Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mountain Tourism – Dukat, the Forgotten Mountain in South-Eastern Serbia

By: Miodrag Stosic
Dukat Mountain, Aug. 3 ( Serbia Today) - Summer is a season when most people chose seaside as their touristic destination. Seaside dominates in commercials, marketing and tourist prospects, and it supresses mountains, even in Serbia, which is not a maritime country. After the beginning of the action ’’Serbia – tree times love’’, several years ago, Serbia started to exploit its rich potentials. Numerous touristic destinations inside of the country are being developed (Stara Planina as the best example), but many of them are still neglected. One of them is Dukat mountain, at the farthest southeast of Serbia, near the borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria.
To explore the possibilities for tourism on this mountain, we undertook an expedition to its highest peak – Crnook (1881m). Our route started near Crnoštica, which is an almost abandoned village on Bosilegrad – Trgovište road, at approximately 1300m above sea level. Our path to Crnook led through forests and villages in the hills, until we reached the final ridge, covered exlusively with grass, from where we climbed to the TV station at the summit.
The one who travels this path must get an impression that Dukat is an extraordinary beautiful mountain, full of possible resting places surrounded by an untouched nature, but its potential for tourism is poorly exploited. There we could find villagers, their homes and animals, as high as 1600m above sea level. Survival of these people on that altitude can be explained by richness that Dukat mountain has in water. We could see mountain springs even slightly below the summit itself. Another good circumstance is that the path we walked to the final ridge is wide enough to support vehicles, so that one could reach the highest village by car. We assume that these conditions could be very positive for the development of touristic facilities, if there were more investments by state, as well as by private entrepreneurs. It could mean a lot, not only to possible future tourists, but also to the poor people of this mountain.
Villagers of Bulgarian and Serbian ethnicity who live here together, are surprised to see people from big cities coming to their neighborhood, and they ask us the same question – why is this beautiful mountain forgotten? It seems as if they would like us to influence governmental decisions about the development in rural mountain areas. They seem not to be much worried about the life they lead. Asked about climatic conditions there during the winter, they say that snow is rarely too unbearable to them. We conclude that it also wouldn’t be for us, if we could come here again this winter. Of course, we should find a place to stay first.
If Serbia was Switzerland, touristic potential of Dukat and many similar mountains would have been developed long ago. There are many nature-loving people all over the world, who would like to visit such places. We hope that forgotten mountains of Serbia, and Dukat among them, could soon be new Serbian economic (and ecological) brand.

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