Durmitor National Park
The Durmitor National Park holds a mountain range with high peaks and glacial lakes, and the bordering Tara River Canyon. At 82 km long and 1,300 m deep, this canyon is the deepest in Europe and one of the major canyons of the world.
The area consists of 3 zones:
- Mlinski stream and the Black Lake Basin
- Tara Gorge Biosphere Reserve
- Skrcka Lakes and Susica Valley
Because of the karst formation there can be found over 200 caves. The most notable of all is the Ledina Pecina, at 2.100 Meters at Globa Glava. The cave is famous for his frozen stalagmites that can grow up to 3 meters.
Notable fauna includes the brown bear, wolf and various species of eagle. The Park contains one of the last virgin forests of very old, tall black pine (Pinus nigra
) in Europe.
Visit May 2013
I visited Durmitor NP from the town of Zabljak, a ski resort in winter and a quiet but pleasant holiday retreat in May. From my hotel I could walk right into the park, so I was out there already before 8.30 a.m. Some of the best views I had from the parking lot of the hotel: there’s a panorama of the whole mountain range to be seen, with peaks covered in snow and thick forest beneath.
The Tourist Information (where at least one girl speaks excellent English) had told me the day before that I did not need a map to do the easy hikes. So I started where everybody starts, at the Black Lake (Crno Jezero). Entering the park this way, you also pass the ticket booth where a 3 EUR fee is collected. The only other people I encountered where locals walking their dog or excercising. Normally you can do a full circle walk around this lake, but the path was blocked half way because of flooding.
After that I walked on to the next glacier lake, Zminje Jezero. It takes about an hour on a path through the forest. It is signposted well, with red-and-white marks on the trees. I had seen patches of snow here and there along the way, but at the final hundreds of meters the path was almost fully covered with old snow. You had to just walk on it. Fortunately a pleasant surprise was waiting at the end of the trail: a pretty lake with a bench in the sun on its shore. I sat down for a while, was greeted by lots of frogs that inhabit the lake and met a local man with his 2 children who tried to catch fish at the lake.
I walked back to Zabljak via a different route, along some farms and the village of Pitomine. In all it was a pleasant and not too tiring walk of 4.5 hours. Most of the other hikes in the area are in the difficult category, and will take you right up the mountains. The mountain scenery I found the best part of the visit – it’s just like the Alps in Germany or Austria, but still good. I did not encounter any exciting flora or fauna species, so in combination with the very “planned” feel of the park it’s all a bit tame.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|Paul Tanner (UK):|
Serbia and Montenegro are probably not figuring highly in people’s travel plans yet, even some years after the end of hostilities. We last went there when it was part of Yugoslavia and the civil war and troubles in Kosovo were all in the future.
In any case the WHS of Durmitor is, I suspect, likely to be relatively unknown to most travellers – its presence on the list is justified by its geology and, straddling as it does, both Mediterranean and Alpine climates, it apparently contains an “exceptional range of species”.
Much of this is likely to go unknown and unseen by the casual visitor. The scenery is pleasant but not outstanding in World or even European terms. There are some snow capped mountains (or at least they were in early June) up to that of Durmitor itself at 2523 metres (and a winter ski resort at Zabljak), a number of lakes, meadows, forests and deep valleys. In fact the valley of the River Tara is claimed (at between 1000 and 1300 metres) to be the deepest gorge in Europe (I don’t know how they calculate this but there are a number of other claimants – eg Verdun in France, Samaria in Crete). This gorge lies outside the Durmitor National Park but within the boundaries of the inscribed area. Fine as it was I didn’t get an impression of a mighty canyon of continental proportions (photo) although the road North and South of the gorge which you will need to follow, at least in part, to reach Durmitor Park, fully justifies its green marking on maps showing that it is scenically striking. At the bottom it crosses an impressive concrete bridge which is still 135 metres above the river. The river was recently threatened with a hydro-electric dam planned with nearby Srpska (the Serb part of Bosnia) which would have flooded a significant part of the gorge and this threat was only removed as recently as April 2005 (just in time to avoid criticism in Durban??). Interestingly it was the government of the Republic of Montenegro (in which Durmitor is situated) which eventually decided against building the dam – a reminder that this site sits in a corner of unstable frontiers. Montenegro may yet vote for secession from its federation with Serbia, and Kosovo is not far away. Any Montenegran frontier with Serbia would lie on the plateau north of the Tara River (far side on photo).
So should this be a WHS? Well, compared for instance with USA and Canada, Western European countries have inscribed relatively few “National Parks”. I guess that Durmitor is as significant in European terms as eg Glacier/Waterton in N American! And is it worth seeing? There will be some fine climbing/walking (http://www.summitpost.org/mountains/mountain_link.pl?mountain_id=2584)
but, as a sightseeing destination in my opinion, it only just about justifies a detour if you are already in this corner of Former Yugoslavia and if you are mobile. Montenegro is an interesting destination in general and is well away from the normal tourist routes so if you like such places still close to W Europe it could be worth considering. The WHS of Kotor is just down the coast from Dubrovnik and the capital town of Cetinje and the mountain of Lovcen can be reached by a spectacular road over the mountains from Kotor.
| Date posted: July 2005|
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