Peaks of the Balkans - Hiking Beyond Borders

Peaks of the Balkans - Hiking Beyond Borders 915 , 8 Days

Spreading over the borders of three countries, The Cursed Mountains is a place of enchanting beauty and mystical legends. The most popular tale of how the mountain got its name is the one of a mother trying to escape from the Ottoman soldiers. The mother and her two children found shelter in the mountain, but here they met another obstacle - the lack of any water on their path. Exhausted and desperate, the mother cursed the mountain to never see a drop of water again. But even without such legend, the mountain can easily live up to its name with its rugged landscape, misty peaks and thick forests. The Peaks of the Balkans trail was first mapped by a German development organization in 2012 with the vision of building a bridge between historically estranged communities and to support the local families.

The fact that there is now free movement between the borders of Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania, which have been strictly controlled until just a few decades ago, adds additional value to the experience. It becomes especially tangible at Mt. Trekufiri, which is the meeting point of those three countries.

The dramatic landscapes are in perfect harmony with the culture of the local highlanders. We will immerse ourselves in the pastoral lifestyle of the local communities, learn more about their traditions and overnight in shepherds’ huts. 

Highlights: 
♦ Peak Trekufiri - the meeting point of the borders of Albania, Montenegro, Kososvo
Ropojana Valley - a vast valley with awe-inspiring views of the mountains.
♦ The "Blue Eye" spring - a natural phenomenon in Albania
♦ Boat ride on the picturesque Komani Lake
♦ Overnight in traditional shepherd huts


Itinerary:

Day 1. Arrival to Albania
You can join the group transfer in Tirana (city center, 14:00) or later on at the TIA airport, at 15:00 the latest. In the afternoon you reach Shkodra (84km/2.5hr) and the centrally located hotel. Time permitting, stop at the Rozafa castle at the entrance of Shkodra and enjoy the fabulous views, a foretaste for the upcoming days of travel through the Albanian Alps. Afterwards, the city calls for a stroll through the pedestrian area lined with bourgeoisie townhouses, a reminder of the city's prestigious past. Immerse yourself in the city’s Italian flair, join the buzz of the bazaar to buy dried fruits and other snacks. After a delicious dinner, there’s time to thoroughly discuss what’s to come in the following days. Why not round it up with a celebratory toast in one of the close-by bars? But don't stay up too long, tomorrow’s transfer starts before sunrise! Arriving early? Ask us about extension nights in Tirana & Shkodra, as well as recommendations on places or activities in both cities. -/-/D

Day 2. Komani Lake - Valbona National Park
An early start is followed by a scenic drive through the Drin Gorges to the Komani Lake (58km/2h). The picturesque reservoir loops similar to a Norwegian fjord through sheer rock walls and is the most attractive route into the Albanian Alps. You're in for a surprise by the peculiar ferry, which stops several times to pick up talkative locals from remote villages before arriving at Fierze (46 km/3h). By car you continue further into the highlands of the
Valbona National Park, stopping for a light lunch in the small-city Bajram Curri. In the early afternoon, you reach the Valbona Valley and it’s tower-houses made of stone. The warm-up walk follows a crystal clear stream through ancient beech forests, speckled with the sweetest wild strawberries. Along the way, the brave will stop for a swimming break at the ice-cold river or a secluded pond. The jagged peaks towering high above you give itchy feet for tomorrow's trek into the highlands. Tonight, you enjoy a delicious, hearty dinner and a well-earned rest after this impression-packed introduction to the Accursed Mountains.
(7 km, ascent 250 m, descent 0 m, 3:30h) B/L/D

Day 3. Valley of Doberdol
After a 45 min drive to Cerem, we start out across flower carpets towards remote border triangle. Along the way we enjoy forest fruits, admire plant life and the views of Mt. Kolata (2.534m). Reaching the rim of the deep cut river canyon and following the high route through conifer forest, we notice just how much the relief changes between the Western and Eastern Alps. Slopes are speckled with alpine pastures and at one we stop to meet the herdsmen over coffee and raki. In the glacial-shaped valley of Doberdol (1.750m) animals roam freely the grazing grounds and time appears frozen. Locals still live in harmony with nature, as humankind did many years ago. This archaic place helps to set our inner compass and grounds our souls. In the simple shepherd huts we relinquish comfort for one night in return for hospitality. The family prepares our meals and we learn more about the seasonal lifestyle of the shepherds at the campfire.
(16 km, ascent 1,250 m, descent 650 m, 7:00 h) B/LP/D

Day 4. Mt. Trekufiri – Lake Hrid
Wishing farewell to our hosts, we climb out of the valley towards Mt. Trekufiri (2.366m). On the very top, the borders of three countries merge in sweeping vistas of the borderlands. The blueberry covered border trail leads us into Montenegro, around Bogicevica (2.374m) and to secluded Lake Hrid. The tranquil pond reflects the mountains, is shrouded in legends and provides habitat for newts, salamanders and fireflies. After a refreshing dip above 1.900m, we continue on a trail encompassed by a dense pine forest towards a hamlet of seasonal huts called "katund". Further down an unmade road, we reach the scattered settlement of Babino Polje. Here we overnight at the rim of the wilderness at simple but welcoming mountain huts.
(13 km, ascent 600 m, descent 850 m, 6:00 h) B/LP/D

Day 5. Grbaja Valley
The Grbaja Valley is one of the most awe-inspiring in the Balkans. A 30 min transfer leads into a narrow valley, wedged between the karst towers of Karanfili (2.461m). Arguably one of the most rugged and dramatic peaks in the Prokletije, it’s a dream of many climbers. Ascending through a shaded fairy tale beech forest, a last steep climb takes you to the double peak of Popadija and Taljanka (2.056m). Here the hostile walls across seem almost within our reach and views gaze across the border into the Kelmend region of Albania. Choosing the most suitable route, traverse the narrow spine to a series of panoramic viewpoints back onto the shaded forest path, where the balloon hike closes. At a beer garden on the valley floor, you can celebrate the adventure with a cold drink before traveling back to the guesthouse in Vusanje. The nearby waterfall invites for a stroll, but views from the house are equally beautiful.
(12 km, ascent 950 m, descent 950 m, 6:30 h) B/LP/D

Day 6. Ropojana Valley
Traveling up the Ropojana Valley, formed by a 26 km long glacier, we stop at a pupil shaped karst spring where an ice-cold river is born from melting snow high up in the mountains. A weathered border stone is the only reminder of the once tightly sealed borders of former Communist Albania. The mountain framed corridor takes us passed a dry lake, shepherd huts, and an abandoned military post to the heart of the Albanian Alps. Here the canine tooth of Mt. Arapi (2.217m) stands high above the Thethi National Park forming the largest big wall in the Balkans. Arriving at Peja Pass (1.711m), your guide determines whether the summit can be tackled. The ones who take a pass on the challenging peak, suitable for experienced and sure-footed hikers only, rest at the pass or start the descend with the horsemen. A steep well-trodden caravan path leads to the local watering hole, followed by a short ride to a guesthouse in the center of the lively village.
(11 km, ascent 650 m, descent 900 m, 6:45 h) B/LP/D

Day 7. Theth
Only a walk through the village and its lush green fields reveals the full extent of Theth. Visit its iconic church and dive at the lock-in tower into the history of the "Kanun". The "kulla" offered protection to those affected by the Blood Feud and is the right place to learn about the former highland law code; it also marks the trailhead to Nderlysaj. Following water channels, the path ascends to the Grunas Waterfall, drops again to a cliff above the river and the 50 m deep Grunas Canyon. A well-worn bridle path leads you along the river downstream to Nderlysaj. Arriving there in the hot midday sun, the Kaprea river and it’s stone pools invite for a swim. The scenic transfer across the Thorja Pass (1.630 m) into the Valley of Boge and along the Lake of Shkodra (2 h) takes you back to the hotel of the first night in Shkodra. At night it's time to celebrate the eventful trek over a somewhat different atmosphere than that of the previous days. With all the party in mind, please also doublecheck tomorrow's departure details.
(16 km, ascent 225 m, descent 500 m, 5:30 h) B/L/D

Day 8. Departure
After breakfast, there’s time for a walk in the pedestrian area and for any last-minute souvenir shopping fever. You can join the group transfer to Tirana (airport or city). For the ones wishing to extend their travels, you can explore the town, head to the nearby beaches in Velipoja and Ulcinj (Montenegro), experience Albania's modern side in the capital Tirana or spend your beach holidays at the Albanian Riviera (5-7 h travel time). B/-/-

Looking for the complete circuit? Contact us for the extended 12-day trek.

Good to know:
♦ Please let us know your flight details / pick-up location at least one week in advance to arrange the transfers and pool guests arriving around the same time. Those getting in earlier during the day, we provide with recommendations what to do in town. Should you have questions and the guide is not present, you may contact us through the hotel.
♦ For treks in mountainous and alpine terrain fitness is important and previous trekking experience recommended. It is not vital as long you are confident of your physical condition and surefootedness. Prepare to endure poor weather and to navigate rocky undefined routes, remoteness can also play a part. Walking days are usually between 5 and 8 hours, although they can be longer to cross passes or peaks (mostly optional). Daily ascents will likely be around 900m to 1.000m, perhaps with the odd day ascending around 1.100m to 1.300m.

♦ Overseas health insurance is compulsory


Price Includes:
English-speaking guides
accommodation: 2x hotels,4x guesthouses,1x hut
meals according to the itinerary
transfers as foreseen by the itinerary including airport transfer
luggage transport: one piece up to 15 kg in soft bags only
entrance fees
trekking and border crossing permits

Not Included:
meals not listed above as well as drinks other than table water
personal expenses such as gratuities and souvenirs
flights
overseas health insurance - it is compulsory to offer best possible care


Gallery


Peaks of the Balkans - Hiking Beyond Borders (Rated 4.79 / 5 Based on 94 Reviews.)
Price
915 EUR
Duration
8 Days
Single Supplement
70 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
915 EUR
Duration
8 Days
Single Supplement
70 EUR
Status
Fully booked
Price
915 EUR
Duration
8 Days
Single Supplement
70 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
915 EUR
Duration
8 Days
Single Supplement
70 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
915 EUR
Duration
8 Days
Single Supplement
70 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
915 EUR
Duration
8 Days
Single Supplement
70 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
915 EUR
Duration
8 Days
Single Supplement
70 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
915 EUR
Duration
8 Days
Single Supplement
70 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
915 EUR
Duration
8 Days
Single Supplement
70 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure

Currency fluctuations might cause correction of price at any time.

These tours include trekking which is a little harder, normally on a challenging terrain. We take it for granted that you are in good condition and fit. You should be physically prepared at home to get the maximum of the tour. Most of the trekking is done at a greater height (max 3000m).

These tours include trekking which is a little harder, normally on a challenging terrain. We take it for granted that you are in good condition and fit. You should be physically prepared at home to get the maximum of the tour. Most of the trekking is done at a greater height (max 3000m).

Group Size
Min. 1
Reservation System Code
ALPEAKHIKE
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