People often ask me what is my favorite place in Montenegro. My answer never changes: it’s DURMITOR. In my opinion, Durmitor National Park represents one of the most memorable landscapes in the Balkans and maybe in the whole of Europe (photo 1). I don’t know any other area where the mountains are so impressive, where the colors of nature are so brilliant and the air is so pure. Durmitor offers many different sceneries: from sharp rocky peaks to dense needle forests and from glassy mountain lakes to rolling green plateaus.
As the summer hiking season is quite short, we took advantage of the warm weather last week and spent a few days in Žabljak with our camper. The town of Žabljak itself is not very attractive, but the campsite in Ivan Do (photo 2) appeared to be a good choice, as it offers a magnificent view of the surrounding rocky peaks: Bobotov Kuk, Medjed, Crvena Greda… Ivan Do is situated at ten minutes’ walk from the popular Black Lake (Crno Jezero), the starting point of many hiking trails, both for beginners and more experienced mountaineers.
We made a walk around the Black Lake that is dominated by soaring peaks on one side and deep forests on the other. The path along the shore was easy and short (45 minutes) and it allowed us to see the lake from all angles. You would expect that the waters are black, but, on the contrary, they take a variety of different colors during the day – from light blue to dark green (photo 3 and 4).
Next day, another easy trail (1.5 hours) took us to Zminje Jezero (Snake Lake). This lake is smaller, stiller and darker than Crno Jezero and it is situated deep in the forests (photo 5). After a short rest, we continued our hike further uphill to Crepulj Poljana, a beautiful plateau covered with grass, at an altitude of 1650 m. Two abandoned shepherd’s cottages contributed to the photogenic scenery and the shadow of some high trees invited for a break before returning to Ivan Do (photo 6). From this plateau, we saw the narrow and steep trail leading further to Škrčka Jezera, a popular hiking target with a mountain hostel.
After these easy hikes, Paul and his son Jure (photo 7) felt fit enough for a real hiking effort: the peak of Mount Prutaš (2393 m), one of the most beautiful Durmitor peaks that offers a magnificent panorama on all sides (photo 8). It was a long and exhausting hiking tour from Dobri Do (altogether 5-6 hours), but the view from the top made them forget all the efforts: the two Škrčka lakes, steep grassy slopes, layered karst plates and twisted cliffs,… By the way, do you know what the name Prutaš means? The name was given by the parallel white limestone cliffs that extend from the foot to the summit. These cliffs are called “Prutovi”, which is plural of the word “Prut” that means a twig or branch, such as those of which baskets are made. So Prutaš looks like a mountain made of twigs (see photo 1)!
But there are many hiking possibilities. I know, most visitors just like to enjoy the clean mountain air (Žabljak lies at an altitude of 1450 m), to have a cup of coffee on the shore of the Black Lake or to make a short walk downtown, where they can have lunch or dinner in one of the traditional restaurants. They don’t know that there are so many beautiful spots to explore in Durmitor National Park. What about Ćurevac – the panorama point, from where you have a breathtaking view of the Tara Canyon? Or Debeli Namet, the only eternal glacier in Southern Europe? And don’t forget to make a hiking tour to Jablan Lake (1.5 hours), framed and sheltered by the sheer cliffs of Crvena Greda. Of course, I am only mentioning easier tours; when you are a real mountaineer, you will find numerous challenges in Durmitor. Information boards (with difficulty level) can be found on the shore of the Black Lake, and for more detailed information you can address to Summit Travel Agency.
By the way, it was a surprise for me to see that tourists, accommodated within the borders of the national park (I mean Ivan Do), have to pay entrance tickets (3€ p.p.) EACH DAY. Whenever we started a hiking tour from Ivan Do, an angry-looking young man suddenly appeared on our path and asked us where we were going. Each day we had to pay a new entrance ticket and he never informed us about the possibility to buy less expensive tickets valid for 3 or 5 days. We got the impression that he was doing his job in an arbitrary way – most people only pay when they pass the booth on the road towards the Black Lake. Is this legal? I just don’t believe so.
But nevertheless, it is clear that Durmitor has become a very popular hiking area for hikers from all over Europe. No wonder: the trails are well-marked and clean, the routes are interesting and varied. It is true, Durmitor is a paradise for hikers.
We spent a great time in Ivan Do and, of course, we returned to Podgorica by the Sedlo pass route, one of the most beautiful mountain roads in the country (see my blogpost about the Sedlo Pass route). It takes more time, but it is worth the effort!