Author Archives: Tadeja

Piva Lake Pearls

Piva Lake Pearls

Embraced by mountains and enchanted by legends, Piva lake area in Northwestern Monenegro is often neglected, but well worth visiting. Piva pearls are attractive on their own and they are also a good place to make home base for exploring Durmitor and Tara.

Piva Lake

Piva Lake; Photo: Žiga Jenko

Welcome to the Silence

We escaped the crowds and distractions of civilization by taking a half an hour boat trip from Plužine to a little lakeshore camp with appealing name ‘Ajmo u tišinu’. Talking about the trend of ‘silence tourism’, here we truly experienced it. A marked trail through the woods led us to a lookout point with a beautiful view of the lake, resembling a big star.

Do You See the Star? Photo: Žiga Jenko

Do You See the Star? Photo: Žiga Jenko

Later on, in the shade of oak and hornbeam trees, we enjoyed coffee and a crackling fire while our hosts prepared lunch. Trout from Piva lake, grilled together with zucchini, peppers, tomato, and onions with home-made bread and cheese – a meal to remember!

'Welcome to the Silence' on the Banks of Piva Lake

‘Welcome to the Silence’ on the Banks of Piva Lake

Quest for Stecci

Quests in the Piva mountains are inspiring and fun. They brought us to the monumental medieval tombstones, called ‘stećci’. ‘Stećci’ are a very unique peace of cultural heritage of the cross border regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, western Montenegro, western Serbia and central and southern Croatia. They have been recently inscribed on the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage sites.

Stećci are scattered on the meadows and in the mountains of Piva and often it seems as if they are a forgotten peace of human creation. This is exactly what makes them even more attractive. Looking for ‘stećci’ is certainly an amazing quest on its own.

The most comprehensive registration of ‘stećci’ in Piva region has been done in late 60s and 70s of the 20th century by a Bosnian researcher Šefik Bešlagić. At that time, 35 locations with altogether 787 ‘stećci’ have been evidenced.

An overture into quest for ‘stećci’ may be a visit to the guesthouse Zvono in Plužine. Their ‘in-house designer’, Vlatko Vuković, designed a map that takes you to amazing places. Following that map is a truly entertaining quest with many surprises on the way.

The next stop may be Etno-selo Izlazak close to a beautiful necropolis in Rudinice.

Medovina, the Mead

The town of Plužine is famous for tasty medovina, the mead, and Zvono’s specialities cooked in it. Legends say that the mead used to be the drink of the Gods and was considered to be the elixir of youth and immortality, the source of spiritual power and physical strength of ancient heroes.

The Mead at Zvono

The Mead at Zvono

Piva Monastery and Secluded Villages

An early morning stop at the remarkable Piva Monastery filled us with peace and reverence. The Monastery was built in 16th century at the spring of Piva river and although it was Christian religious center, its construction was approved by the Ottoman rulers. As a result, the church in the monastery contains a fresco depicting Savatije Sokolović (the Serbian Orthodox patriarch) and Sokollu Mehmed Pasha (Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire), which is an unusual rarity.

In 1982, The Piva Hydro Electric Project created a vast water reservoir. The water covered the old Plužine village, two thirds of the area’s agricultural land, and several natural hot and cold springs. Only the Piva Monastery was saved, as it was moved to a new location stone by stone together with 1,500 square meters of frescoes. Preserving this monastery was a huge undertaking for ex-Yugoslav historical conservationists.

Piva Monastery

Piva Monastery

We continued our journey to the nearby farm of Željko Mitrić, the renowned honey producer, for a delicious breakfast. His farm is overgrown with fragrant flowers and embraced by aromatic meadows. His special pear orchard contains an endemic variety of pears, called “mrkaljuša.” Some of the trees are over 100 years old. The “Mrkaljuša” is a small fruit that can be eaten fresh, but is primarily used for the production of high quality brandy and “pear water” made by a process of dipping the fresh fruit into water and aging the liquid. This bitter “pear water” is believed to be very healthy.

Hiking Durmitor Ring: Thrilling Legends and Amazing Vistas

A new day in the Piva region started with preparations for our hiking escapade in the Durmitor mountains. While approaching our starting point in the mountains, our legendary guide Mirko revealed the legend of Todor whose unfortunate love for Ružica caused the jealousy of fairies and eventually gave name to the mountain Prutaš (2.393 m.a.s.l.) – the highest peak on our hiking expedition whose rock formations resemble “fairies’ hair.”



Experienced local mountaineering guides share deep respect for the mountain, never underestimating its power and always admiring its breath-taking beauty. Beautiful vistas filled our spirits, but we certainly deserved a good breakfast at the top of Prutaš. For most of us, breakfast at the 2.393 m doesn’t happen very often in our lives.

On our way back to the valley we crossed the border between the regions of Piva and Drobnjak and heard about another legend of a wise old lady Baba Kruna who put an end to the endless fights about where the border should be placed. She performed a ritual with stones and said that she is standing with one foot on the Piva territory and with the other one on the Drobnjak soil. On that place people put a stone wall which still exists and is called Prespa.

Our next stop was Nedajno village, a hidden gem often neglected by tourists heading towards the regional tourist centre of Žabljak. This picturesque village has maintained its traditional appearance with houses with steep roofs and small entrances. Though we visited the village several times before, we never miss a legendary local dish, called ‘cicvara’, made of wheat, corn flour and ‘skorup’ cheese. Our host’s mother used to be the most famous shepherdess and cheese maker in the Piva region.

More Pearls to be Discovered…

We heard so much about Nevidio canyon. Tucked away and hidden in inaccessible terrain, the canyon had attracted attention and curiosity for decades. Endless strange and fantastic stories used to circulate about the last unconquered canyon in Europe. Finally, in August 1965 a band of poorly equipped adventurers from the Javorak Mounteneering and Skiing Club of Niksic successfully passed through the canyon and became the first to introduce the world to the canyon’s long hidden, wild and stunning beauty.

At the end of the Komarnica river valley at an altitude of 935 m.a.s.l. begins the canyon Nevidio or Nevidjbog as is called by locals (which means “God didn’t see” in Montenegrin). As it enters the canyon, the Komarnica river suddenly disappears through a strangely carved entrance and becomes invisible to human eye. Most of the canyon is in a perpetual shadow – due to the height of its vertical cliffs, sunlight does not reach the bottom. The canyon is a gem of rugged nature that has fascinated visitors since its discovery and this is where we are headed on our next trip to Piva region.

(English) Crkvice: Embraced by Nature

Crkvice: Embraced by Nature

Aromatic fragrances of the Mediterranean wild herbs are in the air as we are rising up the fragile stony stairs of an old Austro-Hungarian cinema in abandoned village of Crkvice on Orjen mountain in Montenegro. It’s amazing how nature takes over after human activities cease. Birds and other animals dwell in magnificent stony ruins.

Old horse stall in Crkvice

Old horse stall in Crkvice

When I was working in Suriname I first heard of so called ‘secondary forest’. I remember my imagination soaring as I was observing how the jungle overgrew old cotton plantations.

Something similar happened here, on Orjen. Except that there are no annoying mosquitoes around and the area continues to be partially cultivated by some farmers that are still growing potatoes in tiny karst fields.

Blending history with pristine nature

Some 100 years ago, Crkvice, a vivid military settlement above Risan, has been established to protect and expand the Austro-Hungarian reign in the areas, predominantly ruled by the Turks. In its peak, Crkvice had up to 10,000 inhabitants, mainly families of Austro-Hungarian soldiers. They had all the luxury one could imagine: hotel, tennis court, bowling alley, football field with stands for 1,000 spectators, cinema, brothel, church, bakery, hospital, horse stalls, funicular to drag tree trunks from the woods etc. Altogether over 150 solid buildings were built in a relatively short period.

Path, leading to the water reservoir

Path, leading to the water reservoir

The most outstanding are the ruins of the old bakery which used to be the largest bakery in the Balkans and the second largest in Europe. It provided bread for whole of Boka Kotor bay. Records show that over 24 tons were produced daily, using automated baking system and electricity created in a very sophisticated generator.

Nowadays, only stony ruins speak of the magnificence of Crkvice. Wildlife expanded, original vegetation regenerated along with old fruit trees, providing abundant food for birds and other animals.

Once the largest bakery in the Balkans, taken back by nature

Once the largest bakery in the Balkans, taken back by nature

Wildlife- and bird-watching in Crkvice is something unique

Our fellow traveller, Rok Rozman, ornithologist, immediately recognized some characteristic birds for Orjen and later on, along the walk, also some quite rare species. The region of Orjen is known for the biggest precipitation in Europe with the peak of it ranging from autumn to spring. Despite all, the region is surprisingly dry due to the karst surface. Limestone here reaches one of the deepest layers in the world, permitting these huge amounts of rain and snow simply vanish down into crevasses, caves and abysses only to get back to the surface, or even under the sea, in springs 1,500 meters lower in the Boka Kotor bay. This phenomenon leads to unique conditions that create very rare habitats and when combined with the forest-cowered ruins of one of the biggest settlements of its kind, you get an experience like no other.

Trying to spot birds in the bushes

Trying to spot birds in the bushes

Wildlife is abundant and especially birds are to be noticed at every step. Nuthatches, tree creepers and tits accompanied us at every step; we spotted many Mediterranean weathers, rock buntings and even black woodpecker. The place is also known to be incredible site for observing birds of prey in the nesting season as well as in migration. We saw a sparrow hawk, but golden eagle and short-toed eagle are to be expected and seen easily for someone, spending more time in Crkvice. The potential for birdwatching is simply amazing.

Non-governmental organisation Center for Protection and Research of Birds of Montenegro is raising awareness about exceptional richness of bird species in the area and about protection of their habitat.

Bullets near Crkvice

Bullets near Crkvice

However, local hunters do not always respect hunting regulations and bullets can be noticed around. I trust that this will change in time with the increased awareness of local people and more and more nature lovers, visiting Boka Kotor bay, admiring its magnificent nature.

Ideas for hiking in the area

Ideas for hiking in the area

Crkvice is great for hiking as well. Though easily accessible by car – less than half an hour drive from Herceg Novi – the site is a very suitable starting point for several walking trails that lead to spectacular views and are getting very popular. Local mountaineering clubs Niskogorci and Subra are maintaining mountaineering trails on Orjen and do great job in promoting outdoor activities in the area.

I certainly don’t qualify for a professional birder. But birdwatching can be such fun! Especially, if not taken too seriously. Hours pass by listening to the sounds of nature, something that can rarely be experienced in our everyday lives. And as I had been trying my best to spot nuthatches and tree creepers, another joke from our Montenegrin guides came across. Days spent in laughter!

Upon my return home, I learned that these same enthusiasts from Niskogorci club introduced a new climbing route, called ‘nuthatch’ (brgljez), named after the only European bird that can climb head down. I just love this dedication and Montenegrin sense of humour!

New climbing route by Niskogorci

New climbing route by Niskogorci

Special thanks to Nativa Institute and Rok Rozman!

Strateški razvojni načrt Ortopedske bolnišnice Valdoltra

Ankaran, Marec 2016

Strateški razvojni načrt Ortopedske bolnišnice Valdoltra

Inoini svetovalci soustvarjajo pripravo Strateškega razvojnega načrta Ortopedske bolnišnice Valdoltra za obdobje 2016-2020. Gre za interaktiven proces priprave strategije, v katerega je vključenih več kot 30 zaposlenih bolnišnice.

(English) Top 5 Highlights for Nature Lovers in the Boka Kotor Bay

Top 5 Highlights for Nature Lovers in the Boka Kotor Bay

The Old Town of Kotor, its fortifications and nearby villages have been widely publicized since Kotor made it to the list of Lonely Planet’s top picks to visit in 2016.

The wider area of the Boka Kotor Bay offers some pretty amazing experiences for nature lovers, too. We had a chance to work with environmentalists and authentic local tourism providers within a non-profit initiative, called BETSA (Birdwatching and Eco Tourism of South Adriatic) and this is what we recommend as top 5 highlights for nature lovers:

View from Orjen; Photo: Miljan Novaković

View from Orjen; Photo: Miljan Novaković


1. Tivat Salt Pans

Tivat Salt Pans, an ornithological reserve, enlisted on the Emerald and RAMSAR site, are a unique biodiversity gem. The most nature friendly ways of accessing the area are: by kayaks from Tivat, by bikes or walking a 3 km walking trail from Tivat Airport.


Tivat Salt Pans; Photo: CZIP

The natural and cultural heritage of Tivat Salt Pans is presented by young enthusiastic guides from the Center for Protection and Research of Birds (CZIP), a non-governmental organisation which is running an info point there. A variety of birds can be spotted during every season:  herons, several species of ducks, coots, snipes, woodcocks, cormorants, gulls, ibises and many more. In spring, the scenery is particularly impressive as most European species of water birds fly over the salt pans in large flocks.

 on Tivat Salt Pans; Photo: Borut Rubinić

Little Egret on Tivat Salt Pans; Photo: Borut Rubinić

We recommend visiting the reserve either early in the morning or later in the day, before the sunset. The lights are just amazing.

2. Exploring Mount Orjen

Vilino Guvno on Orjen; Photo: Željko Starčević

Vilino Guvno on Orjen; Photo: Željko Starčević

Orjen is the highest mountain range in the Mediterranean part of the Dinaric Alps. The area has been recently declared a regional park. First mountaineering trails and several fortifications date back to the 19th century, during the reign of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Plateaus on Subra are majestic examples of karst micro-relief. ‘Subra amphitheatre’, for example, is a fabulous work of art by nature. Numerous speleological sites are scattered in the area.

Orjen Authentic Pine (Munika); Photo: Željko Starčević

Unique Bosnian Pine on Orjen (Pinus Heldreichii); Photo: Željko Starčević

The best way to start the exploration of the mountain is from the edge of Herceg Novi at ‘Matkovića most’, near the village Matkovići on the way from Herceg Novi to Trebinje.

A one hour hike on a stony walking trail leads to Kotobilj forest. This area, afforested back in the 30s of the 20th century, is an untouched oasis of mixed trees of Bosnian pine and cypress. There is a lot to see in the surroundings. A visit to the tiny churches of St. Peter and St. Paul, as well as, to the Church of St. Stephen is especially rewarding. It’s also nice to walk to the ‘Secret Hill’, dominating above the village of Kameno. It used to be a military fortress and nowadays, it offers an attractive blend of history and nature. From the top of this hill some of the best views over the bay can be observed along with flocks of migratory birds during spring and autumn migrations.

On the way back, a little village Trebesin is also worth visiting. The name of the village comes from the French expression of excitement: ‘tres bien’. A delicious authentic meal can be ordered in ‘konoba’ there.

3. Moonlight in Žlijebi Village

A small, almost completely abandoned Dinaric village of Žlijebi is noted for its unique stone houses with interlaced limestone roofs. Everything is built from stone in this village: poultry houses, paths, walls and even the church of St. Nikola. Nikola Sikimić, a local master of stone crafting, is one of a few left who can show you how to collect plates of limestone from the ground by hands so that they don’t break. With much care and love for this unique village he has renovated a beautiful complex of houses in traditional style that are now open to visitors.

Žlijebi Village

Žlijebi Stone Houses; Photo: Tadeja L. Colnar

More than anything, simplicity and peace can be enjoyed in Žlijebi. And on a full-moon night the whole village glitters. Unforgettable!

4. Hiking Vrmac

Mount Vrmac is a peninsula, dividing Kotor Bay from Tivat Bay. On the Kotor side, it is part of the UNESCO world heritage, whereas on the side of Tivat, it is declared a regional park. Several marked walking trails that used to connect settlements and fortresses on Vrmac lead to spectacular views over the bays.

There are several options on how to hike to Vrmac. For those who prefer an easy walk, a 4-5 hour trail starts at the Austrian fortress, continues on the slopes of Vrmac to the highest peak of Sveti Ilija (St. Elijah, 785 m.a.s.l.). The views over the Kotor and Tivat Bay are stunning.


View from Vrmac; Photo: Klaudio Katelan

There is also a possibility of longer hikes, starting in the Old Town of Kotor, through Vrmac, to the village of Gornja Lastva. Local guides will help you with that. Pay special attention to the drumming sounds, made by woodpeckers, whose presence indicates highly preserved forests in this area.

Vrmac is attractive at all seasons – Camellia Festival is a spring overture to festivities in Boka. Camellias are a symbol of maritime tradition and interconnectedness with the rest of the world.
Summer is the time to enjoy Upper-Lastva Festival.
In the end of autumn/beginning of winter delicious chestnuts are the reason for another festival, called Chestnut Festival in Donji Stoliv. It’s amazing how many culinary delights can be made from this one ingredient.

5. Kotor Town Walls

Though this is one of the major attractions of Kotor, climbing the city walls just above the Old Town is a must. Rising at sunrise and avoiding crowds is certainly a good way of doing it. Nature lovers might enjoy this path a bit differently – at the very top, at the Fortress of Sveti Ivan (St John), an off-the-beaten path continues through ‘the window’ towards the village of Špiljari.

Fairy's Doors; Photo: Klaudio Katelan

Fairy’s Doors; Photo: Klaudio Katelan

Perhaps a little ‘bar’ in the village is open and you will have the chance to taste the best pomegranate juice ever while sitting in traditional Montenegrin chairs, overlooking Vrmac, the Old Town and the sea.


Razvoj eko turizma in turizma opazovanja ptic na območju južnega Jadrana

Baška Voda, 17. in 18. februar 2016

Inoa aktivno soustvarja razvoj eko turizma in turizma opazovanja ptic na širšem območju južnega Jadrana, vse od Biokova, preko doline Neretve do Boke Kotorske. V Baški Vodi se je s tem namenom sestalo okoli 50 turističnih ponudnikov, ki so na strateški delavnici pod vodstvom Inoine svetovalke, dogovorili skupne strateške usmeritve in opredelili konkretne iniciative na tem področju.

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Študija biotske raznovrstnosti Orjena in Sniježnice

Kotor, 15.12.2015

Študija biotske raznovrstnosti Orjena in Sniježnice

Inoa s sodelavci izvaja “Študijo biotske raznovrstnosti Orjena in Sniježnice”, kar bo med drugim podlaga za pripravo čezmejne “Strategije eko turizma in turizma opazovanja ptic Južnega Jadrana”. Gre za slikovito območje od parka Biokovo, doline Neretve, Konavelj do Boke Kotorske, znano po jadranski selitveni poti ptic. Projekt vodita Center za zaščito in preučevanje ptic Črne gore (CZIP) in Občina Baška Voda.