Beautiful mountains, meadows and grasslands, primeval forest, chasms and waterfalls, rare and endangered plants and animals, and endangered people too – these are the Balkans, where so much was hidden for decades by war and Iron Curtain politics.
Spectacular and often inaccessible, the wild Balkans are on the path to sustainability and managed ecological tourism. Some are national parks, others are designated World Heritage Sites or Biosphere Reserves.
The Wild Balkans – a 50-minute video– pulls back the curtain. This is a full-length PBS Nature Series episode online and free. (Be prepared for two intrusive “sponsor” ads that pop up during the show.) View the episode
The Danube Delta– largest wetlands and reed beds in Europe, great nesting sites, and home to millions of migratory birds and waterfowl. 4,000 animal species, 1000 species of birds. Protected areas for breeding colonies of pelicans. Sometimes called the “Amazon of Europe.” Biosphere Reserve 626,000 hectares.
Croatia’s Kopacki Rit wetlands– landmines keep hunters out, wildlife thrives. Hugely important wetlands attracts 260 species of birds, some breeding and nesting in large colonies.
Durmitor Mountains – 48 peaks above 6,500 feet; 18 glacial lakes, primeval forest. UN World Heritage Site
Montenegro’s Tara River — carves through Europe’s longest and deepest canyon, 1300 meters deep and 80 km in length; neighboring forests provide refuge to rare animals such as the Balkan Lynx. In the desolate plateau above the canyon, women continue to farm !
Skadar Lake, a remarkable landscape of peaks and water. Skadar is the largest lake in Montenegro, 30 miles in length (also on border with Albania) and an important resting and breeding ground for migratory birds. Designated national park.