256 pages; published July 2007; ISBN 9781852845063

The Mountains of Montenegro is the first comprehensive English-language guidebook to walking in the mountain areas in Montenegro, with routes ranging from single day hikes to multi day treks, variants and extensions from the main routes, and generous background information, including mountain huts and shelters, travel to and within the country, history and language.

INTRODUCTION

‘The general aspect of Montenegro is that of a succession of elevated ridges, diversified here and there by a lofty mountain peak, and, in some parts, looking like a sea of immense waves turned into stone.’
Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson, Dalmatia and Montenegro (London, 1848)

‘Ljepši od Alpa’ – ‘more beautiful than the Alps’. This description of Montenegro’s mountains was given to me by a Croatian climber, in the most congenial setting of a wedding, just over the Slovenian border. And it was these words, together with a postcard of improbably sheer-sided peaks in Durmitor, the country’s best-known mountain area, which first drew me to Montenegro, while living in Zagreb between 1999 and 2001.

Montenegro (or more correctly Crna gora, ‘black mountain’) lies on the southern Adriatic coast, sandwiched between Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Albania; and within its borders are some of the wildest, most spectacular, and least visited mountains in Europe.

Most of the surface area of the country is taken up by the Dinaric Alps – a great string of mountains, extending in furrowed ranges from Slovenia and Croatia in the north, and reaching their greatest altitude in inland Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia. Rising in some places almost sheer from the Adriatic, these mountains throw themselves up in soaring, jagged limestone tops, and have alternately been compared to strings of pearls and the entrance to hell itself. The fierce, rugged character of the Montenegrin highlands is reflected in the name of the mountains running along the northern part of the Albanian border: Prokletije, meaning ‘the accursed mountains’. Yet the landscape is also rich in wildlife and plants, from the diverse birdlife of Skadarso jezero to the primeval forest of Biogradska gora.

The mountains of Montenegro are at their most impressive in the inland areas of Durmitor and Prokletije, where the stunning terrain typically consists of glacial cirques surrounded by fine ridges – often wonderfully exposed – and steep-sided 2000–2500m peaks, some of which require a degree of scrambling to ascend. High pastures, often scattered with stone or wooden shepherd’s huts (known locally as katun), give way to valleys – the lower slopes of which are cloaked in dense pine and beech forest, and picturesque lakes. Between these mountain areas, the landscape is slashed by deep canyons – one of which, the Tara, is the second deepest in the world.

Like the mountains of neighbouring Croatia, Slovenia and other countries from the former Yugoslavia, the mountains of Montenegro are crisscrossed by well-established, clearly marked trails. There are some mountain huts and shelters, although considerably fewer than in Croatia or Slovenia – most of the walks in this guide require carrying a tent – and detailed maps are available for some of the most popular hiking areas.

Montenegro is rapidly gaining popularity as a destination with travellers from Western Europe – especially with the current tourist boom in neighbouring Croatia. However, with the exception of a few busy spots on the coast, much of the country – and in particular its mountains – remains little visited.

The routes in this guidebook range from easy day walks to extended and relatively demanding mountain treks, and include both circular as well as point-to-point itineraries. It is possible to link a number of the routes to form even longer treks – following the route across Biogradska gora, Komovi, Maglić and Kučka krajina (Walks 9–11, see Appendix A), for example, would amount to an excursion lasting about eight days. Almost all of the routes are easily accessible by local public transport.

Montenegro is easily reached from Western Europe – either a direct flight to Podgorica or Tivat, or via Dubrovnik – and costs within the country are relatively low. Added to these already considerable attractions are the country’s many other, perhaps better-known assets – a beautiful coastline, fascinating history and some impressive architecture. The proximity of Croatia and its own lovely coast and mountains might be added as a further lure….

It is hoped that this guidebook – at the time of writing, the only comprehensive English-language guide available to the mountains of Montenegro – will enable more people to visit this remarkable area, and shed some light on what is, quite simply, one of the finest walking destinations in Europe.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

ABOUT MONTENEGRO
Geography
Geology
Climate
When to Visit
Weather Forecasts
Vegetation and Wildlife
Mediterranean and Mountain Plants
Mammals
Reptiles and Amphibians
Birds
History
Culture
Festivals
Food and Drink
Menu Reader
Language
Key Words for Walkers

TRAVELLING IN MONTENEGRO
Visas
Getting to Montenegro
Flights from the UK and Western Europe
Travelling via Croatia
Travelling via Italy
By Rail or Bus from the UK and Western Europe
Local Transport
Bus
Train
Taxi
Hitching
Warning: Cross-Border Travel
Accommodation
Money
Currency
Costs
Carrying Money
Changing Money
ATMs
Staying in Touch
Telephones
Mobiles
Internet

WALKING IN MONTENEGRO
Highlights
Mountain Huts and Camping
Katuns
Water
Food and Supplies
Equipment
Maps
Trail Markings
National Parks
Long-Distance Routes
Safety in the Mountains
Mountain Rescue and Emergency Telephone Numbers

ABOUT THIS GUIDE
About the Routes
Route Summary Table
Rating and Arrangement of Routes
Timings and Stages
Maps and Sketch Maps
Local Spelling and Place Names

ORJEN
Walk 1: Subra
Stage 1: Kameno – Vratlo Hut
Stage 2: Vratlo Hut – Subra (return)
Stage 3: Vratlo Hut – Kabao (return)
Stage 4: Vratlo Hut – Kameno
Further Possibilities
Zubački kabao from Vratlo Hut

Walk 2: Zubački kabao
Vrbanj – Zubački kabao (return)

LOVĆEN
Walk 3: Jezerski vrh
Bukovica – Jezerski vrh – Ivanova korita
Walk 4: Kotor Fortress
Kotor Fortress (return)

DURMITOR
Walk 5: Central Durmitor
Stage 1: Žabljak – Lokvice
Stage 2: Lokvice – veliki Međed –Terzin bogaz (return)
Stage 3: Lokvice – Bobotov kuk (return)
Stage 4: Lokvice – Minin bogaz (return)
Stage 5: Lokvice – Ledena pećina (return)
Stage 6: Lokvice – Trojni prevoj – Samar (return)
Stage 7: Lokvice – Žabljak
Walk 6: Durmitor Circuit (via Škrčko jezero)
Stage 1: Lokvice – Trojni prevoj – Zeleni vir – Samar – Škrčko jezero
Stage 2: Škrčko jezero – Planinica – Ališnica – Crvena greda – Jablan jezero
Stage 3: Jablan jezero – Žabljak
Walk 7: Durmitor Circuit (via Velika Struga)
Stage 1: Lokvice – Velika Struga –Donja Ališnica
Stage 2: Donja Ališnica – Crvena greda – Jablan jezero – Žabljak
Further Possibilities
Savin kuk
Sedlena greda
Tara Canyon
Crno jezero

BJELASICA
Walk 8: Biogradsko jezero
Circuit of Biogradsko jezero (return)
Walk 9: Biogradska gora
Stage 1: Biogradsko jezero – Crna glava – Pešića jezero
Stage 2: Pešića jezero – Trešnjevik
Further Possibilities
Strmenica

KOMOVI
Walk 10: Komovi
Stage 1: Trešnjevik – Štavna
Stage 2: Štavna – Kom Vasojevićki (return)
Stage 3: Štavna – Kom Ljevoriječki (return)
Stage 4: Štavna – Trešnjevik
Further Possibilities
Kom Kučki
Maglić

KUČKA KRAJINA (ŽIJEVO)
Walk 11: Kučka krajina
Stage 1: Veruša – Bukumirsko jezero
Stage 2: Bukumirsko jezero – nameless pass (return)
Stage 3: Bukumirsko jezero – Štitan (return)
Stage 4: Bukumirsko jezero – Maglić (return)
Stage 5: Bukumirsko jezero – Veruša
Further Possibilities
Treskavac
Vila
Krisitor

PROKLETIJE
Walk 12: Volušnica
dom Radnički – Volušnica (return)
Walk 13: Krošnja and Karanfili
dom Radnički – Krošnja – Severni vrh (return)
Walk 14: Kotao
dom Radnički – Kotao (return)
Walk 15: Ropojana Valley and jezero
Vusanje – Jezero (return)
Further Possibilities
Očnjak
Maja Rosit
Maja Kolata
Maja Jezerce

OTHER AREAS
Sinjajevina
Moračke planine
Bioč
Rumije
Skadarsko jezero

APPENDICES
Appendix A: Long-distance route Biogradsko jezero – Veruša (Walks 9–11): Summary of Stages and Facilities
Appendix B: List of Mountain Huts and Shelters
Appendix C: Further Reading
Appendix D: Contacts and Useful Addresses
Appendix E: Language Notes and Glossary
Appendix F: History
Appendix G: Montenegro’s Principal Mountain Areas and Major Peaks

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