Travel

18 Nov 2020, 13:11 PM

November 18, 2020 - The world leader in geography, cartography, and research, "National Geographic Traveler", has ranked Montenegro as one of the world seven most attractive family holiday destinations in 2021.

National Geographic Traveler (UK) published the list "Best of the World 2021", revealing inspiring stories about 35 extraordinary places, and in the article "The best of the world: seven unforgettable family trips for 2021 and beyond", Montenegro, as the second on the list, side by side with world destinations such as Japan, USA, Canada, and Great Britain.

The list of "Best of the World 2021" consists of five categories - sustainability, nature and wilderness, adventure, culture and history, and family travel. Each of them is characterized by excellent destinations with a relevant story for the coming year. Profiling inspiring places, communities, and innovations, the list provides an optimistic number of places to escape from reality and what precautions should be taken due to the pandemic by those who want to travel around the world.

Montenegro on the National Geographic Traveler's Top Family Destinations List for 2021

Bikes, hikes, and zip-wire adventures

How does Montenegro fit so much in? This Adriatic escape is smaller than Northern Ireland, yet bursting with snow-capped mountains, jewel-box lakes, rushing rivers, charming towns, and gregarious locals. Cheaper and less visited than neighboring Croatia, yet for so long, its bridesmaid, 2021 looks like a breakthrough year.

Adventurous families will be in their element here. Five national parks protect over 60 peaks where hiking, biking, canyoning, and rafting are options. Tour operators like Responsible Travel, Families Worldwide, and UTracks have active itineraries, and a Tailor Made Rail trip added last year reminds us that you can also get there by train, including a stint on the stunning Belgrade-to-Bar route.

It's not all about adventure, of course. Montenegro's is a short but glittering coastline (avoid the crowds by visiting in shoulder season). A new hotel action includes an elegant Avanti in Buda and the One & Only Portonovi, set to open in spring at Boka Bay, close to the terracotta-topped town of Kotor. Marriott plans to bring the Ritz-Carlton brand to Montenegro in 2023, too.

Original article by National Geographic Traveler
https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2020/11/best-of-the-world-2021-family

18 Nov 2020, 12:29 PM

November 18, 2020 - At the airports in Tivat and Podgorica, passenger numbers have decreased by 80.5 percent compared to last year. After Slovenia, this is the second-worst result for the air industry in the region.

Montenegro has the second-largest rate of air traffic decline from the countries of the region of the former Yugoslavia, the specialized web portal ExYu Aviation announced yesterday, referring to the data of the International Airport Council ACI (Airport Council International), writes Vijesti.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at the airports in Tivat and Podgorica passenger numbers decreased by 80.5 percent from January 1 to September 30. Only Slovenia has a slightly worse result in the former Yugoslavia region, where the drop in the number of passengers in air traffic for the first three quarters of this year was 81.5 percent. Croatia has seen a decline of 79.2 percent compared to the first nine months of last year, Bosnia and Herzegovina 78.3, while Serbia declined 68.7 percent compared to the end of the third quarter of 2019, a figure that is relatively close to the European average this year.

Airports in Europe had an average drop in traffic of 67 percent from January to the end of September this year, due to a pandemic. A decrease in the volume of air traffic of 68.5 percent compared to the end of the third quarter of last year was also recorded by Macedonia, while in Kosovo, it decreased by 60.6 percent.

The detrimental effect of coronavirus on tourism and the travel industry is best evidenced by data on the drop in traffic at airports in the former Yugoslavia, which are primarily focused on providing services to tourists coming to spend their summers on the Adriatic coast.

Original text 

Thus, in the first nine months of this year, among the ten busiest airports in the former state, the greatest reduction in traffic, a fall of 87.7 percent compared to the same period last year - was recorded by Dubrovnik Airport. Tivat Airport had a traffic drop of 86 percent and in nine months served only 172,493 passengers. The situation is similar in Split, which had 78.9 percent fewer passengers in the first nine months of this year compared to last year. A similar drop of 81.5 percent was recorded at the airport in Ljubljana, which was reflected in the fact that Slovenia recently lost its national airline. "Adria Airways," which performed most of the air traffic in Slovenia, went bankrupt.

According to ACI data, the airport in Podgorica served a total of 278,005 passengers in the first nine months of this year, 73 percent less than in the same period last year.

25 Oct 2020, 11:09 AM

October 25, 2020 - Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina are to build the joint border crossings Šćepan Polje - Hum, on the road Plužine - Foča, Zupci - Sitnica on the road Herceg Novi - Trebinje and Ilino Brdo - Klobuk on the road Nikšić - Trebinje. The announcement was made by the Prime Minister of Montenegro Dusko Markovic, who together with the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Zoran Tegeltija and the Head of the European Union Delegation to Montenegro Ambassador Oana Cristina Popa opened the joint road border crossing Vracenovici - Deleusa on the road Niksic - Bileca.

The Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro recalled that the EU had provided Montenegro with 20 million euros of support to make its borders safer and more efficient, as envisaged by the national strategy for integrated border management.

The Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina said that in the coming years, other border crossings between Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina would be as they should be in the 21st century, hoping that one day there will be no need for border crossings.

Construction of the joint border crossing Vraćenovići - Deleuša began on February 27 this year after Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina determined the locations of future reciprocal border crossings.

The Director of the Commission for Borders in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Montenegro, Milan Paunović, explained that the joint border crossing has three lanes in each direction plus one lane for trucks. There is customs control on each side, and police control is joint.

22 Oct 2020, 20:20 PM

October 22, 2020 - The National Tourist Organization of Montenegro and the local tourist organization of Tivat, with the support of the hotel "Regent Porto Montenegro" and "The Chedi Lustica Bay," have organized a study visit by representatives of one of the most famous music television channels in Russia "Muz-TV" - the Russian MTV, who are staying in Montenegro from October 21 to 26.

The five-member news team from"Muz-TV" is in Montenegro to record a travel show "Vacation Without Trips" (Holiday Without Travel), through which viewers will have the opportunity to get acquainted with what's on offer to tourists in the coastal, central and northern regions of our country. The author of the show "Vacation Without Trips" (Holiday Without Travel) is famous Russian host and influencer Andrei Razigraev, who visits destinations worldwide, explores exciting stories from the local population, and offers advice on what to experience in the area.

Footage for the show will be filmed in ​​Tivat, Kotor, Herceg Novi, Budva, Cetinje, Danilovgrad, Plužine and Žabljak.

The journalists, who are currently staying in Tivat, had the opportunity to visit the rural household "Pony Art Garden" in Luštica, to cruise the Bay of Kotor and visit Kotor and Perast. Continuing their visit, they will see the Capital of Cetinje, NP Lovćen, and the village of Njeguši.

Representatives of "Muz-TV" will visit the north of Montenegro, Plužine, and Žabljak, where they will have the opportunity to experience something of what is offered in terms of active nature holidays, through the tour Ring around Durmitor. They will record footage on Black Lake and try the zip line on Đurđevića Tara.

"Muz-TV" is one of the most famous music televisions in Russia with a viewership of over 1 million, and their Youtube channel "Muz-TV" has a high rating, with about 1.36 million views per month. The TV show "Otpusk bez putevki" (Holiday Without Travel) is most-watched among the audience's younger and middle generation. The episode filmed in Montenegro will be premiered by the end of this year.

18 Oct 2020, 22:01 PM

October 18, 2020 - Solila Nature Reserve has been the focus of media interest in recent days. At the online conference "Global Green Destination Days 2020", Tivat was declared one of the Top 100 Green Destinations, among other things, based on the successful management of the Solila Nature Reserve, which was nominated as a "Good Practice Story."

Another piece of news that aroused great public interest was the welcome return of the most eminent guests among wetland birds. After more than ten years, flamingos have arrived in Solila again!

"The presence of flamingos is a symbol and confirmation of the commitment to protect endangered and rare wetlands, and we hope that they will be regular guests," said the Solila Nature Reserve.

solila flamingosi milkicFlamingos, Photo by M.Mitkić

Tivat Solila throughout history - from salt grains to bird habitats

Tivat salt pans (between Tivat airport and the Lustica peninsula) are located on the Adriatic Migration Corridor and serve as the last resting and feeding ground for migratory birds on their way to the south. For a certain number of birds, they are also a wintering ground.

Researchers found the first data on the salt basins of the Tivat salt pans in medieval writings, emphasizing their significance for neighboring Kotor's economy, based on salt production and sale. Even the Statute of this city regulated the production, import, export, and sale of salt. Back in 1683, when this area was under Turkish occupation, it is described that the place where Solila is located today was essential for salt production, representing 81% of the total income of the local population.

According to the data from the historical archives, the work on Solila always took place under the watchful eye of solar workers (preparation of bases, construction of dams, canals, ditches). The salt harvest, which took place at the end of summer, included a locally able-bodied population and draft cattle.

solila old

Old photo of Solila

According to historical sources, in 1425, the saltworks had 109 plots. Twenty 24 belonged to Metropolitan Zeta, 27 - to the population of Lustica, 10 - to Djurasevici, 32 - to Kotor, and 16 - to well-known Kotor families. Salt marshes have been continuously the "apple of discord" between neighboring countries. When the salt marshes ceased to be used for their intended purpose, birds began to come here.

The area of ​​Solila is located as a saltworks on all historical maps of this area.

Tivat's Municipality started the construction of a new saltworks in the sixties of the last century, based on the project from 1956 and 1959. Works were performed on two occasions- from 1959 to 1961, and in 1963. A new Saltworks was formed in which, according to some accounts, had only two harvesting seasons.

During the new saltworks' construction, the Municipality invested in the Široka river's regulation, a peripheral canal construction, and works on the main sea embankment structure.

solila andjelko stjepčevićSolila, Photo by Andjelko Stjepčević

However, when the establishment of a new saltworks in the Solila area began, salt from North African saltworks began to arrive on the European market, where the costs of salt production, due to favorable natural conditions and significant wind, were significantly lower those on the northern shores of the Mediterranean.

It caused the decline of about 200 smaller, traditional salt pans in the Mediterranean and even those in Solila.

With a decision of 2007, the Solila area was protected as a unique, special nature reserve to preserve plant and animal species, primarily ornithofauna.

We must state that some irresponsible individuals have been dumping various types of waste in Solila for years, and poachers have killed everything that flies. Thanks to the Public Company "Morsko Dobro," the manager of this area, the Municipality of Tivat, the Tourist Organization of Tivat, and the Center for Protection and Study of Birds, Solila over time has become an ecotourism and birdwatching destination, with info points, a visitor center, renovated bridges, observation posts, seating, and a tourist guide service. 

One hundred fourteen (114) species of birds have been registered in Solila. However, the list is not even close to bieng finalized because several new species choose the habitat every year. Since 526 bird species have been recorded in Europe so far, the number of birds present in this lagoon makes up more than 20 percent of the total number of species of European ornithofauna.

solila a

Out of 342 registered bird species in Montenegro, 114 species have been registered in Solila itself. And as many as 109 observed species enjoy some form of protection. All this indicates precisely how vital the Solila themselves are for the ornithofauna of Montenegro. Here we can often meet species such as seagulls, whistling duck, wild duck, gray heron, sparrowhawk, little grebe, and others. The most valuable species of birds are the Java cormorant, pebble, flamingo, and sea hawk. It is a perfect place for bird watching. In addition to birds, about 14 species of rare amphibians and reptiles live here, of which three species are threatened with extinction.

Ibises, spoon herons, storks, and flamingos have been spotted. As a curiosity, we point out that eight black ibises (lat. Plegadis falcinellus, Engl. Glossy ibis) spent time on Solila last year.

"These migratory birds, otherwise known from Egyptian mythology, nest in Europe and places in the Balkans, and they are also widespread in Africa and Asia. Until a few decades ago, ibises were on the brink of extinction due to the destruction of their habitats in wetlands. However, by protecting wetlands and raising environmental awareness, today, it can be said that the ibis population has recovered.

In our reserve, we also host a beautiful spoonbill heron (lat. Platalea leucorodia, Engl. Eurasian spoonbill), which has a characteristic spoon-shaped beak and a tuft on the head. Her body is covered with white feathers, while her legs and beak are black. This heron belongs to the ibis family and can reach a height of up to 1 m and weigh about 1 kg.

Spoonbills live in humid areas where they feed on small fish, frogs, crabs, and sometimes aquatic plants. They nest in sedges, bushes, and nests low above the water, and according to the information of the Center for Protection and Study of Birds, in Montenegro, they nest only on the island of Paratuk on the river Bojana, where 32 pairs are registered ", information from the Solila reserve states.

tivat solila

These days, the Anas clypeata, which differs from other ducks with its specific, spoon-shaped beak, rests in the salt marshes. This widespread species nests in Europe, Asia, and North America, while spending the winter in the southern regions. In the Solila Nature Reserve, in 2018, the first nesting and the first cub of this duck species were recorded.

Baljoška, ​​a fox as the locals call it, fuliga (Fulica atra) is always among the first heralds of autumn migration in reserve.

This autumn, storks and flamingos are a real confirmation that we are on the right path of preserving one of the pearls of the Bay of Kotor, the Solila Nature Reserve.

Tivat saltworks - from salt grains to bird habitats, is part of the project "Tivat Breviary," which was funded through the NGO Projects Funds Provided by the Municipality of Tivat

14 Oct 2020, 21:15 PM
October 14, 2020 - The Covid-19 epidemic has had a devastating effect on Tivat's tourism industry figures this year. According to official Monstat data, the city recorded a 78.5% drop in tourist arrivals over an eight-month period, compared to the same period last year, while the number of overnight stays fell by 77.3%.
 
The figures were announced today at a press conference at which the Tourist Organization of Tivat presented its report on the work for the first three quarters of 2020.
 
The Director of TOT, Danica Banjević, pointed out that in the first eight months of this year, a total of 25,715 tourists visited the Tivat Riviera, and 208,725 overnight stays were recorded, which is an incomparably worse result than the previous year.
 
After excellent results and an increase in traffic compared to the same period in 2019 for the first two months of this year, the coronavirus epidemic, which began in mid-March, literally decimated tourist traffic and led to the previously record results and large number of bookings being reduced to almost zero.
 
"It's not just something that has happened to us, Covid-19 has had devastating effects on tourism around the world. According to the World Tourism Organization WTO, as of June, globally there were 65% fewer tourist arrivals, while the Mediterranean's decline was even more pronounced and amounted to 72%. Because of everything that is happening with the pandemic, it is impossible to predict what next year will bring in terms of tourism and what the situation will be with the virus worldwide. Still, we all hope that there will not be so many restrictions on the movement of people." Banjević added that TOT, in talks with representatives of the local tourism industry, will plan its activities and promotional campaign for the 2021 season, but at the same time continue with other strategic projects, such as better positioning of Tivat for the so-called MICE tourism, i.e. the beginning of Tivat's certification as an internationally recognized so-called green tourist destination.
 
She pointed out that 2020 was a significant tourist year and that what had happened in recent months cannot be compared to previous years. Also, TOT looks at the tourist deadlines in Tivat for determining the predominant profile of guests. Here their economic and consumer purchasing power is analyzed, alongside their preferences and motivations, and with that information the local tourist sector can improve what it offers, promoting Tivat alongside competing destinations in Montenegro and the wider Adriatic and Ionian Sea region.
 
The results of the tourist survey, which, despite extraordinary circumstances, was conducted this year in August and September, on a reduced sample of a total of 107 private accommodation providers, foreign and tourists from the countries of the former Yugoslavia, showed that Tivat attracts mostly younger and highly educated clients. Those tourists spent an average of 457 euros on arrangements in Tivat this summer, while the average daily consumption per visitor was just over 65 euros.
 
Guests stayed in Tivat for an average of 6 to 10 days. Most of them had excellent impressions, which is why they stated that they would return here again and recommend Tivat as a holiday destination. Answering a total of 30 questions about various aspects of what the local tourist sector has to offer, the tourists surveyed gave Tivat a relatively high average rating of 3.92, with guests expressing exceptional satisfaction with the quality of accommodation and services, staff friendliness, and food quality. In contrast, the weakest ratings were received by local traffic and, in general, road traffic infrastructure.
 
Coronavirus also significantly reduced this year's financial income for the Tourist Organization of Tivat, so in ten months their coffers received just over 248 thousand euros, which is almost 59% less than at the end of the third quarter of 2019. The massive drop in income of the overnight tourist tax amounts to 76%, which is expected due to the drastically smaller number of tourists than last year. In contrast, revenues from collecting tourist tax and membership fees to TOT increased by 16 and 11 percent, respectively.
 

317 YACHTS ARRIVED IN TIVAT IN THE NINE MONTH PERIOD 

According to TOT data, a total of 317 yachts arrived in the marinas of the Tivat Riviera in the first nine months of this year.
 
A total of EUR 15,528 of overnight tourist tax for nautical tourism facilities was collected from these vessels, of which 80%, i.e., EUR 12,422, went to the Tourist Organization of Tivat, the rest going to the National TO of Montenegro.
07 Oct 2020, 17:10 PM
October 7, 2020 - Tivat was proclaimed one of the winners of the Sustainable Top 100 Destination Awards of 2020 at today's ceremony, held as part of the Global Green Destinations Days (GGDD20). The awards were held for the sixth time in a row. Applications for the prize were open to all countries of the world.
 
In June this year, the Tourism Organization of Tivat, in cooperation with the Public Enterprise for Coastal Zone Management of Montenegro- Morsko Dobro, applied for the Sustainable Top 100 Destinations for 2020.
There were more than 150 applicants in the competition.
 
As it is known, Montenegro and its municipalities, including Tivat, are still far from being perfect in the real sense of sustainability and its deeper aspects. Having that in mind, this is an excellent recognition of the efforts to be "Safe, Smart, Sustainable" and very encouraging towards further sustainable development of Tivat and Montenegro. 
 
"This is confirmation that with the convincing Good Practice Story- the successful change in management of Tivatska Solila (Tivat Saltpan), that has been transformed into a Special Nature Reserve and a Ramsar site, and the reporting in the first 15 sustainability criteria by the Tourism Organization and the Municipality of Tivat- we have demonstrated many good initiatives realized in this city, both by the public and private sector," states Danica Banjevic, the local tourism organization's director.
 
tivat solila 3
Tivat Salina, Source: FB
 
International experts of Green Destinations have assessed these efforts as significant for obtaining this prestigious recognition.
 
In cooperation with the public, private and civil sectors, the Tourism Organization of Tivat continues its work in this field, stated the local TO director. At the end of October, a second two-day educational workshop is planned to define concrete next steps: Tivat intends to begin 2021 with the demanding 3-level certification process "Award and Certification Program" of Green Destinations. 
 
"This means that we have to put a lot of effort into development, monitoring, and reporting - according to a total of 100 criteria. Tivat will gain information on the development level regarding destination sustainability, as well as guidelines for further improvements by international advisors and auditors, selected by Green Destinations," Banjevic continues.
 
"On this occasion, the Tourism Organization would like to thank all its associates. First of all, participants of the first workshop held in June in Tivat, the Public Enterprise "Morsko Dobro", as one of the key applicants in this nomination, as well as colleagues from the Secretariat for Investments, Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development, the Secretariat for Communal Affairs and Transport, the Secretariat for Tourism and Entrepreneurship, the Secretariat for Culture and Social Affairs, companies DOO "Komunalno" Tivat, Brand New Tivat, Protection and Rescue Service, Environmental Protection Agency, The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, UNDP, the strategic partners Porto Montenegro and Luštica Bay, as well as the NGO Expeditio that assisted in the application process and helped us become winners of this prestigious award." Danica Banjevic expresses her gratitude for the excellent cooperation with all stakeholders and partners.
 
Links:
2020 Sustainable Top 100 Destinations with their Good Practice Stories and a film: https://greendestinations.org/sustainabletop100/
Global Green Destination Days 2020 – worldwide online conference (all presentations are recorded and shared): https://greendestinations.org/events/ggdd20-home/
 
21 Sep 2020, 21:25 PM
September 21, 2020 - Montenegro - Wild Beauty, says the National Tourism Organisation's slogan. These days, it seems, we all love it. We all defend it. It is promising that some influencers have announced that they will go to "defend it from the wood." Maybe then we'll cut them less without control, maybe fewer rivers will end up in pipes. This beautiful country is often unknown to its citizens - few have discovered all its beauties. And they seem to be without number. Among those being late in learning is the author of these lines. Who on this occasion will take you on a tour of the northeastern part of Montenegro - the massif of Prokletije Mountain and surrounding attractions.
 
montenegro you can do it
Discovering Montenegro- Slopes of Prokletije, Photo by Antonela Stjepčević
 
Are we going to Prokletije for the weekend? I said let's go, although I didn't think any more of what the venture would be about. A good team, a plan to spend three days in nature - there wasn't too much to think about. Still, when I was left alone, I remembered that the mountain was called Prokletije. The name is ominous - in our language, it means something damned, haunted, dangerous, inaccessible. I also remembered my lousy condition. Still, whatever may lie ahead, let's go to Prokletije.
 
The 10-member team left Tivat on Friday afternoon. The journey through Podgorica, Kolašin, Andrijevica, and Gusinje to the valley of Grebaja, where we were located, takes effectively about five hours. From Podgorica, we headed through the Morača canyon towards Kolašin - our coffee and food supply station before the weekend in the mountains. From there, we took the highway to the separation of the regional road Kolašin-Andrijevica, which leads through a picturesque forest intersected by clearings where the low-lying villages are located. Houses mostly along the road, and backyards full of apple trees, whose full branches bend towards the road. Well, apples are seen even in the dark; we stood twice to eat sweet fruits with the scent of autumn. We already knew then, and became even more convinced on the way back, that you have to drive through this forest during the day. But let's go back to the beginning. We are just starting our journey.
 
montenegro ocnjak svi
Grebaja Valley, Prokletije, Photo by Milan Lučić
 
If the North East of Montenegro was compared to any other country, it would be Switzerland first. Above the forests and glades, Prokletije mountain climbs as cruel as the Alps. And the villages and towns that are located under its slopes bathe in the colorful autumn. The towns we passed through are quiet, peaceful, although Friday night in Montenegro is traditionally reserved for young generations. It was interesting to see that there are not many girls on the streets, mostly boys sitting together in cafes. They spot our cars with the license plates of coastal cities; we see that the summer marked by coronavirus is behind them as well. In previous years, this part of Montenegro attracted a lot of attention from tourists worldwide. According to the Manager of the hunting ground "Prokletije", Mr. Xhevad Hot, most of the guests came from Western European countries.
 
"They know much better than our people how to recognize and appreciate the beauties of nature that await them here. They come informed, well prepared; they understand that sheer rocks are waiting for them. They return from the mountain carrying the garbage they collected along the way," says Xhevad, emphasizing that he is ashamed when he has to tell them who left the trash behind and why. It doesn't make sense to civilized people. Although, if you ask me - Prokletije is the best-preserved national park in Montenegro. Although Mr. Hot has many objections to the way the Public Company "National Parks of Montenegro" and the Administration of the Prokletije National Park operate, there is less inappropriate construction in this part of our country than in other regions. Which in itself means that the damage, where it exists, will be easier to repair.
 
From Gusinje to the Grebaja valley, from where you start the most popular hiking tours in the part of Prokletije called Karanfili, takes about 15 minutes' drive. The road is in good condition, and you can easily get there with a small city car. Xhevad greeted us with a smile even though we arrived after ten o'clock in the evening. Tired from the trip, but eager to connect with the mountain, we had dinner under the open sky. 
 
Our team member Matija is the only one who has had the opportunity to mountaineer on Prokletije before. If we knew what was in store for us, at least half of the participants would have given up at the start. Yet now that everything is behind us, we can only say a big thank you to him.
 
After breakfast and a quick coffee prepared by Xhevad and a hardworking hostess of the Ethno-village "Maja Karanfili", we have to get moving. Matija shows us the peak of Očnjak, which rises in the sky under the clouds as the first rays of the sun rest on it - it was difficult for me to reach it with my eyes. Well, here we go, says Matija. Xhevad has been the hunting ground manager in Prokletije for 20 years, so it goes without saying that he knows the mountain well. His advice is to opt for a less demanding climb - the top of Voluščica offers a beautiful view as well, and the climbing is much easier and less dangerous. I'm silent, rooting for Voluščica. But I don't want to be a killjoy. I'll go. Wherever.
 
Matija is a young man in his twenties. Healthy, smiling, full of strength. It turned out he was also very patient. It is not difficult to get our captain Milan on adrenaline, and eight girls decided to be ambitious. That's how it all started. At ten in the morning, uphill.
 
montenegro start ocnjak
Determined to reach Očnjak, Photo by Milan Lučić
 
montenegro uphill
Matija encurages the girls, Photo by Milan Lučić
Already after the first ten minutes of walking, muscle pain caught up with me. I thought I was going to roll back. But it was a dangerous idea even at the beginning. The Grebaje Valley is located at 1141 m above sea level. The peak we climb is 2185 meters high. And the length of the route is only three kilometers. So from the very base, the ascent starts vertically. But there is Matija. He runs up and down the rocks, springs from the woods, and gives encouraging words to those in the most trouble at any given moment. The muscles are warming up slowly, and the brain is also learning how to send a signal to the body -"You can do it!"
With a lot of mutual encouragement and laughter, we managed to reach the rest area, located some halfway to the top. It was hard to decide what to do first - take off your shoes or drink water. There was about a two-hour walk behind us. We had crossed barren mountain lands, traversed several groves, and climbed a ditch full of nettles. Constantly at an incline of over 30 degrees, with not a second of rest for the head. Because - if you climb on Prokletije, you have to be aware of your every step. One mistake is enough to give you an injury that can keep you in the mountains much longer than you planned, instead of savouring the victory that awaits you at the top. But let's not dwell on any negatives. I have much more to say and show you.
 
montenegro ocnjak rest
Photo by Milan Lučić
A rest under the pine tree was a pure privilege. After half an hour we moved on, to much harder terrain. Not only because of fatigue, but becasue the most challenging part of the journey was yet to come. 
 
montenegro go go girls
Photo by Antonela Stjepčević
 
Come on, girls, we can do it! If one's strength or will fails, or we admit fear - Matija is, here again. He explains, coaxes, offers mountaineering aids, and is even ready to drag one of us uphill. Not allowing him to, she grits her teeth and continues to climb. The sticks we make from beech branches along the way are of great help. You distribute the weight; the muscles suffer less when they work together. But soon enough the sticks will no longer be of much use to us. We climb almost on all fours. I decide not to look down. The worst thing that can happen to me now is fear. It is what it is. A few more minutes, and here we are. At least that's what Matija says. I have no choice; I trust him all the time.
 
montenegro matija
montenegro ocnjak 1
montenegro ocnjak last steps
Photos by Milan Lučić
 
The last part of the trail is a vertical climb along the rock, equipped with a hiking cable. As we do not have the proper mountaineering equipment and the opportunity to connect, I realize that this is the end for me. I settle down comfortably under a rock and my gaze follows the bravest among us. Congratulations to them. Here they are on one of the highest peaks in Montenegro. 2185 meters above sea level—well-done boys and girls!
 
montenegro ocnjak girls on the top
Očnjak Peak, 2185 m, Photo by Milan Lučić
montenegro ocnjak view
Očnjak View, Prokjletije, Photo by Milan Lučić
 
I will not write about the way back through Očnjak. That part of the story still hurts a lot, especially in my thigh muscles. But it was worth all the pain. The whole being should feel the taste of going beyond one's boundaries from time to time.
 
For me it was an excellent opportunity to fight with myself. To realise that with the power of will, you can conquer even the highest mountain peaks. Both in a literal and in a metaphorical sense. If you are unsure how much you can do - go hiking right away.
 
montenegro ocnjak back
Photo by Milan Lučić
 
 Most of the team arrived in the Grebaja Valley around five in the afternoon. The other three of us more than an hour after them. Tired but proud of ourselves and determined to prepare better for the next expedition. After eight hours of hiking, I could only go to sleep. I missed the barbecue, the walk under the starry sky. Yet I gathered the strength necessary for the program that awaited us on Sunday.
 
With breakfast, I took the opportunity to spend some more time with Xhevad. He was happy that we had returned safely from the mountain.
 
"Prokletije are harsh mountains. There's a big difference in altitude; a mountaineer must be physically fit, accustomed to the mountain, and aware of its dangers. Although the Prokletije National Park was formally established in 2011, very little has been done regarding arrangement and management. We try to inform our guests and take care of who leaves when and where and react quickly if he does not return on time. We also try to provide mountain users with flyers with marked hiking trails to find their way as easily as possible. The courses are correctly marked, but we cannot just rely on that," says Mr. Hot, who also points out that there have been no accidents with guests at Prokletije and that they will do their best to keep it that way.
 
"Montenegro is a beautiful country, but we are missing a lot. Above all, we lack environmental awareness. Our own people are the ones who pollute the surroundings. We lack functional institutions that do their job. The employees of the National Park must know the mountain; they must be ready to answer all questions. They must have guides available to interested visitors. So, a lot needs to be organized, and organized better," says Xhevad Hot.
 
He says that we were great guests and that he is sure that we will return to Prokletije. I can tell you that he is right. We are great, and we'll be back for sure.
 
ocnjak peak
Grebaja Valley, Karanfili, Photo by Antonela Stjepčević
 
The day after the ascent to Očnjak, it was even more spectacular to look at it from the valley. You could spend a good few hours enjoying it with a coffee, tea, or indeed a homemade apple or pear brandy. The air was gentle, clean, the sun breaking through the peaks. However, when already visiting this part of Montenegro, it is a pity not to see some more attractions. The first on our list was Ali Pasha's Springs near Gusinje.
 
ali pasha springs
Ali Pasha's Springs, Photo by Antonela Stjepčević 
ali pasha springs 1
Ali Pasha's Springs, Photo by Antonela Stjepčević
 
Although the water is currently at its lowest level, we can see how this river is formed. Ali Pasha's Springs is located at a distance of 1.5 km south of Gusinje and erupts at the foot of Prokletije at 925m above sea level. It overflows widely at first, and then flows towards the fast and sparkling river Grlja, making the river Vruja. 
 
One of the attractions at the foot of Prokletije is the Grlja waterfall, which we did not want to miss, although by looking at Ali Pasha's Springs we could already tell that there would be a lack of water. We did not find the waterfall, just a little water at its base. Yes this was enough to reflect the top of the rock. So Grlja remains in our memory as a beautiful woman who hid in the mountains.
 
montenegro women
Grlja Waterfall, Photo by Antonela Stjepčević
 
Our captain Milan was tireless. If we stopped and thought we were tired enough, his boyish playfulness would embarrass us. But it was also an experience for all of us. We had not made a mistake yet when we listened to him. We knew we wouldn't this time either. But we didn't think he was about to show us one of the most beautiful places we had ever seen, and not only in Montenegro.
 
After visiting the natural attractions of Gusinje, our destination was the Municipality of Plav. First of all, to see the Plav Lake, and then discover a much smaller and more inaccessible - Hridsko Lake located at an altitude of 1900 meters among pine trees.
 
To reach Hridsko Lake, you need something sturdier than a sports or small city car. The drive through the forest and across the glades takes about an hour, and the lake itself can only be reached on foot. Let's hope it stays that way.
 
hridsko lake 1
Hridsko Lake, Photo by Antonela Stjepčević
 
We left the cars at the end of the road and headed downhill, picking blueberries and raspberries along the way, which are so sweet and irresistible that they made our progress to the lake much slower. The trail leads across glades, then down the slope of vast rocks dressed in green-yellow lichens. Pine forest, raspberries, blueberries, step by step to a hoop of pine trees at a height obscuring the view. Only this climb left, and then one of the most beautiful lakes opens out before your eyes.
 
Words cannot do its beauty justice. See for yourself in the photos that follow.
 
montenegro hridsko lake 1
Hridsko Lake, 1968 meters above sea level, Photo by Milan Lučić
montenegro hridsko lake
Photo by Antonela Stjepčević
montenegro hridsko lake 2
Photo by Milan Lučić
hridsko 2
hridsko
 
So beautiful you are, my Montenegro! And Prokletije - you are certainly not damned, but gorgeous in your beauty. In addition to breathtaking views, the landscape offers self-confidence training, training on how to respect nature, and of course endurance drills. And above all, an awareness of how important it is to always be aware of ourselves in space and time. Then, no height is unattainable. Not a single peak unconquerable.
 
montenegro girls
Photo by Sara Stevanović
18 Sep 2020, 00:01 AM
September 18, 2020 - Testing for coronavirus, or PCR test, can recently be done in a private laboratory in Podgorica, for 80 euros. The private health institution "MojLab", founded at the end of August, announced yesterday that in addition to serological and rapid tests, PCR analyzes are also being performed, the results of which are obtained in 24 hours, Vijesti writes.
 
The owner of the newly opened institution is Milan Mijović, and the director is Najdana Gligorović Barhanović, until recently the director of the Center for Clinical and Laboratory Diagnostics at the Clinical Center of Montenegro (KCCG).
 
Meanwhile, the Institute of Public Health (IPH) sent more than 1,000 samples to Germany. The IPH announced on Monday that the huge influx of materials for processing led to the fact that about 1,300 samples are waiting for analysis. It is the situation they found themselves in at the beginning of July when about 2,000 pieces were analyzed in Germany.
 
PCR analyzes have been performed since the beginning of the year only in the IPH, whose human and technical capacities are burdened, and the opening of a new laboratory in KC has been announced for October.
 
Are there rules for cooperation between IPH and private institutions?
The IPH has previously appealed to private health institutions who have a PCR device to help with the public health response to the coronavirus epidemic, but no private-public partnership has taken place.
 
From one of the laboratories that own this machine, "Vijesti" was previously told that they have a device for PCR diagnostics and an information system for coding patients, but that they did not discuss possible cooperation with the authorities.
 
"Maybe we would get involved, provided that we get samples and that the Institute keeps records of positives and takes over further treatment and surveillance of contacts. All that is still undefined, the rules must be precise and respected ", they said then.
 
Numerous categories of the population, such as passengers in international traffic, have not been able to pay for a PCR test for months and do it with a private individual or IPH. Some sailors paid 450 euros for this test to the Dubrovnik clinic "Marin Med" through the eponymous health institution whose headquarters are in Kotor.
17 Sep 2020, 22:31 PM
September 17, 2020 - The World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), which represents the global private travel and tourism sector, has awarded Montenegro the international Safe Travels label, for which all participants in the tourism sector can apply to the National Tourism Organization.
 
It is a specially designed label due to the health crisis Covid-19, which allows passengers to recognize destinations and companies around the world that have adopted global standards of health and hygiene, as an essential prerequisite for safe travel.
 
The WTTC Safe Travels label confirms that the safety protocols and measures adopted by the Institute of Public Health of Montenegro in cooperation with the competent institutions in the field of tourism are in line with global protocols, the National Tourism Organization announced. They believe that in the given circumstances, this is a significant step for gaining the trust of tourists, recovery and sustainable development of this branch, which is of strategic importance for the country's economy.
 
The operator of the Safe Travels label in Montenegro is the National Tourism Organization, which invites all interested participants in the tourism sector - hotels, restaurants, airlines, tour operators, transport providers, airports and others - to apply, provided they meet and implement standards defined by health protocols.
 
For more information, those interested can contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
Holders of the Safe Travels label in Europe are also Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine and Turkey, and the program includes 20 countries of the United States of America (USA), Africa, the Middle East and Pacific Asia.
16 Sep 2020, 13:14 PM
September 16, 2020 - The Secretariat for Tourism and Entrepreneurship and the Tourist Organization of Tivat will bear the costs of certification of individual registered issuers of tourist accommodation for obtaining the EU Eco-label certificate, considering trends that more and more guests, tourists, and high-paying clients are considering their contribution to environmental protection.
 
Tourism is the industry that has suffered the most significant losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will unequivocally experience the most significant transformation in the years to come. As we know it, mass tourism is probably a thing of the past, while sustainability is becoming the principle idea behind the future tourism development of many different destinations. In this sense, Tivat can boast several quality initiatives that are pushing the city towards becoming a recognizable green destination worldwide.
 
In the last 15 years, Montenegro has experienced accelerated tourism development, which cannot be said to have been planned and developed strategically with a clear vision of its direction and goals. Without a doubt, as can be easily seen in the landscape, environmental responsibility, and sustainability in the broadest sense of the word were not the main criteria for defining development policies. I there had been a strategic approach at all.  The current year has shown us that a country's economy cannot rely on a secondary economic branch such as tourism. It has also demonstrated that sustainability in tourism is what all destinations that intend to survive require, finding themselves in a new, post-COVID-19 tourist map of the world.
 
Bearing in mind the negative consequences that the pandemic has on tourism, primarily on the private accommodation sector, the Municipality of Tivat, in cooperation with UNDP, has launched an initiative to support this area. The Secretariat for Tourism and Entrepreneurship and the Tourist Organization of Tivat will bear the costs of certification for individual registered accommodation providers to obtain the EU Eco-label certificate.
 
eu eco label
EU Eco-label Logo
 
The EU Eco-label is the leading ecolabel in Europe, established in 1992 by a European Commission regulation, to enable service users to identify products and services that are less harmful to the environment. The EU Eco-label is also a confirmation that certain products and services meet high environmental protection standards. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the negative impact of consumption and production on the environment, health, and climate change. Certified tourist facilities with this stamp of quality have an advantage over the competition and can attract guests with higher purchasing power worldwide.
 
The Municipality of Tivat sent an invitation to providers of private accommodation on September 10, and the interest expressed exceeded the support plan for this year on the first day. The support they provide in cooperation with the Tourist Organization of Tivat includes covering the costs of the audit, registration fee, and two-year fees for the use of the label, which represents a value of € 590 per facility. Although under this funding tranche, support for obtaining the EU Eco-label certificate will be provided for only ten applicants, the Secretariat for Tourism continues to collect data on all facilities that meet the quality label's criteria to provide them with support in the future.
 
The EU Eco-label is a recognizable European eco-label for hotels, small accommodation facilities, and campsites, where online reservations dominate. The certificate is issued for five years, after which compliance with the given criteria is reassessed. Certified facilities must meet the requirements relating to the application of environmental protection concepts, energy and water savings, waste reduction, promotion of nature tourism, and sustainable transport. Two years ago, the Municipality of Tivat started promoting eco-certification of tourist facilities, when four hotels applied for the EU Eco-label. Hotel Palma managed to complete the procedure and secure the certificate confirming its eco-responsible business.
 
"With the current process, we are continuing activities aimed at raising the quality of service and promoting Tivat as a city that nurtures and promotes the green economy." The focus is now on individual accommodation providers, the category most affected at the moment by the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the next period, we will provide support to local travel agencies, because they also can apply environmental standards in their business," Vujović emphasized.
 
eu eco label tivat waterfront
Tivat Waterfront Pine, Photo by Antonela Stjepčević
 
"Current trends in Europe and worldwide show that more and more guests, tourists, and high-paying clients are considering their contribution to environmental protection. It determines their choice of destination and accommodation, and emphasizes the importance of green access in tourism," stated the Director of Tivat Tourist Organization Danica Banjevic.
 
"The significant interest from private accommodation providers for EU Eco-label certification is confirmation that we are on the right track in the process of developing Tivat as a sustainable tourist destination. This certification is one part of the activities that will help our approach to the Green Destinations program. Accommodation providers who receive this certificate will also have more intensive marketing support from TO Tivat. After the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable development is even more significant," Banjević emphasized.
 
TO Tivat will participate this year in the online conference Global Green Destinations Days, which takes place from 6 to October 9, with a presentation on the topic "Certification to support destination recovery."
 
"This will be another opportunity to promote Tivat as a pilot destination in Montenegro, which has started the process of certification of Green Destinations," says the Director of the Tourist Organization of Tivat.
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