Accursed Mountains

This tour is perfect for experienced hikers who are eager to explore the full scale of the Albanian Alps’ heart by crossing it on foot from West to East. If you like going off the beaten track and are up for a challenge, this tour is for you.

The itinerary covers the three most remarkable regions in the Dinaric Alps: Kelmend, Thethi and Valbona, all dominated by towering mountains but different in lifestyle, mindset of people and architecture. Bound for the capital Tirana a scenic ferry ride across the Koman Lake awaits.

A special tour for very fit and ambitious hikers who aim high and look for a trekking adventure that offers close contact with the highlanders and insights into the peculiarities of their lives.

Trip duration 8 days
Average daily walking time 3-9.5 hours
Difficulty 4 / 4
Comfort level standard

The Albanian Alps within your grasp: Lepushe The Accursed Mountains' central plateau; straight the way up to Maja e Radohimes, Maja e Shtogut on the far right View to Southwest up the Valbona river, with Zhapores Range to the left and Jezerca Massif to right, and Valbona village in the center

“Accursed Mountains” Highlights

  • experiencing the warm hospitality and honest curiosity about tourists of villagers in Kelmend
  • hiking in the unreal karst vastness of the central massif
  • enjoying the relaxed village life and a refreshing swim in Theth
  • spectacular views of the entire Valbona valley from Kollata massif
  • the proud feeling of having crossed the Bjeshket e Nemuna on foot

After the rendezvous at the airport in Podgorica the group continues straight away to Albania. Leaving the border behind, the dirt road enters the highlands through the Cemi Canyon. From its rim the Stairs of Kelmend zigzag down into the canyon offering tremendous views. After passing the villages Tamara and Selca we arrive at an altitude of 1319m at Qafa Bordolecit, the night will be spent nearby with views of the central massif.

The next day’s walk takes the group closer to the heart of the Alps, walking from Lepushe via the wonderful Koprishti summer pastures or Mt Berizdholit to the next destination, while the grey and hostile looking karst rocks appear almost within ones reach. Behind the pastures the trail descends with unbelievably scenic views of the natural amphitheater of Lugina e Nikcit, where both Vukel (reached first) and our destination Nikc are located.

The long transfer hike from Kelmend to Theth often leaves the strongest impression. Very few hikers tackle the route that leads past the Kelmendi Fortress (a natural castle) to the green oasis at Dobraces. The shepherds’ village makes for a good picnic stop. Onwards the jags of Mt Shtogu and Mt Arapi rise from the extremely rugged karst plateau that has to be traversed to eventually descend via the Peja Pass to Theth.

The fourth day is at free disposal. The guesthouse is an inviting place to relax, as are many spots by the river that offer swimming nearby. The village can be explored individually and an optional guided walk will be offered, that visits the Kulla (lock-in tower), Grunas Waterfall and Canyon, as well as village Nderlysa downstream and the adjacent valley of Kapreja with the Blue Eye. Natural pools and glacial mills invite for swimming.

Leaving the traditional stone houses of Theth behind the luggage is transported on horses over the Valbona Pass. From the narrow pass both valleys stretch out below our rest spot and one feels on par again with the surrounding mountains – an unrivalled viewpoint. In half-abandoned Rragam a stop for cold beverages is possible before the last bit of the walk through the riverbed is taken.

Day 6 offers the possibility to climb the highest mountain of Montenegro, located right at the border with Albania. After initial transport to another semi-abandoned village named Cerem, the trail rises to Qafa Borit from where Montenegro is visible. At Qafa Perslopit the guide will decide if the conditions are fit for a summit attempt, three peaks can be scaled. Otherwise the group returns via another pasture stop below the dramatic Mt Thate to Valbona.

Following a transfer through the Wild East city Bajram Curri we board the Koman Lake ferry in Fierze. After the stunning ferry ride the capital awaits. The “Balcony of Tirana” at the upper cable car station offers the best views of the city that will be explored in the afternoon. The evening can be spent in upbeat neighborhood “Bloku” – Tirana’s nightlife district, before we say farewell the next day.

  • meeting at Podgorica airport and transfer to the border at Hani Hotit (15m)
  • stop at “Stairs of Kelmend” (758m) at the rim of Cemi Canyon, panoramic views of the valley below and waterfall (depending on season)
  • stopover in Tamara (270m), the administrative center of Kelmend, opportunity to buy snacks and go swimming
  • transfer past Selca to Qafa Bordolecit (1319m), check-in at guesthouse that offers picturesque views of the Alps
  • depending on the time short walking options will be offered


Cemi Canyon Beans drying on a roof in Tamara Traditional stone house, Tamara

  • two route options exist:
    a)  from Qafa Bordolecit (1319m) to Stanet e Kuprishtit (1700m) with views of the razorback mountain Gelishti (2021m) and glacial shaped peaks of Kelmend
    b) via Gropa e Dobkut (1657m) to Maja e Berizdholit (1976m) that offers a panoramic perspective of the Alps
  • the trails meet at the descend to Vukel (770m), just before the natural amphitheater of the Nikc Valley perched between the mountains becomes visible
  • short relaxing walk from Vukel to the cozy guesthouse in Nikc (662m)


Lepushe, Kelmend Shepherds bring their animals to the alps in midsummer Vukli

Hike details

Effective walking: 6 h
Distance: 16 km
Ascending: 450 m
Descending: 1150 m

  • the trail from Nikc (662m) to Qafa Dobraces (1692m) is partly protected from the sun as it leads through the forest, past a water source, that turns into a waterfall in spring, and Forca e Kelmendit, a natural fortress
  • break at the shepherd summer huts of Dobraces (1656m), the last green spot before we enter the grey karst, spiked with sharp ridges and dolina – a landscape from another world
  • hike over the karst plateau, on both sides framed by mountains well over 2500m, past the jagged Maja e Shtogut and Maja e Arapit (2217m), that features a 900m high steep face
  • descend on Qafa e Pejes (1710m) next to the Balkans’ largest big wall and on to the springs of Thethi river (888m); on almost level ground the walk continues to our guesthouse (750m)

Approaching the summer alp of Dobraces Surrounded by nothing but mountains: the heart of the Albanian Alps Descend from Qafa e Pejes into Theth

Effective walking: 9.5 h
Distance: 22 km
Ascending: 1300 m
Descending: 1150 m

  • feel free to stay at the guesthouse or to embark on your own to explore the village
  • guided walk through the village to Kulla (lock-in tower, talk about blood feud), Grunas Waterfall (30m high) and Canyon (50m deep)
  • break at a small cafe hut and option to return to the guesthouse on your own
  • or to continue on a bridle path along the Thethi river to Nderlysa and visit the glacial mills (509m) and Blue Eye (612m) in Kapreja
  • many opportunities to enjoy a refreshing splash in one of the rock poolsNote: walking details displayed below relate to the longest walk possible on that day

Houses in Ulaj quarter, greenest part of the whole village Catholic church in the center of Theth Often the sun creates a rainbow at the base of the waterfall

Effective walking: 7.5 h
Distance: 19 km
Ascending: 100 m
Descending: 300 m

  • initial hike through the village until we reach the upmost houses in Gjelaj
  • the trail to Rragam follows a ridge through beech forest which offers protection from the sun until we reach the tree line at about 1650m
  • lunch on top of Valbona pass (1815m) at a lookout rock or a shady protected spot nearby
  • descend to Rragam (1122m) with amazing views of the mountains forming Valbona valley
  • break for some cold beverages at a small local ‘cafe’
  • short transfer to our guest house for the next two nights

Crossing from Theth to Valbona while luggage is transported on mules Views back to Shala Valley with Maja e Zorzit (1663m), Maja e Shtegut and Thethi at the far right Awesome views of Valbona valley

Effective walking: 7 h
Distance: 12 km
Ascending: 1125 m
Descending: 725 m

  • transfer from Valbona to the semi-deserted village Cerem (1186m)
  • hike through the forest to Stanet e Derzhanes (1603m) and Qafa Borit (1852m) at the border with Montenegro
  • behind the Katun Grlata (1791m) the trail enters again karst territory, continues through the gully between the Kolata and Belic (2524m) massifs, where the Shpella e Lieers (ice cave) is found, to Qafa Perslopit (2039m)
  • at this point the guide will decide how to continue:
    a)      the circular walk to the summer pasture Rrethit e Bardhe below dramatic Mali i Thateb)      depending on the timing, climb up to Zla Kolata (2534m – highest peak of Montenegro, right at the border), Dobra Kolata (2526m) or Rodi e Kollates (2556m – Albanian side)

The border pyramid at Qafa Borit On the saddle of Kollata, with Kollate e Mire / Dobre Kollate (2528m) in the background Bjelic Massif with Maja e Rosit (2524m) barely visible behind, further in the back the Karanfil Chain

Effective walking: 9 h / 7.5 h
Distance: 13 km /16km
Ascending: 1350 m / 850m
Descending: 1350 m / 1300m

  • early morning departure for Bajram Curri and the ferry dock near Fierze (43km – 2h)
  • boarding of the ferry at 6:15am, the scenic trip on Lake Koman takes around 2.5h
  • transfer via Shkoder towards Tirana (150km – 3h)
  • lunch in a restaurant in Tirana
  • optional cable car trip to Dajti Balcony (1045m) and hike to Tujanit Peak (1531m)
  • return to the hotel
  • late afternoon guided walking tour of Tirana
  • dinner and trip to  ‘Blloku’ district, previously a secluded area of the Albanian politburo members, now the upmarket and most trendy neighborhood of the capital

The passenger ferry, have a close look! Its an old Mercedes Setra bus converted into a boat - Albanian's love Mercedes ;) Many villages were located in the valley which is now flooded and only a few higher settlements remain Dajti Express, the cableway up to Mt Dajti with great views over Tirana

  • different options like visiting at the National History Museum, depending on your departure time
  • transfer from Tirana to Rinas Airport
  • farewell coffee

Mosaic decorating the National History Museum, Tirana Et'hem Bey Mosque, Tirana Statue of national hero Skenderbeg, Tirana

Services included:

  • 1 night accommodation in hotel
  • 6 nights accommodation in guesthouses
  • full board
  • English and (on request) German speaking guide
  • all transports within Albania incl. transfers from/to airport
  • all luggage transfers by vehicle or horses
  • ferry trip
  • entrance fees

At your own:

  • insurance
  • airfare
  • tips and personal expenses for drinks or souvenirs

Tour price per person: 550€
Group size: 6-10 persons

Available dates: mid June to September

If the minimum number of participants isn’t reached one month before departure date, the tour can’t be realized.



Didn’t find what you were looking for? Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to tailor a tour that suits your needs, organise transport or accommodation, or simply give advice for your independent visit to Albania.