along a few hundred metres of macadam, and then a new asphalt road will take us through the marsh area towards the other side of the lake. Up to that point is just slightly more than a kilometre, but we will want this section to go on much longer: low stone walls, the shade of the trees and fresh greenery all around us – those are the beats of the heart on which the lake’s water lies.
On the River Ljuča and the River Lim there are protected areas for fly-fishing (fish: trout, grayling and huchen), so fly-fishing fans in the same day may nicely put two passions together – that of pedalling and that of casting their lines…
On the other side there is the little village of Višnjevo where we get onto the road along the southern side of the lake. We will turn right, towards Gusinje. Not long after we cross the River Ljuča, and slightly later, at the entrance to Gusinje, we come across a junction at which we should proceed straight on. But to the left there is a route to the nearby Ali Pasha’ s Springs, and that is a short detour which is worth making if time allows us (for details, look at Route GU 04).
Gusinje, a small town through which a famous caravan road from Constantinople (Istanbul) to Dubrovnik once led, definitely deserves to have some special time devoted to it. And like former merchants and caravan travellers, after we enter the place we may well first search for refreshment. A pastry shop in the centre will serve that purpose magnificently, because of two important things: the great burek (an Oriental mince pie), and even better cakes. Here we can leave our bikes as well, in order to take a slow and delightful stroll along the short high street on which almost everything is happening, and in which almost everything that locals should buy is packed up, and almost everything that a visitor should see is located. A few times along it, and we will almost become like the natives…
From Gusinje we return again to the northern road by the lake, until we reach Martinovići again and the shortcut to the other side of the lake already familiar to us. Has it been nice passing along it? Yes? Well then we will not mind doing it once again – we should start the final loop of our “figure-of-eight”, and anyway, maybe we missed earlier seeing some tiny gem of beauty scattered by the road. We turn right, and there we are soon again in Višnjevo: this time we will turn left there, towards Plav.
We still have several kilometres of our lovely, tranquil and winding ride through an idyllic area along which the hamlets of Hakanje and Vojno Selo are scattered. The road occasionally ascends onto small knolls which offer a better view of the lake and Plav than from the opposite, northern side.
Passing the households of the long Vojno Selo and peeking into their yards, in which something is always going on, after slightly more than 3km we will reach the place where we will turn left – onto a macadam road which sneaks amongst the village houses, and which will soon take us onto the spacious and flat peninsula of Zanoge. It is covered with meadows and wetland vegetation through which the River Ljuča bends and whispers, adorned with the occasional herd of cows or flock of sheep. While we coast along its green high sea, we may choose which part of the river bank we will stop at and let the quiet gurgle of water, in which the reeds dance and restless branches of willows weave the wind, put a spell on us and hypnotise so that we forget about time. On autumn and spring days we may end our exploration of the island at the wooden fence and gate which prevents the cattle from passing. However, in the summer the gate will be open so we may proceed a little bit further, almost to the very place at which the indecisive River Ljuča finally flows into the lake. Along the same road we will return back to the asphalt, and then we soon reach Plav.