The making of our unique kayaking & bushcraft holiday in Montenegro
Kayaking holiday Montenegro

Often considered Montenegro’s answer to Lake Como, the glorious Lake Skadar in the south has no shortage of epic views, stunning wildlife and intrepid adventures to experience. That’s why so many of our holidays are based here. With our first Kayaking and Bushcraft trip of the season around the corner, we caught up with co-founder Ben who hand crafted this one-of-a-kind kayaking holiday in 2018.

“These kinds of paddling trips are popular in Sweden, the US, Canada and New Zealand but no-one had ever thought to put one together on the largest lake in the Balkans, a place I’ve called home for 15 years,” says Ben. “The staggering scenery and sheer variety of terrain practically demanded someone create this itinerary – so I did!”

Ben Heywood kayaking
Ben is the co-founder of Undiscovered Balkans and a British Canoe Union qualified kayaking coach

“It’s like a Lake Skadar Greatest Hits reel. Montenegro’s most famous viewpoint? Check. Paddling past waterlily fields? Check. Jumping off bridges? Check. Chasing kingfishers down water channels? Check. Learning to catch your own dinner and make fire with no matches? Visit a lake-side village only accessible by boat? See some Dalmatian pelicans? Check, check and check! And if you book this season, you’ll be some of the first visitors to see the new Dalmatian Pelican colony on Mali Moračnik island – one of the things I’m most excited about this year.”

It’s like a Lake Skadar Greatest Hits reel

This adventure didn’t come together overnight. Once it was up and running, it did take a few seasons to get right; Ben had to make adjustments according to fluctuating water levels (some floodplains dry up in July) and how much ground – or rather, water could be comfortably covered by his fellow kayakers in various temperatures. Experience was key for Ben to string the best beauty and nature spots together into an epic 60km expedition.

“I think we’ve got the balance spot on now so that the trip can be enjoyed by both experienced paddlers and relative beginners,” says Ben. “I was really keen to avoid the need for a road-bound support crew, for example, which I always think is cheating a little. If we can make ourselves self-sufficient – and also visit hidden local restaurants where we can – it also makes the trip zero carbon, so extra eco points there!”

Woman kayaking in Lake Skadar - Kayaking & Bushcraft holiday, MontenegroBook this trip for HALF PRICE*

7-Day Kayaking & Bushcraft Holiday in Montenegro

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Another unique aspect of the trip is the two-day bushcraft course in which you can unleash your inner Bear Grylls and learn to make camp, forage for food and spot wildlife with locally owned activity provider Bushcraft Montenegro. “I’ve loved seeing my groups catch their own fish dinner,” says Ben. “One guest even made his own shelter (under supervision of course!) and slept in it rather than use his tent – and we even had an archery competition one year!”

“Some of my other favourite moments were when we kayaked to one of the island monasteries at night, silently slipping through the water under the stars. It was magical. So was waking up early one morning to see a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming on a branch right outside my tent. He was there for so long I even got him on video. I guess he just didn’t feel threatened by the only small group of humans anywhere in the vicinity.”

Check out our other guided kayaking holidays in Albania, Croatia and Montenegro.

Ben qualified as a British Canoe Union kayaking coach 15 year ago and is working towards becoming an instructor who is able to certify others under the PaddleUK certification system. There are currently no official schemes in Montenegro or Albania to do this, so in addition to the kayaking holiday, Ben hopes to be able to run training and qualification courses there from 2025.

“While there are some terrific guides, none of them have had access to the sort of official training and qualifications that are commonplace in the UK, EU or US. It would be great if Undiscovered Balkans could help set up a whole network of qualified kayak guides. Then we could offer more trips like this, in more amazing locations, all over the Balkan region. Wouldn’t that be amazing?”

Ready to book your epic kayaking holiday in Montenegro? See the full itinerary here, get in touch with any questions or watch our video below!


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