4.8
| 54 reviews

The Balkan 3 Peaks Challenge

Tackle three summits across four countries on this tough trek through the wild heart of the Western Balkans

What's Included?

Activities & Certified Guides

All itinerary activities with expert, local, English-speaking guide

All accommodation

3 nights in a guesthouse, 2 in a hotel and 1 in a traditional shepherd hut

Meals

Munch on tasty and hearty local food throughout

Transfers

Your airport and local transfers, with your overnight bag transported each day by jeep or horse

Permits

Entrance fees, trekking and border crossing permits

Small Like-minded Groups

Solo-friendly by design, join our small n’ sociable groups of up to 14 like-minded, active and outdoorsy people
From

excluding flights

What's it like?

4.8
| 54 reviews
Incredible!
July 2024
Abigail L.
Incredible!
July 2024
Abigail L.
Incredible!
July 2024
Abigail L.
Incredible!
July 2024
Abigail L.
Incredible!
July 2024
Abigail L.
Incredible!
July 2024
Abigail L.
Amazing!
July 2024
Tom H.
Amazing!
July 2024
Tom H.
Amazing!
July 2024
Tom H.
Amazing!
July 2024
Tom H.
Amazing!
July 2024
Tom H.
A fantastic challenging adventure!
July 2024
Elliot S.
A fantastic challenging adventure!
July 2024
Elliot S.
A fantastic challenging adventure!
July 2024
Elliot S.
A fantastic challenging adventure!
July 2024
Elliot S.
Wonderful Trip
July 2024
Heather B.
Incredible trip!
July 2024
Jessica M.
Incredible trip!
July 2024
Jessica M.
Incredible trip!
July 2024
Jessica M.
Absolutely loved this trip. All
July 2024
Joanna M.
Absolutely loved this trip. All
July 2024
Joanna M.
Absolutely loved this trip. All
July 2024
Joanna M.
Fantastic!
July 2024
Nicola O.
Fantastic!
July 2024
Nicola O.
Fantastic!
July 2024
Nicola O.
Fantastic!
July 2024
Nicola O.
Fantastic!
July 2024
Nicola O.
Fantastic!
July 2024
Nicola O.
Fantastic!
July 2024
Nicola O.
Fantastic!
July 2024
Nicola O.

Scramble to the top of Mt Gjeravica (2656m), Mt Zla Kolata (2534m) and the shared summit of Mt Korab (2764m)

Trek remote trails and over mountain borders to the highest points in Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia

Sail across Lake Koman, bed down in a shepherd hut and fuel up on ‘slow’ food in the heart of the Accursed Mountains

Key Information

Day 1

Welcome to Albania!

Driving

4hrs

Your adventure starts in Tirana airport where you'll jump in the bus and get whisked off towards the northeast near the border of Kosovo and North Macedonia. The journey follows a scenic motorway through Albania’s wild and mountainous Mirdita highlands. Your road trip will end in the sleepy village of Radomire, surrounded by verdant valleys and majestic high peaks. Get comfy in your guesthouse and tuck into a hearty dinner together with your fellow adventures. Tomorrow's hike starts right from your doorstep.

Day 2

The mighty Korab (2764m), the roof of Albania and North Macedonia

Hiking

8hrs · 17km · 1475m up · 1475m down

Driving

3hrs

Up bright and early to tackle your first and highest peak of the week, Mt. Korab (2764m). It’ll be a long and strenuous climb due to the elevation but it’s not technically difficult. Following the path from the village, you’ll cross shady woodland via open pastures speckled with shepherd huts before pushing on to the summit for dramatic views of North Macedonia's Mavrovo National Park and the high peaks of the Korab Koritnik Range. Celebrate with a picnic lunch at the top before starting your descent back down to the valley. You’ll then hop back in the bus for a scenic ride along the River Drin and into Europe's youngest nation, Kosovo, and onto the historic quarter of Gjakova, your home for the night.

Day 3

Summit Gjeravica (2656m), the highest peak in Kosovo

Hiking

8hrs · 14km · 1150m up · 1100m down

Set off early in a 4x4 drive to the bottom of Mt. Gjeravica, then lace-up your boots and get ready to tackle your second summit of the week. With your luggage loaded onto horses and eyes set on the peak, you’ll stride across blueberry-covered meadows to the ridgeline. The path winds through a boulder field up to a tranquil, heart-shaped alpine lake reflecting Gjeravica's dark and imposing roof. The final stretch to the summit becomes steeper, rugged and rough underfoot but once at the top your efforts will be quickly repaid by sweeping vistas of the Dinaric and Albanian Alps. After the obligatory summit photo, you’ll start your descent via an old Yugoslav border patrol route, before spending the night below the point at which Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro meet.

Day 4

Eastern Alps and shepherd settlements

Hiking

8.75hrs · 20km · 875m up · 1600m down

Wake up to complete silence at the remote mountain hut. After a hearty breakfast you’ll set off on a spectacular undulating hike across the border into Albania. You'll hike through enchanting old growth forests, summer pastures and along the scenic Gashi River Gorge towards the Montenegro border. The fir forests here are home to brown bear, chamois, wolf and Albania's national animal, the golden eagle, and their wilderness has been preserved by the remoteness of this once off-limits border region. You’ll catch a glimpse of tomorrows summit in the distance and end the day in the sleepy village of Cerem hosted in a simple accommodation by a friendly local family.

Day 5

Ascend Zla Kolata (2534m), Montenegro's highest peak

Hiking

10hrs · 18km · 1500m up · 1750m down

Bid farewell to your host family, today you face the longest and hardest stage of the trek. You’ll start with a gradual ascent to the Bori Pass then cross into Montenegro through a labyrinth-like karst field with brief scrambling sections. From Persllopit Pass (2,045m) you’ll see the summit of Zla Kolata and commence a steady 2.5hr climb to the summit, tackling steep craggy karst terrain. Once at the top you’ll be rewarded with views across Albania’s Accursed Mountains, and into Prokletije and Valbona National Park. A steep descent over meadows, through forest and rocky mule paths will lead to your home for the night, a comfortable guesthouse in the beautiful Valbona Valley. Enjoy a substantial home-cooked meal and celebrate the bagging of your third and final summit - you made it!

Day 6

Cross Lake Koman to Tirana

Driving

4hrs

Boat Ride

3hrs

An early morning start today as you leave Valbona Valley and transfer to the small port of Fierza. You’ll board a local ferry for a 3hr scenic cruise across the picturesque Lake Koman. Put your feet up, relax and soak up the views of this fjord-like landscape on the outer edge of the Albanian Alps. Disembarking in Koman, hop in the van and drive to the world class farm-to-table restaurant Mrizi i Zanave, a leader in Albania's slow food movement, and a very special culinary experience. Later in the afternoon you’ll head back to Tirana and celebrate your achievement over dinner with new friends.

Day 7

Goodbye Tirana!

Tirana city, Albania. Photo: GettyImages-1214330003

Enjoy the day strolling through Tirana's colourful bazaars, parks or museums then head back to the airport in time for your flight home.

Day 1

Guesthouse · Twin or triple share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Guesthouse · Same sex dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4 – Day 5

Guesthouse · Twin or triple share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Breakfasts are typically eggs, fresh bread, jam, honey and coffee or tea, while for lunch you’ll carry fresh products and sandwiches provided by your guesthouse. On Day 6 you will get the chance to taste a variety of regional dishes and produce at the world class farm-to-table restaurant Mrizi i Zanave, a leader in Albania's slow food movement. Dinner is always a warm and filling meal after a big day of hiking, and courses often come in meze form and are served with vegetables, freshly baked bread, homemade cheeses, local wines and (of course) Raki. There are snacks available to purchase locally but if you'd like specific things then please bring them from home.

Vegetarians and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request on your passenger info form. Please be aware that options for vegans will be limited.

What is the accommodation like?

On the trek

You'll spend three nights in small, family-run guesthouses or basic hotels. You’ll stay in a twin-share en-suite hotel room on day 2 and 6, whilst on the rest of the trek your group will be accommodated in same gender dorm rooms depending on availability. One night will be spent in a shepherd hut, offering a shared sleeping area with floor mattresses and blankets (mixed-dorm style up to 6 people per room). This is a unique opportunity to experience traditional Albanian hospitality in a unique remote location.

Tirana

You'll stay in comfortable and centrally located accommodation, usually Hotel Vila 60, Hotel Theatro or Hotel Boka, in a twin-share room.

Upgrades

Due to the nature of the guesthouses and hotels used on this trip, it is only possible to have a private room on Day 2 and Day 6 of the trip. See Optional Extras for the price and request it upon booking.

This trip has been rated as Tough

This trek is a serious challenge! At this difficulty level previous trekking experience is essential. Adverse weather conditions and exposed paths may be part of the tour although there is no technical climbing involved. 90% of the trails on this trip are also used by packhorses, that means the paths are reasonably wide for a hiker. There are few exposed stretches with steep drops which are almost exclusively part of the optional final ascents to the summits. These can be skipped, should one not feel comfortable with them. All together this is a non-technical trip that doesn't require scrambling, climbing, the usage of hands or gear. It's mostly about the ability to negotiate uneven paths or craggy karst terrain and good stamina to manage long walking days of at least 7 to 10 hours and ascents above 1000m, with the odd day of cumulative climbing of up to and above 1500m.

What will I need to carry?

You'll need to have a duffle bag or rucksack (max. 15kg) suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you by vehicle, horses or mules, and then a small daypack (30-40L) to carry personal items during the day.

Departures are scheduled throughout the summer season only (Jun-Sep). Typical summer weather conditions in this part of the Balkans are dry, clear and warm during the daytime, with the temperature dropping at night or as you climb higher to the summits. Occasional rainfalls are also possible at this time of year. You may encounter some snow on altitudes above 1800m until the end of June (especially on northern facing slopes). Your guides monitor the conditions in order to stay prepared and share information with your group before you set out on your trek.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Tirana Airport (TIA)

Catch any flight arriving before 13:10 on Day 1

Ends

Tirana Airport (TIA)

Catch any flight on Day 7

Transfers

On Day 1 you can choose to be collected at the airport or at Tirana Rinas Bus Station if you happen to already be in town. If you fly in on the first day of the trip, please make sure you book a flight that lands by 13:10 at the latest. Your host will inform you of transfer logistics and timings prior to your trip.

Airport transfers between Tirana and the airport are included for any time you choose to depart on Day 7. Transfers between the city and the airport (before or after the trip) can easily be arranged locally and independently by shuttle bus. There is a regular bus line that offers daily service, from 06:00 in the morning until 24:00 in the evening called Rinas Express, which travels from Tirana to the Airport and back every hour. The journey takes 30 minutes. If you would like to arrive early or extend your stay, your host can arrange accommodation for an extra cost. See the Optional Extras section for further details.

Travel options

There are regular direct flights to Tirana from major airports across the UK and Europe.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What do I need to bring?

BAGS
Duffle bag or rucksack (Maximum of 15kg) Hiking pack (30-40 litres)
Waterproof liner for kitbag or rucksack/drybags

CLOTHES
Lightweight down or synthetic jacket
Lightweight waterproof and windproof jacket
Breathable wicking layers
Fleece jacket or similar
Buff or neck scarf
Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts for hiking
T-shirts
Underwear and socks
Sunglasses
Sunhat
Warm hat and gloves
Something to sleep in
Hiking boots (worn-in)
Lightweight shoes for overnight stays

OTHER
Universal travel plug adapter
Power bank or solar charger
Passports (and visas)
Travel insurance documents
Suncream
Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of)
Quick-dry towel
Alcohol hand-gel
Face mask Headtorch or torch
Two reusable water bottles (1 litre) Trekking poles (these are usually required to be packed in checked-in luggage - please check with your airline)

OPTIONAL
Earplugs
Energy bars and snacks (there are limited opportunities to buy snacks in remote mountain locations, however, Tirana has supermarkets and the guide brings a small supply of dried fruits on the trek) Lunch box (to avoid using packaging and plastic bags for your meals during the trek) Eye mask for sleeping (some rooms may not have curtains) Sleeping bag liner (for if you feel the cold) Sleeping bag (2/3 season) - for early June and Sep departures only (you may wish to check the forecast before deciding whether to pack this)

*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Double/Twin room in Tirana from

Payable Before Departure

Double/Twin room in Tirana from

Single Room in Tirana from

Payable Before Departure

Single Room in Tirana from

Optional Private Room Upgrade (2 nights)

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade (2 nights)

Abigail L.(July 2024)
Incredible!
Incredible!
Incredible!
Incredible!
Incredible!
Incredible!
Incredible!

I couldn't recommend this trip more to any regular hikers who want a bit of a challenge! The hikes were insanely beautiful and incredibly well organised. Blendi and Igli really made the trip as good as it was by being excellent guides who adapted to both the weather and the needs of the group throughout the trip. Being less confident on some of the steeper descends, I never felt rushed and really benefitted from the unwavering patience and skill of our guides. Not only were they knowledgeable and supportive, they were also great fun and we all trusted them completely. Thunder and lightning meant we were unable to summit the last peak, but we still had a fantastic day of hiking regardless. All the hikes were accessible if you had a good level of fitness and there was varying hiking experience in the group. However, almost everyone in our group had experience of multiday hikes or participated regularly in other endurance sports, so had the fitness and stamina to keep up with the demands of nearly 8 hours of hiking steep terrain for 4 days in a row at a decent pace in considerable heat.The accommodation was clean and comfortable and the food was great throughout too. We all took extra energy bars/dried frui and nuts/sweets too which kept us going. It truly was a very special trip, made even more so by the wonderful group of hikers I was lucky enough to share the adventure with!

Angharad P.(July 2024)
Awesome authentic adventure

Absolutely awesome hiking trip in the Balkans led by Blendi and Igli and with 14 fun other solo travellers. The hiking was tough but doable, we were in our feet for 8 -9 hours a day but with plenty of rest stops. We missed the final peak due to thunderstorms but it was still 20km to make it over the pass. The accommodation and food is very authentic. Portions plentiful but recommend bringing extra energy bars. Prepare for high temperatures on the hikes, overnight and in bus transfers… that was the only downside. The guides shared lots of history about the countries and we saw lots of evidence of the conflicts as well as rebuilding efforts. Overall, the group bonded really well and we had such a fun and memorable time.

Tom H.(July 2024)
Amazing!
Amazing!
Amazing!
Amazing!
Amazing!
Amazing!

What a week that was, went on a private group of friends / family and our guide Nedih was 10/10, amazing guide and very knowledgable about the history of the Balkans. Views were amazing, walks were tough (only because long) but rewarding. Food throughout the week was top notch everywhere we went, and so much of it! Will definitely be booking another at some point in the future!

Elliot S.(July 2024)
A fantastic challenging adventure!
A fantastic challenging adventure!
A fantastic challenging adventure!
A fantastic challenging adventure!
A fantastic challenging adventure!

I had an incredible time on this trip. It was my first time with Much Better Adventures and I was not disappointed. The treks were challenging at times, especially in the heat, but for anyone who likes hiking and has had some experience, I highly recommend it. Blend and Igli were brilliant guides and we had a fantastic group who all got along so well. I can't wait to book my next trip with you guys! Elliot

Leslie K.(July 2024)
Fantastic, but very tough hike

Balkans are so beautiful, you will honestly be amazed at the scenery you see every day. It is a tough hike, so I recommend you train beforhand! I did but not enough probably. Friendly, knowledgeable, helpful and fun guides, who allowed the fast ones to go fast/do extra whilst ensuring the rest of the group was doing well. They helped us through some tricky terrain - last day is a bit hairy but we were kept safe at all times. Every night was spent in a comfortable bed after a shower. Bring lots of snacks as you will need them. One slight criticism, there could have been more food at breakfast and dinner, and for packed lunches, I needed more in general. Also it was 40 degrees during the day and still hot at night, so no need for all the warm clothes in the summer. Bring 50PF sunscreen, everyone got burnt. The last day was lovely, and a well-deserved rest. Overall a great trip, even if I did need a few good days to recover!

Heather B.(July 2024)
Wonderful Trip
Wonderful Trip

This was an incredible trip. Our guides (Kreshnik and Noli) were brilliant, really pro and had a lot of experience in the mountains. The tough rating is very accurate, this is an endurance trip- with very high elevation gain and descents each day. Make sure your legs are strong, shoes are broken in (with appropriate socks and blister prevention) and cardio fitness is high. The heat (July) was very hot, so be aware and pack appropriately. Nice mix of hotels and guest houses and all good quality. Food was great, and as a veggie, I was easily accommodated for. Feel proud of completing all three summits, the views and hiking was spectacular. Each hike was different and I loved the multi day nature of it. I also really enjoyed the downtime of Friday (travelling back to Tirana via the Ferry and restaurant) to mix up from the hiking. There are long stretches of driving on day 1, day 2 and day 5 but I quite enjoyed seeing the country from the vans. Overall wonderful experience and group dynamics were brilliant. The contact with the team on the ground prior to flying out was very good. Tips for future guests: *Take way more sun cream than you think you will need - as typically reapplying every hour due to the sweat *electrolytes are a must to replace salt - take a full container of sport electrolytes *proper hiking sunhat with wide brim- the trail is exposed and shade is minimal- and a cap means the back of the neck is exposed *a sun hoodie may be a good idea, I wished I had one to give my skin a bit of a rest from the sunlight *take personal snacks (min 2 protein/trail bars per day) plus sugar snacks such as gummies. I was eating a family pack of gummy sweets each day as a little pick up. While lunch is good, it typically is a repeat of breakfast, so makes a nice change and bulks up food intake. For reference: I burnt 3000 calories from the hiking one day, not including the usual calorie burn of being alive! *take spare shoes- my hiking boots broke and thankfully I had good quality broken in trail runners as a back up, without these, I don’t know what I would have done, as limited opportunities to find alternatives. *in July, sleeping bag not required. All the guest houses had beds made. *take a cooling towel/bandana to soak in springs/ water and drape over neck, really makes a difference when cooling down *some of the roads are bumpy and hairpins, take sea bands if suffering from car sickness

Jessica M.(July 2024)