MONTENEGRO 2020

Montenegro Mountan Ride:


Rate:  € 1390,-- person in dbl/twin room 
(8-day, 7 nights, 6 days of riding) 

NEAREST AIRPORT:  Podgorica

Minimum group size: 4, Maximum group size: 8

Not included:  International flights, airport transfers, drinks except when expressly indicated, tips, private (additional) transfers. Extensions including activities on departure day (e.g Lake Skadar National Park).

Single rooms are generally not available.  If there is no suitable same gender guest to share a room with, one guest may have to share a room with a guide (of the same gender) one or more nights.  In the rare occasion that a single room is available, there is a single room supplement: € 20/night if available (payable locally). 

We keep the right to change the sequence of the itinerary.

Dates 2020:

May 24 to 31 

June 21-28

July 5-12

July 19-26

August 2-9

Aug 16-23

Aug 30- Sep 6

Sep 13-20

Sep 27 -Oct 4


ABOUT MONTENEGRO 


Stunningly beautiful, remarkably diverse, Montenegro astounds and delights at every turn.  The frenzy of the beach culture abruptly gives way to an untamed interior where wolves and bears still roam the dark mountain forests which gave Montenegro (“Black Mountain”) its name. Only 625,000 people live in this nascent adventure destination, which holds some of the most rugged terrain in Europe.  High mountains with limestone peaks, canyons, glacial lakes, plateaus and vast forests are packed into an area approximately the size of Connecticut, (or roughly 1/3 the size of Wales). But the wild -- and at times harsh – beauty of the landscape is in direct contrast to the warm Balkan hospitability of its inhabitants. The horses:  The horses are willing, sure-footed and sturdy – most are Bosnian and Montenegrin Mountain Horses, although there are also even-tempered Shagya and Polish-Russian Arabians. The local food & accommodation:  Few foreign tourists venture where we ride. There are no supermarkets, no bar streets, no cafes, no souvenir shops. We stay in simple yet comfortable mountain hut or bungalow accommodation.  Most of the meat, vegetables & fruits, and dairy products are raised, grown or produced by our hosts themselves or by their neighbors in the settlement. As for the past many hundreds of years, entertainment in the region consists of visiting friends and relatives.  Our evening is dependent on the wishes of the group and often the whim of the host and those that drop by – be it story-telling and traditional songs by the hearth, or epic poetry set to the music of the single-string “gusle".

 A progressive trek through the wild north of Montenegro: 

Hidden mountain lakes; rugged landscapes of striking stone formations; high plateau summer pastures with seemingly endless rolling hills; hidden ancient forest groves; valleys of roaring rivers where sheepdogs stand watch over their vulnerable charges:  the north of Montenegro, a rugged and wild land, has yet to submit to the rule of man. Ride with us back into the past and through the land of the legends of the wolf. Here, intrepid shepherds live in the peaked mountain huts of their ancestors, draw water from ancient wells tucked between the limestone rocks, and in the shadows of the momentous mountain ranges slicing through the landscape, strike a balance with nature.Our ride takes place in the “wild” north of Montenegro near Durmitor National Park.  A typical day’s ride includes long grassy paths through rolling hills, dark mysterious forests, and some rather steep and tricky climbs.  Afterwards, relax and enjoy beautiful surroundings, good food, comfortable accommodation, and legendary Montenegrin hospitality.


ITINERARY
 
  
Day 1:  Arrival and Orientation: Transfer to near the start of our ride in Vucje, meaning literally “of the wolves”

Depending on your arrival time, after the short transfer from the airport, spend some time exploring the capital city of Podgorica.  The highlights of this small city can easily be seen in a few hours on foot.Late afternoon, meet back a central meeting point for transfer to the start of our adventure, at Vucje Tourist Complex in the northern mountains over Niksic.  En route, (time permitting), visit the Ostrog monastery, arguably the most culturally important religious site in the former Yugoslav area. The 17th century monastery is dedicated to Saint Basil, whose body is enshrined in one of the two cave chapels.  Built into the side of a cliff face, the monastery is visited by Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and Muslims alike.  You may pass pilgrims making their way up the mountain path barefoot or on their knees.  Respectful clothing (no shorts, covered shoulders) required.   After check-in at the hotel in Vucje, enjoy a simple informal Montenegrin late lunch, (for example: grilled meat, salads, fresh bread).Early evening, meet for a ride briefing, get to know the horses, and organize equipment.   Light dinner and overnight in Vucje Tourist Center, (rooms with private bathrooms). 

Day 2:  Exploring the Konjsko (“Horse”) Region

After breakfast, we saddle the horses and ride out through the dark forest and into the wide open high plateaus. Grassy paths crisscross the high summer pastures bordered by the majestic Lukovo mountains. We trek up and over the Durkovo Brdo mountain range.  Experience Montenegrin farming culture that has remained unchanged for centuries in the isolated valley below.  Climbing back up through the forest to the plains known as Konjsko (“of the horse”), we take a lunch break in a picturesque meadow by the ruins of an old stone dwelling.  The afternoon’s ride brings a mix of grassy paths on gentle rolling hills, forest paths winding their way between mountains, and some tricky climbs along ancient pack-animal roads. After a total of 5 or 6 hours’ ride, we reach our destination of Zakraji, where lush pastures, well-appointed bungalows and a grilled dinner await us. After the ride: Relax, take a walk, catch up on reading, enjoy the afternoon sun with a drink on the terrace – or enjoy the warm fireplace if more appropriate for the weather.  Dinner in the main house with central fireplace. Overnight in bungalows, (each sleeps 2-3), with private bathrooms.  The horses sleep in the field in front of the bungalows.Ride length:  5-6 hours, circa 30 km – mostly fixed route, some small alterations possible. Accommodation: Zakraji (comfortable bungalows)Terrain:  primarily grass roads, macadam roads.  Some forest and steep paths may require leading the horses (dependent on footing conditions).Pace: walk, trot, canter. 

Day 3:  Krnovo and the Bijela River Valley

This is a day to marvel at the diversity of the Montenegrin landscape.  Within a few kilometers, our path takes us from long canter paths on deserted high plateaus, down through a dark forest and into a fertile protected valley with fairytale waterfalls and traditional farmsteads.The ride:  An hours’ ride through rolling hills of the high plateau takes us to the dominant Krnovo mountain range, where we enjoy a brisk morning canter along the grassy roads of the Krnovo Polje until reaching the mountain pass down into the Bijela valley.  After a challenging, steep and rocky descent into the valley, we pass through a forest and emerge in Gornja Bijela, where we enjoy a picnic lunch at the beautiful Crnjak waterfall, with its picturesque old stone mill. Continuing along the breathtaking valley, our varied path takes us through traditional farming country, orchards, forests, and small settlements.  We walk the horses down a final steep descent to “Naše Selo,” a small complex built in a traditional style.  This “Ethno Village” is comprised of stone and wood bungalows and a main restaurant serving dairy-based specialties of the region such as skorup, cicvaru, and kačamak; slow-roasted vegetables; as well as meats such as lamb, kid or veal “under the bell”. Ride length:  6 hours, circa 30 km – mostly fixed route, some small alterations possible within the loop. Terrain:  primarily grass roads, macadam roads.  Several stream crossings.  Some forest paths may require leading the horses (dependent on footing conditions). Limited stretches of asphalt through the villages.Pace: walk, trot, canter.Accommodation:  Naše Selo (comfortable bungalows) 

Day 4:  Naše Selo to the Kravica – A ride on top of the world 

We begin the day’s journey with a steep descent through a forest to the Bijela river.  Fording the river, we then make our way up the opposite side of the valley, where we travel along a quiet country road skirting the side of the mountain. We then follow a macadam road further up to the almost deserted hilltop region. This unique area of high meadows is bordered by three rivers, each flowing 500 meters below.  The elevated location provides stunning views over the neighboring Durmitor, Sinjavina and Drobnjaci mountain ranges.  Our trail is grassy and forested in turn, with some macadam roads and steep climbs.  We enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the Bijela valley and the Krnovo mountain range. In the afternoon, we explore the hills. As the day winds down, we descend towards the region of Malinsko and the village of Strug, where the fiercely proud residents make their living in a traditional northern Montenegrin way: tending cattle and sheep, curing meat and making cheese.  Our day ends with a challenging logging road down to the Bukovica river valley, fording the Bukovica river to arrive at our destination of Tusina, a small village on the banks of the river and overnight in summer cottages of local residents. After settling in, our host will take those who wish to a nearby swimming hole.   For dinner, those who eat fish will enjoy barbequed trout from the local fish farm, located a few hundred meters away.  (Vegetarian options available.)Ride length:  6 hours, circa 30 km – mostly fixed route, some small alterations possible within the loop. Terrain:  primarily grass roads, macadam roads.  Limited stretches of asphalt, especially through the villages.Pace: walk, trot, canter.Accommodation: Homestays (simple summer cottages of local residents subject to availability), or bungalows with single or double rooms and private bathrooms in a nearby village. In the homestays, single and double rooms are available, but bathrooms are shared between 2 or 3 rooms. A washing machine is available in the homestay cottages. 

Day 5:  Malinsko, Strug and the Javorje:  “Where in winter, the wolves dance.” 

The ride:  After stopping at a small village market to get snacks and sandwich fixings for lunch, we ride back up to high pastures of the Kravica.  There, we continue our visit to this region of unspoiled nature:  beautiful mountains, clean air and lush meadows. Only the enormous mountain dogs snoozing in the shade hint at the long, dangerous winters where wolves and foxes roam freely. Our trail is grassy and forested in turn, with some macadam roads and steep climbs.   We enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the peaks of the Sinjajevina mountains before entering the Javorje region.  This is an area largely unexplored and unpublished on tourist maps, with numerous mountain ridges, river valleys and pronounced vertical slopes. Our landscape is dominated by mountain of the same name, as well as the Lola, Kapa Moracka and Djavo Lukavice mountains.  Patches of snow can linger until July.  We finish the day’s ride on long canter paths crisscrossing the largely uninhabited Krnovo region until we reach our destination of Zakraji, for a second night at the comfortable bungalows.After the ride: Again, enjoy the peace of Zakraji. Dinner in the main house with central fireplace. Overnight in bungalows, (each sleeps 2-3), with private bathrooms. The horses sleep in the field in front of the bungalows.Ride length:  5-6 hours, circa 30 km – mostly fixed route, some small alterations possible. Accommodation: Zakraji (comfortable bungalows)Terrain:  macadam roads, canter stretches on grass roads. Pace: walk, trot, canter. 

Day 6:  Zakraji to Captain’s Lake and on to Lukovica: Exploring the high plateaus 

The ride:  After a hearty breakfast, we saddle the horses, and say farewell to our hosts.  We ride on grass and macadam paths as we make our way across the rolling high plains towards the imposing the imposing Babji Zub (Grandmother’s teeth – 2277 m), where we and the horses enjoy a picnic lunch.  Our ride then takes up to the glacial Kapitanovo jezero (“Captain’s Lake”). The horses drink and graze while we relax and watch the daily routine of the shepherds who make their summer home around the lake.   A local resident runs a simple café, where it is possible to get a traditional coffee or handpicked herbal mountain tea.Descending from the high lake, we reach our destination of Mala Lukovica, a katun nestled between majestic mountain ranges.  After the ride: Take a walk around the settlement; try to distinguish between sheepdog and sheep; climb a tricky rock path to the “hidden” village of our hosts’ ancestors. (For centuries, Montenegrins hid from endless wave of invading soldiers in the rocky hills, building stone refuges for themselves and their animals.)  Enjoy a homecooked northern Montenegrin dinner and overnight at a round wooden house perched on a mountain, “My Dream.” Our host has spent years collecting local legends from this and neighboring settlements, and loves to spend his evenings sharing his stories with his guests.Ride length: 5 to 6 hours, circa 25 km – flexible route.Terrain: primarily grass roads, macadam roads. Some forest paths.Pace: climb, walk, trot, canter. Accommodation:  “My Dream” Chalet in Lukovica (6 double rooms, en suite). 

Day 7:  Katun Mala Lukovica to Vucje 

The ride:  After breakfast, we descend from Mala Lukovica through a protected valley and into a region of seemingly endless rolling grassy hills.   Throughout the day, we pass small katuns (summer shepherd huts), where farmers carry on the traditions of their ancestors. We break for a relaxing lunch at a local farm/eco-campground in a small glade in the Katun of Lučica. All ingredients (potatoes, sausage, grilled vegetables, salads), are grown or raised on the premises, without chemicals. A few exhilarating canters and a descent through a dark forest brings us to our final destination (and initial starting point) of Vucje, where our ride wraps up.  Say farewell to the horses and give them some well-deserved carrots and apples.  Transfer to the lakeside village of Virpazar, in Lake Skadar National Park. Dinner and overnight in a restored country home.Ride length: 4 to 5 hours, circa 25 km – flexible route.Terrain: primarily grass roads, macadam roads. Some forest paths.Pace: climb, walk, trot, canter.Accommodation: B&B in Virpazar, Lake Skadar National Park.  (double rooms, private bathroom).  

Day 8:  Farewell After breakfast, transfer to your departure airport.  Guests with later departures can choose between a variety of lake-based activities to enjoy their time prior to their flight.  (3e Travel will gladly help you arrange these activities if guides, equipment, or transportation is required.)   For guests who wish to add on days at the coast, please contact 3e Travel in advance for assistance with arrangements. Services included:  8 days/7 nights/6 days of riding (plus orientation ride on arrival day if desired); full-board accommodation starting with lunch on arrival day and ending with breakfast on departure day, packed lunch for rides.  English-speaking trail leader during the rides.  Person and luggage transfers.Not included:International flights, airport transfers, drinks, tipping, private (additional) transfers. Extensions including activities on departure day (Lake Skadar National Park).

Services included:   

8 days/7 nights/6 days of riding; full-board accommodation starting with dinner on arrival day and ending with breakfast on departure day, packed lunch for rides, one planned cooked lunch at eco campground.  English-speaking trail leader during the rides.  Person and luggage transfers. Group transfer from Podgorica to Mountain Riders’ ranch on arrival day.  Group transfer from Mountain Riders’ ranch to Aria hotel (near Podgorica airport) on departure day.

Not included: International flights, drinks*, tipping, private (additional) transfers;    

* typical prices: soft drink or coffee/tea:  € 1, beer or glass of wine:  € 1,50 to € 2.

Optional:  Single room supplement: € 20/night when available. Extensions.  

Trail Leaders:Trail leaders accompany each ride, providing support and guidance for the group. All trail leaders are licensed riding instructors, and speak English and a minimum of two additional EU languages.    

Tour guides:  On selected days after the rides, licensed tour guides accompany the group on cultural and historical explorations of the surrounding region.   

Tack/equipment:  We ride with English-style trail or trekking saddles and snaffle bits.  Some standard size body protectors are available for loan, but riders should bring their own helmets, sturdy boots with grip for steep/rocky trails (work boots with steel toes are OK) and pants.  Gloves and mini-chaps are recommended.    

Logistical support:A 4-WD support vehicle is on call to assist along the route if required. Luggage transfers are arranged.  

Clothing:  Bring warm clothes that can be layered and a packable rain jacket.  Temperatures can drop below zero in the mountains even in late May/early June, and in September/October.   

Food and Accommodation:Authentic local food and comfortable yet rustic accommodation offers riders a chance to relax and reflect upon the day, and recharge for the following days’ adventure. If you have special dietary needs please consult us.   

Riding experience required:This horseback riding adventure is suitable for riders who would like to get in touch with local life in Montenegro and are ready for an adventure.  Riders should have a medium level of experience and be secure in all gaits. At times, it may be necessary to walk the horses on steep, very rocky, or slippery sections of the trail, including river fords with potentially slippery footing.  This does not happen often but one should be able to walk and lead a horse if necessary.