Late summer is the best season for visiting the north of Montenegro, so Hiking the Balkans is taking you to a very special place this September. We’re going to a glamorous camp and white-water rafting on the River Tara and hiking in Durmitor National Park. Why not escape your busy urban life for a week and get close to nature?
This is a trip for anyone who wants to get close to nature and escape the urban lifestyle for a week. The founders of the magnificent camp where we are staying had the idea of basing the concept on the traditions of Montenegro’s mountain inhabitants, known in the region for their strength and bravery. So if you need a break and you want to spend some time in the middle of nowhere, welcome to Vranyak, an eco camp named after the wild black horses that roam the nearby pastures.
The camp consists of luxury wooden huts, with memory-foam mattresses and an in-house menu of locally produced organic food. The huts have electricity and are incredibly comfortable, and we will share our meals on a long table near the camp fire and the stone oven. The camp has modern eco toilets and showers.
Although we are spending most of the time on Mount Bjelasica, we will also visit the town of Kolasin to see one of the newest monasteries in Montenegro, built in the 1990s, and we will stop for a meal at one of the many authentic ethno-restaurants next to the the river in this picturesque mountain town.
As well as visiting Durmitor National Park, we will also be hiking in Biogradska Gora National Park in north-east Montenegro, which is situated between the rivers Tara and Lim. The scenery is simply stunning, and one of the park’s outstanding features is its virgin forest, one of the last three such areas in Europe and hence under special protection. As we pass the villages on the way, you will be able to see authentic local architecture and mills situated on the edge of the forest.
We will be rafting on the River Tara, one of the most beautiful rivers in Montenegro. The Tara is fed by springs and tributaries all along its length. Waterfalls come down the canyon at several points, some of them 30 metres (100ft) high. Being in the middle of this beautiful canyon is a unique experience, and the river is calmer towards the end of summer, so you will have lots of opportunities to take photos and capture the beautiful green and blue colours that surround you.
The town of Zhabljak, where we are staying, is situated very close to Durmitor National Park, where we will be hiking during the second half of our trip.
The origin of the name “Durmitor” is uncertain, but one of the most probable explanations is that it is derived from the Celtic words “dru mi tore”, meaning a mountain full of water. And the mountain really is full of water – aside from the River Tara and its many tributaries, there 18 glacier lakes, all of them above 1,500 metres (4,900ft).
Our guide Mio is local to the area and has included stops at a shepherd’s summer huts, where we will see how the sheep are kept. During our hikes, we will also stop for meals at family homes in the small mountain villages.
Day 1: After arriving in Podgorica in the morning, we head to the Mrtvica Canyon, where we will have our first short hike (and optional swim) before we head to the camp at Vranjak for dinner. All the meals prepared at Vranjak are made from local produce, and are taken on a long communal table near the camp fire, where guests can sing songs or tell stories.
Day 2: This is our first full day of hiking, with 750 metres (2,460ft) of ascent and 750 metres of descent over 15.5km (just under 10 miles), going around the 2,139m (7,018ft) high Mount Bjelasica. This mountain is home to six glacial lakes, and we will see some of them during our hikes.
Day 3: On day three we will do a 20km (12.5 mile) walk to the nearby town of Kolashin, a picturesque mountain town. This walk includes 450 metres (1,500ft) of ascent and 1,000 metres (3,300ft) of descent. We will stop for a meal in Kolashin, in one of the many authentic ethnic restaurants by the river. This is our last day of hiking on Mount Bjelasica and the last night when we will stay at our wonderful camp.
Day 4: Today after breakfast we leave our luggage on the minibus and start a 12km (7.5 mile) walk to Lake Biogradsko via a shepherd encampment, where we will stop for lunch made entirely from food produced there during the summer. These kind of lunches have always been a unique experience, because of the freshly baked bread and cheeses made on the farm. During our hike we will ascend 350 metres (1,150ft) and descend 1,000 metres (3,300ft) before we arrive at Lake Biogradsko, where we will stop for a swim in the lake. After our swim, we will head towards a camp situated on the River Tara, where we will stay overnight.
Day 5: On day five we will experience one of the highlights of this trip: white-water rafting. We leave the camp after breakfast, get ready for rafting and then set off on a journey which will take about three and a half hours. The River Tara is 150 km (93 miles) long, and the canyon is mostly 1,000 metres (3,300ft) deep, reaching 1,300 metres (4,300ft) at certain points. We will be stopping for lunch in one of the local restaurants situated by the river, where you can taste slow-cooked meals prepared under a metal bell, a local speciality in Montenegro. Our minibus will take us to the town of Zhabljak, where we are staying the next three nights in a three-star hotel situated very close to Durmitor National Park, where we will be hiking.
Day 6: There is water everywhere on the Mount Durmitor massif. Aside from the River Tara and its many tributaries, there are 18 glacier lakes, all of them above 1,500 metres (4,900ft). The highest peak on Durmitor is Bobotov Kuk, which is 2,523 metres (8,277ft) high. Today we will do a 15km (9.3 mile) hike, with up to 1,000 metres (3,300ft) of ascent and 1,000 metres of descent, which will require 6-7 hours of walking. We will enjoy the natural beauty of the area with swimming and picnic breaks, as the days are still long in September. We will return to Zhabljak for dinner.
Day 7: We have another full day of hiking along beautiful trails on Mount Durmitor. Our hike will be up to 20km (12.4 miles) long, with up to 1,000 metres (3,300ft) of ascent and 1,000 metres of descent, translating to 7-8 hours of walking. In the evening, we will go to a traditional Montenegrin restaurant for our farewell dinner.
Day 8: On day eight we will have a packed breakfast, and our minibus will take us to Podgorica Airport for our flight to London Stansted departing at 13:05 pm.
The price for this trip is £695.
A single room is available for an additional £100.
What is included?
• 7 nights bed and breakfast in 3-star hotels and mountain camps.
• Minibus transfers from and to airport for recommended flights only.
• Minibus transfers from and to the starting and finishing points of the hikes or sightseeing visits, according to itinerary.
• Local mountain and tour guides for all hikes and sightseeing, according to itinerary.
• All packed lunches during hikes (where there is no alternative for food stops).
• Travel insurance – please arrange your own insurance in order to be able to join this trip.
• Flights – you need to purchase your own flights to and from Podgorica.
• Visas and vaccinations – UK/EU passport holders do not need visas to travel to Montenegro.
• Lunches and dinners in restaurants.
• White-water rafting, which costs £45 per person.
• Personal expenses, optional activities, souvenirs.
• Visas – UK/EU passport holders do not need visas to travel to Montenegro.
Recommended Ryanair flight from London Stansted to Podgorica:
3 September 2017 at 06:55 am, arriving in Podgorica at 10:45 am
Flight number FR 7961
Book early to get the best price! Price from £53.99
Recommended Ryanair flight from Podgorica to London Stansted:
10 September 2017 at 11:10am, arriving at London Stansted at 13:05
Flight number FR 7962
Book early to get the best price! Price from £128.99
You can book this trip by clicking the BOOK NOW button on our web site or by sending us an email. Please book the recommended flights after you receive our confirmation of availability. We provide transport from and to the airport for the recommended flights only.