The Mountains of Montenegro riding holiday in Montenegro - Far and Ride
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The Mountains of Montenegro, Montenegro




Programme


• Mountains of Montenegro

 

Horses



Type of horses:

Local horses of mixed breeding, including Montenegrin Mountain horses, Shagya Arabs and Polish/Russian Arabs

Nature of horses:

Montenegrin Mountain horses are small but extremely strong and sure-footed as well as being willing and friendly.

Height of horses:

13.2hh - 15.3hh

Weight limit:

90kg

Tack type:

English style trail or trekking saddles and snaffle bridles.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

Montenegro (meaning Black Mountain) was once part of Yugoslavia but gained independence in 2006. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea and is bordered by Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania. Its capital and largest city is Podgorica while Cetinje is designated as the Old Royal Capital.

Montenegro is stunningly beautiful and remarkably diverse. The frenzy of the beach culture on the coastline abruptly gives way to an untamed interior where wolves and bears still roam the dark mountain forests which gave Montenegro its name. Only 625,000 people live in this up-and-coming 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 The Bahamas! But the wild, and at times harsh beauty of the landscape are in direct contrast to the warm hospitality of its inhabitants.

Our rides in Montenegro explore both the north and south mountains. The north is characterised by hidden mountain lakes and rugged landscapes with striking stone formations; high plateau summer pastures with seemingly endless rolling hills; ancient forests and valleys with roaring rivers where sheepdogs stand watch over their vulnerable charges - the north is still a rugged and wild land which is yet to submit to man.

The south contains Old Royal Montenegro which with its millennium-old trading routes and strategic military location between warring empires holds a fascinating and complex history. The fiercely independent population of this nearly impregnable mountainous territory was divided into factious clans led by military chieftains and united under a Vladika (Prince-Bishop). The Petrovic clan of the Njegos region held the post for many years and their mark remains in almost every village and hamlet you ride through. Until the 1960's many villages were only reachable by horse or on foot and even today horses still play an important role. Many local families still produce their own wine, honey, cheese, ham and brandy and this is a region where time has stood still and visitors are still rare.

Our partners in Montenegro are licenced riding instructors as well as tour guides and speak both English and at least two other languages. They know the mountains well and will impart their knowledge as you ride.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Accommodation varies from rustic mountain-huts with bunkbeds and solar showers, through simple bungalows which sleep 2-3 people and have private bathrooms, to comfortable hotels with spa and pool.

When you are in remote and rural locations you stay in the best accommodation that is available, but closer to civilisation the accommodation improves.

You should be willing to share as single rooms cannot be guaranteed, however, single rooms may be possible on some nights. If you wish to have a single room then the single supplement is payable locally dependent on availability.

A typical breakfast would include fresh bread, cheese and cured meats, omelettes and fruit.

On the riding days you will likely have a packed lunch which would include a sandwich (perhaps prosciutto and local cheese on a pitta-type bread) and fruit together with juice/water and perhaps some sweets.

Dinners are hearty and varied. Starters would include cured meats and cheeses or a hot soup. Mains would be grilled or slow-cooked meats with vegetables and salads and fresh bread.

Vegetarians can be accommodated but only if notified in advance.

 

Activities

You visit a number of interesting sites along the route, including the Ostrog monastery and the Bay of Kotor. You also get to visit Cetinje - the historical centre of Montenegro.

After riding each day there may be time to take a short walk if you wish to stretch your legs.

It is not possible to accept non-riders on this trail.

 

Further Details

Languages: English, German

Health requirements: Good general health and physical fitness is required as you are riding in remote mountainous locations.

Age limit: Riders must be 16 years or older except by special arrangement. Riders under 18 require written parental permission in accordance with Montenegro law.

Tuition: No

Included: Accommodation; full board from BBQ on arrival day to breakfast on departure day; riding; English speaking guide for riding and non-riding tours; airport transfers

Not included: Flights; drinks; tipping; single supplement (where applicable).

 

Travel Information

Direct flights are available with RyanAir from London Stansted but currently only on Wednesdays and Sundays so you may want to add an extra day or two to discover the local area.

Alternatively, flights with one stop are available daily with other airlines such as Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Air France etc.

Airport: Podgorica

 

Programme


Mountains of Montenegro



Explore two mountainous regions of Montenegro on this adventurous trail ride. Start in the north, which is marked by solitary and wild open high plateaus and rolling hills under impressive massifs, before discovering the coastal mountain range of Old Royal Montenegro with its ocean vistas from craggy mountainsides, deserted hamlets and dark, mysterious forests.

Day One:

You will be met at Podgorica airport and transferred to the ranch in the early afternoon. After meeting the horses there is a short orientation ride to ensure everyone is safe and comfortable. A simple, informal Montenegrin lunch of grilled meats, salads and fresh bread is served at the ranch.

In the late afternoon you transfer into the northern mountains for the start of your adventure. En-route you visit the Ostrog Monastery which is the most culturally important religious site in the former Yugoslav area. This 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 and you may pass pilgrims making their way up the mountain path barefoot or on their knees. Respectful clothing is recommended.

Dinner and overnight at Vucje Ski Centre or in a comfortable hotel in nearby Niksic.

Day Two: Vucje - Kapitanovo Jezero

After breakfast, saddle the horses and set off riding into the dark forest and across the wide open high plateaus. Grassy paths crisscross the high summer pastures which are bordered by the majestic Lukovo mountains. Climb through woods tucked between the rolling hills and valleys, and pass small katuns (summer shepherd huts), where farmers cling fiercely to the traditions of their ancestors.

Picnic and relax in a small glade before climbing fields of wild flowers to the days destination - the glacial Kapitanovo Jezero (Captain's Lake) where the locals tending sheep and cattle enjoy telling the occasional passerbys legends of fairies and fair maidens!

After untacking the horses you can relax on the shores of the mountain lake or watch the shepherds whilst enjoying a cool drink. There is an optional lake afternoon hike of c. 1.5hr return to Manito Jezero (Crazy Lake) before dinner.

Overnight at Captain's Lake in simple mountain-hut style accommodation with bunkbeds and shared WC. Solar showers available. 

Riding: c. 5-6 hours / 30km

Day Three: Kapitanovo Jezero - Zakraji

After breakfast, ride across the high plains towards the imposing Krnovo Mountain range which dominates the distance. The horses rest whilst you picnic below the imposing Babji Zub (Grandmother's teeth - 2,277m). Your afternoon ride continues over hills and through forests on grass and macadam tracks to the settlement of Zakraji where your hosts will prepare a traditional northern Montenegrin dinner for you.

You can relax on the porch, catch up on your reading, take a walk or chat to the grandmother whilst dinner is prepared. Overnight in bungalows (each sleeps 2-3) with private bathrooms.

Riding: c. 5-6 hours / 25km

Day Four: Krnovo and the Bijela River Valley

Today you will marvel at the diversity of the Montenegrin landscape. After riding for c. 1 hour through the rolling hills of the high plateaus you reach the dominant Krnovo mountain range where you can move on at a brisk 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, you pass through a forest and emerge into Gornja Bijela where you stop for a picnic lunch at the beautiful Crnjack waterfall with its picturesque old stone mill.

After lunch continue riding through this breathtaking valley, following a varied path through traditional farming country and small settlements. Cross streams, wind your way through orchards and transverse forests. Depending on the wishes of the group, you can either head up and over a challenging hidden mountain pass back to the Krnovo Polje plateau (leading the horses on some sections) or continue along a forest road for several kilometres.

After the ride, you leave your northern horses behind and transfer to the historic capital of Cetinje for dinner and to overnight in an aparthotel with private bathroom.

Riding: c. 6 hours / 30km

Day Five: Cetinje - Ivanova Korita

After a short transfer from Cetinje you reach your horses for the southern section of your adventure. Depending on weather and ground conditions you either start from Cetinje-Bajice or Cetinje-Dugenjive. The trail climbs from the valley up into the territory of the Lovcen national park which is home to 200 species of birds (including Golden Eagles and Imperial Eagles) as well as brown bears and wolves.

Follow forest paths and old Austro-Hungarian roads to the deserted village of Majstori. The trail winds through the ancient village, one of the outermost hamlets of the Njegusi clans and stop for a picnic lunch before heading to the Ivanova Korita area. A series of macadam roads, field paths and forest trails takes you towards the Lovcen mountain, where you can climb the 461 steps to the mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic Njegos if you wish (1,675m).

Dinner and overnight in a comfortable hotel with indoor pool and spa. Private bathrooms.

Riding: c. 5 hours / 22 km

Day Six: Ivanova Korita - Njegusi

Depart Ivanova Korita and head into the heart of Lovcen national park, with its quaint stone villages and crisscrossing trails. With spectacular views over the coast, you work your way through the forests and along the sides of mountains until finally descending through the forest to Njegusi, the birthplace of Petar II and the Petrovic Njegos dynasty. The cured hams and cheeses of the region are famous, as are the many handcrafted wool items and there is a chance to browse local handicraft stalls as you pass the village square.

Leave the horses in a lush meadow which still belongs to the Crown Prince of Montenegro and travel down a narrow serpentine road to Kotor. The road parallels the "Ladder of Cattaro", an ancient foot/horse track that linked Cetinje to the outside world. Twenty-six tight serpentines take you 900m downhill whilst offering breathtaking views over the Bay of Kotor. Explore the maze of tiny alleys of Kotor, with its tucked away boutiques and surprising number of Orthodox and Catholic churches, many with frescos dating back to the 15th century.

In the late afternoon, head to Perast, the oldest settlement on the bay, with remains dating back to 3500BC. This ship building city thrived under Venetian rule and constructed ships for trade as well as battles against the Ottoman Empire. Enjoy a short boat ride to the island of Our Lady of the Rock to visit the small church of the same name that appears to float on the still waters of the bay.

Dinner and overnight in the Kadmi Eco Village in Njegusi in simple bungalows with private bathrooms.

Riding: c. 5-6 hours / 20km

Day Seven: Njegusi - Cetinje

Depart Njegusi and climb from the valley back towards Lovcen national park. Halfway through your ride, stop for refreshments at the 18th century cafe Kod Pera na Bukovicu, the oldest pub in Old Royal Montenegro. Your route winds past small stone houses of katuns (mountain farming villages) which are deserted for most of the year, with many meandering stone walls a tribute to the hard work involved in clearing these parcels of land. Follow old military roads, meadow trails and forest paths to finish your ride in one of the old villages on the outskirts of Cetinje.

In the afternoon you can take a cultural and gastonomic tour through this historical centre of Montenegro. Visit the state museum and Palace of King Nikola. In the late afternoon your hosts take you to their traditional stone country home with vineyards in the tranquil village of Rvasi. Walk through the vineyards with grandfather as he explains about Montenegrin grape varieties such as Vranac (Black Stallion) and Kratosija, learn about traditional beliefs and superstitions relating to beekeeping and why certain herb varieties reflect in the colour, smell and flavour of the honey; and finally, taste a variety of special local honey products in the ambience of the 300 year old house.

Dinner is taken at a traditional restaurant in Podgorica before overnighting in a comfortable hotel within easy walking distance.

Riding: c. 4 hours / 18km

Day Eight:

After breakfast you are transferred back to Podgorica airport for your flight home.



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 6
Ability description: You need to be at least an intermediate rider who is secure in the saddle at all paces. There are opportunities for long, fast canters across mountain meadows. You will also have to dismount and lead your horse on some steep, rocky or slippery sections of the trail.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 7 nights / 6 days of riding / 4-6 hours riding each day
Departure dates: 2017:
2-9 September; 24 September - 1 October (10% discount).

2018:
3-10 June; 17-24 June; 1-8 July; 2-9 September; 16-23 September; 30 Sept-7 October.
 
Pricing: 2017/18

£1339 per person sharing

Single supplement of 20 euro per night is to be paid in cash on-site. Single rooms cannot be guaranteed but will be subject to availability.

Small group supplement of 100 euro per person is also payable locally if the group size is less than four.