Join us for a beautiful trek on the spectacular Peaks of the Balkans trail. Walk through untouched Accursed Mountains lying in three Balkan countries. This hidden corner of Europe is prized for its beautiful nature, friendly people, and hospitality. Discover this unexplored corner of the European Continent!
Price: Euro 940
Dates 2024: May 25 – June 4; June 15 – 25; July 6 – 16; July 20 – 30; August 10 – 20; August 24 – September 3; September 7 – 17; September 21 – October 1; October 5 – 15;
Peaks of the Balkans is the first lengthy hiking trail to traverse the Western Balkans, an area where ancient tracks connect remote regions. The epic walk passes through villages, separated by strict borders and fortified by bunkers that were built over two generations when communist regimes controlled Yugoslavia and Albania. Winding through meadows, mountain peaks, lakes, and woodlands, this is one of the most diverse walking trails in the world. The views and the trails transform, switching from rocky paths and bare peaks to meadows rich with flowers and plants, where nature has been left to run wild. In stark comparison to Western Europe, where the grass is not cut, and the land is left alone for nature to follow its course.
WHY BALKAN NATURAL ADVENTURE
For Peaks of the Balkans 2024, 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 kilometers, if there is a need.
Arrive in Shkoder and accommodate at the hotel. Meeting the guide and the group for a short briefing from 20:00 – 21:00 hrs. 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).
The transfer from the airport and back can be provided on demand.
Length of the hike: 11.5 km (7.1 miles)
Uphill walking: 266 m (872 ft)
Downhill walk: 435 m (1427 ft)
Your first day on Peaks of the Balkans will start with a transfer from Shkodra to the village of Nderlyse, 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.
Cultural note: Ndërlyse and Theth are two Roman Catholic villages that are home to some small churches. In Ndërlyse there are the small remains of the Saint Veneranda Church, however, locals still go there to celebrate the saint every 25th of July. The most spectacular building is in Theth, the Lock Tower (Kulla e Ngujimit), which served as a self-imposed prison for wanted murderers sought out for revenge killings under the Kanun law.
Length of the hike: 19.5 km (12 miles)
Uphill walking: 1068 m (3503 ft)
Downhill walking: 850 m (2788 ft)
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, and crests and see the most southern glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. This trail has very few tourists, despite its highlights-filled experience.
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: 14.9 km (9.2 miles)
Uphill Walking: 1200 m (3937 ft)
Downhill walking: 950 m (3116 ft)
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: Cerem is a small village, largely abandoned, and at the moment is populated only during the summertime by shepherds. During the winter the village is empty due to the poor conditions and the road which connects the village with Valbone is blocked by snow.
Length of the hike: 15.5 km (9.6 miles)
Uphill walk: 1030 m (3379 ft)
Downhill walk: 440 m (1443 ft)
After two days of mixed hiking in diverse environments, this track will be dominated by greenery. The entire hike to Doberdol will expose you to the abundant flora of the region that fills the pastures. Villagers on the way will offer their natural products 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, cows, 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 (3001 ft)
Downhill walk: 915 m (3001 ft)
You can climb the highest peak of Kosovo, Gjeravica or just spend the day on a plateau above the tree line with shepherds, goats, sheep, and cows. Balkan Natural Adventure, Peaks of the Balkans 2024 version includes this optional day for hikers. While this is a loop path, it goes through lakes, small streams, and crests with open views of 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: This is a loop path that will take you to Kosovo, a border that is almost not protected at all. However, during the communist regimes in this part of the world, this was the border between Albania and Yugoslavia and one of the most protected borders in the world.
Length of the hike: 15.8 km (9.8 miles)
Uphill walk: 915 m (3001 ft)
Downhill walk 980 m (3215 ft)
While one day before, you walked to Kosovo and went back to Albania, today you go to Kosovo for a sleepover. On this trail you will go by the three-border peak, taking in a view from the place where the three borders meet. The 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.
Cultural note: Milisevc is a small remote summer settlement, which has a good connection with the city of Peja and more and more mountain huts in the village are being used for tourist purposes.
Length of the hike: 14.6 km (9 miles)
Uphill walk: 957 m (3139 ft)
Downhill walk: 790 m (2591 ft)
This Peak of the Balkans 2024 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.
Cultural note: Babino Polje (meaning ‘Grandma’s fields’) is a very beautiful place located on the way of the trails of the Peaks of Balkans in Montenegro. The Montenegrin Muslims living in Babino Polje abound with hospitality. Do not forget to have a glass of rakija with them.
Length of the hike: 9.8 km (6 miles)
Uphill walk: 834 m (2742 ft)
Downhill walk: 908 m (2979 ft)
Gerbaja is another detour from the classic version of 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. They call it 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 (3641 ft)
Downhill walk: 1440 m (4724 ft)
From Vusanje or Vuthaj you will begin the 21- kilometer hike back to the historic Albanian village of Theth. The path passes along the craggiest part of the Accursed Mountains or Prokletije/Albanian Alps which 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 which also marks the border between the two countries. This hike is the rockiest one of the whole trip. It provides numerous mountains, meadows, 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 a farewell dinner. (Sleepover included)
Transfers during the tour will be private for the group. The private transfer is done by either regular car or 4×4, depending on the road conditions. On the trail, shortcut transfers can be arranged for the trails that are distant or to skip asphalt road segments.
Food & Water
The food in this part of the world will be something you will eagerly anticipate at the end of each day. Food is freshly cooked in a traditional manner and has a mix of Balkan, Turkish, and European influences. At the guesthouses, the breakfasts are simple, homemade bread with locally grown vegetables, dairy products, and eggs. Dinners include traditional soups, meat dishes, vegetables, and pies. Guesthouses also will provide you with a packed lunch – often including a sandwich with cheese and vegetables.
Vegetarianism and diets will not be a problem as the homestay families can provide alternatives. However, the choices are basic and limited.
Consider bringing your water bottle to refill along the way. You can get water from mountain streams or in guesthouses tap water as this is also drinkable water. However, if you are concerned about drinking untreated water, we recommend you take water treatment tablets with you.
The accommodation is in a simple homestay/guesthouse/lodge-style with simple bathroom facilities. Rooms are likely to accommodate between two to five people per room and it may be necessary for male and female groups to share the room unless noted otherwise on your request, but not guaranteed in each guesthouse. It always depends on the availability of rooms.
Sheets and blankets, towels, shampoo, warm water, and other basic services are provided, but we recommend packing a travel towel and sleep sack just in case.
Private rooms at an additional cost; limited availability.
Recommended readings for the region
– The novel called “Broken April” by Ismail Kadare is situated in these mountains. A read before the trip will increase the experience that this trip offers. This book was turned in a movie by a french director Liria Begeja Brasilian director and it is called Behind the sun
– Edith Durham – High Albania
– Time zone: GMT +1
– Language: Albanian, in Kosovo and Albania, Serbian/Montenegrin in Montenegro. In big cities, many people speak English, but in remote areas, this might not be the case. A lot of people may speak also German due to the large diaspora in Germano-phone countries.
– Electric supply and plugs: 220V, 50 Hz, two-pin round plugs.
– Currency: Euro (EUR) in Kosovo and Montenegro, Lek in Albania, however, you can use Euro freely. Credit cards and Cash machines are available in Peja, Plav, and Gjakova.
– Cost of living: in the region is much cheaper than in Western Europe. Some sample prices follow: