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? £650 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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
What is included:
☑ Flights (hold luggage not included and has to be paid for separately)
☑ Border permits
☑ 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 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.
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.
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:
Water canisters 1 to 1.5 litres
Hiking T-shirts synthetic (no cotton)
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)
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
Please budget for additional expenses like beverages, additional meals and entrance fee in the national parks for self-guided travelers.
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.
- 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