Peaks of the Balkans

This tour is perfect for very fit hikers who look for an extraordinary adventure and are eager to explore the Albanian Alps/Prokletije Mountains of Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo in depth.

This transnational tour discovers one of the remotest and wildest mountainous regions of the Western Balkans. With its variety of awe-inspiring landscapes of sheer cliffs and green valleys,  picturesque traditional villages and crystal-clear mountain lakes,  this is a true “hidden treasure” for hikers and nature lovers.

The itinerary covers the traditional villages of the northernmost Albanian region Kelmend, from where we cross into Montenegro to stand in awe to the sheer rock cliffs of the Prokletije Mountains around Grbaja.

Trip duration 15 days
Average daily walking time 3-8 hours
Difficulty 3 / 4
Comfort level basic

After taking in the views of Lake Plav from Mt Visitor, we are ready to make our way through Ropojana valley and the heart of the Accursed Mountains to the beautiful valleys of Theth and Valbona, our luggage being carried for us by horses. From here we approach the border triangle into an area completely unspoiled by tourists. From Doberdol we have the opportunity to climb Gjeravica, Kosovo’s highest mountain, before we descend into Montenegrin Babino Polje, passing the stunning Lake Hrid, and finish the “Peaks of the Balkans” trail in a shepherds’ village in Kosovo.

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“Peaks of the Balkans” Highlights

  • discovering secluded destinations that most tourists never get to see
  • gaining an understanding and seeing differences and similarities in the way Montenegrins, Kosovarians and Albanians live in these mountainous regions
  • views of various dramatic mountain ranges from constantly changing perspectives and angles

Discover the itinerary of this tour on the map.

Peaks of the Balkans

COMING SOON!

COMING SOON! Please see day-by-day description instead.

  • meeting at Tirana airport and transfer to Shkodra (83km – 2h), Northern Albania’s most lively and historic city dating back to 3rd century BC, but with certain Italian flair
  • first check-in at hotel, afterwards opportunity for a refreshing swim at the nearby village of Shiroke at the shores of the Balkans’ largest lake and optional snack
  • visit of Rozafa castle, a site with its very own construction tale and fabulous views over the surrounding area as far as to the Albanian Alps, and nearby Lead Mosque, one of the oldest remaining religious buildings
  • walking tour of ­­Shokdra’s revived  Old Town with elegant city mansions that frame a lively pedestrian area
  • dinner in a traditional Ottoman restaurant, very rich in ambience
  • overnight in a hotel in Shkodra

 

  • visit to the historic Marubi photo collection in order to get tuned for our journey
  • transfer towards Hani Hotit at the shores of Lake Shkoder and the border with Montenegro
  • leaving the asphalt behind the road climbs to the “Stairs of Kelmend” (758m), a spectacular viewpoint into the Cemi Canyon 600m below
  • after around 2:30h total driving time stop for lunch in Tamara, where it’s possible to buy local produce and freshly bottled (preservative free) beer from the local brewery
  • several trail options exist, ranging from 2-4h walking time
  • short transfer to the guesthouse in Nikc, where the valley forms a natural amphitheater
  • optional walk through the village

 

Hike details

Effective walking: 2.5 h
Distance: 7 km
Ascending: 150 m
Descending: 300 m

  • take off to the neighboring village Vukel, situated under the cliff of Mt. Dobine
  • ascend through the very panoramic valley over summer pastures dotted with alpine houses, additional views of Forca Kelmendi (a natural castle)
  • crossing the ridge of Mt. Berizdholi, at 1832m the highest point is reached, the razorback ridge o Mt Gelishti and glacial shaped peaks of Greben dominate the scenery
  • shepherds are usually present at the Koprishti alp and will be happy to receive guests
  • the remains of an old graveyard are visible, proof for the importance of the pastures
  • descend partly in the forest and over meadows, the trail arrives at the Bordoleci Pass (1313m), nearby the guesthouse is located in front of an Albanian Alps panoramaPlease note: depending on the weather conditions other walking routes are possible

Hike details

Effective walking: 7 h
Distance: 15 km
Ascending: 1150 m
Descending: 475 m

  • again the group starts walking directly from the guesthouse heading towards the end of the valley, facing the central massif of the Accursed Mountains and at their feet the Dobkut alp
  • after climbing the ridge of Popadija (2,032m), that forms the border with Montenegro, the views open to the namely called valley that is dominated by the Karaula peak
  • the trail stays on the ridge and first Popadija, than Volusnica (2,057m) are ascended, the scenery is breathtaking: Lake Plav forms the background while 900m below lies the bottom of Grbaja Valley
  • Mt. Can (1823m) is the best viewpoint at the dramatic Karanfili massif (2490m) in front of it
  • descend to the mountain chalets in Grbaja

Hike details

Effective walking: 6 h
Distance: 11 km
Ascending: 775 m
Descending: 900 m

  • transfer from Grbaja along Lake Plav to the village Murino
  • initial ascend by car, than on foot to Lake Visitor (1734m) and the nearby mountain hut
  • below the Bandera (2211) and Smet Peak (2210m) the trail leads south, the opportunity exists to climb one of them
  • afterwards descend with perfect views of Lake Plav in the foreground and the mountainous border with Kosovo behind it
  • transfer through Plav to the opposite side of the lake with views of Visitor towards the Karst springs near Gusinje
  • dinner in a restaurant at the Ali Pasha springs or directly at the guesthouse in Vusanje
  • near the guesthouse the Grlo Waterfall is located

Hike details

Effective walking: 7 h
Distance: 15 km
Ascending: 850 m
Descending: 1150 m

  • transfer to the “Blue Eye”, a karst spring locally called Oko Skakavice
  • onwards vehicle transfer into Ropojana valley as far as the road conditions allow for it
  • luggage is transported on horses while the group hikes crosses the border near Geshtares lake and arrives at meadows of Runices, both sides of the valley are framed with mountains rising more than 2,500m high
  • onwards one passes the old military border station, built at a spring that feeds another small lake and is now used by shepherds, behind it rises the jagged peak of Arapi (2217m)
  • not far from it the Peja Lake, filled with rock fragments, offers a bizarre scenery
  • at the Peja Pass (1707m) the highest point is reached, from here the old caravan route descends to Okol, the first quarter of Thethi, and through the village to the center where the guesthouse is located

Hike details

Effective walking: 8 h
Distance: 17 km
Ascending: 625 m
Descending: 1025 m

  • leisure day: swim at the river, explore the village on your own or join the optional walk
  • the house is close to the church, nearby farmers work the fields and other points of interest like the school invite for a stroll, in the river various rock pools have formed
  • starting through the green Ulaj quarter the walk follows a water channel towards the Grunas Waterfall (30m), near to its base a café invites for a break at a small dig site
  • another highlight is the Grunas Canyon, a gap in the rocks 50m deep and only few wide
  • return to the guesthouse via the lock-in tower (Kulla) used in the blood feud ages, perfect place to talk about the oral tribal law and Kanun of Leke Dukagjini over cold beverages

  • initial hike through the village until the upmost houses in Gjelaj (970m) are reached
  • the trail to Rragam follows a ridge through pleasant beech forest which offers protection from the sun until we reach the tree line at about 1,650m
  • lunch on top of Valbona pass (1,815m) at a lookout rock or a shady protected spot nearby
  • descend to Rragam (1,122m) with amazing views of the mountains forming Valbona valley
  • break for some cold beverages at a small local ‘cafe’
  • panoramic drive through the Valbona valley, that is placed between the two highest mountains of the Albanian Alps: Jezerca (2,694m) & Gryka te Hapta (2,625m), to a guesthouse in Dunish

Hike details

Effective walking: 7 h
Distance: 14 km
Ascending: 1050 m
Descending: 800 m

  • drive through the Ceremi Canyon, nestled between Kolata and Gjarperi Massifs
  • turn off towards Cerem, a semi-deserted village inhabited only in summer, our trailhead
  • a ruined  guard point serves as a viewpoint to the highest peak of Montenegro: Zla Kolata
  • stop at the shepherds village Balqin, onwards the trail passes several more summer huts and continues at the edge of the Gashi river valley
  • picturesque scenery: deep below the gushing river, above towering Mt Shkelzen (2,404m) – the highest peak of the Eastern Alps in Albania, at its slopes several shepherd settlements
  • arrival at the mountain hut in seasonal settlement of Doberdol at 1,820m

Please note: The hut is simple, has only a single dormitory and isn’t equipped with showers

Hike details

Effective walking: 6 h
Distance: 15 km
Ascending: 925 m
Descending: 300 m

  • Several walking options exist on this day, ranging from 4-9h, depending on weather conditions and time of the year:
    • more than 20 glacial lakes, the Dashi Lake is probably one of the most beautiful
    • Sylbica – a nearby shepherd settlement
    • one of the many peaks of Kershi (2,400m), Bogicaj (2,406m) and Gusani (2,426m)
    • Gjeravica (2625m), highest mountain of Kosovo and second highest in the Alps
    • the blueberry fields (only in August)
  • return to the mountain hut in Doberdoll
  • guest can also explore the vicinity of the open valley easily by themselves

  • bidding farewell to the shepherds the group leaves towards the border with Montenegro, arriving on the ridge one overlooks the next valley in which Babino Polje is located
  • climb Trekufiri (literally three borders), the peak at which the frontier of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro join – the group is invited to sign the summit register, and reflect on the proposed Balkans Peace Park
  • ascend of the double peaked mountain Krs Bogicevica (2,358m), at its base tranquil Lake Hrid is found (1,983)
  • relaxing at Hrid while watching alpine salamanders
  • easy descend to Babino Polje, overnight in wooden mountain chalets

Hike details

Effective walking: 6 h
Distance: 13 km
Ascending: 500 m
Descending: 825 m

  • hiking from the huts across meadows to the Ravno Brdo pass (2,178m)
  • to the south Marijas (2,530m) dominates the panorama, to the north Crni Krs (2,426m) and  Guri i Kuq (2,522m) rise, in front of the latter the summer village Roshkodol is situated
  • the trail stays on the ridge which forms the disputed border and offers brilliant views
  • reflection on the situation of the Republic of Kosovo and international recognition
  • option to climb a peak of Guri i Kuq (“red rock”), add 2:45h walking time
  • at a small lake the group descends from Mt Bajrakut to Roshkodoll where the minibus waits
  • transfer to Visiko Decani, an Orthodox monastery and UNESCO world heritage site, the group stays overnight at the attached guesthouse and learns about the monks lifestyle

Please note: Due to various circumstances it’s not always possible to stay at the monastery. In this case the hike will be extend for 2h to Milisefc and overnight is in Peja or Rugova.

Hike details

Effective walking: 4.5 h
Distance: 10 km
Ascending: 625 m
Descending: 500 m

  • leaving the mountains behind the next destination is Prizren (62km / 1:15h)
  • walking tour of the city including Sinan Pasha Mosque (16th cent), the Shadervan, a drinking fountain that has a special legend connected with it, and the castle overlooking the city from a hill
  • lunch in a restaurant in Prizren with distinctive different food, taste the Turkish influence
  • return to Albania, depending on the timing first a stop at the beach of the Patok or direct drive to the hilltop town of Kruja, where national hero Skenderbeg resisted the Ottoman forces, a museum is dedicated to him and the struggle for independence
  • time to explore the bazaar, visit the ethnographic museum or Bektashi shrine
  • optional walk around the castle and through the olive groves before dinner

  • short transfer from Kruja to the cable car station in Tirana (37km, 1h)
  • cable car to Dajti Balcony (1,058m), hike to the Tujanit peak (1,528m) – the natural balcony of Tirana with panoramic views of the city and surprisingly sparsely inhabited hinterland
  • return to Dajti plateau for lunch at a restaurant, before the return to the city
  • check-in at hotel and free time to explore the city or visit the National History Museum
  • guided afternoon walk including the historic buildings from Ottoman, Italian and Communist periods and Blloku district, former closed off living quarter of the politburo members and now upbeat nightlife and boutique district
  • dinner at a restaurant showcasing modern Albania cuisine
  • opportunity to enjoy nightlife or return to the hotel

Hike details

Effective walking: 3 h
Distance: 5 km
Ascending: 470 m
Descending: 470 m

  • Transfer to Rinas Airport
  • Farewell coffee

If you’re interested in extending your trip, please let us know in advance. Add some days at the beaches of the Adriatic and Ionian Sea or explore the UNESCO cities Berat and Gjirokaster.

Services included:

  • 6 nights accommodation in village guesthouses ( shared rooms / double)
  • 3 nights accommodation in hotels (double or single room)
  • 2 nights accommodation in mountain chalets (shared rooms / double)
  • 2 nights accommodation in mountain hut (shared room)
  • 1 nights accommodation in monastery (object to availability, or instead hotel)
  • full board – three meals, mostly picnic lunches
  • English & German speaking guide
  • all transports within Albania incl. transfers from/to airport
  • one piece of luggage, max. 15kg
  • all luggage transfers by vehicle or horse
  • entrance fees for sights and museums

At your own:

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

This is a pilot tour that we run this tour for the first time, please request a price for your group.

We know the Peaks of the Balkan trail by heart and are happy to tailor your personal trip. Let us know the number of days, size of your group and difficulty degree and we create your personalized experience. Side trips to climb a summit, visit a reconstructed kulla, explore the city or other activities can be included.

group size 6-10 persons
available dates: mid June to September
ON REQUEST ONLY

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

For independent walkers, we help sorting out the paperwork for the required border-crossing permits, too! More here…

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.