Day 5 – Gostilje-Zlatibor-Mokra gora

Total travelled: 60km; Total climb: 1215m; Total descent: 1330m; Max height: 1110m; Current location: N43.47.85 E019.30.17, elevation 740m; Today was our latest start so far, probably something to do with fatigue from yesterday’s marathon stage and the need to fix several slow punctures which manifested themselves overnight. Progress was fast again, though, again due to our finding asphalt where the old maps showed only trails, and we were soon heading along a ridge just north of the mountain of Cigota, a very bare area reminiscent of Scotland.

We made good time and quickly covered the 25km to Zlatibor, maybe something to do with the lack of things to stop and photograph, plus the wet weather that kept us moving. Zlatibor is something of a tourist trap, though it’s hard to see why, with nothing much around to do except buy souvenirs. Having eaten some expensive but welcome grilled meat (gurmanska pljeskavica, mmm) we headed out onto a small road through a narrow gorge and enjoyed 10 downhill kilometres with traffic quickly petering out.

Then, after a further 10km came the moment I thought never would: the asphalt ended and our road finally turned into a macadam track through some of the most isolated country I have seen – even the occasional farmhouses showed no sign of humans.

There followed a slight diversion, via a “shortcut” which turned out to be anything but, but which afforded us some spectacular views, which will have to wait till I post the gallery because the mobile phone camera would never do them justice. We then headed sharply downhill through forest on a treacherous stony track which claimed Rob’s tyre but gave us a chance to stop and enjoy the pure mountain air – the smog of Novi Sad seemed a long way away.

A few kilometres down and we were in Mokra gora, a village aiming for great things with regard to tourism and a world away from Zlatibor in that respect – Mokra gora could be some Swiss alpine resort in the making, let’s hope they get it right. Another great camping spot and time for a good night’s sleep – tomorrow’s daunting prospect is the ascent to Tara, an area of Serbia I have never been to and am hoping will fulfil expectations as a fitting final leg to this Serbian mountain bike trek of ours.

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