Peak of the Balkans

 

Provocation

Albania

                            8 Days

Reference: PTA1-8-UK

Description:

Ascend peaks listed as the highest in the Peaks of Balkans on the Albanian side. A trek for experienced and brave hikers. The effort made will be rewarded by fabulous landscapes in a natural setting and incredibly surprising as only nature knows how to offer. A discovery trek that will also allow you to meet a population of mountain people from one of the oldest tribes in Europe, the Illyrians. Add to this a bit of Ottoman culture and give free rein to your emotions.

In brief:

2/2+
Difficulty
Experienced English-speaking guide
Maximum 10 / 12  persons
1 hiking: Theth (day 2)
7 treks with an average of about 8:30 hours of walking and nearly 114 km to cover
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3 visits: Shkodra (day 1); Gjakova & Prizren (day 9) & Kruja 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* or 4* hotels and guesthouses
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Tirana or Podgorica airport – See notes (1)
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From mid-May to October/November
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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 discovery trek for a unique experience
  • On the paths of the Balkan summits
  • Climbing the most famous peaks
  • 3 countries: Albania – Montenegro and Kosovo
  • Meeting with a warm population
  • Visit of exceptional places
  • 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, again partially destroyed 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 - Theth

Hiking: ~ 4:30 hours
Maximal ascent: ~ 250 m.
Maximal descend: ~ 500 m.
Distance: ~ 15 km
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Travel to Theth.

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 (*).

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.

After lunch, head for the hamlet of Nderlysaj via a place of rare beauty listed as an Albanian heritage site, the Grunas Falls, 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 3

Theth – Peja Pass – Mt Arapi - Theth

Hiking: ~ 10:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 1450 m.
Maximal descend: ~ 1450 m.
Distance: ~ 22 km
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From the top of its peak, Mount Arapi dominates the entire region. Nicknamed the Matterhorn of the Cursed Mountains, the ascent of its majestic shape remains a challenge, even for the most experienced.

It is also a meeting place for mountaineers because its steep walls are extremely popular for professional climbers, especially the 800-metre high one facing south. Speleologists are also on hand to explore the caves, the longest has been measured over 2580 meters with heights sometimes exceeding 340 meters.

Its ascent will give an insight into what awaits travelers in the Cursed Mountains.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse.

Day 4

Theth – Valbona

Hiking: ~ 7:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 1050 m.
Maximal descend: ~ 850 m.
Distance: ~ 14.5 km
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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 go through the top of the Valbona pass to offer a splendid view of the Theth and Valbona valleys.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse.

Day 5

Valbona – Mt Roshit - Valbona

Hiking: ~ 8:30 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 1600 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 1600m.
Distance: ~ 10km
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Certainly considered the most interesting summit to clearly see the extent and grandeur of the Accursed Mountains, Mt Roshit, is located in Montenegro and culminates at an altitude of 2522 meters.

Starting by following the Kukaj River and following the pastures and wooded areas, the trail begins to climb along the canyon near Mt Thatë (2405 m.), then continues on a steep slope to end in rocky terrain. From that moment on, the horizon no longer has its limits, and suffering will give place to wonders.

From the summit, it is possible to see the magnificent landscapes of Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo.

Descent on Valbona.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse.

Day 6

Valbona – Mt Kollatës - Valbona

Hiking: ~ 10:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 1630m.
Descent minimum: ~ 1630m.
Distance: ~ 17km
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Mt Kolatës, located on the border between Montenegro and Albania, has the particularity of having 3 peaks (e Keq Kolatës 2535 m., E Mire Kolatës 2528 m. and in the center Maja e Kolatës 2556 m.). As interesting as Mt Arapi, this ascent cannot leave anyone indifferent.

The route will pass through mountain pastures to reach the rocky part that must be climbed without failure. At the top, the admiration that the Kolatës brothers would arouse would quickly give way to wonder and respect.

Back to Valbona.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse.

Day 7

Valbona – Lake Koman – Kruja or Podgorica

It is time to reach 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 bus will continue its journey to Kruja. Visit of its bazaar and depending on the time of day, visit of the castle.

Direction Podgorica for those arrived from Montenegro and free visit.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel.


Dinner in a traditional restaurant and overnight at the hotel.Small transfer from Peja to Koshutan hamlet in the Rugova mountains. Before 2016, this location was completely isolated during winter time, as there was absolutely no way to reach it. The trail will lead to the Dromodol pass then to the Dromodol summit. The trail itself is not challenging. From the pass or from the summit, the views are simply 360 °splendid. Many peaks emerge from the horizon giving the impression that it is possible to touch them with fingers just by reaching out  the hand. The beauty gives the desire to go further and further. Back to Koshutan and transfer to Peja.

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Day 8

Departure

 

INCLUDED
6* Night in a 3* hotel (local standard) – Days 1, 4 to 6 1* Night in a 4* hotel (local standard) – Day 7
2* Nights in a guesthouse – Days 2 & 3 7* Breakfasts
6* Lunches or picnics and dinners Transportation including luggage transfers
English-speaking guide All the visits mentioned in this program except for the afternoon in Tirana (if any) or Podgorica (day 7) left free.
All visits mentioned in this program (*) 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 7)
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 Transfer from Kruja / Podgorica to airport (day 8)
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 and dinner day 7
Visit day 7 (if any) 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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