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Surrounded by dense forest, with a backdrop of Međed Peak, the Black Lake in Montenegro is a stunning place to visit.
Nestled in Durmitor National Park, the lake is the ideal taste of the park if you don’t have time to explore it more thoroughly. And if you do have time to spend, the lake is a must-see for any stay in the area.
Just a short drive from the centre of Žabljak, the lake is very easy to get to and there are lots of ways to enjoy the stunning scenery once you get there. Whether you go on a hike, hire a boat or just spread a blanket on the lake shore, the Black Lake is breath taking any time of year.
The Black Lake (Crno Jezero) is the largest of Durmitor National Park’s glacial lakes, known as ‘mountain eyes’. It sits at the bottom of Međed Peak and was formed by glacier action in the Pleistocene era.
The Black Lake is actually made up of two smaller lakes, Big Lake (Veliko Jezero) and Small Lake (Malo Jezero), but when the lake level rises in autumn, it becomes one lake. In summer the level drops and you can walk the path between the two lakes.
The lake is fed by springs, rain and surface flow. Most of the lake’s water comes from Mill Creek (Mlinski Potok), a 2.3km-long creek that feeds the lake, and the Čeline Well.
The Čeline Well is a reservoir at the base of Međed Peak. In spring the snow melt fills up the reservoir and increases the water pressure. When the water pressure becomes high enough, the well erupts with a boom and water starts spurting out. At the right time of year you might see the Čeline Waterfall as you walk around the lake, although it can block the path around the lake.
A rare phenomena called bifurcation happens at the Black Lake. Water from the Small Lake drains into the Piva River via a sinkhole and water from the Big Lake drains into the Tara River via the Otoka River. When the two lakes are joined water flows in two different directions and this is called bifurcation.
The Black Lake is surrounded by dense forest made up of Norway Spruce, Scots Pine, Mugo Pine and European Silver Firs. It’s home to owls, woodpeckers, squirrels, thrushes, deer, martens, foxes, eagles and even wolves and bears. No need to worry though, the wolves and bears stay deep in Durmitor National Park and away from busy places like the Black Lake.
The Black Lake is easily accessible to just about everyone. There’s a 700m (765yd) walk from the parking area to the lake, but it’s a wide, sealed, flat road that’s suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.
Along the way there are stalls where you can buy produce from the local area: honey, medicinal teas, preserves, juices, brandies, mushrooms and berries.
The most popular thing to do at the Black Lake is walk around the Educational Trail around the lake. The path is about 3.5km long and is suitable for most people. There are some stairs and it’s rocky in places, meaning it’s not suitable for strollers, wheelchairs or bikes.
Along the path you’ll see boards with information about Durmitor National Park, and the flora and fauna that are found here. There are also viewpoints with benches where you can enjoy the view.
About a third of the way round (if you start out in an anti-clockwise direction) you’ll come to a visitor’s centre and picnic area. At the picnic area is there’s also a place where you can light a fire for a barbecue. There’s another picnic area about two thirds of the way around and there’s lots of space along the shore for spreading a blanket and soaking up the sun.
You can hire row boats at a small dock on the lake. The boats cost €8 per hour. This is a good option for families with children who are too small to walk around the lake.
You can also swim in the Black Lake. The lake temperature is around 4°C (39°F) lower than air temperature in summer. However, with a summer high of around 19°C (66°F), that makes the water a very ‘refreshing’ 15°C (59°F)!
There are several hiking trails that start from the Black Lake. You’ll find information about 12 other hikes in Durmitor National Park on an information board as you walk towards the lake. If you’d like to do any of the hikes here you must plan in advance. You’ll need proper equipment and you’ll need to check local weather reports because the weather here can change very quickly.
If you plan to do any hiking in Durmitor or the rest of Montenegro, Rudolf Abraham’s The Mountains of Montenegro: A Walker’s and Trekker’s Guide is a must-have.
The Mill Creek trail is an easy and interesting trail that you can add on to your walk around the Black Lake if you feel like exploring the area but don’t want to do some major hiking.
Mill Creek (Mlinski Potok) is a 3.2km stream that runs from Zminje Lake (Zminje Jezero) to the Black Lake.
The stream got its name because at one time there used to be 14 mills and 20 waterwheels along its length. People from the area built and shared use of the mills to mill flour in spring and autumn, when the water flow was at its strongest.
No one knows exactly when the first mills were built here, but they were active in the 1880s and the first sawmill was added around 1927.
In the 20th century the mills stopped working as flour production methods were modernised. Today, there are only two mills left, the others have been left to ruin. One of the two remaining mills is sometimes still used today!
You and walk the Mlinski Potok trail from the Black Lake and see the remains of the mills waterwheels.
Via Ferrata - a fun and exciting sport that's somewhere between hiking and rock climbing.
Durmitor Ring - a beautiful drive through Durmitor National Park's most stunning scenery.
Rafting in Tara Canyon - thrilling rafting through Europe's deepest canyon in Durmitor National Park.
Canyoning - challenge yourself to navigate Nevidio Canyon on a canyoning adventure!
Stećci - visit the rare medieval tombstones that are unique to this part of the Balkans and discover a hidden swimming hole.
A ticket to the Black Lake gives you entrance to the whole of Durmitor National Park. You can buy tickets at the entrance road leading to the lake. Tickets cost €3 per person and children under 7 go free.
The Black Lake is just 2.5km from the center of Žabljak so it’s an easy drive from there. Parking in front of the entrance costs €2 per day.
You can also walk to the lake from Žabljak, especially if you’re staying somewhere close like Hotel Soa.
The North Montenegro Tour - this is an enormously popular day tour that starts on the coast and takes you to the Black Lake, the Tara Đurđevića Bridge and Ostrog Monastery
Durmitor National Park from Podgorica – a 7-8 hour tour that takes you through most of the highlights of north Montenegro: the Black Lake, the Tara Đurđevića Bridge, the Durmitor Ring and the Morača Canyon
Untouched Montenegro – 12-13 hour private tour that takes you to the Budva Riviera, Skadar Lake, Podgorica, Morača Canyon, Biogradska Gora National Park, Tara Canyon and Durmitor National Park.
Nomad Montenegro Classic 7 day Tour – a week-long, guided group tour that takes you to all of Montenegro’s must-see destinations and sights, including the Black Lake
Best of Žabljak in 3 Days – an exciting three-day stay in Žabljak that includes the Black Lake, the Tara Đurđevića Bridge, rafting in the Tara Canyon and canyoning in Nevidio Canyon.
You can stay anywhere in Žabljak and be near the Black Lake. If you want to be within walking distance of the lake Hotel Soa has excellent facilities and is the only hotel within walking distance of the lake.
You can also find cute and authentic mountain chalets like Apartment Durmitor in Ivan Do, which lies just above the lake.
The Hotel Polar Star and Durmitor Bungalows are great places for families to stay, with playgrounds and plenty of space for kids to run around. Self-catering options like Vila Tara and Green Forest offer spacious and stylish accommodation in beautiful surroundings.
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