Durmitor National Park

Skrcko Lake by Lazar Pejovic

UNESCO has declared Durmitor National Park a "world heritage of mankind" within the Biosphere Resource Network, an important acknowledgement, which attests to its natural, scientific, cultural and landscape value.

The park covers about 39,000 hectares and includes the entire Durmitor Massif, with an average altitude of 1,500 metres and including 48 mountain peaks over 2,000 metres high. The highest peak is Bobotov Kuk, which reaches 2,523 metres. There are also 13 glacial cirques, 18 glacial lakes, three huge canyons (Tara, Susica, and Komarnica), 748 springs and an impressive number of sink-holes, caves and other karst features. An adequate trail network helps hikers enjoy this great natural resource - indeed one of the records of Durmitor National Park is its 200 kilometres of marked trails.

As a result of the huge tectonic forces that made the massif rise, plus the effect of long-term erosion by water and ice, today the landscape has a vibrant and unrepeatable charm. The contrasting action of the geological forces is alive and easily perceived, especially in the upper part of the massif, the reign of a chaotic and extraordinary landscape of rocks, pinnacles, chasms, valleys, ice-filled karst sinkholes, horizontal strata now standing perfectly vertical, small and large faults, moraine, glacial cirques, erratic boulders from major and minor karst erosions so tortured that they almost give the impression that the stone can be heard writhing and moaning.

With its rich and diversified geology and orography, the exuberant and varied plant and animal life of Durmitor National Park come as no surprise.

Tara Canyon by Carly Calhoun

If you leave Kolasin and travel to Durmitor, the rocky buttresses covered by giant black pines (Pinus negra) of the Crna Poda reserve are the ideal introduction to Durmitor National Park, where the River Tara falls into the chasm of its very deep canyon, over one thousand metres, second only to the Grand Canyon in the United States of America.

Although divided in the typical height ranges, on the Durmitor vegetation often escapes man-made schematizations because of the diversity of the park's orography and microclimates.

The flora of the Durmitor Massif includes numerous species. We can find oak trees along with ash, hazel and beech, as well as areas that consist mainly of conifers. Many of them are well known for the colour of their flowers or their medicinal properties. Only spring can unveil the kaleidoscope of colours and scents: from late April through to July everything blooms spectacularly as the green of the mountain pastures gives way to the blue, yellow and indigo of bellflowers, gentians, anemones, calamints, violets, sage and wild thyme. White and yellow saxifrage can be found everywhere clinging to the rocks, and in the snowfields snowbells are quite common.

Wild strawberries and bilberries are abundant on the lower slopes from June to October, as well as several sorts of edible fungi.

At the edge of Durmitor National Park by Amer Kapetanovic

Indeed, the high biodiversity index is one of the elements which led to this park being proclaimed a "World Heritage Site of Mankind". A staggering 130 bird species are recorded as breeding here, including many of high conservational and scientific value (Grey Eagle and Imperial Eagle). Bird species are represented by Crested Titmouse, chaffinch, Red Crossbill, Rock Partridge and grouse. Numerous species of insects are found throughout Durmitor, including higher areas.

However, larger species of game and wild animals are rather rare - roe deer have almost completely disappeared, while we can still find chamois in higher regions in small groups. Squirrels are the most numerous of the wildlife, hare and fox are numerous both in forests and plateaux. Wolves are seldom seen and mostly around the periphery towards Mount Sinjajevina. Some strictly herbivorous species of bears are still to be seen but their numbers are extremely low.

The park museum provides some introduction to the wildlife and general naturalistic aspects of Durmitor.