Peaks of the Balkans, Hiking the Albanian Alps

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Peaks of the Balkans, Hiking the Albanian Alps
Duration:
9
Days
Priced from:
2699.00
USD

Peaks of the Balkans, Hiking the Albanian Alps

Trip Overview

The Albanian and Montenegrin Alps are located at the southern part of the Dinaric mountain range that stretches parallel to the Adriatic Sea. Let us immerse you in Balkan life as you traverse three prime alpine Albanian valleys, as well as one in Montenegro. You'll experience friendly locals and taste traditional cuisine. We've included a farm to table dinner on a farm and winery. The tour includes some sites of historical significance as well, in Kruja, Shkodra, Valbone and Thethi. Albania and Montenegro are two of the emerging destinations of Eastern Europe and the scenery on this trip will take your breath away. 

WOW FACTORS

  • Hike spectacular alpine trails connecting Albania and Montenegro 
  • Cross the famous Valbone Pass
  • Visit historic towns, Kruja and Shkodra

Activities

Difficulty Level

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Itinerary & Map

Day 1

Tirana - Kruja
Arrival
Upon arrival into Mother Theresa Airport, you’ll be met and transferred to the historic town of Kruja, located only 30km away. The hotel is located by the Ottoman Bazaar and the Kruja Fortress, where George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, the Albanian National Hero, led an incredible resistance to the Ottomans in the 15th century. If time allows, you can venture out to explore the captivating surroundings on foot before dinner. In the evening, we’ll be treated to a group welcome dinner of local dishes typical to the area.

Meals: Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel

Day 2

Albania - Kruja - Lepushe
Trekking
We’ll start our Albanian adventure with a hearty breakfast and then transfer by vehicle 1.5 hours to the town of Shkodra. After some time to explore the town, we get back into our van and drive another 1.5 hours to Kelmend, the ‘rooftop of Albania’ via the scenic pass of ‘Leqet e Hotit.’  We’ll pick up our picnic lunch in Tamara and then it’s just a short distance to the trailhead, where we’ll begin our first hike, which is mostly an ascent, to a cascading waterfall. We’ll stop for a picnic somewhere along the river before descending back into the valley. At the bottom, we’ll meet our vehicle and have a short transfer to the village of Lepushe. There, we will check into a basic local guesthouse, owned by an Albanian family, and they’ll prepare us a dinner of traditional dishes. 

Hiking Duration: 3 hours
Distance: 7 km / 4 mi
Ascent: + 690 m (2264 ft)
Descent: - 690 m (2264 ft)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Basic guesthouse

Day 3

Albania - Lepushe - Montenegro - Lake Plave
Trekking
This morning starts as we hike out from the village on foot to reach the pastures of Dobku. We will steadily ascend, and as we get higher, we will pass between the peaks of Popadija and Talijanka, officially entering in Montenegro. When we arrive at the Volusnice Cliffs, our hiking efforts will be more than compensated by a breathtaking view of the rugged mountains in the Grebaje Valley. This is truly one of Montenegro’s most beautiful landscapes! After all of our efforts of ascending this plateau, the remainder of the hike is downhill on a mixture of scree, dirt path, and forest trails. At the bottom of the valley, we’ll relax and enjoy a well-earned lunch in a mountain restaurant. From here we’ll have a 30-minute transfer to our cozy hotel along the serene lakeshore.  There will be some time to relax and explore the area before for dinner together.

Hiking Duration: 5 hours
Distance: 10 km / 6 mi
Ascent: + 840 m (2756 ft)
Descent: - 910 m (2986 ft)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel

Day 4

Montenegro - Lake Plave - Albania - Valbone Valley
Trekking
Without a doubt, this is one of the most memorable days of the trip. The day begins with a short transfer to a trailhead near the village of Vusanje.  Today and tomorrow our luggage will get loaded onto horses, while we set out hiking along a path that leads us back into Albania and over the Bori Pass. We will stop by an area with fresh water springs to enjoy a picnic lunch. After lunch, with the mighty rocky domes of the Kollata Mountains as our backdrop, we’ll gradually make our way downhill through meadows. Our long but unforgettable day hiking will finish as we reach the shepherd’s village. From there, we’ll have a short transfer to the beautiful Valbone Valley. Upon settling in at our valley hotel, there is some free time to relax or explore the serene surroundings on foot before meeting together again for dinner.

Hiking Duration: 6 hours
Distance: 13 km / 8 mi
Ascent: + 800 m (2625 ft)
Descent: - 700 m (2297 ft)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel

Day 5

Albania - Valbone - Thethi
Trekking
Today is another exhilarating day with show-stopping views of the rugged alps as we ascend up to the top of the range. The first half of the trek is all up, but the views are worth the effort. We’ll use horses again to carry our luggage to our next guesthouse. Today’s hike is along one of the Albanian Alps’ most classic routes. For centuries, this high pass connected the glacier valleys of Valbone and Thethi. Crossing on foot is only possible during summer or early autumn because of snow. We’ll pass through some small villages and after passing the last houses of Rrogam Valley, the trail will begin to steepen towards a large bowl of alpine meadows. We will steadily ascend until we reach a lookout point at the top of the pass. This elevated location is one of Europe’s lesser known treasures and offers a great panorama of the jagged peaks that tower around us -- ‘Bjeshket e Namuna,’ the ‘Accursed Mountains.’  From here, the final section of our hike is an easier descent towards the village of Thethi, and the path takes us through dense woods and grassy meadows. We’ll stop for a picnic lunch on the descent,  in a little hideaway on the mountainside.  Late afternoon, we will arrive at our basic guesthouse in Thethi with time to enjoy the evening at leisure before a great dinner, prepared by the local family who owns the guesthouse.

Hiking Duration: 6-7 hours
Distance: 16 km / 10 mi
Ascent: + 870 m (2854 ft)
Descent: - 1050 m (3445 ft)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Basic guesthouse

Day 6

Albania - Thethi - Nderlysa
Trekking
This morning we set off on foot from the guesthouse to explore the region around Thethi, which is Albania’s best-preserved alpine village. Surrounded by mountains, this village is truly a spectacular sight. The stone houses have wood-tiled roofs and some of the town’s stone walled terraces date back to the bronze era. We'll visit the village church and other attractions before beginning a hike out from the village and along the Shala River. The hike today is much easier than the hikes of the last few days, just to give our muscles a break after the last few days. Our destination tonight is the tranquil hamlet of Nderlysa. There, we’ll reach our next guesthouse in plenty of time for an afternoon of relaxation. Located next to the crystal blue Kaprea Creek, the guesthouse is the perfect place to relax in nature or enjoy a leisurely wander and a swim. Later, we’ll all meet again for dinner. As has become customary at the guesthouses on this tour, we’ll enjoy a traditional family style Albanian dinner together, cooked by our guesthouse hosts.

Hiking Duration: 4 - 5 hours
Distance: 7 km / 4 mi
Ascent: + 250 m (820 ft)
Descent: - 470 m (1542 ft)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Basic guesthouse

Day 7

Albania - Nderlysa - Tirana
Trekking
Our final day of trekking is up to the Thore Pass.  After a hearty breakfast at our guesthouse, we bid a farewell to the family and transfer by vehicle for a short drive. It's a bumpy, mountain road, through the village and forest, across meadows and gradually climbing in the direction of the Thore Pass. We eventually reach the memorial of Edith Durham - respecting her support of the Albanians after World War One. This spot offers fantastic views on the Thethi Valley, with the imposing big wall of Mt Harapit. Here we'll start our hike, surrounded by striking peaks all the way to the pass.  At the top there is time to take some panoramic photos before descending into the Boga valley. Here our driver will be awaiting to drive us to the Uka Farm, a family-run organic farm and producing fine Albanian wines and spirits. There is a restaurant on the farm and we'll have a celebratory dinner here after touring around the farm.  After dinner we have a short drive back to Tirana, to our hotel for the night. After getting settled in at our comfortable hotel, the remainder of the evening will be free to enjoy the city at our own leisure. There is much to see and explore even at night here as Tirana has been labeled one of the liveliest capitals of ‘New Europe.’

Hiking Duration: 4 - 5 hours
Distance: 9 km / 6 mi
Ascent: + 1200 m (3937 ft)
Descent: - 100 m (328 ft)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel

Day 8

Tirana
Hiking & Sightseeing
After breakfast today, we’ll start with a short 30-minute transfer through the city to arrive at the ‘Dajti Express’ station. There, we will take a cable car up to Mount Dajti’s plateau, located at approximately 1000 m. From there, we will hike through the forest to reach Tujani Summit for the best aerial views over Tirana and the region. We’ll start our descent on foot, stopping for lunch in a traditional and panoramic mountain restaurant. After lunch, we’ll descend the rest of the way by cable car again.  Next, we’ll visit Bunk’Art – the areas large complex of communist era tunnels that have been enriched with art and memorabilia. We’ll then return into the city centre for a short walking tour of Tirana, highlighting the city’s attractions. After some time to explore on our own, we will meet together again for our final dinner in a restaurant that exemplifies the city’s fine culinary traditions.

Sightseeing Duration: 2 - 3 hours
Distance: 5 km / 3 mi
Ascent: + 460 m (1509 ft)
Descent: - 460 m (1509 ft)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel

Day 9

Tirana
Departure
This morning, if time allows, you can explore the town before you'll be transferred (30 minutes) to the airport for your international flight home. 

Meals: Breakfast

----

Note about Ascent/Descent numbers
The ascent/descent numbers are usually generated using Ride with GPS. The numbers are TOTAL ascent/descent for the day and these numbers do not suggest altitude. There are usually multiple small ascents and descents added up throughout the day to reach this total ascent/descent for the day. (While our numbers are generally consistent with Ride with GPS, depending on the mapping technology used, numbers may vary).

Note about the accommodation on this tour:
This trip includes the following types of accommodation:
HOTELS
This is a backcountry hiking adventure, traversing through very small villages that house small family-run hotels. Here, the emphasis is on Eastern European village life and less on the common luxuries of western living.  These hotels will also help showcase the character and local flair of Albania, an emerging destination. All hotels have wifi.
GUESTHOUSES
Our nights of accommodation in guesthouses will be similar to B&Bs but more basic than the standard of western style B&Bs. In Lepushe, the rooms have 2-4 beds and the bathrooms are outside the rooms and shared. The other guesthouses, in Thethi and Nderlysa, are twin or triple shared rooms with private en-suite bathrooms. All guesthouses except one have wifi.

What's Included

TRIP INCLUSIONS:
All accommodation in 3 star hotels (twin shared), meals as indicated, land transportation, airport transfers and English speaking guides. 

TRIP DOES NOT INCLUDE:
International airfare, airport departure taxes, gratuities, meals not indicated and items of a personal nature.

MEALS:
Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners (as indicated)

ACCOMMODATION:
Hotels, B&Bs

Trip Facts

Weather in Albania

In Albania, the best time to travel is during the summer and fall as May-October is the warmest and driest part of the year. The average monthly temperature in the summer is 73 F/23 C, but a sweater may be needed in the evenings, especially in the mountains. The Albanian Alps are located at the southern part of the Dinaric range that stretches parallel to the Adriatic Sea. At sea level, the temperatures are much more mild. Overall, the winters can be very cold, and often drizzly, snowy and windy, especially in the interior and the north. 

December to February: Sunny skies, warm days.
May to September: Summer. Warm, dry season. 
October to April: Winter. Cooler, snowy months. 

FAQ

How big are BikeHike's groups?

Our adventures are built for small groups, with a maximum of 12 travellers on each guided tour. Each group is diverse, comprised of men and women of many different nationalities and ages. By travelling in small groups we leave minimal ecological impact, cause less disruption to the native life and are able to gain a better appreciation for our surroundings. Small numbers also allow greater flexibility and spontaneity: a dinner in a local home, an impromptu village wedding invite and any such experiences that can become among the most memorable experiences of your BikeHike adventure.

How fit do I need to be to join this trip?

We understand that people come in many fitness levels, so we've graded our trips accordingly. There are four difficulty levels on our trips: Easy, Moderate, Challenging, and Strenuous. 

This is a “moderate” trip. These trips include 4-5 hours of physical activity throughout the day, with many breaks along the way. This is a point to point hiking trip but during the hiking, the most you would have to carry on your back is a daypack. Your luggage will be transferred for you. 

What does the Ascent/Descent indicate? Is it the same as Altitude?

The ascent/descent numbers are usually generated using Ride with GPS. The numbers are TOTAL ascent/descent for the day and these numbers do not suggest altitude. There are usually multiple small ascents and descents added up throughout the day to reach this total ascent/descent for the day. (While our numbers are generally consistent with Ride with GPS, depending on the mapping technology used, numbers may vary). 
 

Has this trip been run before?

BikeHike Adventures has been operating since 1994. 

The logistics of organizing tours to remote corners of the world can be very complex. Our trip development department spends long hours researching destinations, routes, ground operations and equipment. Even when we launch a new itinerary, it has been screened extensively before being added to our growing repertoire of adventures. Nothing is untested. 

Can you tell me about your typical BikeHike travellers on this trip?

Our travellers share a common love for outdoor adventure. Most are looking for a physical adventure in an unfamiliar destination. A typical trip is comprised of men and women in good physical condition, who exercise regularly and are invigorated by a personal challenge. The age range on this trip is typically from 35-60, although we occasionally get younger and older travellers as well.

Which airport do we fly in and out of for this trip?

Tirana, Albania. You can arrive anytime on day 1 of the trip, although there is a group dinner arranged on the arrival evening. You can depart anytime on day 9.

Can I take this trip if...

I am a solo traveller? How does solo accommodation and costing work?

Many of our travellers (both men and women) join as singles. On average, BikeHike groups are 75% single travellers and 25% couples. Unlike many adventure travel companies, we don't charge single supplement fees to solo travellers. Instead, we pair you with another traveller of the same gender. If we can't find you a roommate, you get your own room at no additional charge. A single private room supplement fee is only required if you specifically request a confirmed private room for the duration of the trip. Learn more about solo travel with BikeHike

I have special dietary requirements?

We will do our best to accommodate special dietary requests (e.g. vegetarian, gluten free, etc.), but ask that you please discuss your request with us when signing up for a trip.

I am travelling with children? Is this trip children friendly?

While most of our trips are created with adults in mind, many of our itineraries are suitable for strong and active teenagers. This trip is generally only okay for older teenagers. However, we do offer many Family Focused trips, some of which are able to accommodate children as young as six.

Accommodation

Most of our trips include comfortable mid-range accommodations. This includes accommodation that provides a clean and comfortable experience in characterful surroundings that reflect the destination. To build stronger connections with the communities and support the local economies, we avoid using large international chain brands on BikeHike trips. 

This trip includes the following types of accommodation:

HOTELS 

In an effort to keep money in the communities we visit around the world, BikeHike prefers small hotels, bungalows, and haciendas that showcase the character and local flair of each destination.

B&B (GUESTHOUSE)

Here, the emphasis in Eastern European guesthouses is less on the common luxuries of western living. As this is a back country hiking trip, the guesthouse accommodation will be comfortable but can be more basic than western style standard B&Bs. In Lepushe, the rooms have 2-3 beds per room and the bathrooms are outside the rooms and shared. The other guesthouses, in Thethi and Nderlysa, are twin share rooms with private ensuite bathrooms.

Click HERE for more information about accommodation styles.

Adventure Dates

  • Jun 13 - Jun 21, 2020
  • Sep 12 - Sep 20, 2020
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Price

(Land only, based on twin/shared room)
2699.00
USD
per person

No single supplement fees
** Guaranteed departures on two travellers

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Add-Ons

  • It's easy to add days before and after your tour. Just ask! 
Day Destination Activity
Duration
Distance Ascent / Descent Lodging Meals
1
Tirana - Kruja
Arrival
— / —
Hotel
d
2
Kruja - Lepushe
Trekking
3 hours
7 km
4 mi
+ 690 m (2264 ft)
- 690 m (2264 ft)
B & B
b,
l,
d
3
Lepushe - Lake Plave
Trekking
5 hours
10 km / 6 mi
+ 840 m (2756 ft)
- 910 m (2986 ft)
Hotel
b,
l,
d
4
Lake Plave - Valbone Valley
Trekking
5-6 hours
13 km / 8 mi
+ 800 m (2625 ft)
- 700 m (2297 ft)
Hotel
b,
l,
d
5
Valbone - Thethi
Trekking
6-7 hours
16 km / 10 mi
+ 870 m (2854 ft)
- 1050 m (3445 ft)
B & B
b,
l,
d
6
Thethi - Nderlysa
Trekking
4-5 hours
7 km / 4 mi
+ 250 m (820 ft)
- 470 m (1542 ft)
B & B
b,
l,
d
7
Nderlysa - Tirana
Trekking
4-5 hours
9 km / 6 mi
+ 1200 m (3937 ft)
- 100 m (328 ft)
Hotel
b,
l,
d
8
Tirana
Light Hike, Sightseeing
2-3 hours
5 km / 3 mi
+ 460 m (1509 ft)
- 460 m (1509 ft)
Hotel
b,
l,
d
9
Tirana
Departure
— / —
b

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ST
Susan T
June 24, 2019

The hikes at times were pretty challenging but the views of the mountains and waterfalls were worth the effort.
Our guide Alfred was a wonderful guide and very knowledgeable about his country and its history.
Accommodations were simple, clean and spacious.
Overall great experience and would recommend this trip.

Montreal, Canada
TA
Tisha A
June 23, 2019

This was an amazing trip; so beautiful. People of Albania are very friendly. Our guide was fantastic. He is very knowledgeable and proud of his country. Trish Sare is so personable and friendly. I enjoyed traveling with her as well as the others in our group. Great trip experience.

Lake Villa, USA
SS
Susan S
June 23, 2019

Amazing views, peaceful hamlets and challenging hikes make this a trip to remember. Albania and Montenegro are hidden gems for the outdoor enthusiast.

Florida
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