Earlier this summer I ran a commercial trip with Susan Doyle to the amazing Tara Canyon in Montenegro. Back on a cold Wicklow winter’s evening we were having dinner and decided we should run a trip abroad together. The list of countries to visit was long but we decided on Montenegro and the multi-day trip on the River Tara.
The Tara canyon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been and was definitely the highlight of everyone’s trip. The group were a mix of paddlers who found the grade 3 multi-day challenging but not too much so. It was the first time any of the group had taken on a challenge like this, paddling on the river for three days with all their gear and camping by the river. It’s is an excellent first-time multi-day for many reasons:
Over the three days, the river has it all from flat to grade 3 rapids. The first day is a mix of grade 1 and 2 rapids for a couple of kilometres. The grade 2 rapids are spread throughout the whole section so they keep you on your toes and keep you paddling for the next one. Day two starts very calm and picks to a grade 3 by the end. This is the longest and most difficult section of river. It is 30 km long and finishes with 5 km of grade 3 rapids. The group really enjoyed this section and although we had a few swims everyone said it one of their favourite days on the Tara. Day three is the shortest day with only eight kilometres of grade 2 – 3 rapids. These rapids are fun and bouncy with some lovely wave trains and little features to works on skills the whole way along.
The Tara gorge is stunning. There is not must to say as the pictures show just how spectacular the gorge is. It is one of the longest gorges in Europe. The remote feel you get on the river made the trip even more exciting. There are few roads close to the river, especially on day one. The waterfall, caves, flowers and trees are all beautiful. The colour of the water is crystal clear and has an amazing turquoise colour.
There are two campsites located at perfect locations just when the group were starting to get tired. We stayed in Camp Ravdovan Luka on the first day. This camp site is in the middle of nowhere, right by the river. There was no electricity, but there is a generator. We ate by the campfire and sat in the dark with only the glow of thousands of fireflies all around us. On day two we stayed in Camp Grab. This campsite is definitely worth a trip. The owner is a kayaker and helped us with whatever we needed. It’s right in the Tara Gorge, with a restaurant looking over the river and has lovely wooden cabins to sleep in. Staying campsites along the way meant the boats were much lighter to paddle, which everyone appreciated on the trickier rapids.
When to go?
The season for the Tara is the summer months, May to September. However, the river can be very high during the month of May and can get very low during the month of September. The river is usually at it optimum level during June and July. There is a festival help by Camp Grab every September.
The Tara river is a must for your wish list of rivers; located in such a spectacular place, it has to be one of the best rivers in the world to bring a group on their first multi-day adventure. Susan and I will be running another trip to Montenegro with GoPaddle.ie again in 2018 and I’m already looking forward to going back.