Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Backpacking the Balkans:

  1. Backpacking the Balkans – Introduction and Our Route
  2. Dubrovnik, Croatia
  3. Mostar, Bosnia
  4. Sarajevo, Bosnia
  5. Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
  6. Kotor and Jaz Beach, Montenegro
  7. Photos from the Balkans

Durmitor National Park is located in northeastern Montenegro, and was a 5 hour bus-ride from Sarajevo, including a change in buses in Niksic. It was incredibly beautiful and almost worth the harrowingly steep cliffs we drove around to get there. We ended up staying there 5 nights, in part to a great hostel we stayed at, Hiker’s Den Hostel in Zabljak. The hosts there were very welcoming and good at encouraging a community atmosphere (they did a huge, free BBQ our second night) with plenty of raki (a local liquor, popular in the Balkans and Turkey) flowing. We also had a great time watching the World Cup quarterfinals with the diverse crowd there (even our arch-enemy Belgian friends).

Of course, the highlight was the national park itself, Durmitor. We did three different activities over the three days – a hike around some lakes, white water rafting, and a bike ride to a lookout. The hike we did took about 8 hours, and took us around a couple of different lakes and was similar to what we did at Mljet National Park in Croatia. Of course, the views themselves were stunning and made for some excellent photos:

 

Rafting in Tara River Canyon

Rafting in Tara River Canyon

Our second day we did rafting on the Tara River, which runs through a canyon that is the second deepest in the world behind America’s Grand Canyon. The rafting itself was not all that thrilling, and was mostly class III and IV rapids, much easier that we did in Maine a few years ago. It was also far less organized – I’m not sure our guide spoke any English beyond “left”, “right”, and “together” – but it wasn’t dangerous so it wasn’t a big deal. However, the canyon itself was really pretty and impressive in scale. We are glad we didn’t have to hike down it like Tiger Leaping Gorge in China! There were several cliffs around 5m high that we jumped off of as well. After the rafting we had a tasty home-cooked feast at our “captain’s” house. Rain cut things a bit short but overall it was a fun day.

Our final activity was renting bikes from the hostel and making the 45-minute trek uphill ride through a windy forested road to the Curevac viewpoint. It was amazing! It was set up on the top of the canyon, looking down into the valley all the way to the river. There was a nice bench there right on the edge of the canyon, and it was a great place just to go to escape everything. Really stunning. Plus the bike ride back down hill was nice and easy!

Tough bike ride up, but worth it for the amazing views!

Tough bike ride up, but worth it for the amazing views!

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