Arriving into Montenegro from the north, across the border with Serbia, I can’t think of a better way to be introduced to this country. Montenegro will turn out to have three distinct regions – the mountains, the coast, and the boring bit in the middle. Here in the mountains, I decide I’ve already found my favourite part.
I’m on the bus and, as it winds its way along the cliffsides and over bridges, I stare out the window in awe. It’s mostly green peaks but occasionally I get a flash of snow from the higher mountains – even though this is the middle of summer. Down in valleys, rivers rush through, sometimes brown and sometimes blue.
The area of Serbia I have just left was pretty but it’s almost as if some bureaucrat many years ago untied himself from red tape and unleashed his love of nature by choosing the international border based on the point where the scenery becomes even more beautiful.
Biogradska Gora National Park, Montenegro
My first stop is the small town of Kolasin, which I have chosen as a base for a couple of nights so I can explore the nearby Biogradska Gora National Park.
There aren’t too many parts of Europe where the forests have been left completely untouched but here is a tract of virgin forest where a lot of the trees are at least 500 years old. Full of animals and plants, this is the smallest of Montenegro’s four national parks but it has some of the greatest diversity.
Paths cut across the park leading to its glacial lakes, mountaintops, and camping areas. I have decided to hike through it for the day but others I meet are riding bikes or driving jeeps.
There aren’t that many people here but, as I climb higher, the number of visitors thins like the trees. When I get to the summit of one mountain, I am the only person here and I look across the park with just the buzz of the insects for company.
The highlight of the park, though, is the Biogradska Lake – about an hour’s walk from the main road where the bus from Kolasin dropped me off in the morning. This is the largest lake in Biogradska Gora National Park and is also the hub for all the activities.
There is a camping area, some accommodation huts, a restaurant and a small information office. If you would like to visit with an organised tour, I can recommend this ecotour.
Most people use the lake as a base for hikes or other day activities. I use it to sit for a while and admire the beautiful view – a few boats tied to a pier resting peacefully in the still water reflecting the mountains and forests around it.
Most of the action in Montenegro is along the coast, especially in summer when the beaches are a bigger drawcard than the snowless ski slopes of the mountain region. But I’m glad this is where I have started my time in this country.
It’s more beautiful than any other natural areas I have seen in this part of the world so far and it’s inspiring in its serenity.
For some great tours in Montenegro, you might like to consider one of these:
17 thoughts on “Europe’s rare virgin forest”
You had me at virgin forests. Nice job with the pics and description.
lovely post and pictures.. so wonderful.. someday I will be go there!
wow, great photos
burst out laughing @ “the boring bit in the middle”
the road from Kolasin to Podgorica through the Moraca canyon is pretty dramatic.. near Niksic there’s a monastery Ostrog carved into a cliff and Cetinje, the old kingdom’s capital is like a place lost in time
I’m really keen to visit one of Europe’s newest countries, looks and sounds fantastic. I’m even more interested now.
It looks so peaceful there! I’ve heard about Montenegro before. I would definitely go visit someday.
I’m impressed. I honestly didn’t think there is anything like this left in Europe, due to the logging and other past occurances.
Wow! I’d love to see that. Look at all the pretty flowers! =)
There were two reasons we couldn’t visit the forests when we were in Montenegro last year. First, there were massive forest fires throughout Montenegro and Bosnia. Second, the forest are rife with ticks and we were traveling with our dog, Emma. I’m glad to see this area at least was left undamaged from the fires.
What a great post and what a great place. I spent a couple of weeks exploring the Macedonian forests in 2004. Amazing. The Balkans are one of my favorite places and I look forward to getting back. I went hunting for the last remaining wilderness in northern Europe in 2003 and that was, naturally, Finland. Even there the wilderness is under attack but there are remnants.
Gorgeous! Now I want to visit Montenegro even more!
Really awesome to see your Eastern European explorations, Michael! I swear, for a lot of years I was always telling my friends/family that I truly believe some of the most untouched, virgin countryside exists in Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, Croatia, etc., but it’s really refreshing to see someone else exploring and sharing the same thing!
Beautiful, beautiful stuff. I was super inspired when my friends Ryan and Angela spent a few months in the country (Montenegro) last year, and it’s really groovy to see your experiences coming to life this year as well. Rock on!
so beautiful… perfect place to just forget everything and enjoy the serenity of the place.
gorgeous pics man, i love the way you composed the first pic!
You would certainly be able to lose yourself in this park. It’s so quiet and there are so many trails you could walk day after day. So beautiful!
I’m so so so jealous of your trip!
I get the feeling you’re going to be able to go and do it all for yourself pretty soon!! 🙂
Looks similar to Slovakia – love the mountains.
I’ve never been to Slovakia but I would love to get there sometime soon. Especially if it looks like this!