Centuries of tradition and current realities are causing something unique to come to life: a developing Montenegro farm stay network.
Montenegrin Tourism To Date
For decades Montenegro has been a beach story. And why not? Pictures from the mountains defining the Bay of Kotor are spectacular. The Venetian coastal towns and history dating before the Roman empire, along with the Mediterranean vibe along the Adriatic, make for popular tourist destinations. To see more of the beauty of the country, day trips are often taken to another UNESCO site, Durmitor National Park.
In recent years, Lake Skadar has gained increasing popularity with visitors. This massive lake covers a large swath in southern Montenegro and northern Albania. The wetland habitat teams with bio-diversity and beauty. It is an ideal spot for birders, nature lovers, and photographers. Once again, mountains meet water for awe-inspiring effect.
Until now, the village has been mostly a footnote for travel. Famous people come to the beach area and enjoy organic foods from the villages. Some may take a brief excursion through a village area like Claudia Schiffer in 1997, but to date the villages have not had much of a role in travel throughout the country.
A Developing Farm Stay Network in Montenegro
The farm stay travel option is actually a throw back to the past filled with history, lore, and story. The Montenegrin people found ways to survive here in these villages for centuries. Surviving the mountains forged a rugged mountain people.
Besides being connected to the past, farm stay adventures represent the best in Montenegro slow travel today. Staying, eating, and exploring local makes for great adventure opportunities for travelers wanting to go hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, bushcraft, Nordic backcountry skiing, etc.
Scattered throughout the country are countless villages and corresponding mountain katuns, each with its own story but all sharing some similarities in the way of life. Located in-between, on the side of, and on the top of mountains, these villages offer amazing views. Families in these villages and katuns are opening their farms and their homes for travelers to enjoy a unique farm stay setting.
Meanderbug works with these families to register and prepare to host travelers. Each family offer is unique based on the land and how they envision interacting with locals. Some farm stay listings are for travelers to rent out the whole farm for a number of nights. Other offers are for a room. Camping is also an option, as well as staying in a traditional katun or mountain hut.
Another key part of village farm life in Montenegro is food in large quantities that is locally grown. Many of the farms rely on a symbiotic relationship where they have a few animals, a garden for vegetables and herbs, as well as fruit trees. This means that it is not uncommon to sit down to a meal that is more than 90% organic farm to table foods from that farm or village.
Montenegro Farm Stay Impacts Locals
Montenegro has a legal minimum salary of 400 euros per month. Still, official unemployment runs around 21% but many informed locals double that estimate. The hardest places to find employment are outside of the coastal region and Podgorica, the capital city. That means the largest geographic area (with the most mountains) is where the majority of unemployment occurs. These are also the least populated regions of the country and key areas where villages have farm stay offerings that can help provide income.
For every euro spent in the Meanderbug Farm Stay Network, 85 cents goes to a villager. So, if a traveler were to spend 500 euros on her food and lodging in the network, then she can be confident that she just provided more than a month of minimum salary to the host family. That is travel that makes a difference.
Making your Montenegro farm stay booking through Meanderbug allows us the needed resources to keep consulting, coaching, encouraging, and marketing existing and new farm stay partners. They are some amazing people. We learn through and experience so much with them. We are honored to partner with and advocate for each of them.
Besides providing the host family income, farm stay will often help the village. We encourage, and the local people are quick to act on, finding ways to share the opportunity. If a family has orchards and needs cheese and meat, they will collaborate with their neighbors to provide a full organic experience. At the same time, it provides income for more families in the community. That does good for more people and it is something we celebrate.
Farm Stay is Crazy Good Travel
Imagine if you can, quaint villages set in the land of mountains and adventure. Add in voluminous amounts of organic farm to table foods heaped on by mountain-forged hospitality. Combine all of that with the reality that traveling through the network impacts families and communities. We call that Crazy Good Travel. We think you’ll love it!
While any answer to this question is personal and subjective, the reality is there is a wide range of lodging options. These include exclusive resorts, luxury hotels, budget hotels, hostels, family homes and apartments, ethnic villages, camping and glamping, as well as family farm stays and katun experiences. Travelers and locals alike continue to observe that when travelers try a range of lodging options, it is usually the experience that puts travelers deepest into a cultural or adventure scenario that is the most memorable. These adventures usually include farm stay and katun lodging experiences as well as hut to hut adventures. These are operated by local families and provide up close interaction with everyday people that are honored to help and show the real hospitality of Montenegro.
Simply put, a farm stay is the opportunity to have lodging and activities on a farm. This concept has been developed by Meanderbug.com as an organic designation for rural tourism or agritourism in Montenegro and the surrounding Balkan region. Meanderbug-certified Montenegro farm stays are unique in that they practice some form of organic or multi-speciated permaculture farming or gardening for family and guest use. Also, these family farms are located in villages, on mountains, and near the coast allowing epic views and numerous adventure opportunities. There is a huge range in farm stay comfort levels from spartan rustic through 4-star comfort options with a swimming pool.
Working with local families and other local partners, Meanderbug has enabled new entrepreneurs to come online allowing a new opportunity for families in villages that have been declining and being abandoned. Montenegro farm stay bookings allow families to experience culture, nature, and adventure in a unique way while giving life to previously declining communities.
With a return to nature and tradition, farm stays are ideal for kids through seniors. The organic foods, mountain air, tranquility, slower pace of life, accessible hiking and other adventures make farm stays perfect for families, couples, adventurers, and nature lovers.
Countless travelers and families finish their time in Montenegro and identify the “farm stay” as their #1 experience while in the country. This is due to the organic foods, nature setting, various accessible adventures, and the opportunity to interact with locals and a traditional way of life. The village is the basis of Montenegrin heritage. Locals share that to experience the true Montenegro, you must experience the village.
Traditionally the mountainside summer sleeping quarters for shepherds, the katun is unique to Montenegro. It signifies both a traditional hut and a place high on a mountain where one or more of the katun huts stand. In the latter usage, the katun can represent a scaled-down mountain village. With katuns being abandoned across the country due to changing dynamics, some katuns are being repurposed as mountain farm stays. While these are often basic in amenities, some can be very nice with full bedding, running water toilets, etc. Meanderbug is developing unique hut-to-hut hiking and biking experiences that utilize both village farm stays and a series of katun partners.