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Journey through the spectacular Balkan mountains and villages with our partners at Cedar Path Expeditions.

Explore the rugged wild beauty, and glorious mountain peaks of the Western Balkans. We will hike along shepherd paths through mountain terrain in three countries- Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro. Each morning will start with a mindfulness meditation before we head off to unveil breathtaking alpine vistas, crystal-clear lakes, waterfalls, and remote villages. Each night we will be immersed in the local culture while staying at charming mountain guesthouses with time for reflection and connection. This once inaccessible hidden treasure, promises us an authentic, off-the-beaten-path experience like no other. Join us on this epic hiking trip through the Balkan Alps with our partner.

Book your spot on this hiking adventure HERE!

Highlights

  • Hiking through the stunning Balkan Alps
  • Sampling wonderful local cuisine
  • Travelling with like-minded travellers and Kellsie Forbes, Founder of Cedar Path Expeditions
  • Meeting locals in remote mountain villages
  • Visiting – Albania, Montenegro & Kosovo


STARTS AT

$3195

USD per Person

JULY 18- 29, 2024

Cedar Path - The Balkan Alps Hiking Trip

DAY 1: WELCOME TO THETH, ALBANIA


The expedition will officially begin early evening in Theth, Albania at our Guesthouse. We will gather to meet each other, have a trip orientation and share dinner before resting up for the following morning’s hike.

If you are opting into the Cedar Path shuttle, you will be picked up this morning at the Tirana, Albania airport and drive 6-7 hours to Theth.

Theth is one of the most picturesque villages in Northern Albania, dating back to the Middle Ages. In Theth stands a famous building called the Kulla e Ngujimit, a three storey stone building with no windows. In the ancient days this building was used for self exile during the blood feuds of the area.

Overnight: Theth
Meals: -/-/D

Cedar Path - Balkan Alps Hiking Trip

DAY 2: HIKE VALBONA, ALBANIA

After an early morning hearty breakfast we will start our hike to Valbona. Today we will experience one of Albania’s most iconic hikes from Theth over the Valbona Pass (5771 ft) to the town of Valbona in the heart of the national park. At one point, you will see the Theth valley on one side and Valbona valley on the other side. The Valbona pass offers a spectacular view of the Balkan Peaks and “Bjeshket e Nemuna” or the Accursed Mountains. “Bjeshket e Nemuna” is a national park in Gjakova and Peja in Kosovo, near the borders of Albania and Montenegro.

This ancient mule track linking the tribal regions of Shala and Nikaj is one of the more rigorous hiking days (7-8 hrs), and unquestionably worth it for the incredible scenery.

Distance: 12.5 miles,   ↑ 3504 ft   ↓2789 f
Meals: B/L/D

Cedar Path - The Balkan Alps Hiking Trip

DAY 3: CEREMI, ALBANIA

Today we will start from the Valbona Valley and take the ‘unofficial’ but rewarding route through the Zla Kolata pass. It features beautiful views, big mountains and the highest point in Montenegro. After the pass, we drop back down to the the village of Ceremi where we will find our Guesthouse, enjoy a delicious meal and spend the evening stretching and relaxing after a long day.

Distance: 8.7 miles, ↑ 3937 ft ↓3117 ft

Meals: B/L/D
 

Chichicastenango Market - Guatemala tour

DAY 4: DOBERDOL, KOSOVO

This stage of the Peaks of the Balkans takes us from the village of Ceremi to the high remote village of Doberdol. Much of the day is spent hiking through amazing old growth forests where we can find all kinds of berries, such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries (depending on the season).

After the forest we’ll be welcomed by amazing views. We will also pass the only National Reserve in Albania, which has brown bears and the last population of approximately 40 lynxes in the Balkans.

There are a couple small shepherd’s huts along the way where we can enjoy a coffee and snack.

Distance: 9.6 miles, ↑ 3379 ft ↓1443 ft
Meals: B/L/-

Cedar Path - Balkan Alps Hiking Tour

DAY 5: SUMMITING GJERVICA PEAK

This will be a spectacular day! We will leave the high mountain village of Doberdol and summit the highest peak in Kosovo, and second highest peak in the Accursed Mountains – Gjervica peak (8714 ft). From the top, we will see the Accursed Mountains (Albanian Alps) on one side and the Sharr Mountains on the other. To add to the beauty of the day, we will pass many alpine lakes with opportunities for a refreshing dip.

We will come down from Gjervica peak and instead of returning on the loop trail to Doberdol, we will stay at a Guesthouse along the trail and be set up for tomorrow’s hike to Milishevc.

Distance: 11.2 miles, ↑ 3002 ft ↓3000 ft
Meals: B/L/D

Cedar Path - Balkan Alps Hiking Trip

DAY 6: TROMEDJA PEAK (THREE BORDER PEAK) 

Today we will be hiking between two shepherds’ villages in two different countries, however they share the same culture and language. These two valleys have been connected by culture but disconnected by political borders. We begin the hike with a big hike uphill where we will reach a narrow pass on the border with Montenegro. From here the views are spectacular. Then we will carry on to climb the 7762 ft Tromedja Peak (Three Border Peak).

Tromedja peak allows you to stand in Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo at the same time!

After this monumental place, we will continue the hike following the border between Kosovo and Montenegro through peaceful views of endless meadows and Bogicevica National Park.
Onto another evening of delicious food, gathering together, journaling, stretching and relaxing.

Distance: 9.8 miles, ↑ 3000 ft ↓3215 ft
Meals: B/L/D

Cedar Path - Balkan Alps Hiking Trip - Montenegro

DAY 7: HIKE TO BABINO POLJE, MONTENEGRO

Today we will head out after a fresh breakfast, with our lunches packed and have a leisurely day hiking across the border from Kosovo to the mountain hamlet of Babino Polje, Montenegro, literally meaning ‘Old Woman’s Field’. This is not the official ‘Peaks of the Balkans’ trail, but allows us to skip a large amount of asphalt road walking.

Distance: 7.8 miles, ↑ 2759 ft ↓ 2185 ft

Meals: B/L/-D

Cedar Path - Balkan Alps Hiking Trip

DAY 8: HRID LAKE – PLAV, MONTENEGRO

Today we start from our Montenegrin guesthouse in Babino Polje to what is considered the most beautiful lake in all of Montenegro, Lake Hrid. This lake is a highlight of the trail and according to local legend, forest fairies hide from humans there and sometimes bathe in the Lake themselves. It is also said swimming in its water grants good health and good luck in marriage! To get there we will hike through dense pine forests scattered with lush green meadows and small streams.

After the lake, we will descend to the town of Plav, the largest town we will have seen on our expedition. This iconic town is located in the northeastern part of Montenegro, hidden in the foothills of Mount Prokletije at the point where the river Lim flows into Lake Plav. With approximately 3,500 inhabitants it is considered one of the most beautiful places in the country.

Distance: 12.4 miles, ↑ 2362 ft ↓4101 ft
Meals: B/L/D

Cedar Path - Balkan Alps Hiking Trip

DAY 9: PLAV FREE DAY

Today is a free day to do whatever you feel like! You might be in the mood to rest your body, take it easy and soak in the atmosphere of this peaceful little town. Perhaps you’ll feel like more movement and want to do a day hike to some local gems. Or perhaps exploring some cultural exhibits could be enriching, giving you a deeper understanding of the local heritage.

NOTE- There is an ATM available in the town of Plav.

LAKE PLAV

One of the most beautiful natural attractions in Plav is the stunning Lake Plav. This crystal-clear lake is surrounded by majestic mountains, and its turquoise waters offer a tranquil and serene setting. You can rent a boat or kayak to explore the lake or simply take a stroll around the shoreline. There are also several restaurants nearby where you can enjoy a traditional Montenegrin meal while taking in the breathtaking views.

ALI PASHA’S SPRINGS

This natural wonder is located just outside of Plav and offers a picturesque setting that’s perfect for a day hike. The trail is well-marked and takes you through dense forests and past rushing streams until you reach the springs themselves. The water is said to have healing properties.

REDZEPAGIC TOWER

Built in 1671 by Hasan-beg Redzapagic, with three floors (two stone, one from wood). There are beautiful wooden balconies jutting out from the top of the tower to make the living space more spacious, the horses were kept on the ground floor. Inside you will find the local ethnographic collection and a guided tour is available with the owner who explains the different uses for each floor and how it was to live in the 17th century here.

PLAVSKI SPRINGS

Another natural attraction worth visiting is Plavski Springs. This is a great spot for a refreshing dip on a hot summer day. The waters here are crystal clear and inviting, and the surrounding area is perfect for a leisurely stroll.

ALI PASHA MOSQUE

This beautiful mosque dates back to the 16th century and is considered one of the most important cultural and religious monuments in the region. The mosque is open to visitors throughout the day, and there are often guided tours available to help you learn more about its history.

ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM

If you love history and culture, the Plav Ethnographic Museum is a must-visit spot. Here, you can explore exhibits that showcase the traditional way of life in Montenegro, including exhibits on traditional clothing, crafts, and tools.

DAY 10 & 11: VUSANJE, MONTENEGRO

DAY 10: VUSANJE HIKING

This day will start bright and early as it will be one of our longest- and definitely one of our most spectacular!

We will be crossing the Bor Peak which has been considered the most spectacular stage of the “Peaks of the Balkans” trail. We hike over the grassy ridge of the Bor towards the imposing towering stone wall that forms the border to Albania before descending into the valley of Vusanje. The view of the Grbaja massif and the Zla Kolata, the highest mountain in Montenegro, make this an incredible day.

We will ascend more than 3000 ft, and we will be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views on the trail.

Distance: 17 miles, ↑ 3776 ft ↓4265 ft

DAY 11: VUSANJE HIKING

After breakfast we will start this morning with a car transfer to the Grebaje Valley, Montenegro; an area not to missed. It is not technically part of the ‘Peaks of the Balkans’ trail system, but it really should be! From the drop off we will do a full day hike that gives the most awe inspiring views of the Accursed Mountain range and Karanfili Peaks, maintaining this breath taking backdrop for most of the day’s hike.

The hike will initially take us through forest for about 2.5 miles leading us to Mt Volušnica (6223 ft), followed by ascending two peaks- the magnificent Mt Talijanka (6745 ft) and Mt Popadija. The higher we get the more spectacular the views.

When sunset is near and we must pull ourselves away, we will descend back down to the car, and return to our guesthouse in Vusanje for a delicious meal, rest and reflection.

Distance: 6.2 miles, ↑ 2624 ft ↓2624 ft

Meals: B/L/D

Cedar Path - The Balkan Alps Hiking Trip

DAY 12 & 13: FINAL HIKE + DEPARTURE DAY

DAY 12: The final day of our expedition ends on a high- one the best days of the whole trail!

We will start the day with a short 5 km car transfer over the asphalt road. Then we move on to hiking an unforgettable day through the gorgeous Ropojana Valley and across the border to the village of Theth, Albania- our starting point. Besides the stunning Ropojana Valley, we’ll also encounter Grlja Waterfall, Eye of the Grasshopper, and Runica meadow.

Distance: 13 miles, ↑ 3645 ft ↓4714 ft

Once in Theth we will return to our original guest house to retrieve any luggage and personal items, meet our driver and continue to Shkoder for the evening. (approx. 2 hr drive)

We will gather together at our traditional Albanian Guesthouse for the expedition finale, closing celebration, and fabulous dinner together. This will be the official end of our Balkan Alps expedition.

DAY 13: The following morning there will be optional transportation to Tirana. (approx. 4-5 hr drive) This must be booked ahead of time and will be one set time for everyone in the morning.

NOTE- It is recommended to book flights out of Tirana the following day on July 30 in case of unforeseen travel challenges.

  • 10 nights on trail at mountain Guesthouses
  • 1 night in Theth (start) & 1 night in Shkoder (end)
  • return trip transportation to/from airport in Tirana, Albania
  • permits for all border crossings
  • 3 delicious meals/day while on expedition (including dinner the first and last nights)
  • small backpacks (20-30 lbs)
  • approx. 10-15 miles per day
  • rated easy to moderate hiking
  • All activities/entrance fees/culinary programmes, etc as per itinerary
  • All meals as mentioned (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
  • All taxes

Tour Exclusions

  • International Flights
  • Mandatory travel medical insurance and optional cancellation insurance (can be arranged HERE or through us nicola@finisterra.ca)
  • Beverages not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Items of personal nature
  • Services and entrances not mentioned above
  • Passport, vaccinations, and visa fees
  • Tips/Gratuities for housekeeping, service staff, drivers, etc.

IMPORTANT NOTES

PLEASE NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change. Although we always do our best to stick to the itinerary, due to the ever-changing nature of Mother Nature, activities, hotels, and visits are subject to change due to forces beyond our control.

FLIGHTS: Please do not purchase your flights until your trip is confirmed.

PASSPORTS: Must be valid for at least 6 months upon return date to your home country. Proper documentation is the responsibility of each traveller.

VISAS & VACCINATIONS: Responsibility of the traveller.

Prices from: $3195 USD per participant based on Double / Twin accommodation (pricing may vary depending on season)

Travel Insurance

Cancellation, Travel, Flight, and Health insurance are required and are the responsibility of the participant to research and secure the appropriate coverage. Click HERE for a Travel Insurance Quote or please email nicola@finisterra.ca for a quote.

Waiver Form

All participants will be required to sign a Waiver Form prior to departure.

How did the ‘Peaks of the Balkans’ trail originate?
The premise of the route was to offer a culturally immersive adventure travel and sustainable tourism product . The hope was that this would support local families in remote mountain areas through hikers staying the night at their guest houses.

At first, this sort of cross-border project may not sound like a big deal. But, when you consider the region’s turbulent history and once tightly controlled borders, it really is. Virtually free movement across borders is now possible in a way that was inconceivable a couple of decades ago. The various bunker ruins and abandoned guard towers scattered across the region stand testament to this and to the evidence of change.

How do I get there?
Arrival- Fly into Tirana, Albania the day before the trip starts. Cedar Path shuttle will pick you up at the Tirana airport meeting spot the morning of the expedition start date. You will drive about 6-7 hrs (summer traffic!) to Theth, Albania where the group will meet at the Guesthouse for orientation and dinner that night.

Departure- Cedar Path shuttle will drop you off in Tirana, Albania the day after the expedition ends. Do not book morning or afternoon flights that day. (4-6 hours drive). *Recommended to spend that night in Tirana in case of unforeseen travel circumstances before international flights.

Travel on your own schedule from Tirana to Theth with a local taxi (approx. $200) for the arrival night orientation and dinner.
Fly into Podgorica, Montenegro and taxi (approx. $200) to Theth (4 hrs) for the arrival night orientation and dinner.

Do I need a Visa to enter Albania, Montenegro or Kosovo?
No. USA and Canadian citizens do not need a Visa to enter these countries

Do I need border crossing permits on the hike?
Yes. Cedar Path Expeditions will take care of this for you. It is included in the trip price. We will need your travel document information prior to the trip to organize the permits.

How difficult is this expedition?
This trail is rated easy-moderate. There are no technical skills or technical equipment needed. Some parts will be easygoing and smooth and some parts will be challenging and harder with long days and rocky or muddy terrain. You can expect a lot of elevation gain and loss everyday. In fact, there’s potentially more elevation gain in total, than a peak climb to Mt. Kilimanjaro- but the big difference is altitude! We are not in high altitude areas and therefore the stress on the body is less. As well, we travel up and down each day, which can be much different than only straight up as with peak ascents. We tend to travel lighter and faster with small packs and no camping gear.

This trip is for people with some hiking/backpacking experience.

What are the accommodations like?

The accommodations are a highlight on the expedition. Most are family-run, basic and charming Guesthouses. Some might be a motel or Inn. These are not luxury towns, but Shepard villages that are providing for the growing backpacking industry. The families tend to be warm and welcoming, themselves often only able to spend summer months in the region due to snow. Interestingly, in northern Albania, hospitality was actually codified in the kanun, the traditional Albanian law.

You can expect your own bed in a dorm room with 4-6 beds, sometimes a cabin or smaller double room is available, and we can expect to share space with other backpackers.

The Guesthouse provides beds, sheets and pillows. It is recommended to bring your own silk/flannel sleep sheet, or super light weight blanket for an extra layer. It is recommend to bring a travel towel too.

There is hot water, flush toilets and electricity.

Are you all ready for your next adventure?

Even though we wish you a flawless trip, things can happen, especially nowadays. Make sure you are prepared with a Travel Insurance policy that is right for you. Finisterra recommends Manulife Insurance or John Hancock Please feel free to ask us about Covid-19 Insurance Coverage, Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance, Travel Medical Insurance, or any other questions you may have.

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WHY TRAVEL WITH US?

At Finisterra Travel we help you discover, push personal boundaries, and explore the unknown.

We are super passionate about sustainable, transformational, and adventure travel. Definitely not “armchair travellers”, we have firsthand experience of where you’ll be heading.No one wants to feel like a tourist which is why when we plan a custom travel experience for you, we strive to make your adventure as authentic as possible. We offer an array of Small Group Adventures & Custom Trips, and have something for every type of traveller.

Our unique itineraries are designed to best showcase some of our favourite destinations around Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, North America, and Europe. All itineraries are fully-customizable.Not your typical online travel agency, nor are we quite a tour operator, we are international travel designers with a flair for unique experiences. We’d love to hear from you!


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