Did you know that Montenegro has its own Niagara Falls? This beautiful place at a ten minutes drive from Podgorica has been rather unknown among foreign tourists and visitors for a long time, but this picturesque site has lately become more and more popular. During the summer, the inhabitants of Podgorica and surroundings like to refresh themselves in the cool Cijevna river.
“Niagara” is also the name of the traditional restaurant on the bank of the river. It is open all year round and offers good national food (lake carp, river trout, lamb) and drinks. The location is very nice, especially if the weather allows you to sit outside, watching the emerald green river and the ducks swimming around. In the hot summer months, you can rest on the lawns or small pebble beaches, and there is a nice wooden bridge that links the two banks of the river.
Although there are no signposts, it is simple to find this natural phenomenon. Take the road to Tuzi and turn right before passing the bridge over the Cijevna river, following the sign “Kuće Rakića”. Follow the course of the river, which is often invisible, as the Cijevna has cut its way deeply through the karst. Continue 100 m further after the sign of the “Niagara” restaurant and park your car along the road: take the iron stairs down to the river.
But there is also another possibility to get there from Podgorica: follow the road to the airport and when you see a big construction store called KIPS on your left side, just at the round-about, take the road passing this store and the cement factory behind it. You will arrive at a railway line, turn left, pass the railroad and continue along the Cijevna river until you reach the Niagara Falls. This access road is easier when you travel from the coast. In that case, pass the airport round-about and the bridge over the Cijevna and then turn right at KIPS.
The Niagara falls are most impressive in spring time. In March or April, or after a rainy day, you can see numerous small cascades finding their way through the picturesque karst landscape. On the other side of the river are the endless vineyards of the “Plantaža” winery, which produces the famous red wine called “Vranac”. The banks are then covered with spring flowers, as e.g. purple anemones.
Unfortunately, the Niagara falls are completely dried up at the end of the summer. Only then, you can see how they really look like. And you will also understand that the falls are not entirely “natural”. As a matter of fact, 150 years ago local farmers decided to build a dam over the river bed and to create a waterfall with the intention to move a water mill for milling their grain. A legend says that the dam has been constructed twice, but each spring it was destroyed by the swollen river. Then an old woman appeared who told the local people that there was only one way to resolve this problem: putting sheep wool between each stone. This was done, and the dam has lasted until now…
It is a strange river, the Cijevna river (in Albanian: Cem river). It originates in Albania on the northern side of the Prokletije mountains and has a total length of 65 km, out of which 33 km in Montenegro. Flowing southwest, it merges with the Morača river south of Podgorica.
At a length of 25 km (15 km on Montenegrin territory) the river forms a breathtaking canyon, more than 1000 m deep. The forms of the karst rocks and caves are weird and picturesque and the flora is abundant. But this canyon will be the topic of another blog….
At this moment I can only recommend you: take a break after all this rain, go and see the Niagara falls and enjoy spring at only 5 km from Podgorica!