Trip Reports: Durmitor Loop Trek, Montenegro - July 2015

Durmitor National Park is certainly the most famous and beloved mountain range in Montenegro. The mountains here aren’t the biggest or baddest ever, but they have an undeniably wonderful and unique character, like a combination of the rugged might of the Alps with the wild solitude of the Colorado Rockies. They seem to have a dash of everything I love most in mountains — jagged spires, sculpted peaks, vast green meadows, fields of wildflowers, misty forests, emerald lakes, and the freedom to explore it all in relative solitude. We spent four amazing days last week trekking through the heart of these fantastic mountains.

Bobotov Kuk,Dinaric Alps,Durmitor National Park,Montenegro,wildflowers, photo

Wildflowers and Bobotov Kuk

The setting sun illuminates a field of wildflowers on a high mountain pass, with Bobotov Kuk towering behind. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

This was actually my second time visiting Durmitor; I was here by myself back in June of 2004. At that time it was the off season, the mountains were still covered in snowpack, and I was the only tourist in Zabljak, the little town situated at the base of the Durmitor mountains. There was only one restaurant open then, where I ate every evening with some Serbian army guys I met. It rained six days straight and when it finally stopped I used all my pent up energy to walk from town to the summit of Bobotov Kuk (the highest peak) and back in one day, with snowpack and all. Those army guys said it was impossible and didn’t believe me until I showed them the summit photos on my camera!

Eleven years later, in the height of summer season, the town of Zabljak is hopping. There’s people everywhere, lots of restaurants and bars, probably twice as many houses around here, and a general vibrant vibe that was completely absent during my previous visit. But despite the bustle in town, once we hiked past the popular Crno Jezero lake near the park entrance, the crowds quickly thinned. By the time we reached our first campsite we hadn’t seen anybody for hours. This range is small but there’s still plenty of opportunity to get away.

Bobotov Kuk,Dinaric Alps,Durmitor National Park,Montenegro, Bandijerna, panorama, photo

Bobotov Kuk Panorama

Panoramic view of Bobotov Kuk (2522 m / 8274 ft) and the Durmitor range, as seen from the summit of Bandijerna. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

Bobotov Kuk, tent, Durmitor, Montenegro, photo

An epic view of Bobotov Kuk from our tent on a high pass. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

We pitched our tent the first night on a high pass with an epic view of Bobotov Kuk; campsites don't get much more epic than this!

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Hiking through wildflowers below Bobotov Kuk. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

We spent our second night camped near Zeleni Vir, a small little spring-fed lake which provides a nice base camp for climbing up Bobotov Kuk, which of course we did!

Bobotov Kuk, climbing, Durmitor, Montenegro, photo

Climbing to the summit of Bobotov Kuk via the scrambly cabled route. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

Bobotov Kuk, summit, Durmitor, Montenegro, photo

Jack and Claudia on the summit of Bobotov Kuk (2522 m / 8274 ft), the highest mountain in the Durmitor range of Montenegro. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Durmitor Sunset

Sunset over Skrcko Jezero as seen from a shoulder of Bobotov Kuk. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

We sat up top on Bobotov Kuk until sunset, then on the way down we surprised some gämse, who sprinted up and away through rock fields with astounding speed and agility. Kind of made me jealous, only having two legs and not four.

Bobotov Kuk, Skrcka Jezera, Durmitor, Montenegro, photo

Skrcka Jezera

The beautiful Skrcka Jezera below Bobotov Kuk. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

A super-scenic hike over Samar pass brought us to the emerald green Skrcka Jezera where we camped for our third night.

Bobotov Kuk,Dinaric Alps,Durmitor National Park,Montenegro,Škrčka Jezera,Škrčka Jezera, photo

Skrcko Jezero Dusk Reflection

Dusk light illuminates Bobotov Kuk at Skrcko Jezero. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Ice stalagmites inside the Ledina Pecina ice cave. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

Our last day of hiking turned into somewhat of an epic; we hiked over three passes, visited the Ledina Pecina ice cave, then slogged all they way back to the trailhead at Crno Jezero, where we celebrated by devouring a big cup of wild raspberries and strawberries sold by roadside vendors.

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Stari Katun

An old katun with Medjed rising behind. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

This was one of those magical treks where each day was just as memorable and surprising as the last, if not more so.