As there already are 3 posts about our trip to Montenegro, I figured a fourth one wouldn’t hurt. Much. This is going to be a little guide for you who maybe want to visit this pearl of the Balkans, maybe even go and hike the wilderness of the mountains. So, why to go, what to know and how to make it happen?
What and Why?
First of all, it is one of the last places in Europe where the mass tourism hasn’t yet taken a steady foothold. You get to see the real life of the real country, rather that be stuck in a tourist bus and visit souvenir shops.
It is perfectly beautiful. The mountains are so green you wont believe it, there is pure and wild nature square kilometer after the other. The people are wonderful. Honest and hard working, welcoming and helpful, you rarely see any signs of corruption. I have never felt safer on a holiday!
The country has many faces. Small though it is, every valley and river bend offers something new. It has bits of Greece, a good heap of the Alps, French canyons, Italian Dolomites and the good old Mediterranean coast. All with a Slavic twist. There is plenty of nature to go about, including some medieval forests and bears, wolves and lynxes roaming in them.
It is a young country, Montenegro. Getting its independence from the union with Serbia as recently as 2006. It is full of history and culture though, you see the recent marks of Soviet times everywhere, especially in cities and more ancient history too, in ruins and so forth. The country is somewhat famous for being a perfect melting pot for cultures. Christians and Muslims live side by side in harmony. It is also a mixture of old and new, with modern things like WiFi connections everywhere and people doing their farming by hand in every village.
It is definitely worth wile to get a car and drive through the country, rather than stay at the coast and do the tours your hotel might organize. The coast is just as it would be in Greece or Italy, nothing special about that. The inland is something more unique and worth experiencing.
Well, more about how we did it. There sure will be plenty of other ways to spend your holiday too.
You can easily fly into Podgorica. We took Ryanair from Brussels south and traveled only with hand luggage. Yes, you heard it, ten days of hiking gear, food, tent, camp, everything in hand luggage. The key words are small packing tent and vacuum bags.
You can also rent a car right off form the airport. During the peak season of tourism, I recommend booking early enough, otherwise you might end up paying some sweet money for it. Try searching from the companies local sites. The ones that end with “.me”. The traffic is nothing to worry, roads are for the most part safe and locals are careful drivers.
For us it became apparent rather quickly that maps over the less popular areas were difficult to find, and once we managed to get one, it was not too accurate or reliable. They are also very thin and fragile, do not open while up in the mountain.
We had to come up with a solution. It was offered by a marvelous service called Wikiloc. It is a social service where users can upload routes from GPS trackers and then just anyone can download them to their own device. Which is fabulous, no maps needed. There is plenty on offer and after creating your own account you can start sharing too. After you have downloaded the route, you can ask navigation to the starting point with which ever map service you happen to use. Google and a Garmin device served us well.
As far as the cooking goes on the trail, I recommend you take a good look at wood gas stoves. They are very compact and extremely reliable. Make sure you have a good pot to go with it! with it you do not need to worry about finding the right gas ever again. We did see a couple of hikers who were desperately running up and down the stores looking for that precious fuel. Not the way you want to spend your holiday.
Our hikes were the following:
There are quite some nice hikes on the coastal are too, but with our timing, it was just way too hot there to start climbing anything taller than a street curb.