The 5 good reasons why taking a hiking guide during your trip in Montenegro is a very good idea
One often asked question of our agency is “Why should we go hiking with a guide?” Here are a five good reasons why we believe you should always consider going with a guide:
1. Montenegro has some of the last wilderness regions left in Europe: There are real dangers being in the wild, and parts of Montenegro’s National Parks are really wild, that is what makes them unique! Although large animal attacks are extremely rare, Montenegro is one of the last European countries having the big 4 carnivores in its parks (Wolf, Bear and we believe the Balkan Lynx as well), not to mention snakes or other beautiful but potentially dangerous wildlife. Mountain guides know when and where to expect them and how to handle them.
2. To avoid getting lost or missing some really special sights: Many of the more popular trails are well maintained and marked – however, in the mountain areas, the marks fade quickly and sometimes there are a number of conflicting trail markers. After the spring thaw, the alpine fields and pastures come to life. Early in the season, most trails are overgrown and practically impossible to spot. Local people have been using the trails and mountain passes all their life and know them like the back of their hand. They can also offer alternative routes, seek assistance from locals if needed, identify local flora and fauna, take you to places that are never in the guide books and share their stories and legends.
3. A good insurance in case of an emergency: If someone is ill, injured or having problems on a trail, most guides have either a short wave radio, phone or (in the case of a very remote region) have a contingency plan in mind. The locals know the seasons and are particularly good at reading the weather. You do not want to be stuck on one of the higher mountain passes in bad weather.
4. Most of all, sometimes the only source of income to local people is through guiding: People in rural communities live mainly from the land. What excess they produce is not enough to cover the cost of maintaining their household so they rely heavily on supplemental sources of income. It’s a sad fact that without a sustainable source of income, most young people will leave the small towns to seek work in the cities leaving these amazing communities to slowly fade away. Your contribution can actually save these communities for generations to come.
5. These guides are the same people who maintain the trails: Montenegro is a small, young country. It does not have enough resources to manage the national parks let alone all the wide open spaces. Most mountain guides belong to clubs and social groups who volunteer to clear, clean up and mark the trails. Without their support, the trails would vanish from living memory.
If, despite those warnings, you still wish to go hiking all by yourself, make sure that you are well prepared, tell someone where you are going and what time you should return, be prepared for sudden changes in the weather, pack basic medical kit and above all, stay safe!