Montenegro is one of the most beautiful and probably underrated destinations in Europe. Nestled in the western center of the Balkin Peninsula it is a gorgeous combination of coast and mountains with a lush national park that rivals any here in the US.
If you are looking for outdoor adventure in Europe, Montenegro is the place to go. From water sports on the coast to adventures in the mountains you’ll find something fun and exciting to do.
The Tara River runs south from Bosnia-Herzegovina into Montenegro through Durmitor National Park. It’s described as the “Grand Canyon of Europe” because it is one of the deepest river canyons in Europe at 4,300 feet at its deepest. The river is bright turquoise and the walls of the canyon are lush with plants spilling over the limestone cliffs. It is truly a beautiful place, as well as a popular place for river rafting.
Rafting the Tara River
Last June Rob and I made an excursion to the border of Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovenia to raft our way down the Tara River.
There are around 20 rafting companies operating between Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovenia taking people down the Tara. We used Tara Tour rafting company, and choose the “rest and paddle tour” package. It included a one night stay in a cabin right on the river, a huge traditional style dinner the first night, breakfast in the morning, everything we needed for river rafting (wetsuit, life jacket, helimet) along with guides, raft, and transport out to the put in spot, and a late lunch when we got back after rafting. For 60 Euros it was a pretty good deal I think.
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The Tara Tour camp is probably less than a mile from the Bosnia-Herzegovina border and a little hard to find, luckily there’s only one road out there so we didn’t get too lost. We got into camp on a drizzly afternoon and after finding the owners son, he spoke the best English, we got all checked in and settled into our little cabin. The accommodations felt a bit like summer camp, no frills but comfortable, and that evening we were treated to a feast of meat, crusty bread, and grilled veggies.
Rob and I went to bed pretty early that night, it was the beginning of the season and there weren’t too many other people there to hang around with. I’m guessing during the peak months of July and August it can be a party in the evening though.
The next morning we had a light breakfast of yogurt, fruit, toast, and coffee before getting equipped for our rafting adventure. They outfitted us with wetsuits, booties, life jackets, and helmets before we loaded up into a rad old Land Rover to head out to the put in spot.
Once on the beach our guides gave us the rundown of how our rafting trip would go. Our boat had eight people in it and we all spoke different languages, but the guides managed to get the points across to everyone with a mix of English, Montenegrin, and some miming.
This was Rob’s first time ever river rafting and my third time – we were both stoked for it!
Early in the season, April – June the water levels are higher and the rapids can be more intense, it’s also generally a bit cooler since it’s not the height of summer. During the peak months of July and August the air and water are much warmer but the river is a little mellower and the rapids aren’t as strong. So depending on your preferred level of adrenaline rush you can choose to go earlier in the season or later.
I think June was the perfect time for us. I enjoy some good rapids, but there wasn’t anything too crazy or difficult. I think it was a good balance of mellow parts and rapids especially for Rob’s first time.
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The whole tour was about two and a half hours long with a break in the middle at a little river side bungalow that had drinks and beer. We hadn’t thought to bring any money with us so we just enjoyed the break and the scenery. There’s also a waterfall up the hill that was pretty rad and everyone was getting their picture taken in it, so of course we had to as well.
When we got back to camp they had a lunch of fish stew waiting for us after we rinsed and put away all our gear. And the cook gave us a shot of a local liquor, it was really herby tasting almost like gin but not quite. He poured us a few shots, but we had to keep it low key especially since we were driving back to Kotor that afternoon.
The whole experience was awesome from the rafting camp to our guides and everyone running the camp, to the beauty of the Tara River Canyon. For an adventure that is off the beaten path and very different than anything else I’d highly recommend rafting the Tara with Tara Tour.
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