Durmitor National Park, situated on the northwest of Montenegro, is the biggest protected area in this Balkan country. One of five national parks in Montenegro.
There is so much to say about Durmitor. Legends and stories from a everyday life of locals, and many things to do and see. Let’s have a sneak peek into this stunning beauty!
All those huge rock walls of Durmitor with nearly 50 peaks over 2.000 meters (6.561 ft.), that rise above rich green pastures and cows blissfully wandering around will make you feel like you’re in the Swiss Alps and in the commercial for Milka chocolate.
Cows and other domestic animals like sheep and goats have a truly peaceful life here. They are freely roaming through vast pastures and enjoying in fresh grass and mountain air. So if you decide to drive through the national park, you need to know cows are rulers of this mountain, at least of vast pastures. They are usually near a road, leisurely walking and crossing it. And they definitely don’t care if you’re waiting to pass. You’re a guest in their home and need to follow their rules! During long strenuous days of fooling around with drivers and eating, they need to take few breaks. So usually they rest near some of many lakes scattered around Montenegro’s largest protected area.
Durmitor is paradise for animals and people. According to legends a long time ago it was even a resting place of Greek Gods from Olympus mountain. With its beauty and cultural and historical richness, it allures travelers from all over the world to visit it. Hikers have an opportunity to explore many well-maintained and marked trails across this limestone massif. Gourmets can taste traditional dishes prepare with local, organic ingredients. And adrenaline junkies can try a zip-line (shorter or longer) over the deepest and longest canyon in Europe through which flows Tara River. Or maybe rafting and kayaking on this wild and cold mountainous river.
This is the mountain that you can explore for years and years and not get bored and still have something new to discover. Even driving on the narrow asphalt road from Pivo lake across Durmitor to the ski resort Žabljak, after many times crossing it, still leaves me speechless as the first time. The landscape is surreal, inspiring and relaxing!
A vast wildflower-filled and incredible green meadows look like super soft and seductive fragrant carpets just calling you to get out of your car and step into the world where you can again find the child in yourself. Run, play and live amplified life. Where green plateau ends, incredible hulking peaks start. You feel like Petar Pan in Neverland. Free-spirited and ready for adventures!
Sustainable Development of Durmitor: Eco-Villages
Podgora is a village situated “under the mountain”. On the edge of spacious plateau, surrounded with thick forest and above the deep Tara canyon. Just seven kilometers away from the small town of Žabljak.
From the village, there are many walks that are leading to a couple of viewpoints of the longest and deepest canyon in Europe. On this section, the canyon is rising almost 1.600 m above the level of Tara river. As borders of Podgora Village are interlaced with borders of the national park, all five viewpoints are in the protected area which means you need to have paid entrance ticket to visit them.
The view is spectacular! It’s incredible to see how this small river makes its way through giant and strong mountains. Eyes sometimes deceive us. The power is in invisible things – in their core and soul! What appears to be a little, in fact, hides within itself incredible strength. Tara is river born in the foothill of Komovi Mountain, and therefore she has inherited all its power from the mountain.
Podgora Village is not some newly built village. It is existing for more than 300 years. First, it was just a summer shepherd settlement for villagers from nearby Tepce Village. Then over the years with the expansion of Žabljak and this region, it was natural to develop Podgora into a permanent residence.
The village is still developing, but according to the laws of sustainable growth. It’s part of Global Ecovillage Network, a world community that is preserving cultural and natural heritage while developing rural areas. Different crafts and traditional way of life are still alive! This attracts more and more tourists to visit Podgora. But, most importantly it’s helping locals to earn some money and continue their life on Durmitor. Fortunately, there are families that are hosting travelers in their modest homes and welcoming them as their best friend.
Food is grown and produced by them and prepared just for you with a special ingredient – love! You taste true Durmitor’s cuisine while listening to the life stories of locals and enjoying in the stunning landscape: green pastures, thick coniferous forests and high mountain ridges. You can feel the peacefulness and love! Best way to experience this amazing mountain! In return recommend these ‘home restaurants’ to all your friends. This way you’re part of the sustainable development of this region. You’re making an impact on the life of locals and on the growth of ecotourism.
One of the families that are hosting travelers from all around the world is Četković family. They were discovered by Montenegro Adventures travel agency. Every summer agency organizes lunch for groups of tourists in the Četković home. Radenko is the oldest from three sons and park ranger in Durmitor National Park. Before he became a ranger he was working for a long time in the bakery and for a few years as a cook in a restaurant.
A few days ago I was talking with Radenko about life on Durmitor. I came with a group of tourists from the United Kingdom and Australia. While drinking homemade plum brandy and watching his small vegetable corner Radenko said: “Life here is very busy. I’m supervising few areas in the national park, so I’m walking a lot. Then I come home and take care of cow and sheep. And from time to time these groups come.” He smiled and continued. “But, I’m not complaining I like to be busy and spend all days in nature. And I don’t mind cooking neither. I’m a chef in my small house restaurant.”
While Radenko was explaining to guests the procedure for preparing all dishes, I could see on his face and hear in his voice how passionate he is about food and proud to live on Durmitor.
Black Lake: One of the 18 "Mountain Eyes"
The Black Lake is the biggest and most popular lake on Durmitor. Its popularity was influenced not only by its beauty but also the fact it’s situated just 3 kilometers away from Žabljak and connected with it by asphalt road.
In the summer it can be quite busy as the temperature goes above 22 Celsius degree. Perfect for a nice refreshing swim!
The lake consists of two parts divided by a narrow strip of land. One part has a maximum depth of 24 m and other 49 m. By the end of summer, the level of water drops quite low. The lake is always fed by underground springs and with snow that melts in early spring from Međed (Bear) Peak. Usually, still in May, you can see a few waterfalls tumbling from the slopes of Međed into Black Lake.
The 3.5 km long footpath circumnavigates the lake through a densely forested area, mostly spruce and fir trees. Completely different, from trails that start at Durmitor biggest plateau and goes across bare slopes and pastures. Technically it’s not demanding walk and some part can maybe for someone be physically medium demanding. That means it has part of the uneven ground, loose rocks, and steep uphill rocky stairs.
For those interested into longer hikes, there is a couple of trails that go from Black Lake to Zminje (Snake) Lake and to surrounding peaks: Međed, Savin Kuk and Bobotov Kuk. When it’s a sunny day and water in Black Lake is calm you can see in the lake a reflection of the forest and sky. You’re swept away by divine beauty and mountain air into the world of tranquility and happiness.
Bobotov Kuk: Durmitor's Highest Peak
This mountain has nearly 50 peaks over 2,000 meters a.s.l. The highest is Bobotov Kuk (2,522 m/a.s.l.), which proudly rises between Black and Škrčko Lake.
It’s needless to say this is the most popular hike on the whole mountain. It is possible to hike independently because trails that are leading to Bobotov Kuk are well-maintained and easy-to-follow. You will definitely meet a lot of hikers on your way to the top.
The Durmitor Mountain, one of the most popular parts of Dinaric Alps range, is also home to extraordinary limestone masterpieces. The line of dozen high rocks reminds passersby on teeth of a beast. Green hills with straight and curved grey lines, look as a painter was playing on its canvas. Amazing work of nature!
From the top, a view stretches over spacious Žabljak plateau and Black Lake on one side, and on other sides over many towering peaks and Škrčko Lake in the valley below Bobotov Kuk. Škrčko Lake is surrounded with other high and bare summits. In the distance, above the lake, are visible mountains that are beside the canyon of Piva river making natural border between Bosnia and Montenegro.
When you’re standing on the top of Durmitor you feel powerful and inspired. It’s like you can do whatever you want. All your dreams seem closer and possible to accomplish.
- For more information on Durmitor National Park (how to get there, best hiking trails, where to stay, etc.) check our in-depth guide here.
- Tara Zipline ( yellow) around 20 euros per person
- Durmitor Panoramic (asphalt) Road goes through the heart of the mountain from Žabljak over Trsa and descent through beautiful tunnels to the main road close to Plužine settlement.
- Durmitor National Park daily entrance ticket costs 3 euro per person.
- Bobotov Kuk Hike: Sedlo- Uvita Greda- Zeleni Vir- Bobotov Kuk 5.6 km, 3h. Descent Bobotov Kuk- Zeleni Vir-Mlečni do-Urdeni do- Dobri Do 4.48 km, around 2 h.
- Walk around Black Lake 3.5 km, 2h