Meet Vera, our Montenegrin adventure guide
Vera Montenegro guide

Meet Vera, one of our super Montenegro guides who is most at home in the mountains – a woman after our own hearts. She hails from Žabljak, a tiny town in Durmitor National Park which also has ski slopes.

Vera has been a licensed tour guide since 2017 and is a member of the Montenegrin Association of Ski Instructors (MASI).

Read on to get to know Vera and her home country a little more.

What was it like growing up in Žabljak?

Despite the fact that it is very small, my hometown is a really beautiful and special place. I have many unforgettable memories from my childhood days there.

Us kids from rural areas definitely are a little behind people born and raised in big modern cities and countries. We didn’t have the internet, computers or mobile phones when they already had it, we didn’t have big book stores, shopping malls or restaurants with world foods. But then we were lucky to be able to play outside without supervision because our town was safe and quiet. We walked to school every day without running to catch public transport because everything was close by and we would scream and jump in the mornings when we woke up to one metre or more of fresh snow, which meant playing outside all day. We could ask for help from the first person we saw on the street because we all knew each other and we spent summers in the village surrounded by animals, mountain flowers and the smell of fresh grass.

Zabljak is a rural village in North Montenegro
Vera grew up in the rural village of Zabljak in North Montenegro.

What inspired you to become a tour guide?

When I moved to the capital city of Podgorica for university, I missed my hometown a lot. I started to hike, run, ski, cycle, or just be in nature whenever I had free time. I totally fell in love with exploring, long walks, adventures and speechless landscapes. The best feeling in the world is when your body is properly tired after a long day outside, but your mind is perfectly rested and happy. I couldn’t imagine myself sitting in the office working a 9 to 5 regular job after that (despite studying economics), so I started to work in tourism after graduating.

As well as spending plenty of time outdoors, my favourite thing about being a guide is meeting people from all over the world to hear about where they live, their culture and lifestyle. The best thing is the sparkle in guests’ eyes when they see the most beautiful places in Montenegro and they leave with pockets full of beautiful memories. I particularly love the natural enthusiasm of the children on our Family Activity holiday and their delight when they do something cool for the first time!

Where is your favourite place to hike in Montenegro?

I personally prefer mountains more than beaches with no doubt, but it is not easy to single out only one favourite hiking place. All of our mountains are amazing and worth visiting – Durmitor, Prokletije, Komovi, Lovćen, Bjelasica and Hajla.

The one closest to my heart is Durmitor mountain, of course, and if I must pick one place there as my favourite, I will say Prutaš peak because that hiking trail is scenic all the way up from start to the top.

Is Montenegro good for skiing?

In my country, there are two, let’s say, “bigger” ski resorts near Zabljak and Kolasin. They have chair lifts, T-bars and baby lifts but it is definitely not the same as world famous big ski resorts. Our slopes are not as long and there are no modern gondolas here for now, but if you are open-minded to try a slightly different winter holiday than in the Alps, Montenegro can be the perfect choice.

When you are not hiking or skiing, what would you be doing?

In my free time I like to hang out with friends, watch movies and read. After busy summer seasons I like to travel, especially to go on long solo road trips sometimes. Even tour guides deserve to be tourists occasionally, right?

Tell us about the wildlife in Montenegro

Montenegro has so much wildlife, especially in our protected areas. In the mountains, there are red foxes, grey wolves, deers, brown bears, wild boars and mountain goats (chamois), to name a few.

352 bird species have been registered so far in Montenegro and for those who are interested in bird watching, Skadar Lake and its surroundings are absolute heaven. There are storks, egrets, herons, ibises and even the rare and protected Dalmatian pelicans, the symbol of the national park, living there.

Montenegro’s incredible nature is its biggest treasure without a doubt and the main reason tourists visit. At the same time, there is a struggle to find a balance between protecting and preserving our natural surroundings and developing infrastructure – houses, hotels, resorts, roads, bridges, parking places, etc.

Vera in Montenegro

Tell us about some of the environmental campaigning you’re involved with

Whenever I’m available, I participate in clean-ups, tree planting projects and educational workshops about ecology and sustainability. I supported the successful campaign against building a tourist resort on the shore of Black lake (a UNESCO protected area at the heart of Durmitor National Park) and another one against building a private hydropower plant on Bukovica river.

We’re currently trying to stop the building of a big dam on Komarnica, Europe’s last wild river. It’s extraordinarily beautiful and it can be used in many other non harmful ways – e.g. tourism, water sports. More importantly, it’s home to several endangered species. I am also a part of the group of nature lovers trying to stop the recreational use of noisy ATV/quad off-road vehicles in protected areas.

And what are your top tips for travelling sustainably in Montenegro?

Use plastic as little as possible and don’t litter.

  1. Do not rent or use ATV or off-road vehicles in the national parks, near (or even through) rivers, lakes and dense forests. Try walking or cycling instead.
  2. Please don’t park your car in the forest, meadow or someone’s garden just to avoid paying parking fees (it is pretty cheap in Montenegro and I see this a lot every season)
  3. Never use shampoo or similar chemical products while you are swimming in the lakes, rivers, sea or near the water springs.
  4. Support small, local businesses by buying some of their products, which are almost always homemade, tasty and good quality – local cheese, juices, forest fruits, olive oil, honey, soaps, small wooden souvenirs, authentic woollen clothes, etc.

Want to meet more of our stellar Undiscovered Balkans team? We’ve also been speaking to Ben and Emma, our founders.


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