10 nights sleepover; 10 days hiking; starting and ending point: Shkodër Albania; accessible to four different airports.
Village of Theth – Visit one of the most picturesque villages in Albania
Hiking in the wild – Hike in this hidden corner of Europe
Three countries – Visit three countries in one hike
Gjeravica – the highest peak in Kosovo surrounded by glacial lakes and home to the Triton salamanders.
Cold War Bunkers – During the Communist period, Albania spent a fortune building concrete bunkers to prevent an invasion. Now that era is past and the protected borders promote peace and cooperation.
Taljanka and Gerbaja Valley – Considered the most beautiful valley in the ex-Yugoslavia; stop for the bronze- age carvings of wolf and men.
Food: Experience the unique cuisine and hospitality of the Accursed Mountains provided by the local villagers.
Dates: June 13; June 20; July 11; August 8 ; September 12; October 10
For Peaks of the Balkans 2020, our company provides an extra guide if the group is bigger than eight to accommodate the different speeds of the group. We are a service- oriented company that has been featured in the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Strait Times of Singapore and other media See our references. Try our flexibility options – shorten or extend your trip for cultural tours. For some longer hikes we provide transport for the last kilometres, if there is a need.
Sleepover 10 nights (Saturday to next week Monday) – A Guest house with shared rooms and basic amenities: beds, sheets, towels, bathroom and warm water showers. (For private accommodation please contact us; limited availability)
Food: Three meals from day 3 to day 9. Day 1 (Saturday no food; Guests stay in Shkodra at the hotel), Day 2 breakfast and dinner.
Food is a home-made dinner and a cooked breakfast including eggs, dairy products vegetables and bread. For lunch you will take a sandwich. We cater to vegetarian, vegan and other diets.
Guide: Balkan Natural Adventure will provide an assistant guide if the group is larger than eight people (maximum 12 people in a group). This will make sure the tour will accommodate different walking speeds.
Transfers: All internal transfers are included from Shkodra to Shkodra. The transfer from the airport and back is not included. However we can provide this service at market price.
Luggage transfer is not provided during open date tours, however it can be offered on demand.
Airport pickup can be provided on demand.
Insurance should be secured by the travellers.
Podgorica Airport (1 hr 30 min from the start location), Tirana Airport (1 hr 30 min from the start location), Tivat International Airport (2 hrs 40 min from the start location) Prishtina Airport (3 hrs 40 min from the start location), Skopje International Airport (4 hrs 40 min). For Private tours, access to the trail from Prishtina International Airport is 1 hour, and the trail will start in Peja/Reka e Allages.
After dinner and drinks short briefing with the guide from 20:00 – 21:00 hrs.
Your first day of Peaks of the Balkans 2020 will start with a transfer from Shkodra to the village of Nderlysë, a small hamlet at the foot of the Peaks of the Balkans trail. The village is home to the Shala River, which has created waterfalls and rock formations similar to baths and pools. After a short exploration you will start your journey walking toward Theth with an easy hike. Your luggage will be transferred to your accommodation.
Cultural note: Ndërlysë and Theth are two Roman Catholic villages that are home to some small churches. In Ndërlysë there are the small remains of the Saint Veneranda Church, however locals still go there to celebrate the saint every 25th of July.
Length of the hike: 19.5 km (12 miles)
Uphill walking: 1068 m (Ft 3503)
Downhill walking: 850 m (2788ft)
Maximal elevation: 1759 m (Ft 5770)
On this hike you will have a real taste of the Accursed Mountains and the Peaks of the Balkans Trail. It’s a diverse hike bookended with mountain villages and filled with picturesque views. You will walk through meadows, woodland, rocky terrain, crests and see the southern most glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. This trail has very few tourists, despite it’s highlight filled experience.
Cultural Note: The Albanian Catholics date back to the Roman/Venetian invasion of northern Albania. Theth hosts the Saint John church. However the most spectacular building in the village is Lock Tower, which served as a self- imposed prison for wanted murderers sought out for revenge killings under Kanun law.
Length of the hike: 14.9 km (9.2 miles)
Uphill Walking: 1200 m (Ft 3937)
Downhill walking: 950 m (Ft 3116)
Maximal elevation: 2039 m (Ft 6689)
This trail will take you to the Montenegrin Border and the country’s highest peak, Kollata e Keqe. For a strong group the peak can be included in the itinerary. Adding the peak would make this the highest and longest hike of the trip. (to add the peak in the hike we need advance notice)
Balkan Natural Adventure has included this diversion from the classic Peaks of the Balkans trail in order to avoid walking on gravelly, dusty tractor roads. From the highest point of the hike you will see mountain ranges extending to all three countries.
Cultural note: Valbona is a Muslim majority valley with some Catholics who migrated from Theth. There is a legend that the village was founded by an orphan who moved there from Vuthaj/Vusanje, in present-day Montenegro.
Length of the hike: 15.5 km (9.6 miles)
Uphill walk: 1030 m (Ft 3379)
Downhill walk: 440 m (Ft 1443)
Maximal elevation: 1920 m (Ft 6299)
After two days of mixed hiking in diverse environments this track will be dominated by greenery. The entire hike will expose you to abundant flora of the region that fills the pastures. Villagers on the way will offer their natural produce but also other drinks and refreshments. Two makeshift cafes under a canopy of trees give a unique charm to this trail. The scenery will be also filled with sheep, goats, cow and horses that support the local economy. On this trail you will pass by some of the oldest woodlands in the world.
Cultural note: Gashi Valley starts in this region. The woodlands have been under UNESCO protection since 2017 as part of the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians. The woodlands are also part of the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany that now stretch over 12 countries.
Length of the hike: 18 km (11.1 miles)
Uphill walk: 915 m (Ft 3001)
Downhill walk 915 m (Ft 3001)
Maximal elevation 2650 m (Ft 8694)
You can climb the highest peak of Kosovo or just spend the day in a plateau above the tree line with shepherds, goats, sheep and cows. Balkan Natural Adventure, Peaks of the Balkans 2020 version includes this optional day for hikers. While this is a loop path, it goes through lakes, small streams and crests with open views to the mountains. The specificity of this trail is the glacial lakes that are home to the Triton salamander, whose existence verified the purity of the water.
Cultural note: Doberdol houses are used during the summer in the abundant pastures, In the Montenegrin language they are called “Katun”. Here cheese and other dairy products are produced. They are sold during autumn in the city.
Length of the hike: 15.8 km (9.8 miles)
Uphill walk: 915 m (Ft 3001)
Downhill walk 980 m (Ft 3215)
Maximal elevation 2290 m (Ft 7513)
While one day before, you have walked to Kosovo and gone back to Albania, today you go to Kosovo for the sleepover. On this trail you will go by the three- border peak, taking in a view from the place where the three borders meet. Characteristic of this trail is that both Doberdol and Milishevc are not villages but summer camps for shepherds. Additionally they are the most remote locations on the trail making this hike very special.
Length of the hike: 14.6 km (9 miles)
Uphill walk: 957 m (Ft 3139)
Downhill walk: 790 m (Ft 2591)
Maximum elevation: 2151 m (Ft 7057)
This Peaks of the Balkans 2020 hike section is a detour from the classic trail. Balkan Natural Adventure decided to make this detour to save you from some parts of the hike that are less attractive. Additionally you will avoid some car transfers. The hike will go through some of the least trodden Accursed Mountain trails in the Kosovo section. You will join the classic trail in the Liqenat to Babino Polje section that will go through Zavoj Ravno Selo. For the bravest, the Guri i Kuq peak can be climbed here. It is 2500 meters (Ft 8202) plus a two- hour hike (this can be arranged on demand).
Length of the hike: 9.8 Kilometres (6 miles)
Uphill walk: 834 m (Ft 2742)
Downhill walk: 908 m (Ft 2979)
Maximum elevation: 2070 m (Ft 6791)
Gerbaja is another detour from the classic version to our Peaks of the Balkans 2020 trail. All of our guides agree that is it a pity to come to the region and miss the view from Gerbaja. It is situated in Montenegro and considered the most beautiful valley in Tito’s Yugoslavia now home to seven independent states. You will start the hike with a 20- minute transport to climb the Taljanka peak.
Cultural note: Gerbaja is home to a bronze- age rock engraving of a mother and father protecting their child from wolves. It is called The Great Mother. Locals believe that the rock has healing powers and helps women’s fertility.
Length of the hike: 21.3 km (13.2 miles )
Uphill walk: 1110 m (Ft 3641)
Downhill walk: 1440 m (Ft 4724)
Maximal elevation: 1707 m (Ft 5600)
From Vusanje or Vuthaj you will begin the 21- kilometre hike back to the historic Albanian village of Theth. The path passes along the craggiest part of the Accursed Mountains or Prokletije/Albanian Alps that was a forbidden zone during the Communist era. In addition to the dramatic cliffs that form the backdrop for the day’s hike, you will also see a military bunker and the old border crossing signs as you hike into Albania. The hike goes through Ropojane Lake that also marks the border between two countries. This hike is the rockiest one of the whole trip. It provides numerous mountain, meadow and valley views. You will end in Theth to close the loop. After a short rest you will be transferred to your Hotel in Shkodra for farewell dinner. (Sleepover included)