Durmitor

Picture of tara_gorge Durmitor is a fantastic National Park in northeastern Montenegro near the borders with Bosnia and Serbia. The Tara Gorge is one of the more visited parts of the park and runs along the eastern edge of it. It's the deepest river canyon in Europe with a 1300 meter (4300 ft) depth at one point. The best way to see it is to raft it. For those of us not rafting it, you're limited to a few access points.
Picture of tara_bridge One of those access points is the Durdevica Tara Bridge just to the east of Zabljak. It's a rather impressive span and you can park and walk out onto the bridge (with a bit of care). The truly deep portion of the canyon is in the furthest arch span from this vantage point. The intermediate arches are only about a third as high as that final piece. There's a zipline crossing here as well as a small cottage industry of food stalls. We recommend the wild strawberries if they're in season.
Picture of abandonded We stayed in Zabljak which is an interesting little town. It offers easy access to the Black Lake portion of Durmitor as well as the Tara Gorge. It has a small but useful center with shops and restaurants and the outskirts are littered with giant abandoned hotels like this one. Apparently no one in Zabljak considers purchasing an existing property over building an entirely new hotel.
Picture of black_lake_overview Black Lake is accessed through the town of Zabljak and is just about a kilometer west of the center. There's a parking area and then about a 1 km walk to the visitor center and the lake. Actually.. there was no visitor center when we visited but there's a place where the visitor center will be. There's also a playground and a seasonal restaurant here.
Picture of black_lake_pier Black Lake is actually an odd double lake, shaped roughly like the number 8. In high water the center land bar is submerged and the two lakes connect. At low water they become separate lakes. The water is very clear and there are fish visible everywhere. Surrounded by the higher mountains of Durmitor (not visible here due to fog) it's a very scenic spot.
Picture of trail_sign There are quite a few trails leading out from the Black Lake area. Durmitor's trails are fairly rugged, they are well signed but it's definitely worth having a decent map once you get away from the lakes. The hike that circumnavigates Black Lake is surprisingly rugged. As you can see, just about everything leads to good views.
Picture of first_valley We enjoyed Zabljak and the Black Lake area but for the truly spectacular scenery without climbing the higher central peaks, the western road to the Piva Gorge is mandatory. This is not a road for the faint of heart. It's marked as P14 on some maps, or follow signs to the hamlet of Virak and continue west along the road through Virak rather than the main road back to Savnik. You'll climb steadily along a very narrow road with good views of Bobotov and surrounding mountains. Eventually you'll emerge in this awesome valley. For scale there's a building with a green roof on the center of the left edge of this photo.
Picture of farmstead There's a high point / saddle along the route where several trails lead up to the higher mountains including those visible in this picture. There is a smattering of farms on this plateau such as the one in the foreground. Many of them operate as hostels for hikers as well. There's no way to tell from this image but off to the right past the solitary peak out there is basically the end of the world as the plateau drops off to the Piva gorge.
Picture of bench The rumpled landscape continues across most of the plateau. This is definitely a bring your own supplies sort of place. In some sections you can see the trail you're following for miles ahead.
Picture of haystack Continuing along this road you'll eventually leave the park and reach the small village of Boricje. At various points along here it becomes obvious how high above the Piva gorge the plateau is. We were also impressed by the size of the haystacks, like the three on this farm.
Picture of tunnels The road down to the Piva river is quite the trip. There are countless switchbacks and tunnels along the way. At one point there's actually a T-junction of roads inside a tunnel.
Picture of mratinje_dam Reaching the river, the town of Pluzine is just upstream. Downstream (north) is Bosnia but just before you reach the border is the impressive Mratinje Dam. The Piva gorge is really just as impressive as the more famous Tara gorge to the east. On top of that there is a road through it, which may detract a bit from the natural spectacle but it also makes it a bit more viewable. At the Bosnian border crossing, the Piva and Tara rivers flow together to form the Drina.

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