Undiscovered Montenegro

Fall Colors in the Balkans

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For a photographer, it’s hard to imagine such a wide variety of scenic landscapes packed into such a compact area—but tiny, Connecticut-size Montenegro seems to have it all!  As one of the newest independent countries with open access, Montenegro is on its way to becoming a new Mediterranean hotspot due to its balmy sun-drenched beaches.  Yet within a few miles of the bustling coast, the quiet undiscovered nature of its attractive old-world villages and the dramatic unspoiled natural beauty of its rugged interior beckon inquisitive nature photographers to this rarely-photographed landscape.
Montenegro has five vibrant national parks covering ten percent of the country. They contain numerous muscular peaks that inspired 15th-century Venetians to name the country Monte Negro, or Black Mountain. In autumn these summits are dappled with the dark greens of fragrant pine groves and a photogenic patchwork of vibrant red and golden beech, birch and maple woodlands.; From these lofty woods, turquoise streams tumble down to the alluring azure sea.

Montenegro coastOur autumn photography tour starts in Kotor which features one of the best preserved, walled, medieval old towns on the Adriatic. In many locations it has the look and feel of Dubrovnik, Croatia without the crowds—particularly in fall, after the summer tourist season. During our coastal visit we take a scenic boat ride to Our Lady of the Rocks, one of the two islets off the coast of the ancient town of Perast in the Bay of Kotor. This island is crowned with a picturesque 16th-century church that seems to float above the water.

During our travel we visit four remarkable national parks including Lovćen, Durmitor, Biogradska Gora and Lake Skadar. These inspiring wildlands give us outstanding access to the Dinaric Alps in the north, numerous glacial lakes, deep canyons, expansive scenic overlooks, primeval old-growth forest, and breathtaking mountain scenic drives.; And all along the way we seek out the best of the region’s autumn foliage color.
COMBINE THIS TRIP
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This trip can be combined with our Slovenia in Autumn tour Oct 9–20, 2021.


Following the recent Yugoslav Wars and breakup of the former Yugoslavia, Montenegro has had a slow and complicated emergence as an independent state. Part of its current charm and high photographic potential is that much of the rural countryside has not yet modernized. Here, it seems like time stands still. In fact, Montenegro is the only country in Europe that doesn't currently have a highway. Many roads crisscrossing the country are precipitous, narrow and distractingly scenic. Sheep and cows create the only traffic jams we may encounter.

Join us on our photographic journey through Undiscovered Montenegro. Experience a unique mix of spectacular mountain and coastal landscapes plus attractive ancient villages that showcase traditional cultures with Ottoman, Venetian, Austro-Hungarian and Slavic influences.  And meet the Montenegrins themselves—people who are about as friendly and warm as their Mediterranean climate.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Depart from home.

Day 2 (Sep 28)
Arrive at Podgorica airport, Montenegro, and transfer to our hotel in Kotor. Meet the group for optional evening photography in Kotor followed by dinner. (D)

Day 3
We explore Old Town Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with our cameras this morning. Old Town is a rabbit warren of photogenic crumbling churches and Venetian-inspired architecture. We provide an option, for the hearty, to climb the 9th to 15th-century city walls for scenic views—but you really have to work hard to get to the highest of them! This afternoon we visit the ancient town of Perast situated on the Bay of Kotor. Our scenic boat trip to Our Lady of the Rocks Island is followed by dinner at a local restaurant. We return to our Kotor hotel after dinner. (BLD)

Day 4
A morning drive takes us along one of the most incredible mountain roads in the region to Lovćen National Park. We visit the museum and mountaintop mausoleum of the nation’s most famous son, prince-bishop, reformer and epic poet Petar II Petrovi Njegos. Perched atop a 5436 foot (1656 meter) peak, the imposing monument overlooks more than half of Montenegro, with views stretching as far as Albania and Croatia.

We have lunch at Cetinje town, a former capital of Montenegro. In the afternoon, a visit to Budva or Sveti Stefan Island provides more scenic views, followed by evening photography on the coast. (BLD)

Day 5
Leaving Kotor behind we take the scenic route north to Durmitor National Park the largest of Montenegro’s five national parks. But first, we make a stop at Perast to shoot the morning light illuminating the old city and the islands. Then we leave the coast and drive into the mountains in search of autumn color. Following our afternoon arrival at Žabljak town we check in at our hotel. We are out for evening photography from the dramatic mountain road in the heart of Durmitor National Park. (BLD)

Days 6–7
Fall color flanks a river in MontenegroWe have two full days to explore Durmitor National Park and its surrounding area. Carved by glaciers and crisscrossed by streams and rivers, Durmitor National Park spans 131 square miles. The park has some of the country’s most domineering mountains with 48 peaks over 6500 feet (2000 meters) including the tallest peak in Montenegro, Bobotov Kuk at 8277 feet (2,523 meters). Switchbacks and hairpin bends make an exhilarating drive, past glacial lakes and rocky outcrops. We visit the Black Lake, the largest of 18 glacial lakes known as "mountain eyes" that bejewel the land. Weather permitting we’ll also visit some viewpoints above Tara River canyon. The turquoise Tara River slices through these Dinaric Alps, creating Europe’s deepest canyon. (BLD)

Days 8–9
Heading east we travel to another natural gem—Biogradska Gora National Park. One of the last three stands of old-growth woodlands in all of Europe is protected in Biogradska Gora. At 21 square miles (54 square kilometers) the park is a much smaller and more intimate place than Durmitor, known for its beautiful Lake Biograd and that dense, centuries-old, virgin forest. Our photogenic highlight is that mountain lake which may be shrouded in vibrant fall-colored foliage, its still waters mirroring the lush and rugged surroundings. Weather and view permitting, we ascend a nearby mountain plateau for more spectacular mountain photo opportunities.

During our second afternoon we head to Lake Skadar and check into our hotel. (BLD)

Days 10–11
Fall colors reflected in the waterWe shoot sunrise at Lake Skadar followed by a scenic drive into the mountains above the lake. Straddling Montenegro and Albania, Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkans.
We take advantage of numerous scenic overlooks along the way to capture expansive views of the lake. In the afternoon we wander the cobbled streets of Stari Bar (Old Bar) to photograph the intriguing ruins of one of the oldest medieval villages in the region. Farewell dinner at one of Montenegro’s finest restaurants. (BLD)

Day 12 (Oct 8)
Following breakfast we transfer to the Podgorica airport to catch flights home. Or continue on with us to meet our Slovenia in Autumn tour starting in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Oct 10. (B)
 
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Undiscovered Montenegro

Sep 27, 2021 - Oct 08, 2021


ENROLLMENT CONDITIONS

1. REGISTRATION
A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.

2. PAYMENTS, CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS

All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposit only, we accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days priors to departure and must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
90 days or prior:
89 to 61 days prior:
60 or fewer days:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of trip fee
100% of trip fee


No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

3. TRIP INSURANCE
Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available.

4. HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

5. CONTACT SCHEDULE
Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to info@photosafaris.com.

6. PHOTO SAFARI COSTS
Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

7. LOGISTICS
Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

8. RESPONSIBILITY
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft or other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics and outbreaks, or other causes.  All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 4) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 5) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Undiscovered Montenegro: Moderate Activity Level

Van transportation.  Photography from roadways and trails near the vans.  Walking on cobblestoned streets and established national park trails for up to two miles (total) on several days.  Daily photography commutes from our lodging with midday breaks and lunch at restaurants
Trip Details
Sep 27 - Oct 08, 2021
Fee: $6,495 From Podgorica, Montenegro
Deposit: $800
Limit: 12 participants
Activity Level: ModerateModerate
 
Highlights
  • Explore a naturally beautiful and newly accessible country that few have photographed
  • Photograph the azure Adriatic coast in the “off-season” after tourist crowds are gone
  • Montenegro’s small size allows photographers to shoot the best that the country has to offer without wasting hours commuting on on long drives.
  • Numerous mountain shooting locations allow altitude change to search for prime fall color conditions
 
Tour Leaders
Joe Van Os

Joe Van Os

And local guide