This ecological mountain country is said to be the oldest ‘state’ in the western Balkans. It is here that mountains meet the sea in what most certainly must be one of Southeast Europe’s most stunning nature destinations. The seaside resorts and tourist towns are well known to tourists for their crystal-clear Adriatic seawater with breathtaking mountain views towering just behind.
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Montenegro has a small landmass of 13,800 square kilometres and shares a boarder with Albania to the South, Kosovo and Serbia to the East, Bosnia & Herzegovina to the North and a tiny coastal boarder with Croatia to the North West. As of 2015, Montenegro had a population of 620,000 people.
In 2013, Montenegro welcomed 1.3 million international tourists – which is a fairly large number when you consider the domestic population! In regards to spots to check out, the resorts of Sveti Stephan, Herceg Novi, the Bay of Kotor, Bar and Budva are amongst the Adriatic’s best. Peel away just one layer of mountain, though, and a magical wilderness world opens up. Lake Shkoeder is a gorgeous bird reserve and a great place for boat rides and fishing.
The ancient capital of Montenegro, Cetine, is still the cultural backbone of the country. Durmitor National Park gets a high rating for its vast wilderness. Perhaps the most exciting experience in Montenegro is the three-day white-water rafting adventure on the Tara River, Europe’s deepest river canyon. The northern pocket around Plav has an interesting ethnic mix of orthodox, Slavic Muslims and Albanians. This area is rather poor and underdeveloped, but equally beautiful and worth spending your tourism money.
Ethical Travel Issues and advice
Ethical Photography: Travelling presents an opportunity to photograph in lots of different destinations and situations, but sometimes there may be culturally sensitive issues to think about before reaching for the camera or other photo-taking device. There are lots of people in the world who do not have clean water, electricity, schooling or enough to eat, let alone access to mobile telephones, the internet and printed media, so they have no idea where their photograph may end up or how it could be used. Sadly, in this day and age, child prostitution, child trafficking and other crimes against children are facilitated via the Internet, and photography can play an unwitting and innocent role. Photography and its use is no longer straight forward, so perhaps it is time to stop and think a little about the ethics of photography.
Taking photos of the friendly people of Montenegro is a highlight for many travellers and photographers. Smiles are universal ways to engage, as is showing people the photo you just took of them. If you show an interest in their work or ask them questions, they’ll be happy to have their picture taken. In some touristy places it has become common for people to ask for money for their photos to be taken. Do as you wish, but a photo of someone you shared a laugh with may have a better lasting impression than one you paid for. Don’t forget the same holds true for any porters and guides that may help you along the way. Take an interest in them and you’ll be rewarded with more great photo opportunities.