Durmitor National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Montenegro

A UNESCO world heritage site, Durmitor National Park is one of five national parks in Montenegro. Though second in size to Skadar Lake National Park, Durmitor is immediately the most visually stunning with its geological diversity. Ranging from canyons and gorges to jutting mountain peaks, the land rises and falls dramatically over and over again.

Bobotov Kuk, Durmitor's highest peak
The highest peak, Bobotov Kuk – photo by P. Stonelake

Durmitor National Park Nature

Durmitor weather nurtures long winters, good summers, and brilliant flashes of spring and fall in-between. With the long winters come snow and all sorts of winter sports including all types of skiing and snowboarding. You may have the opportunity to wear your snow shoes up and your skis on the way down. While there is a lift for the normal runs, the adrenaline lovers explore a bit further from the path.

Skrcko Lake from Bobotov Kuk – photo by P. Stonelake

The other seasons provide plenty of hiking opportunities. Depending on your vantage point, the views range from way better than average to unbelievably spectacular.

The Saddle in Durmitor - photo by P. Stonelake
The Saddle in Durmitor – photo by P. Stonelake

The snow eventually melts into 18 glacier lakes in the Durmitor park area. These lakes are also called the mountain eyes. The best known of these lakes is Crno Jezero or the Black Lake (pictured below).

Dawn at Black Lake - photo by P. Stonelake
Dawn at Black Lake – photo by P. Stonelake

Inside the national park area, some villagers keep sheep. The sheep in the foreground with more peaks in the background provide another iconic image of Montenegro.

Sheep grazing on Durmitor

Some locals joke that it seems God made a deal with Montenegrins. He gave them one of the most beautiful habitats on the planet and for that they had to take all of the leftover rock. Some small percentage of that rock is Durmitor. This over-abundance of rock gives the country a unique, jagged beauty.

Prutaš in Durmitor - photo by P. Stonelake
Prutaš in Durmitor – photo by P. Stonelake

Durmitor is a massif with 48 peaks reaching above 2000 meters. The highest peak in the national park, Bobotov Kuk, crests at 2,523 m or 8,278 feet. This collection of peaks form amazing canyons and gorges making Durmitor ideal for hiking, mountaineering, mountain biking, canyoning, and rafting. It is also a haven for photographers looking to capture stunning, diverse views.

Prutaš in mid-April - photo by P. Stonelake
Prutaš in mid-April – photo by P. Stonelake

Durmitor Fees and Access

Located close to the village of Žabljak there is an official park entry point. Here there is parking and an entry fee of 3 euros per person (and per car). This fee is also to be enacted in other places in the park and will be tacked on to white water rafting adventures that are in the Durmitor and Tara Canyon area.

Near entry of Durmitor National Park in early Spring morning

Black Lake is easily accessible. A well-maintained walking path circles the lake. Because of its proximity, maintained walking path, diverse flora, and impressive mountain peak backdrops, Black Lake offers a great setting for a family-friendly hike and picnic. The other lakes can be hiked with more time and effort. Several of the glacial lakes are accessible with short hikes on the road from Durmitor to Piva Canyon.

Mountain reflection of Durmitor at Black Lake
An ethereal dawn in Spring at Black Lake (Crno Jezero)

From this official entry point, Black Lake is easily accessible as well as a number of trails and MTB bike rental. A well-maintained walking path circles this main lake area with the massif in the background providing some great photo opportunities. Because of its proximity, maintained walking path, diverse flora, and impressive mountain peak backdrops, Black Lake offers a great setting for a family-friendly hike and picnic. The other lakes can be hiked with more time and effort.

Black Lake in Durmitor National Park in Montenegro in early summer
An early summer view of Black Lake in Durmitor

Note on Mountain Biking: though the lake seems like it should offer some good MTB on the single-track around the two lakes, there are a number of stone stairs and rough spots that are not for the average rider. Family biking in the Black Lake area will require lots of bike carrying. There are better riding options further west in the Dobri Do and Bobotov Kuk areas. [There are also better riding options in the country in the Berane and Andrijevica areas.]

Hiking Black Lake in Durmitor National Park in Montenegro
Single track hiking around Black Lake

Tara Canyon

Snaking through Durmitor and far beyond is the Tara Canyon (also referred to as the Tara River Gorge). The deepest river canyon in Europe, it dips down some 1300 meters (more than 4,250 feet). Tara Canyon is a possible consideration for future UNESCO world heritage sites as well. Spanning the canyon is the Djurdjevica Tara Bridge. At the time of its completion in 1940, it was the largest bridge of its type in all of Europe. The bridge offers a great place for bungee jumping and rope jumping.

Longest Bridge in Montenegro near Durmitor UNESCO World Heritage Site
Tara Canyon Bridge (Djordjevica Most) over Tara Canyon

The Tara Canyon runs throughout the Durmitor National Park and beyond. It provides quality rafting options from April through the summer. In the months of April and May, the rafting conditions can reach level IV rapid conditions. June and beyond offers more family-friendly rafting possibilities. Also across the canyon are zip line possibilities. The longest and fastest zip line in the country is here and you definitely should plan to experience it. (Book the fastest zip line here and receive a 20% discount.)

Zip lining across Tara Canyon - longest zipline in Montenegro
Longest zip line in Montenegro across Tara Canyon

This UNESCO world heritage site has so much to offer in wild beauty and adventure travel. Camping, hiking, canyoning, mountain biking, bicycle touring, rafting, bungee jumping, skiing, snowboarding, and kite skiing are all available in Durmitor, a wonderfully unnatural nature spot.

Zminje Jezero u Durmitor
Zminje, a glacial lake in Durmitor National Park – photo by P. Stonelake

Where to Stay When Visiting Durmitor

Visitors to Durmitor have been increasing steadily in the last several years. There are also increasing numbers of lodging options including hotels and the Hiker’s Hut hostel in Zabljak. Our preferred places to stay are farm stays in the area where you can interact with locals and taste the amazing organic foods. Undoubtedly it is the healthiest way to travel and we believe it is the best for experiencing the nature and culture of this unique place. While we continue to grow our partner base, we currently have these farm stay partners that we are glad to work with inside and near the national park.

Tara River Canyon view from Kljajevica farm stay

 

 

2 comments

  1. Brit is not kidding. Durmitor is an incredible place. You’ll be disappointed with every picture you take, because a camera – no matter how high-dollar – will not be able to do justice to the scenery here. We mountain-biked Durmitor (see entry on that here) and even with being up-close and personal to Durmitor, I am still humbled and amazed that I got to do it.

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