We asked our friend Janko Šćepanović from Kolašin, a professional tour guide and outdoor sports junkie who enjoys everything from skiing to snowboarding, mountain biking, climbing, rafting, canoeing, and canyoning, to share his opinion of winter tourism in Montenegro.
What is the most recognizable skiing destination in Montenegro?
From a commercial and recreational perspective, it's definitely Kolašin on Bjelasica mountain. Its the biggest resort with two lifts and about 25 km of slopes. Most of the ski slopes are blue and red, but there are a few black ones, as well as excellent tree skiing for the more advanced skiers. The town itself is quiet and cozy. There are a couple of big hotels, and a few small boutique hotels with private accommodation which make Kolašin as a destination really stand out, even to big European ski resort standards.
The picture wouldn't be complete without mentioning Durmitor and the Prokletije mountains. While Durmitor already has some old ski infrastructure paired with a few hotels and private accommodation, the Prokletije mountains virtually have zero ski infrastructure. But, they are big and rugged, and they are insulated with limitless options for snow sports, and in my opinion, this is where the future of skiing is. I would also mention a few small but charming ski destinations in the country such as the Halja mountain and Vučje resort. There is a third one, which might be the most interesting one - Lovćen mountain has two drag lifts, and one of them serves a 200-400 meters long run. In case that develops, it will be a ski destination that is a 40-minute drive from both Kotor and Tivat. Pretty cool, right?
What is your favorite skiing tour?
The majority of the mountains in Montenegro look like something Jack London would write about. They are rugged, insulated and by any standards, beautiful. So, it’s difficult to name my favorite tour, but probably Jablanov peak (Sinjajevina mountain). It has a smooth approach, a vertical drop of almost 1000 meters, and the aesthetic has elements of three different lines packed in a single run: the open bowl, little couloirs, and tree skiing. In the end, you ski right into the yard of a local organic cheese farm for some treats. But, attending any tour that starts in the Montenegro part of the Prokletije mountains and ends up on the Albanian side, that could be a one-day or multiple-day trip, is my favorite.
What is the most recognizable tour for your visitors?
There is an expression that goes “skiing isn't a winter sport anymore, it’s a snow sport, so you travel and ski where the snow is.” The typical ski-tourist is well educated; they have already been skiing at the majority of ski destinations around the world, and they are willing to spend extra money on locally produced foods and services. My area of expertise is off runway skiing or any other kind of winter sport that is performed out of the ski area boundaries. So, our clients vary from high VIP clients from Porto Montenegro and homeowners who are looking for off runway, snowcat and heliskiing, as well as ski groups from all around the world who are looking for fresh, uncrowded multiple-day touring destinations.
Janko added that snowcat skiing is recently offered in Montenegro, which is not typical for Europe, therefore combining this with heliskiing can make this region a very popular destination. In his opinion, Montenegro has to make skiing affordable for the majority of the population, while educating even more ski instructors and professional ski tour guides are essential to make ski-tourists more attracted to this amazingly beautiful place.