Albanian Alps Explorer

Albanian Alps Explorer 720 , 8 Days

Surrounded by the rugged peaks of the Albanian Alps, the village of Theth is considered one of the jewels of the Balkans. Here you can find, in the words of anthropologist Edith Durham, "majestic isolation from all the world". Besides the outstanding views, the village can also offer to its visitors insight into what it was like to live by the "kanun" - a controversial traditional Albanian law that regulated the lives of the locals for centuries and still has its impact on the local communities.

The road that will lead you to Theth is no less impressive. Starting your tour in Shkodra, you will take a ferry across the beautiful fjord-like Komani Lake. You will then embark on a 7-hour trek from the village of Valbona to Theth - considered one of the most spectacular treks in Europe. Crossing the Valbona National Park, you will enjoy the fresh mountainous air, drink water from the cold mountain springs and experience the hospitality of the locals. You will have a chance to try some of their local produce or get a sip of raki to keep you going. On your last way a short hike will take you to yet another hidden jewel - the karst spring "Blue Eye", before you head out to the capital city of Tirana, where you can explore the modern face of Albania.

♦ Valbona National Park 
Komani Lake
The "Blue Eye" spring
♦ Village of Theth


Day 1. Arrival
You are met by a driver at Tirana (TIA) or Podgorica (TGD) airport/city for the two hour transfer to Shkodra. Meet our staff in the afternoon to receive materials (road book, maps, GPS & SIM card), get a walk throgh of the trip and all your questions answered. Arriving early, go swim in the Balkans largest lake and visit the Rozafa Castle to learn about its legend and enjoy the fabulous views of the Alps. Immerse in the buzz of the bazaar, at the Marubi photo library in the town's past or enjoy an espresso with the locals. In the evening bars bust with locals flocking for the evening stroll into the pedestrian zone. Lined with bourgeoisie town houses, reminder of the cities rich past, it has a certain Italian atmosphere to it. When daylight fades you can choose between restaurants that offer carefully crafted traditional meals. Overnight in a hotel in the city. -/-/-

Day 2. Komani Lake - Fierze - Valbona National Park
An early starts affords a scenic drive through the Drin Gorges and to the Komani Lake (55km/1:30h). The picturesque reservoir loops similar to a Norwegian fjord through sheer rock walls and makes for the most attractive route into the Albanian Alps. You're in for a surprise by the custom-made “boat”, which stops several times to pick up talkative locals from remote villages before arriving at Fierze (46 km/3h). After lunch, you're taken by car further into the highlands of the Valbona National Park into a traditional village composed of imposing tower houses. The afternoon warm-up walk follows a crystal clear stream through ancient beach forests speckled with the sweetest strawberries. Along the way, you can enjoy a swimming break at the river or a secluded pond. The walk ends at a cozy accommodation (guest house) in upper Valbona and there’s opportunity to explore the vicinity further.The jagged peaks towering high above leave you with itchy feet, tomorrow will be the day! Tonight we enjoy a hearty home-cooked meal and w ll earned rest after this impression packed introduction to the Accursed Mountains. Overnight in a guest house.(7 km, ascent 250 m, descent 0 m, 3:30 h) B/L/D

Day 3. Valbona National Park
Refreshed you start the hike to Kukaj - an isolated hamlet where only two families reside. Below bunkers that once protected the border are now scattered in the riverbed. The windy path takes you over lush meadows ablaze with the colors of a wide variety of spring flowers to a shepherd hut on 1.650m. In the communist period, when this was a no-go area, the building used to be a military barrack. Admire the wild and romantic jagged mountain scenery, sample fresh milk products with shepherd s present or opt to climb higher to an ancient crossing at the Montenegrin border. At 2.045m a weathered border pyramid is the only reminder of the isolation Albania once endured, from here views reach to the most dramatic parts of Montenegrin Prokletije. Catching a last glimpse at the Alps highest peak Jezerca (2.694m) you descent on a different path to the accommodation. When daylight fades you admire the alpine glow over dinner in the idyllic garden. No surprise many local women are named after the beautiful valley. Overnight in a guest house.(12 km, ascent 750 m, descent 700 m, 5:30 h) B/LP/D

Day 4. Valbona - Theth
Another highlight and with with the highest point of the journey await today. After a short ride over a rough road, you meet the mule porter who carries the main luggage and set out for the hike across Valbona Pass (1.811m). Above the village Rragam few steep segments need to be tackled. Pause regularly near springs and on colorful meadows to take a breath of herb filled aromatic mountain air and enjoy the splendid views. Reaching the pass, the surrounding peaks appear on par and sweeping views of both national parks fascinate even the seasoned traveler. Enjoy the picturesque landscape during a lunch break ahead of the descent to Theth, where the fairy-tale beech forest provides cover from the sun in the afternoon. Close to the village the woods thin out, Mt. Arapi (2.217m) becomes more dominant and soon the upmost houses of the village are reached. Spread below are the the valleys many hamlets and a broad path takes you through the village to another inviting guesthouse in the center. (15 km, ascent 750 m, descent 1125 m, 6:45 h) B/LP/D

Day 5. Peja Pass/ Meadows of Denelli/ Theth
Choose for today's hike between the route to Peja Pass at the northern end of the valley below the Matterhorn of Albania or the panoramic trail to the Meadows of Denelli. Both are return routes and you stay for a second night at the same guesthouse. For the first sun exposed option an early start and optional transfer to the trailhead, 4 km drive or one hour walking time each way, are recommend. From where the trail starts near the source of the Thethi River, the wall still looks impenetrable. The ancient caravan path is hidden in the sheer 900 m drop below Mt. Arapi and named after the Kosovarian city Peja, where the route connected to. On top is a little lake where you cool down your feet. The Denelli walk starts from the guesthouse, leads through green Ulaj neighborhood and ascends after a river crossing in light forest to a path in the cliffs & football field sized plain in the middle of the mountains. You find shepherds here in July & August. You can also choose to stay and relax in the village for the day. Overnight in a guest house. B/LP/D

Day 6. Theth
A walk through the village and green fields reveals the full extent of Theth. Visit the iconic church and dive into the history of the “kanun” at the lock-in tower that offered protection to those affected. It is the perfect place to learn about the highland law code of Leke Dukagjini, its origins, impact and present day relevance. Onward along water channels the paths ascends to the Thethi waterfall and drops again to a cliff above the river where archaeologists discovered stone aged terraces .Gaze into the adjacent 50m deep Grunas Canyon before starting the second part of the hike on a well-worn bridle path that leads along the river downstream to Nderlysa Tonight's accommodation is a simpler, but very welcoming homestay in a much less visited hamlet. Use your free time to sample mulberries, grapes and plums in the garden, ask the your host about bee keeping, explore the surroundings or swim in the nearby pools.
If you find today's hike short, you can also hike yesterday's alternative option and transfer to Nderlysa. Overnight in a guest house.(8 km, ascent 150 m, descent 400 m, 3:30 h)  B/LP/D

Day 7. The Blue Eye
The hike through a canyon leads to a karst spring called the “Blue Eye”. The bravest can take a dip in the icy, butterfly surrounded waters - truly a hidden oasis to relax at. Without mobile phone coverage, electricity and road access, busy everyday life feels completely forgotten. The walk can be a extended to a closeby abandoned hamlet. The public minibus collects passengers at around 1-2 pm, it's a scenic drive across the Terthoria Pass into the Valley of Boge and along Lake Shkodra (3 h), riding with the locals certainly add some flavor. After refereshments and changing cars it takes another two hours to arrive at the central hotel in the early evening. Tirana represents the modern, very different side of Albania. Conclude your day with dinner and a drink out in chic "blloku" district, recall the past week of travel and celebrate the memorable journey through the Albanian Alps. Want to combine yesterday and today's shorter hikes into one or just leave earlier for Tirana - opt for a private 4x4 transfer. Overnight in a hotel (10 km, ascent 275 m, descent 275 m, 3:30 h) B/LP/-

Day 8. Departure
Stroll through town, visit the colorful bazaar and park that forms the green heart of Tirana. Two former nuclear shelters open their doors to visitors, the museum turned headquarters of the secret police, National History Museum and socialist period art gallery make up just a few of city's sights. The last day presents you yet another side of diverse Albania, one that stands in stark contrast to the rural areas visited in the past days. Your multi-faceted journey through Albania ends with an organized transfer to the airport. B/-/-

Difficulty: A moderate tour including either easier, medium-duration walks or harder, shorter walks. While experience is not necessary, it is desirable. Good health and reasonable fitness are more important. Some walking on loose underfoot, steep sections and occasional longer/harder days may be involved, still general conditions will be fair. A walking day is normally three to five hours and daily ascents will likely be around 300m to 700m, perhaps with an odd day ascending around 800m to 900m.

Recommended equipment: hiking boots, rainwear, sun protection (cream, hat, glasses) 25-30 liters daypack, 1.5 litre water gear, travel towel 

Price Includes:
materials for a self-guided trip
accommodation: 2x hotel(s),5x guesthouse(s)
meals according the itinerary
transfers as foreseen by the itinerary including airport pick-up
luggage transport: one piece up to 15 kg in soft bags only*

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

Additional Services:
Solo traveller supplement: 450 EUR


Albanian Alps Explorer (Rated 4.72 / 5 Based on 75 Reviews.)
720 EUR
8 Days
Single Supplement
45 EUR
Open for booking

Currency fluctuations might cause correction of price at any time.

Most of you, who are used to walking/cycling during a long weekend, will be in condition to cope with a tour of this level. You should be in a good health condition. We have successive days of longer and more difficult walking and days of lighter walking/cycling. Some parts of the day routes are done at a higher altitude. The paths are in good condition. We walk/cycle for 5/7h a day.

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
Reservation System Code
Best of Bulgaria Roundtrip 650 , 8 Days

Best of Bulgaria Roundtrip

Situated on the Balkan Peninsula, Bulgaria is still one of the least explored countries in Europe....
Balkan Village Trek (8 days progressive ride in Teteven Balkan area) 820 , 8 Days

Balkan Village Trek (8 days progressive ride in Teteven Balkan area)

Many and varied are the mountains in Bulgaria, but Teteven Balkan combines the best of them all -...
Roundtrip Iran - Classical Persia 990 , 10 Days

Roundtrip Iran - Classical Persia

A cultural trip that will show you both modern Iran and ancient Persia. This is a roundtrip...

View all» What people say about us


Tour: Iraqi Kurdistan
My recent trip in Iraq organized by Penguin was excellent from start to end. Both Penguin tour guide (Nessi) and the local guide (Fahad) managed all topics efficiently and facilitated an amazing experience for the group. Now I dream about visiting the Northern part of the country, too.


Tour: Socotra Island Adventures (Yemen)
Thanks for everything in terms of your work and help with this trip to Yemen. It was an amazing experience - one I would recommend to almost anyone. By the numbers of people who travelled to the island, it is only going to get more exposure. The local company was very good - so you can have no problems with them at all. I was really lucky though - there were only 2 of us on the trip - and it was a really nice experience. I will continue to work with Penguin in getting ideas for great places to travel.

Gunnar Svensson

Tour: Caucasus Explorer
Interesting trip in a different part of the world. with a possibility to learn a lot. Visit to spectacular churches and monastries, museums, wine producers, nature and beautiful cities. This tour is recommended.

View all»


30.05.2023 13:30

Isfahan or Esfahan: Exploring the Timeless Beauty of Iran's Cultural Gem

Isfahan, a city steeped in rich history and unparalleled beauty, stands as a testament to the grandeur of Persian civilization. Located in central Iran, Isfahan boasts a mesmerizing blend of architectural marvels, vibrant bazaars, and serene gardens that have captivated travelers for centuries. With its UNESCO-listed landmarks, such as the majestic Imam Square and the stunning Shah Mosque,...

29.05.2023 14:55

Lake Nakuru - Discovering the Enchanting Beauty of Kenya

Kenya, a land of breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife, holds an array of hidden gems for travelers seeking unforgettable experiences. Among these treasures lies the captivating Lake Nakuru, a mesmerizing waterbody nestled within the Great Rift Valley. Renowned for its abundant birdlife and stunning scenery, Lake Nakuru National Park offers a captivating blend of natural wonders and...

24.05.2023 16:26

Shibam: Exploring the Ancient Skyscrapers of Yemen

Nestled in the heart of Yemen, the city of Shibam stands as a living testament to the ingenuity and architectural marvels of ancient civilizations. Renowned as "the Manhattan of the desert," Shibam boasts a skyline of towering mud-brick skyscrapers, capturing the essence of Yemen's rich history and cultural heritage. Shibam, located in the Wadi Hadramaut region, is a UNESCO World...

22.05.2023 13:45

20 Fascinating Facts about Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, is an ancient city that continues to captivate travelers from around the world. This iconic UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and mysterious history. In this article, we will uncover 20 intriguing facts about Machu Picchu, shedding light on its significance and allure. Discovery and Rediscovery Machu...