Trekking the Albanian Alps

Step back in time as you explore marvels from Tirana to Thethi
Overview

overview

Join a challenging 9-day walking tour of Albania to discover some of the best natural and cultural attractions of this small, scarcely traveled country. With textured ancient and modern history as well as impressive geographic diversity, it has much to offer the intrepid trekker.  You will arrive in Tirana and be transferred to Kruja, a Sufi Dervish sanctuary, to begin your adventure.  Hike the Valbona Pass to the charming Village of Thethi, then on to Boga.  Along your way, enjoy the hospitality of friendly Albanians.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Tirana/Kruja
    The Kruja Bazaar is a colorful and lively market

    Arrive at Tirana international airport, where you will be met and transferred to Kruja. The town of Kruja is located approximately 20 miles (30 km) northwest of Tirana, high on the slopes of Sari-Salltiku Mountain, providing visitors with great views of majestic landscapes.  Visit Kruja Castle, the epicenter of the legendary Albanian resistance against the Ottomans, led by Skanderbeg in the 14th century. Walk through the Citadel's main gate to visit the Skanderbeg Museum and Ethographic Museum.

    Also stroll through the Kruja Bazaar, a street of quaint wooden buildings with plenty of excellent souvenirs.

    Enjoy dinner with your group at one of the restaurants at the top end of the citadel, offering great views of the surroundings and serving delicious Albanian specialties.

    Meals
    Dinner
    Lodging
    3* hotel
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  • Day 2: Sarisalltik Mountain / Lake Shkodra
    Shkodra is one of the most historic cities in Albania

    Today is your first hike, up the holy mountain of Sarisalltik. Visit the Bectasci Teqe (Sufi Dervishes Sanctuary) located at 6,200 ft. Bectascism is a Sufi order of Islam founded in the 13th century. It began to expand dramatically in the early 19th century, and in response, the Ottoman central authority tried to suppress it. Religious leaders of the sect built sanctuaries secluded in the mountains so they could practice in safety. 

    After the descent, you drive to Shkodra, an important cultural and economic center. At the entrance to the city, stop to see Rozafa Castle and admire the view of Lake Shkodra, the largest lake in the Western Balkans. The rest of the day is at your leisure to relax at Lake Shkodra and walk around the town.  Meet your group for dinner at a traditional restaurant. Albanian food usually consists of a slow-cooked meat and a vegetable salad dressed in olive oil, vinegar, and salt.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    3* hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Lake Koman and Drin Canyon
    Lake Koman is a winding natural beauty

    Rise early to drive to the ferry that will carry you down the spectacular canyon of the River Drin, the longest river in Albania. The river divides downstream and empties into both the Adriatic Sea and the Bojana River. Pass through Lake Koman, a man-made lake created by a dam constructed in the 1980s. Then continue your drive along the beautiful valley of River Valbona to picturesque Dunishë, where you will spend the night in a unique guesthouse.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Guesthouse Valbona (maximum 6 people per room, shared facilities)
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  • Day 4: Qaffa e Rosit
    Meet locals during your breathtaking hike

    Today's hike will start from your guesthouse and head in the direction of Kukaj Village, a very small hamlet with only a few families.  You may want to pick up a jar of delicious Albanian honey from the local beekeeper before continuing your hike.  As you walk along shepherd's paths toward Qaffa e Rosit, savor the surrounding landscapes of the eastern Alps of Albania. The path climbs smoothly amidst green meadows, with gorgeous views of Jezerca Mountain and Rrethi i Bardhë – The White Circle (2,450 ft - 5,250 ft - 3,000 ft) is approximately 6 hours. An optional hike to 6,500 ft adds 2 hours. At the end of the day, arrive in the village of Rrogam, where you overnight in a mountain hotel. Enjoy dinner at a restaurant where you may meet the friendly locals.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mountain Hotel Rrogam
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  • Day 5: Valbona Pass
    A house located in the Village of Valbona

    After a hearty breakfast, set out for Valbona Pass
    (6,500 ft), a classic Albanian Alpine pass that for centuries was the only link between the two most best valleys of the area, Valbona  and Thethi.  Highlanders frequent the path from late spring until the first snow of winter. Take your rest stops beside fresh water springs along the trail that will offer pleasant and refreshing punctuation for your hike.  Admire the steep and jagged surrounding peaks of Jezerca and Radohima. From the pass, descend toward the village of Thethi (2,600 ft), where you will stay overnight after a full day of walking. Thethi is the best-preserved alpine village in Albania. Situated in a spectacular location, it has typical houses still roofed with traditional wooden tiles.

    Have dinner and overnight in one of these homes, which operates as a guesthouse, and experience the unforgettable hospitality of Albania.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Guesthouse Thethi, max. 6 persons per room, shared facilities
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Thethi Village
    Buy fruit from a local fruit seller in the various villages

    Today is a free day to explore the village of Thethi and the surrounding countryside. This is one of the most well-known and charming villages of northern Albania. 

    Consider walking downhill from the guesthouse to visit the sights of the village, including the church and the Kulla e Ngujimit, a tower house used in the past by local militia men as a shelter against on-going vendettas.  Then, as you continue down the path, you come to the Thethi Waterfall, Grunasi Canyon, and the cyclopean stone walled terraces dating from the late bronze era that were just discovered in 2007.

    Overnight again at your guesthouse in Thethi, where you are becoming part of the family.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Guesthouse Thethi, max. 6 persons per room, shared facilities
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: The Valley of Boga
    Feel small next to the mighty mountains

    This morning, depart Thethi (2,600 ft) and start another day of spectacular trekking in the direction of the village of Boga. Walk along Shtegu i Dheneve (Path of the Sheep), connecting the villages of Thethi and Boga. After the trail's pass (6,000 ft) and the stunning views it offers of Bjeshket e Namuna (The Accursed Mountains), the walk will continue downhill along the Radohima Mountain Range to Boga (3,000 ft).

    Enjoy lunch in this picturesque village surrounded by vertical slopes with peaks more than 2000m high, then drive through the Boga Valley towards Shkodra to Tirana (75 miles - 3hrs).

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    3* hotel in Tirana
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Tirana
    Explore Tirana at your leisure.

    Today is free for exploring Tirana. The major attractions include the Mosque of Ethem Bej, the National Museum of History, and the Italian architecture visible throughout the city. You may also decide to visit one of the many markets in Tirana for last-minute gifts and souvenirs of your Albanian adventure.

    Enjoy a last dinner tonight (not included) with your traveling companions and new friends.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    3* hotel in Tirana
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Tirana/Onward
    Safe travels!

    After a leisurely breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your homebound flight. Depart with happy memories of your Albanian adventure.

    Meals
    Breakfast
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Sep 28-Oct 6, 2014
Jun 14-22, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$2,545
The cost quoted is the Land Cost and is subject to change. This covers accommodations, transfers, activities, touring, guide services and meals as described in JOURNEYS' Trip Notes. The quoted Land Cost will apply when group size falls in the specified range and when travel is on the indicated dates.
Single Supplement:
$150
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

 

Public transport experience
For people who like hiking, but are not capable of doing the ”big 8 hour hike” between Valbona and Thethi, we offer a “public transport experience”.

Instead of hiking to Thethi, we will organize a taxi early in the morning, to be dropped off at the ferry. At the other side of the ferry ride, there will be a taxi waiting, to bring you to Thethi (5 hours drive). Your driver might pick up some locals on the way, so it will be a great experience to meet the local people.

We use a network of trusted taxi drivers, who are experienced with the roads and the our routes. The price of the public transport is not included the price and will need to be paid directly to the locals.

 In case of:
1 person the price is 8000 Lek (66 euro)
2 persons the price is 4000 Lek (33 euro)
3 persons the price is 2700 Lek (23 euro)
Payment should be made in LEK

Hiking test
The 2nd day of the tour, the “hiking test” will be at the Holy mountain of Kruja. The guide will look at your walking style and your level of hiking. Together with the guide, you decide if you are ready for the big hike to Thethi, or if it is better to take public transport.

Terrain during the hikes
This trail includes many descents and ascents.  The route passes over alpine terrain with steep slopes, mountain river valleys incised on the mounts, rocky peaks, belts of mountain pine. The chosen paths are mostly well trodden underfoot and safe.   

Equipment and clothing
Keep the weight of your clothing and equipment down to a minimum. Your packed backpack should weigh no more than 10-15 kilograms.

Recommended equipment
Breathable light weight waterproof gear(gore-tex, sympatex, etc), fleece/wool pullovers/wind-stopper jackets and gloves, small back-pack with rain coverage, cap, sun-block, mosquito repellent, head-lamp, hiking poles, water bottle, sun glasses/block.    

Weather
Temperatures expected for this period are between + 10 and +35C. Noontime could be quite exhausting for trekking or simple walking over open territories. Rainfalls or short but heavy showers are possible, being a bit prolonged during spring and late autumn.

Luggage transport
The hike from Valbona to Thethi, is accompanied by a mule/horse, which carries the luggage. You will carry your own day backpack. From Thethi to Boga, there will be a vehicle, which will transport the luggage to Boga, from where we drive back to Tirana.

Early rising
As Albania knows high temperatures, you need to be willing to rise early in the mornings, as later in the day it might be too hot for hiking. Especially in the summer months, it can get up to 35 degrees during the day.

Duration:
9 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
1
Cozy village guesthouses and 4-star hotels
Group Size:
4-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
4
Cozy village guesthouses and 4-star hotels

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Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

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