The Park is located at wide mountain region in the northwestern part of Montenegro, surrounded by rivers Piva and Tara and there are 23 mountain tops over 2300 meters of altitude. Park is 39000 acres large and includes 82 kilometers of canyon of the Tara with altitude of 1600 meters above river level.
Durmitor’s region is the most important part of Dinara mountain range, characterized by high peaks, abundant forests and deep gorges. Canyon of Tara is the largest in Europe and has over 1500 kinds of flora and 130 kinds of birds. There are 17 glacier lakes in the Park and the highest top in Montenegro is Bobotov kuk (2522 m).
Since 1980 Park and canyon of Tara are under protection of UNESCO. In 1977 canyon was proclaimed world ecological reserve. Seven zones of Park are among special protected areas (ICUM):
Large number of 314 protected animals in Montenegro, including 163 kinds of birds live in Durmitor’s area.
Durmitor belongs to high mountain dome of north of Montenegro. On one side karsts Piva surface stretches on the height from 1.500 to 1.600 meters of height above the sea level. Edge parts are deep incised by the canyons of Piva, Susica, and Komarnica making this area a real challenge for all adventurers. By its inapproachability and unreal beauty canyon Nevidio stands out. About 1.000 meters deep, and only one meter wide. This part is characteristic for the rich and diverse floral cover not characteristic for karts areas. Often during the summer you will come across the herds and Sheppard who are in “summer pasture homes”. The very summer pasture homes are interesting for its infrastructure – the wall is made of pure stone, the roofs are steep, and covered with “sindra” (wooden board, wooden tiles), and often it is also made of tile lime stones. Lake surface which stretches on the east side of Durmitor is rich with, as its name tells us, glacial lake. This area is somewhat tamer, richer with water and vegetation, so the settlements here are more frequent. One of them, the highest small town on the Balkans – Zabljak, quickly developed and used the natural beauty to attract both domestic and foreign tourists.
Durmitor is also the biggest mountain of Dinar massif. It includes the north and north – west part of Montenegro and further on it connects with the Herzegovina Mountains. The rocks and stone peaks, which rise above numerous valleys, dominate the massif, precipices and abysses, which are often full of eternal snow and ice. About 15 summits, with the height above 2.000 meters dominate the landscape and leave the impression on the visitor such as the one in Alpes. Bobotov kuk with the height of 2.523 meters is the highest Durmitor summit. Among people it is know also as Cirova pecina (CIRO’S CAVE), and the first man to climb on it was Austrian Oscar Bauman. The sight that goes from this summit goes hundreds of kilometers around connecting on one side Mediterranean in the south, and high highland of the continental Balkans on the north on the other side. For the climb to Bobotov kuk it takes several hours with the company of expert and trained guide who know the area, not just because of the safety, but also because of the need to get to know every corner of the mountain, to hear some of the numerous legends, and experience in the right way all those elements of nature which have piled themselves here as on a small planet to contribute to the impression. Ravines, glacial lakes, circs, crags intersect the steep mountain sometimes making it even a little bit unconquerable. But, even when you think that the life here is not possible you will see in front of yourself some of the summer pasture lodgments close to the jungle making this fascinating and unreal sight remain in your memory as long as you live. Often for Bobotv kuk it is said that it looks like a Montenegrin peasant house in the shape of a pyramid. But, Bobotov kuk is not lonely in its beauty and impression. There are also Bezimeni vrh (NAMELESS SUMMIT 2.484 m), Medjed (BEAR 2.280 m) that raises above Black lake, then Sljeme (2.477 m), and Savin kuk, extremely popular and approachable which raises at the height of 2.312 m. It is said that Savina voda (SAVA’S WATER), the well that you can find here, is healing. Of other summits Minin bogaz, Terin bogaz (path), and Crvena greda stand out, all with the height of over 2.000 meters. The climbs on the summits mostly demand a good physical preparation and several hours of usually strenuous walk. Still, each of this efforts is worth while entirely especially if you know that in August you will come across some places on which you can ski, where in a small place you wills several times come across the clean wells of mountain water from which you can drink, and that you will meet floral and animal kinds of which some Durmitor selfishly keeps as their last habitat on the planet.
Municipality Zabljak, rich with beauties is one of the most attractive areas not just in Montenegro, but also in the entire former Yugoslavia, while Durmitor is considered to be one of the most beautiful National parks.
Its allures on 36 ha make a strong impression on every visitor, and the entire area is a real small paradise for the development of summer, winter, hunting and some other tourism. Recognizing tourism and ecological existence as its two most important guidelines Montenegro has opened a perspective of development of Durmitor area, offering mountain sights, the deepest world canyons, and glacial lakes to all those who wish to experience unique and preserved nature in the heart of Europe. Zabljak is a famous mountain seat and climate-healing place with extraordinarily distinguished continental climate. It is located in the highland in the immediate vicinity of the mountain massif of Durmitor. It is surrounded by thick pastures, glacial lakes, pine forests which are hard to find anywhere else in the Europe. Zabljak offers clean air, numerous wells of transparent mountain water, comfortable accommodation, giving you all pre-conditions for the rest in silence of thick fir trees.
The climate varies from continental to alpine one. For four months the town is under the snow cover, which is bigger than 15 cm., the summers are relatively short and fresh, and the winters are long and cold.
As the biggest lodgment of mountain area of Durmitor, Zabljak is a great place from which you can go in a tour of sightseeing of beauties of this mountain and its interesting corners. Beside Zabljak in this area there are several other smaller lodgments, of typically mountain type, specific architecture, as well as of purpose – as a kettle breeding area Durmitor is rich with summer pastures, summer lodgments for kettle breeders. The Municipality Zabljak has great complexes of forests on about 15.000 ha whose bio diversity is famous in continental proportions. Zabljak has also a seat of National park Durmitor, which because of its spaciousness stretches also over the Municipalities of Pljevlja, Mojkovac, Pluzine, and Savnik.
The great number of lakes on Durmitor are of glacial origins. Prime, by its beauty and attractiveness by all means has Black lake, made of two water surfaces – of small and of the big lake. These two parts are connected with the lake narrowness, which is called Struga. Black lake is found in the heart of the conifer forest and even though it seems as if it is found hundreds of kilometers far away from any kind of settlement, you will reach it in just a few minutes starting from the hotel Durmitor. The lake itself is found at the height of 1442 meters above the sea level, it has the surface of 515.000 m2, and its maximal depth is about 25 meters, even though in the early summer months this figure can sometimes go up to 40 meters, when the level of water rises. Not far from the lake there is a spring of cold drinking water. In the surrounding of the lake you can camp, and the lake itself is rich with dish especially trout, making this impression complete. The ride with the boat over the lake is relaxing and extremely pleasant.
From the lake through the thick conifer wood go mountain paths further on towards the Zmijinje lake and Jablan’s lake. The lakes are a synonym for this area and they have always been an inspiration, a place for gathering or the object of researches. Barno (BOGGY), Modro (INDIGO), Valovito (BILLOWY), Veliko (BIG), and Malo (Small) Skrcko, and other lakes are called Gorske oci (ALPINE EYES), and they are a part of the National park Durmitor. Totally 18 lakes, each a world for itself are a sufficient invitation to visit this area and to enjoy in the colors which retract under the alpine sun, emitting the reflection from the surface of the lake towards the sky. Each of them with its story and legend are worthwhile of your visit. Vrazije lake (DEVIL’S LAKE), know for the leged about the horse with the wings, from whom Jabucilo with wings was created, the horse of Duke Momcilo, is just one in the range of Durmitor’s Alpine eyes. Srablje and Barno lake are considered to be healing because of its water. Of other lakes Zeleni vir (GREEN WHIRLPOOL), Suva lokva (DRY PUDDLE), and Zabojsko Lake especially stand out with its beauty.
Durmitor area and Zabljak are extremely rich with waters. The rivers which intersect this area are Tara, Komarnica, and there is a range of water flows, such as Susica, Potoka, Draga, and others. The valley of Tara, which springs under the mountain of Komovi, is considered to be the most beautiful river valley in Europe. It goes through Kolasin and Mojkovac, and the more it comes to its mouth, in its lower flow it deeply snicks the surrounding hills, creating a canyon whose height goes over 1.000 meters. With its rapids it attacks Sinjajevina, goes under the impressive bridge on Djurdjevica Tara, sparingly slows down at Pirlitor, goes around the massif of Durmitor, and continues to Scepan polje, affiliating with river Piva. Beside the exquisite beauty Tara offers itself to kayak sport as few other destinations in Europe. From its length of 140 km on the 78th kilometer, from Proscenje to Scepan polje with its canyon, the longest and the deepest in Europe, and second largest in the world, Tara is becoming a natural phenomenon, so it is no wonder why it is found under the protection of UNESCO since 1980. 1.300 meters deep canyon at the mountain wreath Obzor wakes in men the greatest respect towards the nature. They call it the Tear of Europe because of cleanness ad beauty all along its flow.
On the western side of Durmitor is placed one of the most beautiful canyon of Montenegro, the Sušica canyon. Precisely, that
impressive canyon with its amazing untouchable wild beauty is placed between the high cliffs of the southwest part of the Durmitor’s
On both sides, Sušica canyon is surrounded by high vasty plateaus. Sušica canyon is connected with the Škcrka lakes valley, another important sight of the Durmitor national park. In the past Sušica river flows in usual river’s valley style. After glacial erosion the water of Sušica river created Sušičko Jezero lake, which belong to the group of few periodical lakes in Durmitor. The glacier which was moved through the Sušica canyon was 10 kilometer long. During time of most intensive glaciation that glacier created some geological and morphological effects at the altitude 1140 m. Because of that influence Sušičko Jezero was formed. During melting of glacier the lake existed like a permanent object.
The water source of the Sušičko jezero lake is the Sušica river, which starts at the bottom of the Skakala waterfalls. The lake is largest in spring time when the glaciers are melting. Sušičko jezero is 450 meter long, 200 meter wide. The deepness is about 4-5 meter, on some places also 7 meter.
In the summer time, specially in late summer, the water of Sušičko jezero lake disappear and you can see just a green grassy meadow. Sušičko jezero lake with its form of ellipse is placed in North-South direction. From both sides the lake is surrounded by high cliffs and old pine forest. Trekking through this amazing canyon is for most really an unforgettable experience. At the edge of the Sušica canyon, approaching from the Škrcka lakes valley, you can enjoy the great scenery of the Skakala waterfalls.
The canyon Nevidio is considered as one of the most impassable canyons in Europe. It was completely impassable except for
professionals with alpinist and diving skills, but today Nevidio is available for enthusiasts and tourists willing to take
Until 1965 when the canyon was officially proclaimed, man’s foot had never taken a step in its terrible depth. Locals called it “unseen miracle” and pronounce its name with awe. After several attempts, finally a group of alpinists from Niksic managed to do pass through the canyon. Today the canyon is passed in organized guided groups with all necessary, modern equipment for alpinists and divers and communication and navigation means. The canyon is about 3.8 kilometer long and it takes almost the entire day for passing.
The canyon cliffs reach about 450 meter height and on some parts reaches only half a meter width. Apparently there is one place where the width is 25 cm, while maximum one is 500 meter. Nevidio Canyon is one of the four canyons surrounding the mountains of Durmitor.
The canyon is cut between the mountains of Bioč, Volujak, Maglić and Pivska planina, its 33 kilometer long, deep up to 1.200
meter and river generates immense power used for the power station of Mratinje (342 MW) which dammed the canyon in 1975. The
dam is 220 meter high, one of the highest in Europe and creates Pivsko Jezero lake, third largest in Serbia and Montenegro
(12,5 km², altitude 675 meter, 188 meter deep), which flooded the old location of the monastery of Piva from the 16th century,
so the monastery was moved to the new one.
The Vrbnica river flows from the left into the lake. After the dam, the Piva continues straight to the north, meets the Tara at Šćepan Polje on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and creates the Drina. The Piva belongs to the Black Sea drainage basin with its own drainage area of 1.270 km² and is not navigable. After several attempts, finally a group of alpinists from Niksic managed to do pass through the canyon. Canyon is about 3.8 kilometer long and it takes almost the entire day for passing.
The area of Durmitor, the mountain territory rich with history and nature which takes your breath away, lies between two, maybe most beautiful Montenegrin rivers, Tara and Piva, on one side, and all the way towards west slopes of the spacious Sinjajevina to Scepan polje, on the other side. Even though it is high and sometimes unapproachable this territory remembers tumultuous happenings and numerous tribes and nations who visited it. Illyrians created first settlements, more precisely their tribe Autariati. Suppressed by Celts they left these territories already in the IV century B.C. With the arrival of Romans the area of Durmitor has become a part of their territory all until the VII century when it was inhabited by Slav tribes. Roman citizens, whom they met here they called Vlasi, Vlah as an ethnographic name later got the meaning of a person who deals with kettle breeding no matter the nationality. Already from early times, the breeding of kettle was a primary activity of the inhabitants, which largely relied on favorable geographic circumstances, especially on a large number of quality pastures.
When we are talking about the etymology of the word Durmitor there are several opinions. For some Latin word Dormire, which means to sleep, is the real source of this word, while for some others that is Celtic drumitor, which means water from the mountain.
When the first Slav states on Balkans were created this area was a part of the early feudal Serbian state from the IX century with which ruler Vlastimir reined. Administratively it was divided on parishes and it included a wider territory. When in the first half of XI century a state was formed in Zeta, Durmitor area was a part of it. Somewhat later old state Raska, which was ruled by Vukan, Nemanja, and others who were fighting for a long time with Byzantine was dominant in this area.
The arrival of the Turks meant a new struggle for inhabitants of Durmitor area. From 1482 to 1857, as long as the Turkish rein on Balkans lasted, the people from Durmitor incessantly resisted the great Empire no matter the cruel forays of the Turks. With their courage the people of this area slowly exerted themselves in several battles when more numerous and more powerful Turkish army suffered losses of several thousands of men. In 1862 a great victory was won in Saranci.
This area is especially interesting by one event from Montenegrin history. Smail aga Cengic (the famous notorious general of Turkish army) was killed in 1840 on Mljeticak. In the long lasting fight the citizens of this area have suffered a great losses, but thanks to persistent fight and libertinage tradition Turks have never managed to settle their vassals in this area and to establish their authority. During the centuries of existence in this area tribal authority has been made and a real tribal life. In the beginning the territory was divided on Drobnjak and Piva, but later on the territory of Drobnjak some other tribes were also formed such as Uskoci, Jezera, and Saranci. The center of these tribes was Zabljak. In 1878 the territory of Durmitor became a part of Montenegro becoming a part of the administratively admitted state.
Several churches and monasteries played a significant culturally historical role for this area – Piva monastery from 1573, monastery Bijela from XVIII century, monastery Dobrilovina, which according to some quotations dates from the age of Nemanjici, as well as monasteries Podmalinsko and Dovolja. The Church in Krs, as well as the one on Zabljak were raised in honor of great victories over the Turkish army. Several times Turks have set on fire the monasteries, but people from this area renewed the and kept them, so by the preserved cultural and historical values Piva monastery is one of the most important facilities in this area.
In the period between 1857 and 1878 this area was a border territory so it was still exposed to some smaller fights with Turkish military squads. Somewhat later it got connected with Pljevlja and Bijelo Polje creating in that way a firm free territory in the north of Montenegro. During the World War I Durmitor area was exposed to the attacks of the occupier, but the resistance was given during the entire war, most often through Komit groups and squads.
In the period in between wars the area of Durmitor was a part of Savnik county, with the municipalities Planino-Pivska, Zuto – Pivska, then Jezerska, where Zabljak was located, Drobnjacka, with Savnik, and Uskocka and Saranska. In this period in this territory kettle breedig was dominant, and people were also engaged in exploiting of Durmitor forests. Two smaller sawmills and several schools were opened in that period, and of special importance was the opening of the road Niksic – Savnik – Zabljak – Pljevlja. With forming of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians in these areas for the first time an active political and party life is being established, and just before the World War II, for this area extremely important, communist party is being formed. The significance of the communist party for this area was great. Beside the great bans and influence of the authorities for the decrease of the activities of the party, the communist party thanks to numerous students and intellectuals has encouraged people from Durmitor and Zabljak to resist – namely, on a proposition to name Zabljak Aleksandrov grad (ALEXANDER’S TOWN), by king Aleksandar, majority of people stood up and prevented that kind of attempt. People from this area have condemned the approaching of Yugoslavia to tripartite treaty showing that it appreciates the freedom above anything. Zabljak at that time was a place of great demonstrations.
Zabljak and Durmitor with its people have given the greatest contribution and sacrifice in the World War II. For just seven days after the starting of the rising against the fascists Zabljak was liberated, and the people started to form organs of rising authority. The contribution of Durmitor folk – liberating partisan squad remained inscribed with golden letters when we are talking about the anti fascist activity on the Balkans. Durmitor republic, as this area was called, survived many attacks, and for a while it was a fulcrum of the Great head quarters at the head with Josip Broz Tito. This not so big area during the war had over 2.500 thousands of victims, and it have 15 folk heroes. After the WW II Zabljak developed from a small village town into a tourist town. Today it is becoming a leading winter center in the region, which is using the beauty of the nature in which it is located in the right way to affirm itself as a place for rest, as well as to affirm the state in which it is located.
Eight kilometers east from Zabljak are found the remains of the medieval own Pirlitor, a fortified town from XIV century, well known from the folk poems about the Duke Momcilo, who died here because of his wife’s treason. Folk poem about the Duke who lived in the town Pirlitor is one of the most popular legends of this area. Momcilo has a horse with wings Jabucilo, a sword with eyes, and according to the legend he was invincible. According to the legend greedy king Vukasin fell in love in Momcilo’s beautiful wife Vidosava. Vidosava who couldn’t resist him has burned the wings to Jabucilo, so Momcilo didn’t manage to resist the enemy. After the death of his owner Jabucilo crushed with sadness threw himself in Crno jezero, so some of the old local people of this area will tell you that sometimes even today a scream of Jabucilo is heard from the lake.