Balkan Adventure Montenegro Swimming Talking Point

Wild Swimming in Crno Jezero

Crno Jezero Black Lake Durmitor Montenegro
Written by Stuart Wickes

Wild Swimming in Crno Jezero, Montenegro

Stuart Profile Small“Adventure is always calling. The question is do you listen?” I saw this quote on an advert outside an adventure company in Zabljak, Montenegro as we walked down to explore Black Lake in the Durmitor National Park. I like to think I listen, at least sometimes, and hope I encourage the kids to do the same. They certainly did this afternoon….

Crno Jezero Black Lake Durmitor Montenegro

Was it the paddling cattle that planted the idea for this microadventure?

Stripped and ready to swim

The boys are already stripped down to their underwear and ready to swim, but we still need to figure out the clothes problem: how do we get them across to the other side of the lake without getting them wet? Unusually for us we haven’t got a dry-bag with us but we do have a sandwich box which Hannah is busily emptying.

“The lid isn’t a clip on,” says Matthew thinking through the implications. “If it falls off…”

“We just have to put less in and do more trips,” says Cameron, trying to fold his jumper down to the size of a tuna sandwich.

“Do more trips? Have you felt the water temperature?”

I wasn’t really serious when I suggested swimming across the lake but the boys took me at my word and now, while they are busy planning a crossing, I’m trying to avoid getting wet myself.

“You’ll never get boots in a sandwich box,” I explain. “I’ll walk around with the boots.”

It’s enough of an excuse to get me off the swimming team, but it’s not because I don’t want to swim. It’s more that I want them to do it together; to be brothers in arms instead of squabbling.

Crno Jezero Black Lake Durmitor Montenegro

Crno Jezero, Black Lake, although it appears to be misnamed.

An inspiring setting

We’re on the shores of Crno Jezero in the Durmitor National Park, Montenegro. It’s a dark, thunderous afternoon and the rain has just about cleared this Balkan jewel of visitors. So we have the Black Lake to ourselves. We’d planned to take a rowing boat out on it but the passing storm made the water look too black for boating. Although when the sun does show again, it turns the lake such a pure blue I wonder if it’s been misnamed and if it was the wrong call to hike around the lake instead; it looks so much more exciting to be out in a rowing boat.

There are actually two lakes here, the imaginatively named Large Lake (Veliko Jezero) and the Small Lake (Malo Jezero). In high water the narrow strait between them fills with water joining them together and doubling the length of the route around the lakes. But of course it doesn’t have to double the distance. Not if you decide to swim across the strait. Which shaves off a few kilometres off the walk, and a load of time. That is if you can swim and find a way to keep your clothes dry on the crossing.

Crno Jezero Black Lake Durmitor Montenegro

Boaters out on colour shifting waters of Crno Jezero in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

Adventure is always calling

I admire how up for this silly challenge the boys are, swimming backwards and forwards with their little parcels of clothes squished into the plastic sandwich box. They are figuring out problems together, helping each other, supporting each other, being brothers, doing stupid stuff together. They could have walked around, I wouldn’t have minded. But they chose the path of challenge.

“Adventure is always calling. The question is do you listen?” They were.

Brotherly wild time

And now they’ll have to listen to each other for quite a while longer as they’ve not taken their iPods across. (It’s one thing to get your shirt wet but another to lose your prized tech to water damage.) And we’re going to take our time walking the long way round. Because we can. And because Hannah thinks she’s spotted a coffee shop. And because I think it will do the boys good to spend a little time together, tech-free, parent-free, barefoot and in the wild.

Now, what did the guidebook say about bears?

Crno Jezero Black Lake Durmitor Montenegro

The boys reach the other side with dry clothes to put on, thanks to tupperware

Talking Point

Do you think adventure is always calling? Do you listen to its call often enough? Would you swim the shortcut or take the long walk around? Do leave a comment and let us know.

About the author

Stuart Wickes

Stuart's the adventure addict half of the team, always trying to persuade the family to get out, do more, go further. As co-founder and co-director he handles the business, creative, design, technical and publishing aspects of the project. He is our chief photographer and videographer. With training as a professional learning and development consultant. an engineer and musician, his contribution is eclectic and unpredictable!

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