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The Mountains of Montenegro

Overview

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 …

Highlights

  • Marvel at the glorious mountain views from horseback
  • Canter across the extensive grassy "Little Mongolia"
  • Ride far off the beaten track and into the wilderness
  • Marvel at the glorious gorges, lakes and forests
  • Overnight in rustic chalets and with local families

Essential Facts

  • 2 itineraries available
  • Max 8 riders per group
  • Average of 5 - 6 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 90kg / 198 lbs / 14 stone 2 lbs

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 the wild, varied landscapes of the Biogradska Gora and Durmitor national parks, with hidden mountain lakes and rugged landscapes with striking stone formations. You also explore the high plateau summer pastures of Sinjajevina, with seemingly endless rolling hills; ancient forests and valleys with roaring rivers where sheepdogs stand watch over their vulnerable charges - Montenegro is still a rugged and wild land which is yet to submit to man.

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.

Horses & Riding

Tack

English style trail or trekking saddles and snaffle bridles.

Horses

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

Riding

There are 2 itineraries:

  • Durmitor and Biogradska Gora Trail is a trail ride
  • Legends of the Wolf is a trail ride

Ages

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

Health

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

Weight

90kg / 198 lbs / 14 stone 2 lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

Most of the meat, vegetables, fruits and dairy products you encounter will have been raised, grown and/or produced by your hosts.

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/gluten-free can be accommodated but only if notified in advance. Please also note that these diets may be limited with few options.

Accommodation

Accommodation varies from rustic mountain-huts with bunkbeds and solar showers, t to simple farmstay accommodation with local families, to comfortable hotels on the first and last nights.

When you are in remote and rural locations you stay in the best accommodation that is available, but closer to civilisation the accommodation improves. Often you will be riding in places where few foreign tourists venture, consequently there are no markets or shops, no bars, cafes or souvenir vendors.

You should be willing to share as single rooms cannot be guaranteed, however, single rooms may be possible on some nights.

Itineraries

Durmitor and Biogradska Gora Trail Basic accommodation.

Legends of the Wolf Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

Riding is the focus of the itinerary, although 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.

Travel

Direct flights are available to Podgorica, but availability depends on times and days of the week so you may need some extra nights before/after the ride.

It might also possible to fly into Tivat or a neighbouring country (Croatia/Italy) and make your own way into Montenegro to meet the transfer. Please ask for options.

Group Podgorica airport transfers are included in the price - the arrival transfer generally needs to leave by around 4pm in order to arrive at the ranch for dinner. Private transfers are available after this time at an added cost, please ask us.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

Arrive at Podgorica Airport. The scheduled transfer departs after the last guests arrival at the airport - if you arrive early then we can organise a taxi transfer to the city centre of Podgorica or to a hotel with a pool near the airport where you can comfortably wait for the group transfer (payable locally).

All riders are then transferred to Kolasin (1.5 hour journey) through the beautiful Moraca Canyon. For those preferring to self-drive, the meeting point is at the hotel Brile in Kolasin.

Before dinner you will meet your guide and be introduced to your 4-legged companion for the next days. Enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel in Kolasin.

Day 2 - Ascent to Bjelasica mountains

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Your first ride leads into the gentle mountains of Bjelasica. The ascent is on gravel roads at lower altitudes and then shepherd trails as you ascend higher. Bjelasica is a traditional alpine pasture area. Take a break on the alpine pasture to see how such an alpine farm works in Montenegro. On the gentle mountain ridges that you climb, you are rewarded with beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

This first overnight in the mountains is at an alpine village in the Bjelasica ski area. Wooden chalets in double/twin/single rooms with shared bathroom / toilet.

Terrain: gravel, forest and meadow paths; approx. 30km

Day 3 - Peaks and lakes of Biogradska Gora national park

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

A varied riding day to the mountain lakes below the peaks of the Bjelasica (about 2000m high). There are beautiful canter routes along meadow paths and continual stunning views. The ride concludes with a descent through the primeval forest of the NP Biogradska Gora to Lake Biogradska. At the lake the horses are loaded and transferred to Durmitor National Park. You are also transferred through the stunning Tara Gorge to the Durmitor National Park (1.5hrs). On the way you make a stop at the famous
bridge over the Tara. In the town of Zabljak we can stop if anyone needs something from a shop.

Overnight in small wooden chalets with shared bathroom / toilet .

Terrain: forest / meadow / gravel /; 25km

Day 4 - Mystic Durmitor mountains

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today you are accompanied by the peaks of the Durmitor Mountains. The wide plateau around the main town of Zabljak is an ideal riding area. On your way you pass the medieval necropolis of the Bogumils, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for several years. In the Durmitor area there are more than 50 lakes, which are also called mountain eyes - the most famous is the "Black Lake". Most of the time you ride on grassy paths or through untracked terrain, with the mountains of the Durmitor forming an impressive background. Return to the same accommodation for dinner and overnight.

Terrain: meadow / gravel / short asphalt; 25-30km

Day 5 - The high plateau of Sinjajevina

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today begins a unique adventure - the crossing of the Sinjajevina, also called “Little Mongolia”. First you wander through dense forests, but immediately after that, extensive open grassland opens up, which is lined with over 2000 high mountains. The grassy landscape is ideal terrain for longer canters.

Overnight with a family. Double / triple rooms (a total of 15 beds in 5 rooms that can be used). Shared toilet/bathroom; Dinner with the family.

Terrain: meadow / gravel / pathless terrain; 25-30km

Day 6 - Sinjajevina

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today you cross the very centre of Sinjajevina. Sheep are rarely seen here and the feeling that the wolves dance here in
winter becomes very clear. Impressive solitude in its purest appearance. The few alpine farms crouch behind the rolling hills and water is rare here. The shepherds keep snow insulated under meter-thick hay to store water for themselves and the animals.

Todays destination is a lovingly managed alpine pasture with delicious meals - everything created from their own produce.

Overnight stay on the mountain pastures. Multi-bedding in 3 rooms. Shared bathroom/toilet simple but functional.

Terrain: meadows, grassy paths, gravel, 30km

Day 7 - Lipovo valley

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Descend along an old shepherd's trail down to Lipovo valley. During the descent you have to lead the horses across some technical sections. Spiky mountains are followed by a gentle, fertile valley, one of the most beautiful in Montenegro. Eventually reach the starting point of this trail, Kolasin, where it's time to say farewell to your companions.

Overnight and dinner in Kolasin.

Terrain: meadows, gravel, trail (the horses are led here). 25km

Day 8 - Departure

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast, scheduled transfer to Podgorica airport (2hrs drive).

Accommodation

First and last nights are spent in a hotel in Kolasin, with double twin rooms and en-suite bathrooms. During the trail you will spend three nights in simple wooden cabins/chalets, with shared twin/double/triple/dormitory rooms and shared bathrooms facilities. Two nights will be spent with a host family at their rural guesthouse (again, with shared rooms and bathroom facilities).

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You should be an intermediate to advanced rider, confident at all paces across varied terrain. There are opportunities to canter across open meadows, but you should also be prepared to dismount and lead your horse on some of the steep mountain paths.

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

July 18, 2021 - July 25, 2021

Aug. 1, 2021 - Aug. 8, 2021

Aug. 15, 2021 - Aug. 22, 2021

Sept. 12, 2021 - Sept. 19, 2021

Pricing

2021
Sharing
£1185 $1645 €1390
Single rooms cannot be guaranteed and you should be prepared to share
Included 7 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from dinner on arrival day until breakfast on departure day, coffee, tea and water with meals, set-time airport transfers, entrance tickets to national parks and 6 days of riding as per the itinerary.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, drinks, additional transfers apart from set-time airport pickup/drop off, tips & other personal expenses.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1 - Arrival and Orientation

Riding: No riding.

Depending on your arrival time, after the short transfer from the airport you can spend some time exploring Montenegro’s capital city of Podgorica. The highlights of this small city can easily be seen in a few hours on foot. If you feel like a snack, try one of the many cafes and restaurants in the city centre or pick up a “burek” or “pita” (both are filo pastry filled with cheese, meat, or spinach) from one of the “Buregdzinica” dotted around the city. Prices are very reasonable compared to most European cities.

Late afternoon, at a central point, you will be transferred to the small Mountain Riders’ ranch, where the horses are based between tours. After settling into your rooms at the newly renovated guest house, you will meet for a ride briefing, get to know the horses, and organise your equipment. In the evening your hosts will prepare a bbq or traditional Montenegrin stew accompanied by, for example, roasted vegetables, salads and fresh bread.

Overnight: Mountain Riders guesthouse - twin rooms with private bathrooms.

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

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

After breakfast you will transfer to the start of your adventure at Vucje Tourist Complex (rather than a resort, it is more like a “Hotel Garni”, or “Bed & Breakfast”) in the northern mountains over Niksic. 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.

You trek up and over the Durkovo Brdo mountain range. Experience the Montenegrin farming culture that has remained unchanged for centuries in the plains known as Konjsko (“of the horse”). Climbing up through the forest, you take a lunch break in a glade. The afternoon’s ride brings a mix of forest paths winding their way between mountains, and grassy paths on gently rolling hills.

After c. 4-5 hours riding, you return to the Vucje complex, where you can 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. Family style dinner in the Vucje restaurant. 

Overnight in twin rooms with private bathrooms. The horses sleep in the nearby fields of the hotel.

Ride length: circa 25 km - mostly fixed route, some small alterations possible.

Terrain: primarily grass roads, macadam roads. Some forest and steep paths may require leading the horses (dependent on footing conditions). Some asphalt if your guide extends the ride.

Day 3 - Krnovo and the Bijela River Valley:

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

This is a day to marvel at the diversity of the Montenegrin landscape. Within a few kilometers your path takes you from long canter paths on deserted high plateaus, down through a dark forest and into a fertile protected valley with traditional farmsteads.

After breakfast, an hours’ ride through the forest brings you to the rolling hills of the high plateau, dominated by the Krnovo mountain range. 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, you pass through a forest and emerge in Gornja Bijela, where farmers live and work in the same manner as they have for centuries. Continuing along the breathtaking valley, your varied path takes you through traditional farming country, orchards, forests, and small settlements.

You lead the horses down a final steep descent to “Vojnik,” a small complex built in a traditional style. This “etno village” is comprised of stone and wood bungalows and a main restaurant serving their own dairy and meat-based specialties of the region such as skorup, cicvaru, and kačamak; slow-roasted vegetables, and often fresh trout from the small local fishery.

Ride length: circa 30km - mostly fixed route, some extensions and small alterations possible within the loop.

Terrain: primarily grass roads, macadam roads. Some forest paths may require leading the horses (dependent on footing conditions). Limited stretches of asphalt through the villages.

Accommodation: Etno Village Vojnik (Twin accommodation in comfortable bungalows. Most bungalows have a bed downstairs and several beds upstairs. All bungalows have a private bathroom.)

Day 4 - Vojnik in Krusevice to the Kravica - A Ride on top of the World

Riding: 5 hours

You begin the day's journey with a steep descent through a forest to the Bijela river. Fording the river by the fishery, you then make your way up the opposite side of the valley, where you travel along a quiet country road skirting the side of the mountain. You 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 neighbouring Durmitor, Sinjavina and Drobnjaci mountain ranges.

 Your trail is grassy and forested in turn, with some macadam roads and steep climbs. You enjoy a picnic lunch in a grassy field on the edge of the forest. In the afternoon, you explore the hills. As the day winds down, you descend towards the region of Malinsko and towards the village of Strug (population in the winter: 6), where the few fiercely proud residents make their living in a traditional northern Montenegrin way: tending cattle and sheep, curing meat and making cheese.

You leave the horses in the care of a local family and transfer to your overnight accommodation in the village of Poscenje or Bijela. Traditional Montenegrin dinner. If you stay in Poscenje, it is possible to stop at a small market to get snacks and necessities en route.

Ride Length: circa 25km - mostly fixed route, some small alterations possible within the loop.

Terrain: primarily grass roads, macadam roads. One 3km quiet stretch of asphalt as you skirt a mountain range.

Accommodation: Poscenje: twin accommodation in bungalows with private bathrooms. Most bungalow have beds upstairs and one bed or sofa bed downstairs. In Bijela newly constructed rooms in a private home with twin accommodation and private bathrooms.

Day 5 - Malinnsko, Strug and the Javorje, "where in winter, the wolves dance"

Riding: 6 - 7 hours

After breakfast you transfer back up to high pastures of the Kravica. There you saddle the horses and continue your 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. Your trail follows grassy or macadam roads and is open, with some steep climbs. You 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. Your 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. You continue the day's ride on long canter paths crisscrossing the largely uninhabited Krnovo region until you again cross through the dark forest, returning to the Vucje tourist complex for dinner and overnight.

After the ride you can enjoy comfortable Vucje before a family style dinner in the restaurant with lovely fireplace.

Ride length: c. 38km mostly fixed route, some extensions and small alterations possible.

Accommodation: Overnight in twin rooms with private bathrooms.

Terrain: Macadam roads, canter stretches on grass roads.

Day 6 - Vucje to Lukovica, Exploring the High Plateaus

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

After a hearty breakfast you saddle the horses, riding out on grass and macadam paths as you make your way across the rolling high plains towards the imposing Babji Zub (Grandmother's teeth - 2277m). Your path then takes you up through karst formations until you reach your lunch spot and eventual day's destination of Mala Lukovica, a "katun" (summer shepherds village) nestled between majestic mountain ranges.

After a picnic lunch break and weather permitting, you re-saddle the horses and ride up to the glacial Kapitanovo jezero ("Captain's Lake"). The horses drink and graze while you watch the daily routine of the shepherds who make their summer home around the lake. Descending from the lake, you return to the round chalet in Mala Lukovica.

After the ride you can take a walk around the settlement; try to distinguish between sheepdog and sheep; climb a tricky rock path to the "hidden" village of your hosts' ancestors (for centuries, Montenegrins hid from an endless wave of invading soldiers in the rocky hills, building stone refuges for themselves and their animals).

Enjoy a home-cooked northern Montenegrin dinner and overnight at a round wooden house perched on a mountain, "My Dream." Your host has spent years collecting local legends from this and neighbouring settlements and loves to spend his evenings sharing his stories with his guests.

Ride Length: circa 25km - flexible route

Terrain: primarily grass roads, macadam roads, some forest paths

Accommodation: "My Dream" chalet in Mala Lukovica (5 twin, 1 double room, all with small private bathroom). Solar power for light and water - no heat in the rooms, mobile phone reception available on a nearby hill only. If it is cold, you usually all end up in the kitchen around the wood-burning oven until it is time for bed!

Day 7 - Katun Mala Lukovica to Vucje

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

After breakfast you will be descending from Mala Lukovica. Through the day, you will pass small katuns where farmers carry on the traditions of their ancestors. You will break for a relaxing lunch at the local farm/eco-campground in a small glade in the Katun of Lucica. All ingredients (potatoes, sausage, grilled vegetables, salads) are grown or raised on the premises, without chemicals. The owner's wife collects wild berries and fruits to make pomegranate, quince and rosehip juice - she mixes these with organically grown apple, carrot and beet juice for sweetness. After lunch you have a few exhilarating canters and your final descent through the dark forest brings you back to Vucje.  

After loading the horses for the trip home you then transfer back to the Mountain Riders ranch near Podgorica. En route, 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 visited by Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and Muslims alike. You may well pass pilgrims making their way up the mountain path barefoot or on their knees. Respectful clothing (no shorts, covered shoulders) is required.

Back at the Mountain Riders ranch, you will enjoy a farewell dinner and party (drinks included) and you stay at the guest house.

Ride Length: circa 25km - flexible route

Terrain: Primarily grass roads, macadam roads and some forest paths

Accommodation: Mountain Riders guest house (twin rooms with private bathrooms)

Day 8 - Farewell

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast you transfer to the Aria hotel near the Podgorica airport where you can relax around the pool and outdoor bar/restaurant until your flight (if you are departing from Tivat, your transfer will be arranged at a suitable time). Guests with a later departure can choose an optional excursion (at your own expense) to the lakeside village of Virpazar, in Lake Skadar National Park, and engage in a variety of lake-based activities such as a boat ride or kayaking. You can also add extra days at the coast. If you would like either of these additional activities to be arranged please talk to us at your time of booking.

Accommodation

Two nights in the guesthouse at the main base for your hosts, two nights in mountain chalets, two nights in mountain guesthouses and one night in a mountain hut. Single rooms are not usually available and you should be prepared to share. On the rare occasion of a single room being available then there is a supplement of 20 euro per night, payable locally.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You need to be at least an intermediate/advanced rider who is secure in the saddle at all paces. At times you will also have to dismount and lead your horse on some steep, rocky or slippery sections of the trail, including river fords with potentially slippery footing. Some days are faster than others and the pace is largely determined by the terrain.

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 6
Departure windows

Aug. 29, 2021 - Sept. 5, 2021

Sept. 26, 2021 - Oct. 3, 2021

Pricing

2021
Sharing
£1185 $1645 €1390
Single rooms are generally not available. If a single room is possible and wished for then a single supplement of €20 EUR per night is to be paid in cash on-site. You may still need to share a bathroom.
Included 7 nights Full board accommodation, starting with dinner on arrival day and ending with breakfast on departure day, packed lunch for all rides, one planned cooked lunch at Eco Campground, transfers from Podgorica to the ranch on arrival and back to Podgorica on departure (NOT the airport).
Not included Flights, airport transfers to the central meeting points, drinks, tips, private transfers.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.