Peak of the Balkans

 

Between the Great Valleys and the Accursed Mountains

Albania, Montenegro & Kosovo

                           12 days

Reference: TDAMK1-12-UK

Description:

A discovery trek for lovers of wilderness and wishing to meet the northern Albanians. The route will propose to cross unknown and often inaccessible regions in winter, although they have been inhabited since at least the Bronze Age. The landscapes seem fossilized by time, while the fauna and flora are full of activities. The hospitality of the inhabitants, their culture, their customs, their invisible presence and their way of being will make this trip unforgettable for the most reckless.

 

In brief:

2/2+
Difficulty
Experienced English-speaking guide
Maximum 12 / 14  persons
2 hikes: Vermosh (day 2) & Theth (day 6)
8 treks with an average of about 7: 00 hours of walking and nearly 115 km to cover
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3 visits: Shkodra (day 1); Gjakova (evening 10 and/or morning 11) & Tirana or Podgorica (evening 11)
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Outdoor activity: No
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12 days / 11 nights
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Luggage: Backpack or equivalent max. 15 to 20kg
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3* & 4* hotels and guest houses
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Tirana or Podgorica airport – See notes (1)
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From mid-of May to October
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Portage: A small backpack is needed for your daytime equipment
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Luggage transfer by mules and/or vans from one accommodation to the next one

Strengths:

  • A trek discovered in magnificent landscapes
  • An itinerary within the Balkan summits
  • 3 countries: Albania – Montenegro and Kosovo
  • Meeting with a warm population
  • Visit of exceptional places
  • Panoramic dinner for groups arriving and departing from Tirana (optional)
  • Private transfers
Day 1

Tirana or Podgorica airport – Shkodra

Welcome by an English-speaking guide at the airport of “Mother Theresa” of Tirana or by a driver for groups arriving at Podgorica airport. Transfer to Shkodra, the former capital of Illyria.

Depending on the arrival time of the group in Shkodra. Visit of the Rozafa citadel, dating from the Middle Ages and built on Illyrian foundations. From its summit, a 360° view allows you to admire the surrounding mountains and plains, but also the largest lake in the region, home to one of the largest bird reserves in Europe.

Visit of Shkodra, a high place of democracy and Albanian culture. This city rich in history and architecture was partially rebuilt in 1979 following an earthquake.

Visit of Saint Stephen’s Cathedral. Destroyed during an earthquake in 1905, then partially destroyed during a bombing in 1913, transformed into a sports palace following the “Albanian cultural revolution during communism, partially destroyed again in 1967, it hosts the Communist Congress of Albanian Women in 1973 to finally be reopened in 1990 and welcome Pope John Paul II in 1993.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 2

Shkodra – Vermosh

Hiking: ~ 4:00 hours
Maximal ascent: ~ 550 m.
Maximal descend: ~ 750 m.
Distance: ~ 8 km
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Head for the most remote village in northern Albania, Vermosh. Starting point of this trek within the Accursed Mountains, Vermosh is one of the 8 villages that make up the Kelmend district.

Before reaching its final destination, the vehicle will make a few stops at emblematic places in the region where nature will have sculpted impressive geological landscapes over time.

After lunch with the locals, a warm-up on a loop that will allow you to go to the lake region by crossing the border with Montenegro from time to time.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse.

Day 3

Vermosh – Lepushë

Hiking: ~ 6:30 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 720 m.
Maximal descend: ~ 790 m.
Distance: ~ 12 km
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Direction the Zabeli pass by climbing along pastures and beech forests. Once the obstacle has been overcome, the horizon opens onto the Lepushë circus surrounded by the peaks, the surrounding mountains and, in the distance, Mount Trojan. The route follows the peaks of Greben before diving towards the small village of Lepushë.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse.

Day 4

Lepushë – Nikç

Hiking: ~ 5:30 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 500 m.
Maximal descend: ~ 450 m.
Distance: ~ 8 km
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The deeper the journey goes into the pastures to climb towards the ridges of Berizhdoli, the more it will open onto a wonderful panorama where just silence will tell the ears of the history of these mountains. The route will let the story continue its journey to the hamlet of Nikc, protected by a rocky natural barrier forming the border between Albania and Montenegro.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse.

Day 5

Nikç – Theth

Hiking: ~ 9:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 1300 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 1150 m.
Distance: ~ 22 km
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The journey leaves behind the present to go back in time. It will be necessary to reach a hamlet composed of a few farms scattered in this environment at more than 1700 meters to begin to see Maja Jezercë, guess Montenegro, and admire the stone valley with its peaks, ridges and cliffs. A Jurassic Park setting.

 

 

Depending on the time of arrival in Theth and combining with the following day, it will be possible to walk around the village to admire its cultural sites such as its small church, the Nikoll Koceku tower or its ethnographic museum (*).

Dinner and night in a guesthouse

Day 6

Theth – Theth

Hiking: ~ 4:30 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 250 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 500 m.
Distance: ~ 15 km
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A day of relaxation in this small village at the bottom of a valley. Land of legends, myths and traditions, the Kanun law was the moral code that served as jurisprudence based on the concept of honor. Finding for some of them pre-Christian origins, this way of life reflected the austere reality of these mountain people whose traces are still visible today. Surrounded by mountains, some of which reach more than 2000 meters, Theth owes its development to nature lovers.

Direction the hamlet of Nderlysaj, passing by a place of rare beauty listed as an Albanian heritage site, the Grunas waterfall, whose last waterfall is 30 meters high. The walk continues along the Grunas Canyon. Over time, the water has carved its bed into the limestone rock to form a gorge about 2 km long, 60 meters high and between 2 and 40 meters wide, where icy, clear water flows.

Stroll along the river to reach the famous natural swimming pools of Nderlysaj where a lunch break will be organized.

It is necessary to take the road again to reach the hamlet of Kaprre and its Blue Eye. Formed by erosion, it is about 100 m² and has a depth of up to 5 meters.

Return to Theth for a well-deserved rest.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse

Day 7

Theth – Valbona

Hiking: ~ 7:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 1050 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 850 m.
Distance: ~ 14.5 km
Made by Eucalyp of flaticon.com Mules

The itinerary invites you to climb the famous Valbona Pass (1759 meters) and will follow the old road used by mules to reach the Shala to Nikaj region.

The route will offer a magnificent glimpse of Mother Nature’s jewels. Sailing between forests, slopes, torrents and neighboring peaks (Jezerces – 2692 m., Radohimes – 2568 m.) it will pass through the top of the Valbona pass to offer a splendid view of the Theth and Valbona valleys.

Dinner and night in a hotel

Day 8

Valbona – Çerem

Hiking: ~ 7:30 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 1150 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 950 m.
Distance: ~ 15 km
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This long walk will take you to the village of Cerem via Montenegro. The ascent of the Prosllopit Pass is difficult. We think we’re there, we see it, but it’s still not there. At an altitude of more than 2000 meters, the landscape seems to be compressed between sky and earth.

Quickly Montenegro. Long descent to the Borit Pass to return to Albania and finally reach Çerem through mountain pastures and wooded areas.

The trek allows you to cross forgotten and magnificent landscapes. The route will offer spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse

Day 9

Çerem – Dobërdol

Hiking: ~ 6:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 950 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 300 m.
Distance: ~ 16 km
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This stage gives you a glimpse of the majestic beauty of the cursed mountains. The route crosses green forests that, in season, are full of blueberries. Climb via Montenegro to the Aljucit Pass (1920 meters) which allows a return to Albania.

Descent to the Balqin mountain pastures and then to the Bodërboll pastures.

Dinner and night in a guest house.

Day 10

Dobërbol – Mt Gjeravica – Gropa e Erenikut – Gjakova

Hiking: ~ 8:30 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 875 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 845 m.
Distance: ~ 12 km
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Departure from the Dobërbol mountain pastures to reach Kosovo. It is a journey at a height that will offer an unobstructed view of the mountainous landscapes. Winding through forests and pastures, the path passes near glacial lakes that are home to a very rare species of salamander.

The ascent of Mt. Gjeravica is not as simple as it seems. Although it does not present any particular difficulty, it climbs to reach 2653 meters from Kosovo’s highest peak.

Then slow descent to Gropa e Erenikut, located in the middle of the mountain pastures and where it will be possible to regain some strength.

Direction Gjakova and depending on the time of day, visit the city.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 11

Gjakova – Lake Koman – Kruja or Podgorica

If time permits, a short cultural moment in Gjakova, Kosovo. During the Ottoman period, the city served as a meeting place and exchange center on the Shkodra / Constantinople axis (Istanbul). Christianity has been present in the city since the Roman Empire, while Islam only arrived during the Ottoman period.

Visit of its historical center and the largest bazaar in the Balkans, Çarshia e Madhe. Despite partial destruction during the Kosovo war, the bazaar was rebuilt almost identically and contains nearly 500 shops.

Nearby is the Hadum Mosque, built in 1594. It is characterized by its architectural motifs and contains historical objects but also fountains and small mausoleums.

Further away are the churches of St. Paul and St. Peter, both part of the Cultural Heritage of Kosovo.

It will be time to join Fierze in Albania. Travel by ferry to Koman. This navigation of about 2h30 to 3h00 allows you to discover unique landscapes resulting from the erosion created by the Drin River in the Albanian Alps, it is simply an incredible experience.

Then the vehicle will continue its journey to Tirana. Depending on the time of day, a brief visit to the capital. Transfer to Podgorica for those arrived from Montenegro and free visit.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel. Optionally, possible diner in a panoramic restaurant on mount Dajti for groups arriving and departing from Tirana (See note 2)

Day 12

Departure

 

INCLUDED
3* Night in a 3* hotel (standard room) – Days 1, 7, 10 1* Night in a 4* hotel (standard room) – Day 11
7* Nights in a guesthouse – Days 2 to 6 and 8 to 9 11* Breakfasts
11* Dinners (10* dinners for those departing from Podgorica 11* Lunches or picnics (10* Lunches or picnics for those arriving from Podgorica)
All the visits mentioned in this program Transportation including luggage transfers
English-speaking guide (*) Free option: Visit of the ethnographic museum of Theth (Plan between 1 and 2 €)
Bottled still water of 0.5l is included, per person, at each meal. Experienced English-speaking guide for the duration of the stay (except for those returning to Montenegro day 14
Accommodation in hotels (double room and local standard) or guesthouses (double room or shared room). Meals (breakfasts, lunches or baskets, dinners) and drinks (table water)
All luggage transport (1x backpack or equivalent of 15 kg maximum per person) by horses, vans or 4×4 between stages Costs related to planned visits and border crossing authorisations
Private taxi transfer between Podgorica hotel and Podgorica airport (day 12)
NOT INCLUDED
All personal expenses Costs related to specific requests or those not mentioned above
Meals and drinks other than table water were served during meals Lunch day 1 and dinner day 11 for those arriving and departing from Podgorica
Visit not mentioned to in the programme The plane ticket
Accommodation in single rooms Travel insurance
  • For safety reasons and in case of force majeure, the guide has full authority to adapt or even cancel an itinerary. This is all the more valid depending on the evolution of the weather or for medical reasons.
  • As the guide is responsible for all the people in his care and for the cohesion of the group, he can at any time adapt the pace of the walk, the effort, the itinerary… in order to avoid the isolation of one or more participants.
  • The guide has a duty to ensure that the environment in which the group operates is respected.
  • In order to respect the rules and laws in force in the countries crossed, Savatours can call on the support of local partners licensed in these countries (guides, transport, equipment, logistics, etc.). We have ensured that these companies share the same values as those established by Savatours.
  • The distances and walking times are given as an indication.

Passport:

A valid passport (at least 6 months from the start of the stay) is required. A copy of each participant’s passport will be requested at least one month before the departure date of the trek in order to obtain the border crossing authorizations from the competent authorities.

Insurance:

International travel insurance is strongly recommended to cover the consequences of incidents that may occur while travelling, travelling and staying abroad. It is the traveler’s responsibility to check with his travel agent or insurer before departure.

  • This discovery trek includes walks over long distances in the wild. It is not recommended for children under 15 years of age.
  • It is advisable to be in good health and physical condition.
  • Avoid drinking tap water or spring water, unless your guide allows it.
  • Respect the environment in which you operate. He’ll give it back to you.

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