Peak of the Balkans

 

The untameable

Albania, Montenegro & Kosovo

                     14 days

Reference: PTAMK5-14-UK

Description:

Explore the Kelmend region, home to some of the most impressive scenery in the Albanian Alps. It is the region of myths and legends. Kelmend is still the wildest, least known and least travelled place in the Balkans. Follow in the footsteps of Mary Edith Durham or Baron Franz Nopcsa or more recently of the historian Indro Montanelli.

Climb the peaks listed as the highest in Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo. A trek for experienced and brave hikers. The effort made will be rewarded by unreal landscapes in a natural and incredibly surprising setting as only nature can 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
2 hikes: Grebaje (day 3) & Theth (day 5)
8 treks with an average of 7:30 hours of walking and more than 140 km to cover
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2 cultural visits: Gjakova & Prizren (day 11) & Tirana (evening 13 & morning 14)
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Outdoor activity: No
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14 days / 13 nights
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Luggage: Backpack or equivalent max. 15 to 20kg
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Hotel 3* & 4* and guesthouses
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Tirana (Albania) or Podgorica (Montenegro) airport – See notes (1)
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From mid-of May to October
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Carrying: A small backpack is necessary for your daily equipment.
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Transfer of luggage on mules and/or by vehicle from one accommodation to another

Strengths:

  • A discovery trek for a unique experience
  • Itinerary on the Balkan Summit Trails
  • Ascent of the most famous peaks
  • 3 countries: Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo
  • Encounter with a warm population
  • Visits to exceptional places
  • Private transfers
Day 1

Tirana airport – Lepushë

Reception by an English-speaking guide at the airport “Mother Theresa” of Tirana. Departure by van to Vermosh in the heart of the Kelmend region.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Edith Durham, a young British explorer, was attracted to Malesia e Madhe, the land of the Great Mountain. Despite many difficulties, she was carried away by the charm of an ancient culture still alive: the land of the living past. To relive the same emotions as Durhan, the hike begins in unforgettable landscapes, unspoilt nature and the discovery of ancient traditions and customs.

For those who crave winding roads and spectacular views, the road from Shkodra to Lepushë can be the epitome of adventure travel. Following the border of Montenegro, the road will pass through Broje, which looks like a fortress clinging to the cliffs, then Tamarë and Selca, which is famous for its natural monuments, historical and cultural sites.

Then Lepushë. Lepushë is rich in natural beauty. The surrounding peaks slope gently down the Lepushë valley giving the area the appearance of a huge stadium. It is also the cradle of myths and legends. The alpine forests, pastures and meadows are home to an extensive flora and fauna.

Dinner and accommodation in a guesthouse.

Day 2

Lepushë - Grebaje

Hiking: ~ 5:30 hours
Maximal ascent: ~ 2056 m.
Maximal descend: ~ 1150 m.
Distance: ~ 9 km
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Direction the hamlet of Grebaje in Montenegro. The trail does not present any particular difficulties. It passes through beautiful forests and meadows. The route gently climbs the hills, following from time to time some streams coming down from the surrounding mountains and peaks, such as the Talijanka peak, which rises to over 2000 meters. The trail continues along the mountain pastures offering beautiful views of the Albanian and Montenegrin Alps. After crossing the border, the descent begins towards Grebaje through meadows and forests.

Dinner and accommodation in a guesthouse.

Day 3

Grebaje – Vusanje

Hiking: ~ 3:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 1050 m.
Maximal descend: ~ 900 m.
Distance: ~ 4.5 km
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The morning starts with a short walk in the surroundings of Grebaje along the Crna Dolja river to see the canyon and the waterfall. Then a short transfer is necessary to reach the small village of Gucinje.

A stopover at one of Montenegro’s natural wonders, the Ali Pasha spring. The Ali-Pasha spring (Ali Pasini Izvori) is one of the main attractions of the Prokletije National Park. The river, which is formed directly by the hatching from the ground of numerous small springs, is something that will certainly amaze the visitor a lot.

The Ali Pasha Springs are very spectacular and unique, and the water is so clean and transparent that many people drink the water directly from there.

Direction Vusanje, in the heart of the Prokletije National Park. After check-in at the hostel and lunch break, a trail will lead the group to the Blue Eye. Located at about 1000 meters above sea level, it is a karst spring which has a circular shape with a deep opening in its center where the water comes out. The water has a typical light green/blue translucent colour.

Dinner and accommodation in a guesthouse.

Day 4

Vusanje – Mt Arapi - Theth

Hiking: ~ 10:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 1465 m.
Maximal descend: ~ 900 m.
Distance: ~ 22 km
Made by Eucalyp of flaticon.com Horses or mules

The village of Vusanje slowly disappears as the route begins to climb up the Ropojana valley to reach the Runice plateau. The path continues through the vast meadows dominated by Mt. Jezerca from its 2694 meters above sea level. Jezerca has the reputation of being the most dangerous and difficult summit to climb in the Albanian Alps. Direction the Peja Pass or the border between Montenegro and Albania will be crossed. The Peja Pass offers a magnificent view of the Theth valley.

Direction the pointed summit of Mount Arapi which dominates the whole region. Nicknamed the Matterhorn of the Cursed Mountains, the ascent of its majestic shape remains a challenge even for the most experienced climbers.

It is also a meeting place for mountaineers as its steep walls are extremely popular with professional climbers, especially the 800-metre-high south-facing wall. Speleologists are also welcome to explore caves, the largest of which is over 2580 metres long with vault heights of over 340 metres. Its ascent will give a glimpse of what awaits you in the Cursed Mountains.

Descent on a rocky path to finally reach the village of Theth.

Dinner and accommodation in a guesthouse.

Day 5

Theth - Theth

Hiking: ~ 4:30 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 250 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 500 m.
Distance: ~ 15 km
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Walk in the village to admire its cultural places like its small church, the tower of Nikoll Koceku 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 based on the concept of honour was for a long time the moral code that served as jurisprudence. This way of life reflected the austere reality of these mountain dwellers whose traces are still visible today. Surrounded by mountains, some of which are over 2000 meters high, Theth owes its development to nature lovers.

Heading towards the hamlet of Nderlysaj, we pass by a place of rare beauty, 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 in the limestone rock to form a gorge about 2 km long, 60 meters high and between 2 and 40 meters wide. At the bottom flows icy, crystal-clear water.

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

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

Return to Theth for a well-deserved rest.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse

Day 6

Theth – Valbona

Hiking: ~ 7:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 1050 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 850 m.
Distance: ~ 14.5 km
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The itinerary invites you to climb the famous Valbona Pass (1759 meters) and follow the old mule route from the Shala region to the Nikaj region.

The route will offer a magnificent glimpse of the jewels of mother nature. Navigating between forests, slopes, torrents and surrounding peaks (Jezerces – 2692 m., Radohimes – 2568 m.) it will pass through the Valbona pass offering a splendid view of the valleys of Theth and Valbona.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse

Day 7

Valbona – Mt Roshit - Valbona

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

An easy start by following the Kukaj River and following pastures and wooded areas. The trail starts climbing along the canyon passing near Mt Thatë (2405 m.), then continues steeply and ends in rocky terrain. From this point on, the horizon no longer has its limits, and suffering will give way to wonder.

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

Descent to Valbona.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse

Day 8

Valbona – Mt Kollatës - Valbona

Hiking: ~ 10:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 1630 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 1630 m.
Distance: ~ 17 km
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Mt Kolatës, situated 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 and Maja e Kolatës 2556 m.). As interesting as Mt Arapi, this ascent cannot leave indifferent.

The itinerary will pass through mountain pastures to reach the rocky part that will have to be climbed without fail. At the summit, the admiration that the Kolatës brothers will provoke will soon give way to wonder and respect.

Return to Valbona.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse

Day 9

Valbona – Çerem - Dobërdol

Hiking: ~ 6:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 950 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 300 m.
Distance: ~ 16 km
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Transfer to Çerem.

The stage allows to have a glimpse of the majestic beauty of the cursed mountains. The route passes through green forests which, in season, are full of blueberries. Ascent via Montenegro to the Aljucit pass (1920 meters) which allows a return to Albania.

The itinerary will cross the Gashi nature reserve, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which takes its name from the river that crosses it. The fauna and flora are characterized by the important presence of endemic species due to the isolation of the place, the variations in altitude and the absence of human presence.

Descent to the Balqin mountain pastures and then to the Bodërbol pastures. This hamlet seems to be at the end of the world, being linked by tracks inaccessible to cars.

Dinner and night in a guesthouse

Day 10

Dobërdol – Mt Gjeravica – Gropa e Erenikut - Gjakova

Hiking: ~ 8:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 875 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 845 m.
Distance: ~ 12 km
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Departure from the mountain pastures of Dobërboll to reach Kosovo. It is a trip to the heights that will offer an unobstructed view of the mountainous landscapes. Snaking between forests and pastures, the path passes close to glacial lakes sheltering in particular a very rare species of salamander.

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

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

Direction Gjakova.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 11

Gjakova – Prizren - Brod

A cultural day of fitness and rest.

Gjakova is a place of culture and learning in Kosovo. Visit its historical center and the largest bazaar in the Balkans, the Çarshia e Madhe.

Direction Prizren, splendour and symbol of Albanian history. Transfer to the Shadervan and its fountain, the main square that once housed the bazaar. Walk to admire the Kuklibeu mosque built around 1534, the Ottoman house of Hasan Sheu dating from the 18th century, the old stone bridge over the river that cuts Prizren in two and the hammam built in the 16th century by Mehmet Pasha and considered one of the most important in the Balkans.

Visit the house of the “League of Prizren”, officially “the league for the defense of the rights of the Albanian nation” founded on June 10, 1878 and proposing a regional autonomy. It was quickly rejected by the Ottomans.

Dinner and overnight in hotel (Brod)

Day 12

Brod – Grand Rudoka – Brod - Prizren

Hiking: ~ 9:00 hours
Ascent maximum: ~ 2660 m.
Descent minimum: ~ 1500m.
Distance: ~ 22km
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The hike will follow one of the itineraries of High Scardus, a transnational product designed to discover the mountains, valleys, inhabitants, villages, fauna and flora that border and occupy Albania, Northern Macedonia and Kosovo. The name Scardus means “colourful”.

This long journey offers an exceptional view of this complex environment and will leave an indelible mark in your memory.

Ascent of the highest peak in Kosovo, the great Rudoka (Maja e Njeriut) whose summit reaches 2,658 meters. The trail follows a torrent and crosses mountain pastures. After 4 km of hiking, a magnificent waterfall called Celepino, one of the hidden gems of the Shar Mountains, offers a wonderful moment of relaxation.

The trail continues to climb over a meadow and offers an unobstructed view of the surrounding peaks. Finally, at the very top, a 360 ° view shows landscapes of the Shar Mountains located in Kosovo and northern Macedonia.

The descent will lead the group to another trail that will pass by Lake Shutman, one of the largest lakes in the Shar Mountains in Kosovo. The lake is at an altitude of 2070 meters above sea level.

After a well-deserved break in Brod we will have to leave these beautiful places and return to Prizren .

Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 13

Prizren – Lake Koman – Tirana

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 of the Albanian Alps by the river Drin, it is simply an incredible experience.

Then the vehicle will resume its route to Tirana. Depending on the weather, visit the city center and its famous “block”, then head for the cable car to reach Mount Dajti which offers a breathtaking view of Tirana and where dinner in a panoramic restaurant will be served.

Night at the hotel.

Day 14

Departure

Visit the House of Leaves Museum, which tells visitors about one of the darkest periods in the history of Albania. The museum is dedicated to all those who endured the torture, assassinations, arrests and surveillance organized by the Albanian secret service.

Departure to Rinas and Tirana International Airport.

 

INCLUDED
6* Nights in hotel 3* (local standard) – days 6, 7, 8, 10, 12 & 13 1* Night in hotel 5* (local standard) – day 11
6* Nights in guesthouse – days 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 9 13* Breakfasts and dinners
13* Lunches or picnics Transportation including luggage transfers
English-speaking guide All mentioned visits
(*) Free option : Visit of the Ethnographic Museum of Theth (Approximately 1 et 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 11) 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
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 14
Visit day 14 (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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