Hike Beyond Borders through the Accursed Mountains of Albania and Montenegro on this 8-day guided trek.
Trek one of the Balkans (and Europe) must-do routes and experience the best of Albania and Montenegro on this 8-day guided Accursed Mountains trek. Marvel about the panorama of awe inspiring Grbaja Valley, climb the three-border peak Trekufiri and experience shepherd lifestyle first hand.
☆ Boat across the fjord-like Komani Lake to reach amazing Valbona NP
☆ Hike beyond borders through the Accursed Mountains of Albania & Montenegro
☆ Go back to the roots with a memorable overnight in a shepherd’s hut
☆ Scale the three border peak Trekufiri for views of three countries
☆ Marvel across awe-inspiring scenery in Grbaja & Ropojana Valley
June to early October, 8 days (7 nights) including one arrival and departure day
For fit hikers, preferably with previous trekking experience (see next page)
Activity: An extended trekking with six continous walking days, mostly in the 6-8 h range. Half-day at the start and end of the trip, inbetween steep climbs and descents averaging 1.000 meter per day. Routes are used by luggage horse, no technical section (apart from optional Mt. Arapi), but partly rocky and trailless paths.
Weather: Summer sees stable mountain weather with daytime temperatures of 20-27°C. While nights at high altitude can dip into the single digits, they don\’t slip into minus degrees – take a light sleeping bag or liner if you worry about feeling cold. Occasional (torrential) thunderstorms last 30-45 min, whereas multiple days of continuous rainfall are rare – less than 10% of annual precipitation fall in summer.
There may be a few snow fields as late as mid-June. In July and August, prepare for heat in Shkodra and Tirana. Traveling prior to June or later as mid-September, make sure to pack sufficient warm cloth and a three season sleeping bag. From late September, rain and fog become more likely, daylight hours shorten and nighttime temperatures drop.
Accommodation: Framed by a comfortable first and last hotel overnight in private rooms in Shkodra, the welcoming guesthouses with shared rooms are interrupted by a simple hut stay on the alp of Doberdol.
8-day guided Accursed Mountains trek in Albania and Montenegro: Itinerary
Day 01. Arrival - Shkoder: hotel (-/-/D)
Title: Welcome to Albania
Subtitle: Welcome to Albania
Transfer: 2 h
Welcome to the Balkans! 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.
Day 02. Shkoder - Koman - Valbone: guesthouse (B/L/D)
Title: Journey into the Accursed Mountains
Subtitle: Journey into the Accursed Mountains
Transfer: 3 h + 3 h boat
An early start affords a scenic drive through the Drin Gorges and to the Komani Lake (58 km/2h). 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 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 village Valbona and it’s tower-houses made of stone. A warm-up walk follows a crystal clear stream through ancient beech forests, speckled with the sweetest strawberries. Along the way, you can enjoy a swimming break at the ice-cold river or a secluded pond. The walk ends at the cozy guesthouse in upper Valbona. The jagged peaks towering high above leave you with itchy feet, tomorrow is the big day! Tonight, you enjoy a hearty, home-cooked meal and a well-earned rest after this impression-packed introduction to the Accursed Mountains.
Day 03. Valbone - Cerem - Doberdol: hut (B/LP/D)
Title: High route into the remote border triangle
Subtitle: High route into the remote border triangle
Transfer: 50 min
A 50-min drive takes you to the remote village of Cerem. Here you start hiking across flower carpets towards the first border crossing. Enjoy forest fruits, admire the colorful flora and breathtaking views of Mt. Kolata (2.534 m). Reaching the rim of the deep-cut Gashi River Canyon, you're following the high route through the nature reserve's conifer forest and notice just how much the relief changes while transiting from the Western into the Eastern Alps. Here, mountain slopes are speckled with small alpine pastures, Balqin being only one of many where you can stop for coffee and raki. Your destination is the glacial-shaped valley of Doberdol (1.750 m) where animals roam the grazing grounds freely and time appears frozen. Locals still live in harmony with nature as humankind did many years ago. This archaic place rests the inner compass and may reground your soul. In the simple shepherd huts, you relinquish some comfort in return for the warm hospitality. After a home-cooked dinner, you may join the bonfire for a view of the stars and to learn more about the seasonal lifestyle of the shepherds.
Day 04. Doberdol - Mt. Trekufiri - Babino Polje: guesthouse (B/LP/D)
Title: Via the three-border peak into Montenegro
Subtitle: Via the three-border peak into Montenegro
Wishing farewell to your hosts, a steep ascent leads out of the valley and up towards Mt. Trekufiri (2.366 m). Its peak forms the border triangle where Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro meet at one point and provides sweeping vistas of the borderlands. The blueberry-covered path continues into Montenegro, around Mt. Bogicevica (2.374 m) and the hidden Lake Hrid. The tranquil pond reflects the mountains and provides a habitat for newts, salamanders and fireflies. It's also shrouded in legends, according to which it's a fountain of youth as well as a meeting ground of fairies during a full moon. At 1.900 meters altitude, it certainly makes for an invigorating dip! The trail continues through dense, moss-covered pine forest towards a hamlet of seasonal huts called "Katun". Further down the unmade road, the wide-stretched settlement of Babino Polje appears. Here you stay at the rim of the wilderness at simple but very welcoming mountain huts, where the friendly hosts introduce you to the highlights of traditional Montenegrin home-cooking.
Day 05. Babino Polje - Grebaja - Vusanje: guesthouse (B/LP/D)
Title: Grbaja Valley – The culmination of Prokletije NP
Subtitle: Grbaja Valley – The culmination of Prokletije NP
Transfer: 1.25 h + 30 min
The Grbaja Valley is one of the most awe-inspiring in the Balkans. On a morning transfer, you shuttle into the narrow valley wedged between the karst towers of Karanfili (2.461 m). 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, you reach an alpine meadow encompassed by multiple peaks. The connected ridge trail lets you enjoy a series of panoramic viewpoints, culminating in the highest two peaks of Popadija and Taljanka (2.056 m). From here, the hostile walls seem almost within reach, and views gaze across the border into the Kelmend region of Albania. From the top of the spine, a steep descent takes you back onto the shaded forest path, where the balloon hike closes. Once back down at the valley floor, you can choose one of the beer gardens to enjoy a cold drink. On a transfer, you continue to the family-run guesthouse in Vusanje. Here the nearby Grla Waterfall invites for an evening stroll, though the views from the veranda over the Accursed Mountains are equally beautiful.
Day 06. Vusanje - Arapi - Theth: guesthouse (B/LP/D)
Title: Through the Heart of the Accursed Mountains
Subtitle: Through the Heart of the Accursed Mountains
Transfer: 30 min + 30 min
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 past a dry lake, shepherd huts, and an abandoned military post into the heart of the Albanian Alps. Here the canine tooth of Mt. Arapi (2.217m) stands high above the Thethi National Park, forming the highest 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 descending 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.
Day 07. Theth - Nderlysa - Shkoder: hotel (B/L/D)
Title: Theth – Tradition in the Albanian Highlands
Subtitle: Theth – Tradition in the Albanian Highlands
Transfer: 3 h
In Theth you can visit the iconic church and lock-in tower (kulla) that offered protection to men threatened by blood feud. It’s the perfect place to dive into the history of the “kanun” and elaborate on the former highland law code; it also marks the trail head to Nderlysaj. Following water channels, you climb to the famed Grunas waterfall, then descend along a well-worn bridle path along the riverbed to the quieter hamlet Nderlysa for a hearty lunch. You can continue the hike to the colorful karst spring called the “Blue Eye”, or alternatively stay put and spend an easy going afternoon swimming at the glacier-shaped rock formations. In the late afternoon, you ride across the scenic Thore Pass (1.630 m) back to Shkodra (75km/2h).
Expect to reach Shkoder after 5 pm and prepare for an overnight stay, it's unlikely there will be public transport. You may contact us to add private transfers to Tirana, airports or another destination as well as hotel overnights before/after the trip where luggage can be stored.
Day 08. Tirane - TIA: - (B/-/-)
Title: Farewell Albania!
Subtitle: Farewell Albania!
Transfer: 40 min
Time permitting, Tirana invites you to explore its streets and sights on a stroll. Sip an espresso in one of the charming bars, observe the busy morning flow and select special treats as edible souvenirs at the lively “New Bazaar”. Interested to learn more about the communist past? “Bunkart 2” and “The House of Leaves” provide insights and are only a 5 min walk away from Tirana’s main "Skanderbeg Square". Your multi-faceted journey in Albania ends with a 40 min transfer to the airport. Thank you for joining our adventure, we hope to see you again in the country of warm hospitality, countless mountains and sun-kissed beaches.
Not ready to leave yet? Ask us what more to do in the mountains, exploring the cultural highlights of Albania’s historic cities or a laid-back beach extension - there’s always more to explore in the Balkans!