Link to Hope

Charity Walking Challenge: Trek in the Balkans, June 2022

Balkan Three Country Trek BUY TICKET

Charity Challenge: Trek across the Balkans
Hiking in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, 11–18 June 2022

Trekking for charity is one of the most pleasurable ways of fundraising while building your confidence and stamina. This the perfect Balkan hiking adventure for those looking for a charity walking challenge.

Why take part in this fundraising trek?

This Balkan charity challenge will take you on a 100km trek across Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro to raise desperately needed funds for social care and education projects in Eastern Europe.

We would be delighted if you could join us. We can take up to 20 people on this charity trek, which starts in Albania.

Charity Walking Challenge Cost and Sponsorship

This one-week Balkan hiking adventure costs £695 per person (this includes flights, meals, guides, permits and internal country transfers).

The minimum sponsorship money that you need to raise is £1,000 – 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.

Full details of this charity trek are given below. The deposit is £100 per person.

Your Balkan Hiking Adventure

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 that are separated by strict borders and fortified by bunkers, built over two generations ago when Communist regimes controlled Yugoslavia and Albania.

Balkan Three Countries Trek Sept 2021

Winding through meadows, past mountain peaks, lakes and woodlands, this is one of the most diverse walking trails in the world. The views and the trails switch 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 is not cut; the land is left alone for nature to follow its course.

On the Peaks of the Balkans trail, you will need to walk 7–8 hrs a day. Please check the kilometres and the altitude change to evaluate the difficulty of the trail. German hiking experts have classified this trail as moderate.

The itinerary for your charity trek starting in Albania is given below. For more information on accommodation, please click here.

Itinerary for your Balkan Hiking Adventure, 11–18 June 2022

Flying to Albania

Flight details for individuals and small groups will be given nearer the time, after your booking has been confirmed. Lisa Hector, General Manager of Link to Hope will be joining you on the trek and will be able to answer any questions you may have as you travel.

Day 1: Trekking group arrives at Tirana Airport

You and your new friends will be collected from the airport and taken to the city of Shkodër, regarded as the traditional capital of Albania.

Day 2: Start your Balkan charity walking challenge in Nderlyse, Albania

Your trekking group will be collected and taken to Nderlyse to begin your first day of hiking, from Nderlyse to the picturesque village of Theth.

Hiking distance: 10km (6.2 miles)
Uphill: 266m (872ft)
Downhill: 435m (1427ft)
Minimal elevation: 496m (1627ft)
Maximal elevation: 784m (2572ft)

Balkan Three Country Trek Sept 2021

As you trek into Theth in Albania you’ll be surrounded by beautiful scenery. The Roman Catholic village of Theth dates back to the Middle Ages and boasts one of the most unique structures in the world: Kulla e Ngujimit is a three-storey ‘lock-in tower’ with no windows, where people used to be detained.

You will spend the first afternoon of your Balkan adventure walking through the village and out to the waterfalls, where you will see the natural ‘bathtubs’ formed by the river Shala.

Day 3: Charity trek team leaves Theth and hikes to Valbona

This is one of Albania’s most iconic hikes. Starting from Theth (728m), you will walk over the Valbona Pass (1759m) to the town of Valbona (995m) in the heart of the Valbona Valley  National Park.

Hiking distance: 19.5km (12.11 miles)
Uphill: 1068m (3503ft)
Downhill: 850m (2788ft)
Minimal elevation: 728m (2388ft)
Maximal elevation: 1759m (5770ft)

This trek follows an ancient mule track linking the tribal regions of Shala and Nikaj. You will follow a trail with a view over the valleys – this is the most southern glacier in the northern hemisphere.

After ascending we will walk along a track to the village of Valbona. This gentle hike takes us 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 Shkodër. These are Europe’s most southern Roman Catholics, as the border between Orthodox and Roman Catholics is Croatia. Albanian Catholic groups moved to these mountains to preserve their religion from the Ottoman rule.

Day 4: Trekking through rural villages to the incredible Gashi valley

Setting out from Cerem we will visit shepherds’ villages which are only inhabited during summertime, when the pastures are lush. We will walk to the stunning Gashi Valley, which became a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site in 2017.

Trekking distance: 15.5km (9.6 miles)
Uphill: 1030m (3379ft)
Downhill: 440m (1443ft)
Minimal elevation: 1220m (4002ft)
Maximal elevation: 1920m (6299ft)

Balkan Three Country Trek Sept 2021

You will see Dobërdol, a village only accessible by tracks that are unsuitable for cars. It is set below the triple border point of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. On the way you will walk through the village of Balqin, where you can stop for a glass of milk served by local shepherds.

These mountains are part of the Gashi Valley, home of the Gashi tribe. Here you will see the protected glacial lakes of the Sulbica plateau.

Day 5: Trekking from Albania’s villages to Montenegro’s fine views

From Dobërdol you will walk across the border into Montenegro.

Distance: 15.8km (9.8 miles)
Uphill: 915m (3001ft)
Downhill: 980m (3215ft)
Minimal elevation: 1534m (5032ft)
Maximal elevation: 2290m (7513ft)

This is a wonderful hike between two shepherds’ villages in two countries. The two valleys are connected by culture but separated by a political border. Spectacular views await at the narrow pass on the border of Montenegro.

From here you will climb the 2366m Tromedja (Three Borders Peak). There is a good road from Milisevc to the city of Peja, known as the capital of the Accursed Mountains.

Day 6: Hiking from Milisevc to Babino Polji, the most beautiful part of your Balkan trek

The penultimate leg of your Balkan charity trek has the most breathtaking mountain views.

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

Some people choose to divide this hike into two parts: a 7.4km ascent on the first day and 8.4km descent the following day. As this isn’t the longest hike on our Balkan hiking adventure, we will finish the trek in one day.

As you are venturing off the beaten track, tourists will be scarce, leaving you to appreciate the dramatic views of the city of Peja and the Accursed Mountains.

Day 7: Trekking along the Albanian Alps

This hike takes you along some of the craggiest parts of the Accursed Mountains, a forbidden zone during the Communist era.

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-kilometre trek back to the historic Albanian village of Theth. Dramatic cliffs form a backdrop to the day’s hike, and you will see a military bunker and the old border crossing signs as we return to Albania. After the hike, you will be transferred to Shkodër.

Day 8: Put your trekking feet up as we take you home

We sincerely we hope that you are delighted with all you have achieved on your Balkan hiking adventure. Today we provide you with a private transfer back to the airport for your flight home.

Balkan Charity Trek Information

What is included:

☑ Flights
☑ Guide
☑ Border permits
☑ Accommodation 
☑ Transfers (in-country)
☑ Meals (except the last nights meal)

What is not included:

☒ Any beverages
☒ All food is included except the last nights meal which will be around £10 a head.
☒ Travel insurance (this is essential, and must include the cost of repatriation)
☒ Luggage costs ie your flights are included, along with carry-on hand luggage (weight and size dependent on the airline). Any other luggage (e.g. your rucksack) is transported at your own cost.
☒ Transport to and from UK Airports.

Charity trek transfers

Transfers during the trek will be private for the group. Private transfers will be made by either regular car or 4×4, depending on the road conditions. Daily luggage transfers are included; however, you will need to carry a day rucksack.

Food and water

The food will be something you will eagerly anticipate at the end of each day of your charity trek. You will enjoy freshly cooked, traditional food, which is generally a mixture of Balkan, Turkish and European dishes.

At the guesthouses you can expect breakfasts of homemade bread and locally produced eggs, vegetables and dairy products. Dinners include traditional soups, meat, vegetables and pies.

Throughout the charity trek our guesthouses will provide packed lunches, often including a sandwich with cheese and vegetables.

Vegetarianism and other dietary requirements can be catered for, providing we are informed in advance of your dietary requirements. Although the families who feed the hiking groups can, and do, provide alternatives, choices are basic and limited.

Please bring your water bottle to refill during each day’s trek. Water can be collected from mountain streams, although guesthouse tap water is also drinkable. If you are concerned about drinking untreated water, we recommend you take water treatment tablets with you.

Trekking accommodation

Our accommodation in the Balkans is guesthouses/lodges with simple bathroom facilities. Each room generally accommodates two to five people. This might mean men and women sharing a room. If you do not want to do this, please let us know. We will try to accommodate your request, but we cannot guarantee this. It depends on room availability.’

Bed linen, towels, shampoo, warm water and other basic products and services are provided; however, we recommend that you pack a travel towel and sleeping bag just in case.

Private rooms can be booked at additional cost, although their availability is limited in family-run guesthouses.

Equipment list for trekking in the Balkans

We recommend wearing hiking clothes made of synthetic, breathable fabrics. It’s better to have a number of thin layers rather than a T-shirt and a thick, heavy jacket. Layering your clothes allows you to take layers of or add layers to adjust to changing weather conditions and activity levels throughout the trek.

As a general rule, you should pack as lightly as possible. You will not be expected to carry your own bag (luggage transfer is included), but you will need to carry a day rucksack.

If you do not have some of the equipment in the list below, please contact us for advice.

Hiking boots (comfortable and broken in)
Hiking socks
One pair of spare socks per hiking day (although you could hand-wash them in the evenings)
Water canisters (1–1.5 litres)
Day rucksack 
Head torch
Rain jacket/poncho
Hiking T-shirts (synthetic, not no cotton)
Hiking trousers
Fleece
Hat (for sun protection)
Gloves
Sunglasses
Sun cream
Walking poles
Camera, telephone, GPS (optional)

Recommended literature for our Balkans trek

The novel Broken April by Ismail Kadare is set in the mountains on our hiking route.

You might also like to read High Albania by Edith Durham.

If you would like a map of the area we will be hiking, please order one from us in advance. They cost €10.

Spending money for your hiking trip

We recommend that you budget for additional expenses, such as drinks, additional meals and entrance fees. Tipping is not necessary; however, a tip is always appreciated if you are happy with a service.

The cost of living in the regions you will cover on this charity trek are generally lower than in the UK: for example, a three-course meal in a standard restaurant might cost €10pp, but a bottle of mineral water from a high street shop might cost €5.

Supplementary information

Time zone: GMT +1
Language: Albanian in Kosovo and Albania. Serbian/Montenegrin is the official language of Montenegro. In big cities many people speak English, but in remote areas this might not be the case. Many people also speak German.
Electric supply and plugs: 220V, 50 Hz, two-pin round.
Currency: euros (EUR) in Kosovo and Montenegro, lek in Albania (however, you can use euros, credit cards and cash machines in Peja, Plav and Gjakova).

All photos credited to Ken Spence.

Covid related cancellations:
All the bookings are subject to special conditions related to the Covid Pandemic. Full money back guaranteed till the day of travel is given in case:
– The countries of arrival are in lockdown and travel cannot happen
– In case that only one of the countries of arrival is affected the company will adjust the trip and make a new itinerary. If the client does not like the itinerary full refund will be made
– The country of origin is in lockdown and the flights have been cancelled or cannot be used due to pandemic
– There is a need for quarantine in the country of arrival for travellers from the country of origin.

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