Adventures / Summit Fever

The Balkan 3 Peaks Challenge

Tackle 3 summits across four countries on this tough trek through the wild heart of the Western Balkans

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Trip Ref #10535

Adventures / Summit Fever

The Balkan 3 Peaks Challenge

Tackle 3 summits across four countries on this tough trek through the wild heart of the Western Balkans

DURATION

6 nights

LOCATION

Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro

ANNUAL LEAVE

5 days off work

SEASON

Jun-Sep

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza

ACCOMMODATION

Guesthouse · Hotel · Mountain hut

DIFFICULTY

Tough

Three summits in a week? Prepare to hike up to 10 hours per day up steep, exposed and loose trails. Only for experienced and fit hikers.

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

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Expert, local, English-speaking guide

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

To and from the airport and everything in-between

Porterage

Your overnight bag will be transported each day by jeep or horse

Permits

Entrance fees, trekking and border crossing permits

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Tirana Airport (TIA)

Catch any flight arriving before 13:00 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 13:00 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. 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.

Day 1

Guesthouse · Twin or triple share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Mountain hut · 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 four nights in small, family-run guesthouses or basic hotels. You’ll stay in a twin-share en-suite room on Day 2, whilst on the rest of the trek your group will be accommodated in same gender twin, triple or quadruple rooms depending on availability. One night will be spent in a traditional shepherd hut, offering a shared sleeping area with floor mattresses and blankets (mixed-dorm style up to 5 people per room). This is a unique opportunity to experience traditional Albanian hospitality in a unique remote location.

Tirana

You'll stay in a comfortable and centrally located 3-star accommodation, usually Hotel Boka or similar, 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.

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 & 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 (2,764m). 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 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 · 17km · 1100m 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 the night in a remote traditional shepherd hut.

Day 4

Eastern Alps and shepherd settlements

Hiking

6.5hrs · 16km · 650m up · 1250m down

Wake up to the sound of chiming bells from the cows and sheep grazing nearby, time appears frozen in Doberdol. Here locals have been living in harmony with nature for centuries. After a hearty breakfast you’ll set off on a spectacular undulating 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

Sailing

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 sail 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!

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

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us 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

SLEEPING
Sleeping bag liner

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)

OPTIONAL
Earplugs
Energy bars and snacks
Trekking poles
Lunch box (to avoid using packaging and plastic bags for your meals during the trek) Sleeping bag (2/3 season)- for Sep departures only

Double/Twin room in Tirana

Payable Before Departure

Double/Twin room in Tirana

Single Room in Tirana

Payable Before Departure

Single Room in Tirana

Optional Private Room Upgrade (2 nights)

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade (2 nights)

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 244kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

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.

The tap water in the mountains is safe to drink. Please bring along your own reusable water bottle to fill up at the hotels and guesthouses to avoid buying single use plastic bottles.

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.

During the trek you'll be trekking across the borders of Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo. Your host will collect a copy of your passport ahead of the trip and will apply for permits on your behalf, so there is no paperwork or applications for you to worry about.

Yes, you can leave your luggage in Tirana with your host on Day 1 as you'll be returning there for the last night of your trip.

No. 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.

For current advice about travelling in Jordan, have a read of the FCO pages here.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

For current advice about travelling in Albania, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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