The Tara Canyon: I Walked To The Edge of Europe’s Deepest Gorge

I was in Durmitor National Park, the mountainous and rugged alpine region of the Balkan nation of Montenegro and I was looking for the Tara River Canyon.

The Tara Canyon cuts through the park like a deadly blade- this is Europe’s deepest gorge and I wanted to climb high above it, to stare down into the vastness below.

I had failed desperately and dangerously to summit the mighty mountains of Montenegro, after a reckless attempt at mountaineering, and I decided instead that it was time to hike to the edge of Europe’s deepest gorge, to the edge of the Tara Canyon!

Scroll to the end of this article for Tara Canyon Travel Advice! Editor’s note, this article was updated in June 2018 to include new travel information.

The Tara Canyon Curevac Durmitor

A Hike To The Edge Of Tara Canyon

The Tara Canyon is 1300 metres deep at its furthest extension, and is 82 kilometres in length, while the Tara River, Montenegro’s longest, runs through the canyon for 60 kilometres of its 150 kilometre course. The only deeper canyon in the world is the Grand Canyon in the United States. The canyon is prime ground for white water rafting, and tourists flock here in the summer months for the thrill. But, for me, it was the dry season. So rather than hurtling along the river in a dingy I would take the hard route, the hiking route. Right to the edge.

The canyon slices its way through the Durmitor National Park, a spectacular area of glacial lakes and outrageously high mountain peaks. I set out from Zabljak, the main town in the park, and crossed the forests and hills of Durmitor to a mountain known as Curevac, a point which stands at 1625 metres high and offers a view along the whole length of the canyon, and far down into its depths.

The Tara Canyon Curevac Durmitor

From Zabljak to the Tara River Canyon

The walk from Zabljak was around 10 kilometres long. I had vague directions from Google Maps, the safest source for hiking trail knowledge of course, and surprisingly for once, the route was fairly simple, through small villages and along roads and dirt tracks which cut through the dense foliage of the forest.

The Tara Canyon Curevac Durmitor

I was even joined by two dogs, who ran alongside me as I hiked my way to the edge of the canyon from the town of Zabljak, through forest, mountains and along rivers to the deepest gorge in Europe.

The Tara Canyon Curevac Durmitor

The route was gently sloping uphill, and then suddenly, the forest ended, and it looked as if the whole world had simply fallen away. This was the canyon. And now I had to climb the peak, for the most spectacular, all encompassing view of this natural marvel.

The Tara Canyon Curevac Durmitor

The Tara Canyon Curevac Durmitor

Things Begin To Get More Difficult On The Hike To The Canyon

This was where things got a bit more difficult.

The trail led up from the open ground, following closely- almost too closely- the edge of the Tara Canyon. There was a sheer drop below, but the view across to the other side made the element of fear bearable.

There was even a nice death seat to perch on half way up.

The Tara Canyon Curevac Durmitor

The Tara Canyon Curevac Durmitor

The dogs were more reckless than me, running along the edge of the rocks and peering over the edge like the drop was nothing to them.

These mountain dogs were from strong stock, clearly, and nothing about the depth of the Tara Canyon phased them, although even these dogs were mesmerised by the spectacular views that were ahead of them.

The Tara Canyon Curevac Durmitor

The Curevac Peak

And at the highest point- the peak of Curevac- I could see for miles in all directions. The cliffs spread out beneath me into a wide valley, and the gorge kept dropping even deeper, the river a gleaming blue scythe through the rocks, before the cliffs rose again to form an impenetrable wall that contained all within it. It was marvellous, and I savoured the moment by eating a packet of crisps and downing a can of Fanta in the Montenegrin sunshine. A suitable celebration if ever there was one.

I had hiked to the edge of Europe’s deepest gorge, but next time around I’m waiting for the rain, and then I’m going to take a raft through it.

Travelling to Montenegro? Sign up for Air BnB to book your accommodation using this link HERE and you’ll get £25 free credit towards your first booking! 

Click here for an awesome 10% discount on your hotel with! 

The Tara Canyon Curevac Durmitor

The Tara Canyon: Travel Advice and More

Travelling to the Tara Canyon but don’t where to start, where to stay or how to get there? Here’s my quick guide on travelling to the Tara Canyon in Monetenegro!

Where is the Tara Canyon?

The Tara Canyon, also known as the Tara River Canyon, is the deepest gorge in Europe. The canyon is around 80 kilometres long and although much of it is found in Montenegro, parts run along the border of Serbia and Bosnia. The Tara River runs through this long canyon, which reaches depths of 1,300 metres in some places. It truly is spectacular!

In Montenegro, the Tara Canyon forms a World Heritage Site within the equally spectacular confines of the Durmitor National Park.

The Best Place To Stay Near The Tara Canyon

The town of Zabljak is the best base from which to access Durmitor National Park, and the best place from which to hike to the edge of Tara Canyon, organise rafting trips and just generally experience the awesome nature of Monetenegro’s mountains.

You can find Zabljak on the map below:

Zabljak is mountainous and remote, but has all the amenities, hotels and restaurants you will need to get out hiking. The town is easily reached by minibus from Podgorica and from other cities in Montenegro. I travelled direct from Kotor on the coast.

Travelling to Montenegro? Sign up for Air BnB to book your accommodation using this link HERE and you’ll get £25 free credit towards your first booking! 

Click here for an awesome 10% discount on your hotel with! 

How to Travel to Curevac and to the edge of the Tara Canyon

Curevac is the mountain that looms over the canyon. It stands at an impressive 1625 metres in height, but actually the hike here is relatively easy in comparison to many of the other much more challenging hikes within Durmitor National Park. Curevac also gives the best views out over Tara Canyon and the Tara River.

The hike to Curevac begins in Zabljak and it took me around 2 hours each way. Google maps has the route down as 15 kilometres return. Follow signs for either Curevac or for Tepca once you leave Zabljak and just keeep heading uphill. Unfortunately the trail isn’t all that well marked at the end, there should be a sign saying Curevac, follow that along the canyon’s edge and you will get rather spectacular view even if you can’t find your way all the up to the summit.

When I made the hike, it was extremely quiet, but I was hiking outside of peak season. It’s still a relatively unknown spot though as most people will take the rafting trip down the river to see the canyon over the hike. I’d recommend doing both if you there in the right season, they are both very different experiences and equally spectacular.

Here’s the rough route on Google Maps for the hike from Zabljak to Curevac and the edge of the Tara Canyon:

Awesome Things To Do In The Tara Canyon

  • Rafting The Tara River Canyon – This is the most popular activity and one of the most exciting ways to experience the Tara Canyon. Many tours run from Zabljak, starting 18 kilometres or so upstream and taking the day to raft down the river. It’s an epic trip, but be warned the rafting only runs during peak tourist season, generally March – September.
  • lThe Tara Bridge – Spanning the Tara Canyon is the Tara Bridge, a spectacular feat of engineering that arches over the gorge. You can walk along the length for epic views out over the canyon. It’s easily reached by car from Zabljak.
  • Hiking Durmitor National Park – Using Zabljak as a base, there are literally hundreds of hiking trails heading out in Durmitor National Park and along the Tara Canyon. There are many challenging multi day hikes and mountain summits as well as easier day hikes. Definitely make sure to visit the Black Lake, a beautiful glacial lake not far from the town.

All Words and Photos by Richard Collett