Kayaking in Montenegro

The main appeal for any kayaker, whether they’re experienced or a beginner, is Montenegro’s pristine natural beauty. It’s pretty much unvisited by the vast majority of people who flock to neighbouring Croatia, and almost entirely unaffected by mass tourism.
“It’s one of the last remaining places in Europe where you can do something like this and be completely by yourself, in staggering natural beauty,” says Ben Heywood, co-founder of our adventure travel specialists Undiscovered Montenegro.
For a country the size of Northern Ireland, Montenegro has amazing and untapped potential as an adventure destination. Its vast network of wild rivers and wonderful lakes provides a location for a huge variety of different water activities, whether you’re looking for white water rafting, kayak expeditions or simply a glide through water lilies on the glass-like surface of Lake Skadar.
“We’re lucky in Montenegro,” says Ben. “We can supply all of that within a ridiculously small area.”


The beautiful natural scenery of Lake Skadar lends itself to wilderness camping: paddling from one point to the next and camping in view of island monasteries, abandoned fishing villages and deserted freshwater beaches. By kayak, you can explore places that are too out of the way to reach by any other mode of transport, and without leaving any trace of your visit.

Kayaking trips based at Lake Skadar are suitable for most levels of fitness, but bear in mind that you will be paddling 6-18km over five days. Groups are small and friendly, with no more than 10 people – all the better for enjoying your peaceful surroundings and ensuring your guides have the opportunity for some one-to-one tips on technique.
As much as 70 percent of travelers on these tours won’t have spent any real time kayaking before. Some might have paddled once or twice, others might have no experience at all. So in a scenario like this, where you’re joining a multi-day kayak trip, it’s essential that your guides are trained and know how to get you paddling efficiently quickly, so that you enjoy your time on the water.
Ben is a qualified leader with British Canoeing, the national governing body for paddle sports in Britain. Although an experienced kayaker already, he says that the leadership training was a great learning experience that really opened his eyes to being able to identify what learners were doing wrong.
“It’s like the difference between being able to drive and being able to teach someone to drive,” he explains. “I don’t think I could do what I do without being trained by British Canoeing.” Guests also get the peace of mind of knowing that they’re being led by someone who has been through a proper procedure in order to coach and to guide them.

Our top Lake and river kayaking Vacation

Canoeing and kayaking vacation in Montenegro, Lake Skadar

Canoeing and kayaking vacation in Montenegro, Lake Skadar

Camp and kayak through Lake Skadar's dramatic scenery.

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The local kayaking scene

Kayaking isn’t that popular in Montenegro; the rivers mostly attract fishermen, thirsty bears and a few tourists tempted by white water rafting. But Gigo, one of a handful of local guides that works for Undiscovered Montenegro, is trying to change all that.

An overall outdoor enthusiast and nature lover, Gigo began his career as a rafting guide before discovering his passion for paddling the white waters of the French Alps in a kayak. After returning to Montenegro, he launched the Tara Kayak Fest on the Tara River, which now attracts championship-winning kayakers from across the world.

He hopes that the festival will attract a fresh young audience of Montenegrins to the sport, as well as drawing attention to the threat posed by development, particularly the proposed construction of over 2,700 hydro-electric power dams across the whole Balkan area.

The planned dams, which have come under fire from international conservation groups, would have a disastrous environmental impact. But, by choosing to book with one of our responsible travel specialists like Undiscovered Montenegro, who support the locals fighting to prevent the dams, you’re helping to provide an alternative source of income to these little visited places, and to convince the Montenegrin government that the rivers and lakes are best kept wild.
Written by Bryony Cottam
Photo credits: [Page banner: Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington] [Topbox: Daniel Hering] [Lake Skadar: jan vanaverbeke]