Link to Hope

Balkans Three Countries Sponsored Trek 11th – 18th Sept 2021

Balkan Three Country Trek BUY TICKET

 

 

What is it? For our 30th Anniversary we are walking three countries and nearly 100km.  There are 15 places and the trek will take place between the 11th – 18th September 2021

Where?  We are flying into Albania and then trekking parts of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.

Why? To raise funds for Link to Hope’s Education and Social Care Projects and celebrate 30 years.

Cost? £695 per person to include flights, meals, guides, border permits, internal country transfers.

Sponsorship? We have set the sponsorship total that needs to be raised at £1,000 (min) and most people raise more than this when they get going.  Full support will be given on the run up to the trek and we will be with you every step of the way.

Please read the full details of the trek below and then sign up for a place by paying a deposit of £100.  We will then be in touch with the next steps.  We hope you can join us.  

DETAILS OF THE BALKAN THREE COUNTRY TREK

Peaks of the Balkans is the first lengthy hiking trail to traverse the Western Balkans, an area where ancient tracks connect remote regions. The epic walk passes through villages,  separated  by   strict   borders and   fortified   by    bunkers    that    were built  over   two   generations   when communist   regimes-   controlled Yugoslavia    and     Albania.     Winding through meadows, mountain  peaks,  lakes and     woodlands,     this     is     one     of     the most  diverse   walking   trails   in   the world.  The  views  and  the  trails transform,  switching  from   rocky   paths and bare peaks  to  meadows  rich  with flowers  and   plants,   where   nature   has been left to run wild.  In  a  stark comparison to Western Europe, here the grass in not  cut,  and  the  land  is  left alone for nature to follow its course.

Peaks    of       the    Balkans    is    a    trail    where  you are   expected   to   walk   7   to    8    hrs    a day.  Please  check  the  kilometers   and the altitude change  to  self-evaluate the trail  difficulty.  The  German experts have marked this trail as a moderate trail.

Balkan Three Countries Trek Sept 2021

 

ITINERARY

Saturday Day 01: Arrival in Podgorica/Tirana Airport, transfer to Shkoder

This day a private transfer will be arranged to pick   you   up   at    the    airport    and transfer    you    to    the    city    of     Shkoder. 

 
Sunday Day 02: Transfer Shkoder – Nderlyse. Hike Nderlyse – Theth

Distance: 10km (6.2 miles) Uphill: 266m (872ft) Downhill: 435m (1427ft)

Minimal elevation: 496m (1627ft) Maximal elevation: 784m     (2572 ft)

 

Balkan Three Country Trek Sept 2021

The village of Theth is one of the most picturesque places in Northern Albania.

Preserved by the wild nature and very bad roads,   the   village   still  has    the kulla  and  other   buildings   dating   back in middle ages.

The  village  is  100  per   cent   Roman   Catholic, and has the most unique  structure  in  the world. Kulla e Ngujimit, which is a three-story rock building with  no windows. It served as the self-imposed exile for people who  were  involved  in blood feuds.

You will spend this day walking in the village toward the waterfalls and naturally created    “bath-tubs”    of      the    river Shala.   This   is   a   short   relaxing   walk full of culture and natural beauties.

 

Monday Day 03: Hike Theth – Valbone

Distance: 19.5km (12.11 miles) Uphill:    1068m (3503ft) Downhill: 850m    (2788ft) Minimal elevation: 728m    (2388ft)

Maximal elevation: 1759m (5770ft)

Today you will do one of Albania’s most iconic hikes  from  Theth   (728   m)   over   the Valbona Pass (1759  m)  to  the  town  of Valbona (995 m) in the heart of  the eponymous national park. This 14- kilometer route follows the path of an ancient mule track linking the tribal regions   of   Shala   and   Nikaj.   The    hike goes   through    a    narrow    crest    that    gives a   view    in    both    of    the    valleys    and    it the   most   southern   glacier   in   the northern hemisphere. After a difficult ascent,   you   will   walk   slowly   in    the track    to    get    to     the     village     of Valbona.    You    will    be    walking    between the catholic  valley  of  Shala  and  the Muslim valley of Valbona. The Albanian Catholics   are   descendants   of   pro Venetian    Albanians    living    in    the    city of       Shkodra.    These    are    the    most southern   Roman   Catholics   in   Europe   as the  divide  between  the  Orthodoxy   and Roman   Catholics    is    Croatia.    The Albanian catholic tribes have moved to these mountains  to  preserve  their religion from the ottoman rule.

 

Tuesday Day 04: Hike Cerem – Doberdol

Distance: 15.5km (9.6 miles) Uphill: 1030m (3379ft) Downhill: 440m (1443ft)

Minimal elevation: 1220m (4002 t) Maximal elevation: 1920m  (6299ft)

Balkan Three Country Trek Sept 2021

 

 

Today    you    will    walk    between    two    shepherd’s villages which are inhabited only  during  the summer in order to use the abundant pastures. Doberdol a village which is connected to the world only by  small tracks, is not reachable by cars. The village is situated below the triple-border point between Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro. On the way you will    pass    through     the     village     of Balqin   where    you    can    stop    for    a    glass of milk served by the local  shepherds. These mountains are part of the  Gashi valley from where also the Gashi  tribe comes from.

This part of the mountains is under strict protection,   as    they    are    also    home to glacial lakes of Sulbica platou. Gashi valley was included in UNESCO Natural World Heritage list in 2017.

 

 

Wednesday Day 05: Hike Doberdol – Milisevc

Distance: 15.8km (9.8 miles) Uphill: 915m (3001ft) Downhill: 980m (3215ft)

Minimal elevation: 1534m (5032ft) Maximal elevation: 2290m  (7513ft)

 

You    will    be    hiking    again    between    two    shepherds’ villages in two different countries, however sharing   same    culture    and    language. These   two    valleys    have    been    connected by   culture    but    disconnected    by political    borders.    Around     1     hr     from the   Guesthouse    you    will    reach    the narrow   pass   on   the   border   with Montengro, where from the views are spectacular. From here you  will  be climbing  the  2366  m  Tromedja   (Three Border peak).

This part of the mountain is very well protected as  from  Milisevc  you  are  connected  to the biggest city next to  the  mountain Peja,    which    we    also    call    the    capital of the Accursed Mountains.

 

Thursday Day 06: Hike Milisevc – Babino Polje

Distance: 15.8km (9.81 miles) Uphill: 1150m (3772ft) Downhill: 1100m (3608ft)

Minimal elevation: 1438m (4717ft) Maximal elevation: 2276m  (7467ft)

Balkan Three Country Trek Sept 2021

 

 

This  intense  15.8-kilometer  hike  offers some of   the   region’s    most    breathtaking views,    passing    a    glacial    lake     and water sources. Some people decide to divide this hike in two parts: a 7.4 kilometer  ascent   on   the   first   day   and 8.4    kilometer    descent    on    the     second day   however,   we    will    finish    this    hike in   one   day.   As   such   it   is    not    the longest    hike    during    the     trip.     This part    of     the     mountain     is     expected     to be “tourist free”, and it offers spectacular  views   at   the   City   of   Peja and    the    rest    of     the    accursed mountains.

 

Friday 07: Transfer Babino Polje – Vusanje. Hike to Theth

Distance: 21.3km (13.2 miles) Uphill: 1110m (3641ft) Downhill: 1440m (4724ft)

Minimal elevation: 1025m (3362ft) Maximal elevation: 1707m  (5600ft)

Balkan Three Country Trek Sept 2021

 

From Vusanje Prokletije, you will begin the 21-kilometer hike to the historic Albanian  village  of  Theth.  The  path passes     along     the     craggiest     part     of  the Accursed Mountains or Prokletije/Albanian Alps, which was a forbidden   zone   during    the    Communist era.    In    addition    to     the     dramatic cliffs that form  the  backdrop  for  the day’s   hike,   you    will    also    see    a military bunker and the old  border crossing  signs   as   you   cross   into Albania.

After the hike you will be transferred to Shkoder.


Day 08: Transfer Shkoder – Podgorica/Tirana Airport

This day private transfer will take    you    to    the    Airport    for  your flight back.

 

TRIP INFORMATION

What is included:

☑  Flights (hold luggage not included and has to be paid for separately)

☑  Guide

☑ Border permits

☑ Accommodation 

☑ Transfers (in country)

☑ Meals (except the last nights meal)

 

What is not included:

☒ Any beverage

☒ All food is included except the last nights meal which will be around £10 a head.

☒ Travel insurance (essential and must include repatriation)

☒ Luggage costs ie your flight is included along with carry on hand luggage (weight and size dependent on the airline). Any other luggage e.g your rucksack, is at your own cost.

☒ Transport to and from UK Airports.

 

Transfers

Transfers during the tour will be private for the  group.   The   private   transfer   is done by either regular car or  4×4, depending   on    the    road    conditions.    

 

Food & Water

The food in this part of the world will be something    you     will     eagerly anticipate   at    the    end    of    each    day. Food is fresh cooked in a traditional manner   and    has    a    mix    of    Balkan, Turkish    and     European     influence.     At the guesthouses the breakfasts are simple, homemade  bread  with  locally grown vegetables,    dairy    products    and    eggs.    Dinners include traditional soups, meat dishes, vegetables,     pies.     Guesthouses     also will provide you with a  packed  lunch  – often  including  a  sandwich  with  cheese and vegetables.

Vegetarianism and diets will not be a problem as    the    homestay     families     can provide alternatives. However, the choices are basic and limited.

 

Consider bringing your water bottle to refill along the   way.   Water   is    provided    from mountain streams or in guesthouses tap water    is    drinkable.    However,     if       you are concerned about drinking untreated water, we recommend you take water treatment tablets with you.

 

Accommodation

The accommodation is in simple homestay/guesthouse/lodge- style with simple bathroom  facilities.  Rooms are   likely   to    accommodate    between    two to five people per room and it may be necessary    for    male    and     female     groups to  share   the   room,   unless   noted otherwise on your request, but not guaranteed   in   each    guesthouse.    It always   depends   on    availability    of rooms.

Sheets and blankets, towels, shampoo, warm water and    other    basic    services    are provided,    but    it’s     recommended    to pack   a   travel   towel   and    sleep    sack just in case.

Private    rooms    at    additional    cost;    limited availability.

 

Equipment list

It is recommended that clothes are made for hiking   and   are    from    synthetic breathable    materials.     It     is recommended to have more  thin  layers rather  than   large   jackets   that   take space and are heavy.

When hiking it is better to have several layers of thin clothes, no thick jackets. Dressing   in   layers   allows   you    to adjust   to   changing   weather   and activity levels.

The    following    list    should    help    you    with your packing.   As   a   general   rule,   you should  try  and  pack  as  lightly  as possible. You will not be expected to carry your own bag ( luggage transfer is included).  You will need to carry a day rucksack however.

 

What to take – Make sure!

 

If you lack any of the equipment please contact us,  we  may  be  able  to help    you.    You  will  have    your passport with you at all times as we are crossing borders.

You must have proper equipment for hiking:

Hiking Boots

Water canisters 1 to 1.5 litres

Day Rucksack 

Headlight

Rain jacket/poncho

Hiking T-shirts synthetic (no cotton)

Hiking pants

Fleece-   

One    pair    of       spare    socks per hiking day (there is option of self-hand washing)

Hat (sun protection in summer, warmth in winter)

Gloves (September to June)

Sunglasses

Sun cream

Walking sticks

Gaiters (winter tours only)

Camera, telephone, GPS (optional)

 

 

Recommended readings for the region

  • The novel called    “Broken    April”    of      Ismail Kadare is situated in these mountains. A read before the trip will increase the experience this trip offers
  • Edith Durham – High Albania
  • MAP – can   be   provided   at    Euro    10,    please order in advance

 

Budget

Please    budget    for    additional    expenses like beverages, additional meals and entrance   fee   in   the   national   parks for self-guided travelers.

 

Tipping

Tipping   is   not   obligatory,   however   if you are  happy   with   the   services provided,   a   tip   is   always appreciated.

We recommend you calculate €5-€10 per day to cover  your  tipping  for   the   guide   and €1-€2   for    other    service    providers.    But of course, you can tip more or less, depending on how you see it fit.

 

Other Info

  • Time zone: GMT +1
  • Language: Albanian, in    Kosovo    and    Albania,Serbian/Montenegrin in    In  big  cities   many people speak English, but  in  remote areas   this   might   not   be   the    case.    A lot   of   people   may   speak   also    German,
  • Electric supply and   plugs:   220V,   50    Hz, two pin round
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)    in    Kosovo    and    Montenegro, Lek in Albania, however you can use Euro    Credit   cards    and    Cash machines    available    in     Peja,     Plav, and Gjakova.
  • Cost of living:   in   the   region   is    much cheaper than  in  the   Western      Some sample prices follow:
    • 3-course meal  in  a  standard  restaurant: EUR 7-10 pp
    • A flask   of    mineral    water    from    a    street shop: EUR 5
    • A cup of coffee: EUR 5 – 2

All photos credited to Ken Spence

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