The almost completely mountainous Durmitor region is inland Montenegro’s siren draw, a spectacularly wild and wonderful region of saw-toothed peaks, glacial lakes, deep canyons and wide alpine pastures.
Designated a national park in 1978 – it’s the largest of the country’s five national parks – and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980, Durmitor is bordered by the Piva Canyon and plateau to the west, and the Jezera Plateau to the east. In its western section, the park’s boundaries embrace the many peaks of the Durmitor Massif, a great shaft of limestone which numbers nearly 50 peaks that rise higher than 2,000m, 27 of them reaching more than 2,200m; Bobotov kuk is the highest at 2,523m.
The narrow finger that extends to the east incorporates the magnificent Tara River Canyon, whose eponymous river crashes through the heart of the gorge. Etymologically speaking, the name Durmitor is thought to derive from the Celtic drumitor, meaning ’water from the mountain’ which, given the preponderance of lakes within the park – fed by melted snow from the Durmitor Massif – seems wholly apt.
The park harbours a wide range of flora – the high grassland areas in particular are richly carpeted in plant life – and fauna, the mountains sheltering brown bear, grey wolves and chamois, among others, as well as over 150 types of birdlife.
Durmitor’s key resort, and the only settlement of any size in the region, is Žabljak, which though traditionally better known as the country’s main ski centre, is no less busy a place during the summer months when walkers, hikers and adventure sports enthusiasts arrive here in large numbers.
Indeed, Durmitor offers limitless possibilities for outdoor pursuits – in addition to skiing, climbing and hiking, white-water rafting, kayaking and canyoning are increasingly popular on the Tara River. The Tara, richly sourced with trout and char, is also an attractive proposition for anglers during the fishing season, as are some of the mountain lakes.