WALKING IN ALBANIAN ALPS
Albanian Alps – the Accursed Mountains extending from northern Albania to west Kosovo and eastern Montenegro (Prokletije in Montenegro), as the southernmost part of the Dinaric Alps, form a massive Balkan range that contains about 40 separate mountains with an altitude above 2,000m and 17 of them with altitudes above 2500m. The two highest peaks of accursed mountains are Jezerca in Albania at 2,694m and Gjeravica in Kosovo at 2,656m altitude.
Our 5-day hiking adventure takes us to the most stunning areas in all of the Albanian lands. We start with one of the most famed boating in the Shala River. Spend some time exploring, swimming, and getting to know your companions along the way.
Our adventure goes on with a hike to a stunning panorama surrounding Albanian Alps in Valbona Valley National Park. The trip concludes having spent four days roaming through some of the most fabulous scenery that North Albania has to offer.
- Take in the phenomenal Albanian Alps views;
- Visit two majestic national parks: Thethi and Valbona;
- A scenic ferry journey in Komani lake.
Accommodation (hotel & guesthouse) and meals as written in the daily itinerary; group airport transfer and other transports as required by the itinerary; all entrance fees; ferry into Komani lake; skilled tour leader.
ALBANIAN ALPS ITINERARY
Day 1: After arriving in Albania, visit the ancient city of Shkodra.
Meet your guide and fellow travellers at Tirana International Airport, followed by a transfer to Shkodra (1hr 30min), one of the oldest inhabited cities in Albania with a 2500-year-old history. Our knowledgeable guide leads you on a fascinating city tour and will introduce the mountains, the culture, history, and the city of Shkodra, the next day's tours are similarly to Albania in general.
After lunch and a bit of rest, we enjoy a guided tour of the ancient city, exploration takes us to many of Shkodra's most notable sights including Castle Rozafa; Saint Stephen Church; Lead Mosque; Mesi Bridge; Orthodox Church; Ebu Bekr Mosque; The Catholic Cathedral and numerous historic buildings to explore.
The afternoon is left open to rest and explore this ancient and very special city. Perhaps take a walking tour with our guide or on your own to become more familiar with the city.
Accommodation: Hotel; Dinner included.
Day 2: Today's adventure begins in Komani lake. Boating in the Shala River.
Today starts with an early breakfast before we head off on our first full day of boating. We take a one-hour drive to lovely Komani Lake this morning and board our boat for the transfer across the lake to the “Blini Park” - Shala River, known as a Thailand of the Albanian Alps. Then, as we approach, from our boat, we admire the immensity of the river and its myriad shades of blue. Isolated from high peaks, the blue water of Shala River offers adventurers a panorama of those that resemble Thailand's remote.
After lunch and a bit of rest, we have ample time to swim in the clear river, bask in the sun and enjoy exploring the park in your own way. Afterwards, we head back down the trail to the lake where our boat awaits to transport us to the far shore of Fierza, then drive to Valbona Valley, our home for the next two nights. After dinner the remainder of the afternoon is yours to rest, read, enjoy the views or soak in your surroundings. All meals included.
Boating: 3 hours; Walk: 2-3 hours.
Day 3: A warm-up hike offers dramatic views of the Valbona Valley.
Surrounded by high mountains, "Valbona Valley National Park”, is considered the miracle of the Albanian Alps. Clean air, high and characteristic mountain peaks, lakes, numerous water resources, forests, mountains, flora and fauna provide conditions for eco-tourism. Certainly, the valley is known for its rare natural beauties, high mountains, biodiversity and natural monuments. The views and landscapes are very stunning, particularly on the clear summer nights, in the light of the moon, as the stars stand and watch, nestled in the lap of the Albania Alps, it is just a place beyond your imagination.
Today our trail heads towards Rama's alpine hut 1900m. We hike from Valbona on a steep path that takes us along Kukaj Village and then gradually uphill to the Alpine hut. Directly behind us, the mountain range of "Grykat e Hapëta - Zhaboret" appears to rise straight from the valley floor to its fullest, snowy height. Rama's Hut provides an ideal lunch spot with its sweeping views of the mountains that double the Valbona valley's beauty. After about three hours of gradual ascent, we reach Rama’s Hut.
Depending on your shape, we can go either further till the Pyramid 18, for about 1.3hr or descent down slowly to the valley, followed by an interesting afternoon to get in touch with nature and culinary traditions, as well as participate in the everyday life of the locals. All meals included.
Trek: 12 Km, 6-7 hours; Elevation gain/loss: 950m.
Day 4: Hike the spectacular "Valbona Pass".
Another phenomenal hike awaits us today! Likewise every day, we start our day with our usual hearty breakfast before today’s hike. Our van driver drops us at the trailhead where we find a relatively flat and easy trail to warm up our legs. It's not a particularly hard walk and is one that is attempted by many first-time mountain walkers. For the next two hours, the trail climbs slightly more steeply towards higher ground and we walk toward Valbona Pass. After that, we stop at Simoni cafè for hot mountain tea and cool drinks.
Resuming our hike for another one hour, we continue ascending to the Valbona col (1792m) where we have outstanding views of the Albanian Alps and the Valley of Valbona. Well rested, we continue walking down (30 min) to the Zefi’s housing for lunch. After lunch, we make our way down to the valley, mostly into the beech forest. Enjoy a hot shower, a cold beer, and a tasty homemade meal and celebrate the end of an exceptional trek.
Trek: 13 km, 6-7 hours; Elevation gain: 764m; Elevation loss: 1043m.
Accommodation: Bujtina Polia, Theth
Day 5: Discover Thethi National Park.
Our morning wake-up starts each day with a cup of hot mountain tea. After a hearty breakfast, we set out on the trail as it wanders through rolling terrain, past traditional homes, and the church-house of Thethi that stands in the midst of the plain–a solid, shingle-roofed building, with a bell tower. As we walk slowly into Thethi National Park, the snowy peak of Bosh, Radohime and Kakia give us a taste of the unmatched mountain scenery to come.
The village of Theth is one of the most picturesque and one of the most virgin places in Northern Albania. Preserved by the wild nature and very bad roads, the village has still the Kulla and other buildings dating back to the middle ages.
After the past few days of relatively challenging trekking, today is shorter (about 4 hours). We will start walking from the guesthouse and visit the attractions in and around the village, such as the stone-‐build Catholic Church, the blood feud tower ‘Kulla e Ngujimit’, the waterfall, the Grunasi Canyon, bathtubs of Nderlysa, and the Blue Eye before we turn back.
Tonight, we enjoy a special final celebration dinner with our travelling companions and newfound friends. All meals included.
Trek: 9 km, 3-4 hours; Elevation gain/loss: 300m.
Day 6: Say goodbye to your new friends after an unforgettable adventure.
After breakfast, our adventure ends with a private transfer to Shkodra, ending our exciting trek in the heart of the Balkans.
Driving: 2 hours. Breakfast included.
Although we try to do our very best to carry out the schedule written above, this itinerary is subject to change for some reasons beyond our control. This is a full 6-day Albanian Alps trip, which we can do from 1 to 6 and design it on your request.
- English-speaking local guide
- Group airport transfers
- All accommodation
- Meals from lunch day 1 to breakfast day 10
- All land transport required by the itinerary
- All entrance fees
- Luggage transport (more than four people in a group)
- Airline tickets
- Travel insurance
- Airport taxes
- Tips for local staff
- Alcoholic beverages or soft drinks
- Items of a personal sort
- Airport transfers other than group transfers
- Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, the following checklist has been created to help you choose your clothing and gear for this trip. Try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.
- Good walking shoes
- Day pack (20L – 35L)
- Sun cream
- Fleece Gloves
- Fleece Hat
- Fleece Jacket or Sweater
- Rain jacket
- Warm fleece jacket or jumper
- Rain pants
- Long Sleeve Shirts (Synthetic, Lightweight)
- Trekking trousers
- Warm fleece jacket or jumper
- Anti-bacterial hand gel
- Personal First Aid Kit/Medications (Lightweight)
- 2 x 1-litre water bottle
- Insect spray
- Water purification tablets (Water is provided, but very often this is from local wells or mountain streams and is not chlorinated. If you are concerned about drinking untreated water, we suggest you bring a supply of water treatment tablets.)
- Flashlight or Headlamp
- Trekking Poles
- Trainers or sandals
- Liner Socks (Synthetic)
- Shoes for Travel and Free Time
- Casual Clothing for Travel and Town Wear (Lightweight, Easily Washable)
- Spare laces
- Luggage Tags and Locks
- Camera and Accessories
- Ear Plugs
- Reading and Writing Materials
- Small Binoculars
- Reusable cloth bag for shopping (to avoid plastic bags)
Albania has a high number of climatic regions for so small an area. Generally, experiences a Mediterranean climate with summer temperatures at 25ºC on average in the day, and the warmest months are July and August where temperatures can rise to 30ºC and above.
Kosovo has a largely Continental climate, although Pristina is considered an Oceanic climate. Generally, summers are long and dry, and winters are mild and rainy, with occasional heavy snowfall in the mountains. It can get surprisingly hot in summer, between May and August, with temperatures sometimes reaching as high as 32°C (90°F). The warmest month is July, with an average high temperature of 26°C (79°F). Winters are cold and snowfall is common. The coldest month is January, with an average low temperature of -5°C (23°F).
The unit of currency in Kosovo and Montenegro is the Euro.
Note: Buying Lek is possible only in Albania
- Bajram Curri (17Km away from Valbona)
Montenegro Emergency numbers
- 92 (Police); 94 (Medical emergency)
- United States Consulate, Podgorica: +382 (0) 20 410 500
- Canadian Embassy, Belgrade, Serbia (also responsible for Montenegro): +381 (0)11 306 3000
- Australian Embassy, Belgrade, Serbia (also responsible for Montenegro): +381 (0)11 330 3400
- British Consulate, Podgorica: +382 (0) 81 205 460
- Podgorica International Airport: +382 0 20 444 244
Albania Emergency numbers
- 129 (Police); 127 (Ambulance)
- Embassy of United States, Tirana: +355 (0) 4 224 7285
- British Embassy, Tirana: +355 (0) 4 223 4973
- Consulate of Canada to the Republic of Albania, Tirana: +355 (0) 4 225 7274
- Tirana International Airport: +355 42 381 800
Kosovo Emergency numbers
- 112 (Police); 94 (Ambulance)
- British Embassy, Pristina: +383 (0) 38 254 700
- U.S. Embassy, Pristina: +383 (0) 38 59 59 3000
- German Embassy, Pristina: +383 (0) 38 254 500
- Pristina International Airport: +383 (0) 38 501 502 12 14
- Western Balkans Lonely Planet
- The Accursed Mountains - Robert Carver
- Broken April - Ismail Kadare
- High Albania - Edith Durham