Trip Type : Small Group Tour
Peaks of the Balkans Hike tour

Peaks of the Balkans Hike

ROW Adventures Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
5.0 . Excellent
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Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
8 days
From: $ 2,890 $ 361 / day
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Overview

Highlights

  • Our Peaks of the Balkans trekking and cultural adventure takes us to the border triangle area of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro where a new International Peace Park has been established. 
  • Along our way we meet with various local leaders who join us as special guests to enrich our understanding and appreciation for this part of the world. 
  • At the heart of this grand adventure is a difficult and extremely rewarding trek in the Dinaric Alps. 
  • The trek is bookmarked on each side by visits to fascinating areas in Montenegro (including a day of lake kayaking) and Albania.

Short Description

A Hiking & Cultural Adventure through Montenegro and Albania including trekking on a new international peace trail in the Dinaric Alps. Come to a Europe that few people know. Montenegro and Albania are wild, mountainous and home to still-untouched forests, rugged rivers and a rich tapestry of culture. The high peaks of the mountains fall to verdant valleys and eventually to the azure waters, steep cliffs and pebbled beaches of the Adriatic coastline. With an intense history of centuries of Ottoman occupation we find a colorful and intriguing mix of European and Eastern cultures and religion.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Podgorica
End City Tirana

Trip Includes

  • Accommodations as noted
  • All meals as indicated  professional, local guides including a Montenegrin lead guide from day 1 until day 7 and an additional Albanian guide from the border on
  • All transfers and transportation as indicated

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Itinerary

Day 1

Meals: Dinner

Arrive in Podgorica (formerly Titograd), the capital of Montenegro.  We transfer you to a small hotel in nearby Virparzar, in the National Park of Skardarsee.  In the early evening we have a brief orientation meeting then head out to enjoy dinner at a traditional local restaurant.  Food in Montenegro has been influenced by the historical 400+ years of occupation by the Ottomans and is simple, fresh and healthy.

Day 2

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

We drive a short distance through stunning landscapes to our launch for a day of kayaking in Skadar Lake, the largest lake of the Balkans.  Two thirds of the lake lies within Montenegro and the other third in Albania. Surrounded by mountains comprised of limestone karst, it is a wonderful wildlife refuge for some 260 species of birds including the pygmy cormorant, storks, egrets, the rare Dalmatian pelican and many others.  Our paddle is suitable for beginner kayakers as we explore the shore and a few small islands.  It makes for a relaxed and beautiful day. We return to Virparzar by early evening with time to stroll around town for those who desire. A local resident artist or member of a local environmental group, joins us for a dinner of fresh lake fish (and other choices) to share stories of life in Montenegro.

We drive a short distance through stunning landscapes to our launch for a day of kayaking in Skadar Lake, the largest lake of the Balkans.  Two thirds of the lake lies within Montenegro and the other third in Albania. Surrounded by mountains comprised of limestone karst, it is a wonderful wildlife refuge for some 260 species of birds including the pygmy cormorant, storks, egrets, the rare Dalmatian pelican and many others.  Our paddle is suitable for beginner kayakers as we explore the shore and a few small islands.  It makes for a relaxed and beautiful day. We return to Virparzar by early evening with time to stroll around town for those who desire. A local resident artist or member of a local environmental group, joins us for a dinner of fresh lake fish (and other choices) to share stories of life in Montenegro.

Day 3

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

After breakfast we board the only train system in Montenegro for a spectacular ride on tracks perched high above the Moraca river canyon.  Construction for this railroad started in 1901 under the Austrian-Hungary empire and was later expanded during the Yugoslavia years.  A highlight of our ride is the Mala Rijeka viaduct which is the highest railraod viaduct  in the world!  We disembark after a three hour ride and transfer to Biogradska Gora National Park for lunch and a one hour hike through one of the last stands of ancient woodlands in all Europe. After our hike we continue about two hours to the small town of Gusinj, set at the base of the Prokletije (Forbidden) Mountains.

This evening a representative of the National Park, which has been established only for a year, meets with us to tell us about the challenges and hopes for the Park. Dinner and overnight.

Day 4

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

After a hearty breakfast we start a difficult and ultimately rewarding hike on trails that are part of the newly established Peaks of the Balkans trail system.  We transfer a short distance from Gusinje and hike through the Ropojana valley, climbing uphill gradually.  We pass through a dry lake bed and at the border of Montenegro and Albania our luggage is transferred from one set of horses to another.  The gradient increases as we near the summit, passing by the odd bunkers built during the years President Hoxha was in power in Albania.  He generally isolated the country from the rest of the world, and built these bunkers all over to defend against any possible invasion.

Our summit at the pass is rewarded with spectacular views of the mountains and into the valley of Theth.  A steep descent takes us to the village of Thethi, the most historical alpine village in Albania. It has traditional stone houses covered with wood tiles built on natural balconies. Dinner and overnight in Thethi in a simple guesthouse with shared bedrooms.  Our hosts tell us about their family's history in the valley and how the new Peaks of the Balkans Trail is having a positive impact on the valley's inhabitants.

Trail distance: 12 miles / 21 kilometers

Elevation:  Min: 2399' / 726 meters, Max: 5692' / 1,751 meters

Accumulative height uphill: 2600' (850 meters); downhill: 3935'/ 1,260 meters

Time: 8 hours.  Rating: Difficult  *An optional jeep transfer will be available once we reach the end of descent for those wishing to shorten the final miles to our accommodations which otherwise require an additional climb of 200 meters (600').

Day 5

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Exploring the Thethi Valley.  So remote that the Ottomans left it alone, the people in the valley are predominantly Catholic. In 1908 the English traveler Edith Durham visited Thethi and wrote in her book High Albania: “Life at Thethi was of absorbing interest... I forgot all about the rest of the world, and... there seemed no reason why I should ever return.“

Little has changed since her time other than the addition of electricity, running water and other comforts.  We spend a relaxed day exploring the valley, gazing upon houses of wood and stone and learning about the area's history and legends while on a five mile hike to hidden waterfalls and swimming pools.  Others may choose to explore on their own.  We return to our lodging in a vehicle to help make this a relaxing day.

Trail distance: 5 miles / 8 kilometers

Elevation:  Min: 1200' / 726 meters, Max: 2399' / 400 meters

Accumulative height uphill: 200' (65 meters); downhill: 1200'/ 280 meters

Time: 4 hours.  Rating: Easy to moderate (Jeep ride back to start)

Day 6

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

After breakfast we start another serious and rewarding hiking day, leaving our accommodations and heading towards Valbona. There will be horses and mules to carry our baggage.  The morning hike is a continuous ascent through an ancient beech forest, shaded and lovely.  Up, up we go until we reach the pass with views down to Valbone, our next destination.  The descent is on a rocky path of switchbacks down the mountain.   At the end of our hike, we drive about an hour to the small town of Bajram Curri where we find accommodation in a hotel.

Trail distance: 9 miles /14.5 kilometers

Elevation: Min: 2395'/ 745 meters, Max: 5994' / 1,840 meters

Cumulative height uphill: 3659 feet/1,125 meters, downhill: 2495'/ 768 meters

Time:   7 hours   Rating: Difficult

Day 7

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

We rise early (4.30 am), have breakfast, and transfer 30 minutes to Lake Drin for a relaxing two-hour boat ride through a beautifully scenic gorge. We then transfer two hours to the second biggest city of Albania, Shkodra where we visit the mountaintop castle of Rozafa followed by lunch.  We continue by vehicle to the mountainside town of Kruje, the center of Albanian resistance to the Ottoman invasion of the 15th century. This resistence was led by Gjergj Kastrioti, known as Skanderberg, who remains a national hero. Within the castle walls is a bazaar where you may enjoy some shopping, as well as a most excellent historical museum and an ethnographic museum. We stay in a local hotel with expansive views.

A member of the staff of the local history museum meets with us before dinner to help us better understand the complex, colorful history of Albania.

Day 8

We drive to the nearby airport at Tirane for your flights home.  Or continue on our Albania Discovery - Kayaking & Walking Tour!

Note: The hiking on days four and six is strenuous and previous conditioning is necessary.  While the elevation is not particularly high, the amount of elevation gain and loss is significant.  The descents are hard on knees and joints and walking poles are a must. Much of the trail is loose limestone that gets slippery when wet.  If you have any questions about your suitability for this trip, please call our office.  For groups this itinerary may be modified with easier hikes which also changes the order of places visited.

Note: This trip combines perfectly with our Albania Discovery kayaking trip making for a fantastic journey of immersion in the southern Balkans.

Availability

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Price From $ 2,890
Price Per Day: $ 361 per day
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  • Deposit Price: $ 500

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Peaks of the Balkans Hike

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What a great time!

5.0
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This was our first trip and definitely won't be our last! The guides are really fun and lunch exceeded expectations. Thanks so much Jake, Ben & Ashley for making this the highlight of our summer!!

ROW Adventures combines luxury and adventure with a unique emphasis on people and human connection.

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I've had the privilege of working with ROW Adventures all over the world as a filmmaker. Having been on so many trips, both domestic and international, I have a pretty good knowledge as to how this company operates.

A few things stand out on every ROW trip, regardless of destination. First being the guides. These are people who genuinely love what they do. They're passionate, attentive, professional, safety-oriented, friendly, and generally fun people to be around. They're accommodating to individual needs and do their best to make sure you are comfortable and enjoying your vacation to the maximum.

The next thing that stands out is the food. It doesn't matter if you're on a 6 day whitewater rafting and camping trip, the food is gourmet. Prime rib, chicken mole, salmon, eggs Benedict, and a variety of expansive sandwhich spreads are just a few examples of ROW's typical "camp" food.

Perhaps their best feature though, is their emphasis on human connection. In the end, these are trips that are very often life changing. ROW is dedicated to curating life changing experiences that draw families closer to each other, create new friendships between guests and guides, and educate everyone involved about how tourism can work to the continued protection of our great outdoors.

If you're looking at booking an adventure trip, whether it be in North America or abroad, I would recommend ROW Adventures in a heartbeat.
They're a top-notch company in all the areas that count, and I would book them for any trip in the future.
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Worth it!

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What a great time we had with this group!! We rafted the Lochsa, and it will be a day to remember!! Thanks Chris for giving us a fantastic ride.
If you are thinking about doing a raft trip, perhaps the Lochsa??...do it with this group! They were Fun,entertaining, educational, smart about the river, and lunch was over the top!! This was not our first time rafting, however first time with a guide...well worth every dime. We will be back to do it again!
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Went above and beyond

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Awesome Galapagos adventure, spectacular guides. Solved any issued we had. Went above and beyond what was expected. Thank you what a stupendous trip, headed out for the second leg to the Amazon, expecting more of the same.
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Best Tour Operator!

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What a blast we had last week on the Happy Hour float down the Spokane river. What made it even better was our guide, Will who kept us laughing especially at his "geese stacking rock" joke! Can't wait for my next trip with Row Adventures!! Your the BEST!
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AWESOME!

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Off the Snake for 24 hours sure missing the river, slow pace!
To the Guides Mark, Brit, Chris, Brian, Ashley and Maddie you were AWESOME!
Great families on the trip!!!
Thank you for the great time
Harry and Rita
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Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Intimate Group - 12 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 12

Cancellation Policy:

Cancellation Policy:

If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. If written cancellation is received by ROW (call to verify) before the final balance is due, you will be given a refund less the amount of deposit. Deposits are non-refundable. If cancellations are made on or after the final due date, no money will be refunded. You are welcome to find a replacement for yourself. Please understand that once you’ve signed up, we lose the right to sell your reserved spaces to other individuals or groups. Therefore, we regret that we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason we a strongly recommend you consider purchasing a travel protection plan.

Age Notes

Min. Age: 12

Trip ID#:

PeaBalRow

Trip Excludes

  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses such as alcohol, laundry, etc.
  • Gratuities for guides

Meals Included:

6 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches and 7 Dinners

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