Many islanders make the most of the May Day Holiday (Labour Day) by relaxing at a beach or on one of the islets in the Korcula archipelago. We however, decided to climb a mountain!
The beautiful and foreboding mountain on the Peljesac known locally as Snake Mountain (because of the number of snakes said to be living there) otherwise known as Sv Ilija was our choosen summit. We invited a friend from Smokvica to join us as he had for many years cast his eyes upon the mountain, longing to climb. The date was set, the time was set, 8:00 at the port to catch the 8:10 car ferry to Orebic.
As soon as we disembarked in Orebic, we set off walking along the road to the Franciscan monastery and church of Our Lady of Angels, immediately being blessed with fantastic views of the Peljesac channel. Soon after we’d passed the Church, one of the trails to the summit commences. As the initial stages of the climb went on, the views across to Korcula became more and more breath-taking. Unfortunately, like the previous time we climbed, the viewing conditions were not so favourable. It was cloudless but quite hazy, but not enough to spoil the views. We took our time, stopping every so often to catch our breath, take on water and admire the views. Even in the early morning sun it was very warm and there was not much in the way of a breeze.
After a couple of hours we reached the wooded plateau, not visible from down below on Korcula, and met a hiker coming from the opposite direction. We stopped for a quick chat and he recommended us heading 200m in the direction he had come from where there was a gathering in a clearing providing a hearty meal for anyone who stopped by. So we decided to take a look and within 10 minutes we were sat down with a group of typically hospitable Croatians, who gave us bowls into which was poured steaming hot and tasty bean stew. The food was provided by the Sv Ilija mountain rescue group who gather, along with friends and family, every year on May 1st. This unexpected and very warm hospitality was fantastic and it was great to watch families and friends enjoying their day.
With our bellies full, we continued our assent, stopping briefly at a mountain hut 40 minutes shy of the summit where the local Mountain Rescue Team were refilling water bottles from a well in the cabin. Despite weary legs we scrambled up the last leg of the mountain to the summit and were rewarded with phenomenal views of the surrounding area. These views were most definitely worth every step climbed.
Sv Ilija can be climbed from three well marked paths starting in various spots along the Peljesac. We took one of the easiest trails up past the Monastery and came back the more steep but quicker path which comes out directly behind the town of Orebic. The other trail starts at Viganj. You can see further photos in our Sv Ilija Album on our Facebook Page.