Europe

Exploring Skadar Lake by boat

When you end up in the ER little over a day before you’re leaving on a holiday, plans have to change. At first I thought a total cancellation would be in order, but the damage fortunately wasn’t as big as I initially thought. A casting tape around the knee and we were good to go!

Instead of heading north to the high mountains of Montenegro first, we turned our itinerary around. We first went south, to the coastline of the country. There the activities I wanted to do were a lot less strenuous, so better suited for a bruised knee.

The sun had already set when we arrived at Podgorica Airport, but after picking up our rental car, we still drove to the shore of Skadar Lake. This is the largest lake in Southern Europe and lies in both Montenegro and Albania.

Once we had checked into our hotel, Skadar Lake Family Resort, we began checking out our itinerary for the next day. To our biggest shock we had driven past one of the major viewpoints on the lake, but because it was pitch dark outside already, we’d completely missed it. Not in my book. So before breakfast the next day we drove back to that gorgeous sight. This was our first view of Montenegro, and it sure was a perfect one to start with.

Satisfied that we didn’t discover this later during our trip, we were ready to continue along the shores of the lake towards the town of Virpazar. This very small town is the departing point of many cruises on Skadar Lake. Ranging from one hour until a full day, there’s a boat tour for everyone. I would have preferred to go on a rowing trip, but since I had promised my mom I would take it easy the first couple of days, we went for a guided tour on a motor boat instead.

The day before we had online booked ourselves a spot on Boat Milica. These people were very quick to reply to my emails and we got everything arranged within an hour. Perfect! We opted for the two hour trip leading us first to Grmozur, an old prison island that now inhabits many pelicans, and then through the smaller canals of the lake where we would be able to spot loads of other birds. My boyfriend, who is very much into birds, was pretty excited about all those feathers we’d see.

Upon arrival in Virpazar, and after a bit of difficulties to get our car parked, we found Vladimir, our guide for the next two hours. He wasn’t the only one selling boat tours it seemed. There are many stalls in the small streets of this town, so I assume that during low seasons booking in advance might not be necessary.

We got into a cute, quite large boat and off we went. It was just the two of us and Vladimir. We opted for a morning trip in the hopes of catching more wildlife. And we were lucky. Only a couple minutes into the tour we already saw a Kingfisher flashing by. Ornithologists on alert!

While we were cruising the calm waters of the lake, and searching for more birds, our guide told us facts about the environment but also stories about life in Montenegro in general. Usually I like to blend into a group because I feel like it can often get awkward having a guide one-on-one, but Vladimir was very approachable and made those two hours fly by!

We paid 60 euros – in cash, as is usual in Montenegro – for the two of us and got our full two hours on the water. For me, it was the perfect amount of time for this type of activity. It was a last minute decision to head out on the water on the lake, but I don’t regret that choice one bit. Of the entire coast, it was one of my favorite places. So if you’re traveling through Montenegro, don’t forget to stop at Lake Skadar and head onto the water. The earlier, the better; more wildlife and less other tourists; double win!

♡ Ellen

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