Our trip begins in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Arrive at the Dubrovnik ?ilipi Airport by 1pm to meet your guides and fellow travelers. We transfer to our first night's lodging in Herceg Novi, Montenegro. After settling into our hotel, there is time for a guided stroll through the 13th-century Old Town area. Tonight?s dinner highlights the region?s delicious seafood specialties. Dinner included.
Driving: 1 hour plus border crossing into Montenegro
We hike on Mount Orjen, Via Dinarica?s highest coastal peak (6,095'). We ascend on stony switchback pathways which are actually old Austro Hungarian roads and a favorite hike of locals. Our trail passes through a forest and up to Vratlo pass where we enjoy a coffee at the mountain hut. Views abound overlooking the Bay of Kotor and Adriatic Sea and are further complimented by the dramatic limestone landscape. We stop to visit a mountain cave set at 4,265' above sea level. Tonight we experience true Montenegrin hospitality at a family-run "konoba" (restaurant) set on the hillside of Herceg Novi. We dine on a home-cooked meal prepared in the traditional style over an open fire. Overnight in Herceg Novi. All meals included.
Hiking: 4.9 miles, 4.5 hours, Elevation gain/loss: +2,300'/-2,300'
We begin the day in the ancient village of Perast, known for its 16 Baroque palaces and 17 Catholic churches. A quick boat trip brings us to the small island of Our Lady of the Rocks with its unique church. The church houses an intricate marble altar and an exquisite painted ceiling by 17th-century artist Tripo Kokolja, known by locals as the "Michelangelo of Perast." We continue by boat to the opposite shore, our starting point for our hike up Vrmac Ridge. Our path offers impressive views over the bay as we make our way through traditional Montenegrin stone villages. Tonight, we stay in the UNESCO-listed Old Town of Kotor. Kotor's town wall, dating back to the ninth century, has protected it from invaders for centuries. An optional walking tour is available in the late afternoon with a cultural guide (entrance fees to museums or cathedrals are not included). Dinner is on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.??
Hiking: 5.5 miles, 4.5 hours, Elevation gain/loss: +2,400'/-430'. Optional walking tour: 1.5 hours
The morning is free to explore Kotor?s winding streets and squares. You may wish to head uphill to the Saint John Fortress, which offers stunning views of Kotor and the bay of Boka Kotorska. We drive to Lov?en National Park for lunch and visit the mausoleum of Montenegro?s former poet ruler, Petar Njegus II. Perched atop one of Mount Lov?en?s two peaks, the dramatic building is reached by driving a serpentine road, and then hiking up (and down!) 461 steps. On a clear day, we take in the panoramic views of the bay of Kotor, Skadar Lake and the Accursed Mountains of Albania. Following our visit, we hike on forested trails to our hotel set within the park. There is time to relax or take an optional to hike to Tre?teni?ki vrh, a nearby mountain peak. All meals included.
Hiking: 2.2 miles, 1 hour, Elevation loss: -1,395'; Optional hiking: 3.2 miles,1.5 hours, Elevation gain/loss: 820'
We kayak from Rijeka Crnojevica, a picturesque historic town on an ancient trading route. Our excursion takes us towards Skadar Lake, the Balkans? largest lake and one of Europe?s largest bird migration stopover grounds. To return to Rijeka Crnojevica, guests can choose to paddle their kayak or transfer by boat. We all gather to relax and enjoy a delicious lunch aboard the boat. Our next stop is the Moraca Monastery. Founded in 1252, this Orthodox monastery is still in use today; its frescos, both exterior and interior, are considered masterpieces. We overnight in Kolasin, a quiet mountain village that is the gateway to Biograska Gora National Park. All meals included.
Kayaking: 2.5 hours
The Biogradska Gora National Park is the smallest of Montenegro?s national parks, but it is rich in biodiversity. The rainforest, wetlands, stone rivers, mountain peaks and glacier lakes are a fantastic backdrop for our hike. We begin at the emerald green waters of Lake Biograd and hike to a hut to enjoy a special lunch hosted by a local family. At the end of our hike we transfer to the spectacular Tara Bridge. At 1,200 ft in length, the concrete bridge arches 500 ft above one of the deepest canyons in the world. We walk the length of the bridge to take in the unique views of the surrounding mountains, deep canyon and the clear blue waters of the Tara River. Our day ends with dinner and an overnight in ?abljak. All meals included.
Hiking: 6.2 miles, 3 hours, Elevation gain/loss: +1,500'/-1,900'
The remote heart of Durmitor National Park is a hiker?s paradise. Our trail leads us through the park to wonderful viewpoints, including the tiny, charming village of Bosaca (4,777'), Planinica Peak (7,644') and Black Lake (4,645'), an iconic glacial lake on Mount Durmitor. Birds of prey may circle above, and shepherds still tend their sheep in this remote, dramatic landscape. Returning to our hotel in ?abljak, the remainder of the afternoon and evening are free to explore and dine at your leisure. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 10 miles, 5.5 hours, Elevation gain/loss: +2,789'/-3,065'
Note: A lower elevation hike to Mt. ?urevac (5,105'), Jaban Lake (5,870') and Black Lake (4,645') may be provided due to seasonal weather conditions. Hiking: 8 miles; 5 hours, Elevation gain/loss: +1,150'/-2,310'
We transfer to the Lower Tara Canyon via the Sedlo Pass route. It's a surreal, treeless landscape, surrounded by green meadows and white limestone cliffs. We arrive to a home-cooked lunch at our river camp and meet our rafting guides who will hand out rafting gear, provide a safety briefing and cover paddling techniques. We begin our descent on the clear green waters of the Tara River, covering 11 miles of Class I-III rapids depending on time of year. Past the rapids there are calm pools where we can swim and take photos of the waterfalls and canyon walls. The river is high in May and June but is a calm float by September. The camp is a wonderful place to relax in a hammock or go for a hike should you not wish to raft. A farewell dinner and campfire on the banks of the river completes our day. Overnight at the river camp. All meals included. (Note: Accommodations are shared cabins sleeping between four and eight people per cabin in bunk beds with shared bathroom facilities.)
Rafting: 11 miles, 2.5 hours; May-June: Class III rapids; July-Sept: Class I & II; driving: 2.5 hours.
Following a leisurely breakfast at the river camp, we pack up to return to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Our route takes us through Piva Canyon, a beautiful drive through more than 60 rock tunnels carved into the lakeside. In the small village of Plu?ine we stop for a coffee break at the Zvono restaurant, owned by two local brothers who brew their own organic honey beer. We make a second stop for lunch, then continue our drive to arrive in Dubrovnik by mid-afternoon. After checking into our hotel, we bid farewell to the trip guides. The remainder of the day is free to explore Dubrovnik on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.
Driving: 4.5 hours (with stops) and border crossing time.
Breakfast is at your leisure at the hotel. Transfer on your own to the Dubrovnik airport.