PEAKS OF THE BALKANS TREK

Experience the culture, history and beauty found hidden within...

The Balkans Accursed Mountains Trek





ABOUT THE CHALLENGE


The world's newest transnational hiking experience! 

The Balkans Accursed Mountains Trek is a winner of multiple prestigious global awards, offering a truly unique and immersive adventure travel experience. 

Join our 10-day challenge where you will venture from the ancient town of Shkodra, crossing the beautiful Komani Lake and into the legendary Valbona Pass. From this, we trek through three countries, across rugged mountains, past isolated lakes and waterfalls and through vast open National Park as you conquer the Balkans and arrive in Kosovo and celebrate your success.

All our challenges are inclusive of accommodation, guides, food and in country transport. 

2023-24 CHALLENGES

Choose from a university specific challenge, or join one of our student open groups

For your full itinerary, FAQ's, what's included / not included and sign up please select 'INFO' on your preferred option below.

Balkans Accursed Mountains Trek - 02 September

September 2 - 11 2024

Balkans Accursed Mountains Trek - 02 September

Join our adventure through the peaks of the Balkans, crossing through three stunning countries: Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo

FROM$256/pp

CHALLENGE ITINERARY

Meet and greet with the guide in Tirana, followed by a transfer to Shkodra, one of the oldest inhabited cities in Albania with a 2500-year-old history. Depending on the time you will arrive, we will do a short city tour in Shkoder visiting some of the most interesting sights of the city. 

Drive: 2hrs 30min 

Accommodation: Hotel 

Meals: Dinner 

We take a two-hour drive to Komani Lake in the morning and board our boat for the transfer across the lake to the “Blini Park” - Shala River, known as a Thailand of Albania. 

Admire the immensity of the river and the myriad shades of blue. Isolated from high peaks, the blue water of Shala River offers adventurers a panorama of those that resemble Thailand's. 

After the scenic boating, we will have a short warming-up walk beside Valbona River. 

Drive: 3hrs 30min 

Accommodation: Guesthouse 

Difficulty: Easy

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Walking: 2hrs; 4-5Km. 

Today we hike from Valbona to Theth via the spectacular Valbona Pass.  

The trail climbs slightly more steeply towards higher ground and we walk over the pass. After several hours hiking uphill, we reach the top of the pass where we stop for a break. The views from here are stunning from both sides with both Thethi and Valbona visible. We continue walking down (45 min) to a mountain café for lunch. 

After lunch, we make our way down to the valley and stay in a local guest house. 

Trek: 16Km; Uphill: 790m, Downhill: 1100m; 

Time: 6-7hrs 

Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging 

Accommodation

Guesthouse Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Luggage transport: Horse 

After starting the day with a cup of hot mountain tea and a hearty breakfast, we set out today on the trail as it wanders through rolling terrain, past traditional homes, and the church-house of Thethi that stands in the midst of the plain–a solid, shingle-roofed building, with a bell tower. 

As we walk slowly into Thethi National Park, the snowy peak of Bosh, Radohime and Kakia give us a taste of the unmatched mountain scenery to come. The village of Theth is one of the most picturesque places in Northern Albania. Preserved by the residents, the village has still the kulla and other buildings dating back in middle ages.

After the past few days of relatively challenging trekking, today is shorter (about 4 hours). 

We will start walking from the guesthouse and visit the local beauty spots in and around the village, such as the stone-‐build Catholic Church, the blood feud tower ‘Kulla e Ngujimit’, the waterfall, the Grunasi Canyon, bathtubs of Nderlysa, and the Blue Eye Lake before we turn back.

Trek: 10Km; Uphill: 450m, Downhill: 350m; 

Time: 5-6hrs 

Difficulty: Easy

AccommodationGuesthouse 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Today’s hike into Prokletije National Park is certain to be a memorable one. This is a relatively long day that crosses the border between Albania and Montenegro. 

The first 4-5km, we take a 4x4 transport to Okol village, the starting point of the trail. 

The path then passes along the craggiest part of the Prokletije/Bjeshkёt e Namuna/Alpet Shqipёtare Mountains. Almost the entire hike is surrounded by steep mountains with stunning views. This itinerary allows us a glance into the region’s past when it was a forbidden zone during the Communist era. A border military post, some bunkers, and the border crossing pyramid sign still remains by the crossing. 

We will have a picnic lunch in lush Alpine meadows carpeted with wildflowers and full of butterflies. 

Trek: 17Km; Uphill: 1200m, Downhill: 1100m

Time: 8-9hrs 

Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging 

Accommodation: Guesthouse 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Luggage transport: Horse 

Our trek starts out with a gradual uphill passing through the forest and ultimately arriving at Vallushnica Peak, the first peak for today's hike. 

Next the trail passes across the ridge of Karanfili's Massif before the final ascent to Taljanka Peak, 2056m. Finding the perfect spot for a picnic lunch, we take time to soak in all of the beauty of this special spot. 

After lunch, we’ll descend down to the Valley and then take a transfer back to Vusanje. 

Trek: 11.5Km; Uphill: 550m, Downhill: 890m; 

Time: 6-7hrs; 

Transport: 50min  

Difficulty: Moderate 

Accommodation: Guesthouse 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Today’s hike starts first with a short transfer to Babino Polje, the starting point of the trail. The hike is relatively easy and leads us up to Hrid Lake, an amazing place to rest and swim. 

Next, we continue to walk towards Doberdol pasture, crossing the green border from Montenegro to Albania.

Following the trail, we pass by the Three-border point (Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro).  

Trek: 12Km; Uphill: 950m, Downhill: 850m; 

Time: 7-8hrs

Transport: 30min. 

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate 

Accommodation: Guesthouse 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Luggage transport: Horse 

The last day of the trek is from Doberdol via Gjeravica Summit 2656m to Gropa Erenikut then to Prizren. 

Gjeravica is the highest peak in Kosovo and is a tough, but beautiful climb filled with wonder. On the trail, there are two glacial lakes, Heart Lake and Big Lake of Gjeravica, and the flag and visitor book of Mt Gjeravica firmly placed at the top of the mountain which the team can sign and take photos next to. 

After we finish the trek, we will go to the Grand Hotel Gjeravica for a delicious lunch then a two-hour drive to Prizren, a historic city in Kosovo with a vibrant culture, food and drinks.

Trek: 13Km; Uphill: 950m, Downhill: 800m; Time: 7-8hrs; 

Transport: 2hrs 30min. 

Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging 

Accommodation: Hotel 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Luggage transport: Horse 

After breakfast, we will have a cultural tour to get more familiar with the city of Prizren. Then, after lunch we drive to Tirana and settle into our hotel, before heading into the city to explore its rich and diverse history, food and drinks. 

Breakfast included. 

Accommodation: Hotel, Tirana 

Before heading off to the airport, everybody can have a free and relaxing morning in Tirana.

After lunch time, our adventure ends with a private transfer to the Airport, ending our exciting trek in the heart of the Balkans. 

Group Airport transfer is included. 

WHAT'S INCLUDED / NOT INCLUDED?

  • All meals as specified in itinerary 
  • Airport transfer to and from your accommodation
  • Professional, English and Albanian speaking local guides 
  • All entrance fees
  • Transport in country (boat, 4x4 & minibus)
  • All accommodation 
  • Luggage transport during the trek (you will only need to carry a day bag during the trek)
  • Safe drinking water during the trek
  • In-person support by an Endeavours Adventures representative in-country throughout the challenge
  • Fundraising support
  • 24/7 UK emergency line and support whilst on the challenge
  • Travel Insurance
  • All meals not specified 
  • Tips for guides and porters
  • Personal Spending Money
  • Flights to and from Albania
  • Vaccinations (if required)
  • Visa's (If required)

Balkans City Tour





EXTEND YOUR ADVENTURE


Not ready to end your Balkans adventure after the challenge? Choose to join our incredible extension package, where you can stay an extra 5 days in the Balkans. Explore new cultures, beautiful cities, taking on adrenaline-filled activities and more! 

From kayaking and snorkelling in Kotor in Montenegro, to visiting Dubrovnik in Croatia, home to many famous movie filming locations; Game of Thrones, James Bond and Star Wars… just to name a few! You may as well tick another country off your bucket list whilst you're away...

DAYS - 5        |      REG FEE - £95      |      TOTAL  DUE - £600

Payable over 5 monthly instalments 

INCLUDES: All transport, Accommodation, Breakfast and meals where stated, Airport Transfer, All Equipment.

HOW TO SIGN UP: Add 'Extension Trip - Balkans City Tour' to your basket at the main challenge sign up page.*


*Extension trip not required to be chosen at sign up. Can be added after signing up for main challenge up until March 2024.


EXTENSION ITINERARY

Enjoy a restful morning after your challenge as you travel from Tirana, Albania to Kotor, Montenegro (4 hours drive).

Once you arrive and check into your hotel, you'll have a chance to learn about this historic town by a walking tour of KotorYou’ll be lead through two and a half thousand years of turbulent history of this amazing fortified city. You'll wonder at Kotor's numerous monuments of historical heritage and discover outstanding medieval architecture which have made this city a UNESCO listed World Natural and Historical Heritage Site.

You’ll end the day by having dinner in a traditional restaurant (specialising in fresh, local seafood and fish). 

You'll start the day by discovering magnificent coastal churches, villages and vistas on a scenic kayaking tour of Kotor Bay. You'll have opportunities to swim, snorkel and enjoy the breath-taking, mountainous landscape throughout the tour. (No previous kayaking experience is necessary).

After an active morning, you'll enjoy a free afternoon in Kotor. 

Why not explore Kotor's Old Town dating back to the 12th and 14th century? 

Start the morning with a 2.5 hours bus journey to the 4th country on your trip: Croatia

Explore the medieval Dubrovnik: 

  • Explore the gorgeous, movie-set city in real life! 
  • Walk the medieval city walls 
  • Discover UNESCO World Heritage Site: Dubrovnik's Old Town 
  • Stroll around the city harbour 
  • Go island hopping by boat to the local islands 
  • Relax with a coffee at stunning viewpoints of the whole city 

After busy day of exploring a new country and city, catch the bus back to Kotor in the evening.

Enjoy a free morning to recuperate after your busy day in Dubrovnik. 

Why not try Kotor's famous charcoal coffee? It's the only place in the world where you can try this kind of coffee!

After lunch, you'll go on a 3-hour boat cruise around Kotor Bay, exploring its islets, caves and more!

Highlights:

  • Visit the Our Lady on the Rocks island church 
  • Explore a Soviet-era submarine base 
  • Swim in the neon-blue waters of the Blue Grotto 
  • Marvel at Porto Montenegro 
  • Learn about Kotor's interesting history from a different perspective 

Enjoy your last evening in Kotor. Have you experienced Kotor's nightlife yet? If not, tonight's your final chance! 

Enjoy a free morning in historic Kotor to pack your belongings and get any last-minute souvenirs before your flight home! 

Finally, we will transfer you to Tirana Airport for your onward flight.

What people are saying

Challenge Testimonials

The trek was amazing the wildlife and landscape you get to experience is breathtaking. If you have doubts about taking part just do it. It is a experience of a lifetime and will expose you to challenges and ideas that will help you grow as a person.

Katie, Kent Balkans 2023

The Balkans Accursed Mountains trek with Endeavours was a good mix of hiking and cultural experiences. We had fantastic guides, and pictures alone can't capture the beauty!

Rurie, St. Andrews Balkans 2022

Absolutely amazing!!! The Balkan Mountains are such an undiscovered gem. An experience of a lifetime!!! 

Harvey, Loughborough Balkans 2023

FAQs

Choose your category below to discover FAQ's related to that topic. Should you not be able to find an answer to your question please get in touch with our team.

You will be looked after by accredited, English speaking local guides along with an Endeavours Adventures rep.

Average group sizes vary, but will be between 8 - 14 participants depending on the number of sign ups. 

Accommodation in some areas is basic. 

Facilities are limited at the shepherd huts and usually consist of sharing the floor space in a large room. Rooms at the guesthouses are mixed sex dormitory style. 

During the trek, we primarily use guesthouses. Most of the guesthouses are made of old stones, wooden, and typically cosy and one-story properties. Guesthouses are room-shared between the same sex and the same group. 

Guesthouses provide: Shampoo, towels, bed, blankets, and a hot shower. 

This trek is rated 3/5 on its challenge level of difficulty, as you will be trekking between 5-8 hours each trekking day.

Don't let this stop you though! You will supported throughout the challenge by your guide and fellow team-mates.

The climate in the trek is Mediterranean, meaning it is hot and humid, with temperatures up to 27/28 degrees. However, as we head at altitude further into the mountains the nights can be very cold, with temperatures as low as 0 degrees, so you should pack for both occasions. 

The main language spoken in the three countries is Albanian. However, Montenegro also have their own language called Montenegrin.

Below are a couple of useful phrases for travellers for the Balkans trek. 

Albanian phrases:

  • Hello = Tung
  • Please = Të lutem
  • Thank you = Faleminderit
  • Do you speak English? = A din me fol anglisht?


There is no strict dress code in the Balkans. However, please ensure you are wearing appropriate trekking clothing and staying respectful to locals. 

Food is important to us. Good and nourishing food makes a good trip even better. All meals and snacks whilst on trek are included in the tour price, unless stated otherwise. 

Endeavours Adventures can cater for all dietary options. At 8 weeks before your challenge start date, a form will be sent to you to request this information. Through this, we will ensure that you are catered for, and will keep you updated on any issues regarding your dietary requests. 

Balkan cuisine is actually fairly diverse, and each country does have its own regional specialities. However, to generalise, it is a hearty and meat-heavy cuisine with a large communal aspect involved. Balkan cuisine is characterised by very diverse, strong, and spicy food. Pickled vegetables and small hot peppers are common ingredients. 

Phone signal whilst trekking is sporadic and often not possible due to the mountains, particularly during the middle of the challenge. Please ensure your family or friends are aware that you will not be contactable at all times during the trek. 

At Endeavours Adventures we place safety at the heart of what we do. Whilst an element of risk always exists within each challenge, we have worked with our partners in country and implemented our own procedures to minimise risk whilst still ensuring you have an incredible challenge experience! 

All our challenges are risked assessed in line with BS8848 British Standards of Trekking.

Please make sure to ask your guide whether it is safe to drink the water available in both the urban and rural areas.

Bringing re-usable 1L or 2L water bottles on your challenge is compulsory, as you need to have enough water to keep hydrated and well throughout your trek.

The recommended travel vaccinations for Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo are below.

Courses or booster typically advised:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Tetanus

Other vaccines to consider:

  • Diphtheria 
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Tick-borne Encephalitis. 

Yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for Albania if travelling from a country with risk of Yellow Fever transmission.

Please consult an appointment with a travel nurse and get the required vaccines for entry to Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo. Some of these vaccines require multiple doses so please book an appointment as soon as possible.

You can find a travel nurse at a pharmacy, or at a travel clinic at Superdrug & Boots. You can also speak to your GP beforehand if you are unsure where to start.

We strongly recommend that you bring certain medication as a precaution for your challenge. This includes: painkillers, re-hydration sachets, anti-sickness and diarrhoea medication.  

It is unlikely that you will get altitude sickness on the Peaks of the Balkans trek.

However, if you are concerned about this, you can bring altitude sickness medication if you wish. You must speak to your GP about this first. 

The best way to combat the symptoms of altitude sickness is to pause your ascent, or to descent from your current point. It is also recommended to drink plenty of water, eat enough food, and get enough rest. 

Many people of different athletic abilities take on the Balkans trek!

We strongly recommend that you practice some form of hiking and start training around 16-18 weeks before the challenge date. If this is not possible for you to do, we would recommend going on regular walks with different types of ground, steepness, and even practice walking with the bag you will wear on the challenge, as well as your walking boots. 

All of this will help prepare your body for the day. Also, committing yourself to enough fitness training beforehand will make the trek more comfortable for you.

A typical trek at this level will include trekking for 5 to 8 hours per day over consecutive days, so it is important to get your body adjusted to this level of activity.

There are no specific exercise routines that you must follow, as everyone is different. However, doing squats regularly as well as step-up exercises, such as the stair master at the gym, is recommended.

The team at Endeavours Adventures do not offer training sessions. However, this may be something that your challenge leader or team could organise throughout the year with you. 

Yes! If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you will be able to see our training plan guide for you. 

Please be aware that this is just a recommendation - this is for inspiration rather than a requirement.

Flights are not included in the registration fee, and must be arranged by participants themselves. This is because it is cheaper and provides you with more flexibility in terms of when you arrive and depart from the country, should you wish to stay for longer before or after. 

For this challenge, you will need a 20-35L day backpack, which you will be using as your backpack throughout the trek.

You will also need a 60-75L large rucksack to bring all your belongings in. Avoid bringing a suitcase! Please do not exceed 18 kg per person if possible.

In the rare possibility that your large rucksack doesn’t arrive at your destination with you on time, please can you ensure that you pack enough clothing and items for a couple of days in your day bag.

You can find the kit list at the bottom of this page! 

In the Balkans, the power plugs and sockets are of type C, the standard voltage is 220 Volts, and the frequency is 50 Hz. Check your appliances and battery chargers and make sure they are dual voltage.

Type C plug: Two round prongs (used in much of Europe, but not in the UK or Ireland).

Electricity is not always available during the challenge, so please bring portable batteries if you require electricity. 

The unit of currency in Albania is the Lek (ALL). However, the Euro is accepted. The unit of currency in Kosovo and Montenegro is the Euro.

We recommend bringing £200-£250 worth of currency, and make sure you do have Lek as a lot of restaurants in Tirana prefer taking Lek over Euro.

To consider would be:

  • A tip for the guides and porters during the trek between 40-70 Euros (or Lek equivalent) each
  • Cash for souvenirs
  • Emergency cash
  • Money for group dinner and drinks on the last night
  • Money for any meals not included in the itinerary and for coffee / snacks you may want in Tirana on free days
  • Euros / GBP to buy food during the airport journeys there and back

If you want to bring a card, you could also bring your Monzo or Revolut card as extra cash. ATMs are available in areas like Tirana.

For the Balkans trek, a visa is not required for UK citizens. Without a visa, British nationals can stay inside Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo for a maximum period of 90 days.

However, if you are an international citizen, it is your responsibility to arrange your own visa to cover the duration of your challenge if necessary. You can contact the team at Endeavours Adventures should you need support in this process. 

For our Balkans trek, it is your responsibility to arrange your own travel insurance for the whole duration of your challenge. 

It is important that you get cover that is specific to your challenge, as they all have different requirements. If you have any questions regarding this, please email isabelle.skelly@endeavoursadventures.com.

You are welcome to source your own insurance, but we recommend booking through our suppliers. 

The 2023/24 standard fundraising target is £1,195. 

With a variety of options available, you can choose to pay our standard registration and fundraising target, or alter the total amount paid at sign up in order to receive a proportionate change of the total amount you will have to fundraise. No matter the registration fee chosen, each can be split across different payment plans. 

2023/24 options available for the Peaks of the Balkans Trek:

  • STANDARD - Standard Registration Fee (£350) and Fundraising Target (£1,195)
  • FLEXI 1 - Lower Registration Fee (£195) and Higher Fundraising Target (£1,495)
  • FLEXI 2 - Max Registration Fee (£550) and Low Fundraising Target (£795)

Yes! In signing up and paying the registration fee for this challenge, you are given the option to either be SELF-FUNDED or choose from one of 3 FUNDRAISE options for a chosen charity. If a FUNDRAISE option is selected, after completing your registration payment (s) you must also reach your fundraising target to guarantee your place on the challenge.

But fear not! We have an expert team of fundraising guides and support available to help you alongside the incredible support you shall receive directly from the charity.

In most cases, you are able to change your fundraising option for your challenge, provided that it is before your final fundraising deadline. 

Your charity representative must approve this change, and you must email your charity rep AND a member of the Endeavours Adventures' team about this before this can be confirmed. 

A change in your fundraising option will incur a £25 administration fee.

NOTE: If you are fundraising for Dig Deep, you CANNOT request to lower your fundraising target.

Endeavours Adventures have a lot to offer you in terms of fundraising support! Once you sign up to your challenge, you will receive a welcome email which will include the different ways the team will support you. 

This support will include a monthly fundraising newsletter, monthly fundraising support sessions, an online fundraising resources pack, and regular communication with the Endeavours Adventures’ team.

Charity challenges are usually split 50:50, where 50% of your fundraising goes straight to the charity, and the remaining 50% goes towards the costs of running the challenge. At Endeavours Adventures, we want to go above and beyond and ensure that we are giving as much to the charity as possible. 

For the Peaks of the Balkans Trek, 51% of the fundraising goes to the charity, and 49% goes towards the costs of the challenge. 

On top of this, 100% of the money that you raise above your fundraising target goes directly to the charity to support the incredible work they do.

Your fundraising deadline will usually be between 6-8 weeks before your challenge start date, which is dependent on the charity you are fundraising for.

RESOURCES