In the beginning of June, 2006, together with friends, we went to Montenegro (meaning Black Mountain) to visit Durmitor National Park and Adriatic coast. It was exciting not only because we haven’t been visiting this country before. In June 3rd, 2006 Montenegrin Parliament declared independence of the country (previously it was a part of Yugoslavia and various its incarnations). It was interesting to find out what people think and to see how a small country starts its independent living. Montenegro has a territory of less that 14 thousand square kilometres and a population of less than one million.
Arrival to Montenegro
To reach our destination, we crossed Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, and arrived to Montenegro from Serbia, crossing those days very recently established border control point. The first stop we made at petrol station soon after crossing border and were really surprised about cleanliness and order prevailing around.
Large rest areas and surrounding landscapes enabled us to relax after long trip through Serbia. It was late afternoon, however we didn’t have hotel booking, so after a short brake we continued driving and had to find suitable accommodation before sunset. Driving from Mojkovac to Zabljak, we found convenient motel “Ravnjak” with separate bungalows (address: 18th kilometre of the road Mojkovac-Zabljak, phone: 084 472 144). Next morning we ordered breakfast what was really excellent. In case you don’t need apartment, it is worth to stop there even just for having a lunch or diner.
Visiting Durmitor National Park
Our next destination was Crno Jezero (Black Lake) located in Durmitor National park about 25 kilometres from Tara Bridge and about 3 kilometres from Zabljak. Before arrival to Crno Jezero, we shortly looked around town Zabljak what is highest urban conglomerate in Balkans (located 1450 metres above the sea level).
Zabljak is surrounded by 23 mountain peaks over 2200 meter high. There are 18 glacial lakes in Durmitor National Park, however Crno Jezero is the largest and the deepest of them. It is situated at the feet of the mountain massive Medjed. Crno Jezero is formed by receding glaciers and it has 2 halves – Big Lake and Small Lake. There is a 3.5 kilometres long walking path around the lake (we used only some part of it). There is a parking place near to the lake. About a kilometre before the lake, car traffic is prohibited, however access to the lake is very convenient – trails are covered with asphalt. There is also restaurant on the coast available. More than 3 hours we spent walking in this area, enjoying nature and beautiful landscape around the lake before moving forward to other parts of Durmitor National park.
Tara river canyon
We continued our trip and the first site to visit in Montenegro was bridge across Tara River (this bridge called Djurdevica Tara is a symbol of Tara River). Tara River cuts the Tara River Canyon (Tara River Gorge) what is the longest canyon in Montenegro and Europe and the second longest in the world after Grand Canyon in the United States (Arizona). It is 78 kilometres long (there are also sources mentioning that it is up to 82 kilometres long) and 1300 metres high at the deepest point.
The canyon also is a part of Durmitor National Park and it is listed as UNESCO Heritage Site since 1980. Tara Bridge was built between 1937 and 1940 (rebuilt in 1946 after the Second World War). The bridge is 365 metres long, has 5 arches and the largest span is 116 metres. The roadway stands 172 metres above the Tara River. For sure, this is is one of the most interesting sites in Europe to be seen.
Off-road driving in mountains
To have more fun, we decided to cross mountains before going to the Adriatic coast. And we got a lot of fun and challenges! Mountain road was very challenging to drive because sometimes it was covered by melting snow. There were some sections covered by asphalt but some not. We even reached mountain-pass Sedlo (1907 metres above sea level) and continued driving, however few kilometres before crossroads we had to to stop because heavy road machinery was still cleaning road after the winter season (it was June 12th but depth of snow covering road was still about 3 to 4 metres). We found out that at least one more day should be spent to clean whole section of the road to get to the crossroads.
After a short interview to the reporter of the local newspaper who was preparing article about snow clearance work, we turned around to get back to our starting point to continue trip to capital of Montenegro Podgorica. Late in the afternoon, we reached Adriatic coast and continued our trip to the next destination – Dobrota, as small town near Kotor. We had booked guest house there to stay for a week and enjoy our vacation on sunny beaches of Montenegro and for exploring interesting places of surrounding area.