5-12 Sept 2018
DATE
MAX 14
AVAILABILITY
8 DAYS
DURATION

UNTAMED ALBANIA

Sure, we could visit places in Europe that are well known for being well known, but then we’d be missing out on the beauty of Albania. This fascinating and mysterious country offers more than just jaw dropping scenery. It is a place where time stood still, a wonderland of mountains, rivers and waterfalls where you can look out to golden eagles piercing the vast skyline. It is one of Europe’s roughest edges and the perfect place to unwind and recharge.

HIGHLIGHTS

Take in the views and fresh air while you hike the spectacular Valbona Pass

Experience real Albanian life while staying in small local guesthouses

Enjoy the stunning boatride through the “Albanian Fjords”

Look out for Golden Eagles flying through the sky

Hike to Albania’s most remote and traditional village Thethi

Feast on delicious traditional home cooked Albanian meals

Take a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Blue Eye

Unplug and unwind while you surround yourself with nature and like minded people

ITINERARY

1

DAY 1: HELLO ALBANIA!

Suggested flight Transavia: Amsterdam → Tirana 17:35 → 20.10

Today is the start of our Albanian Adventure. We will be picked up from the airport in Tirana and brought to our hotel in the heart of the city. After we check into the hotel, you can either take it easy or explore Tirana.

Overnight: hotel in Tirana  I  Meals: no meals included today

2

DAY 2: KRUJA & SHKODRA

After a good night’s rest it is time to restart our adventure. Our Albanian guide will pick us up and we drive to Kruja, one of the most historical towns in Albania. The town was home to Skanderbeg, the Albanian national hero who led a legendary resistance to the Ottomans in the 14th century. It is located on the cliffs of mount Kruja which offers beautiful views of the coast and the surrounding villages. In Kruja we can explore the charming small streets and visit the famous old Bazaar.

From Kruja we are driving further north to Shkodra, one of the oldest cities in Europe. It is full of character with narrow streets, stone walls, tall gates and a castle which sits on a commanding position on a rocky hill above Lake Shkodra. Shkodra is the gateway to our hiking adventure and we’ll spend the night here.

Overnight: hotel in Shkodra  I  Meals: breakfast, dinner

3

DAY 3: BOATRIDE THROUGH THE ALBANIAN FJORDS

Today we have an early start. We drive to the village Koman where we hop on a  ferry for an amazing boatride to Fierze (ca. 2.5 hours). Lake Koman is narrow and surrounded by richly forested hills, steep sided mountains and deep gorges. Being on the ferry is as if we’re sailing through a Norwegian Fjord. The boat itself is basic, because it is a necessary service link for the local people. After we reach the docks of Fierza we continue our trip by car through the valley of Valbona, one of the most beautiful valleys of Albania. This valley is our home for the coming 3 nights.

After we’ve checked in to our guesthouse, we can stretch our legs on a walk through woods till the meadows of Grykat e Hapta and enjoy the stunning views of the Valbona’s jagged peaks (2-3 hours).

Overnight: Local guesthouse in the Valbona valley  I  Meals: breakfast, dinner

4

DAY 4: QAFA E ROSIT

Our hike starts at the guesthouse from where we head to the secluded hamlet of Kukaj (900m). A winding shepherd’s trail through the forest will take us to the remote landscapes of the eastern Albanian Alps until reaching Qafa e Rosit (2000m). The path climbs smoothly in the middle of green meadows, with gorgeous views of Jezerca Mountain and Rrethi i Bardhë – The White Circle. We finish the hike at our guesthouse in the Valbona Valley.

Overnight: Local guesthouse in the Valbona Valley  I  Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

5

DAY 5: EXPLORE THE HIDDEN GEM ÇEREM

After breakfast we have a short transfer (30 – 40mins) to the hamlet of Çerem. From Çerem we start an amazing circular hike through an area where it feels like time stood still. There is no modern infrastructure and the hamlet is very isolated, but there is still a small number of hardy families that live in this incredible area all year round. Our trail passes alpine springs before the valley opens out. When it opens up we are rewarded with beautiful views, especially of Sqapit Peak which is on the Albania and Montenegro border.

Overnight: Local guesthouse in the Valbona Valley  I  Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

6

DAY 6: THE VALBONA PASS

Today is our most spectacular and probably also our most challenging walk. We are crossing the 1860m high Valbona Pass to get to our new destination, the remote village of Thethi (800m). Thethi is one of the most characteristic and traditional villages of the region. The path we are taking is the only direct connection to the  village. Thethi has been described by several well-known writers, who were impressed by its stunning and rather inaccessible location in the middle of vertical mountains.

Luckily horses/ mules will carry our luggage to the next guesthouse, so we can focus entirely on the amazing scenery and each other’s company.

Overnight: Traditional guest house Thethi  I  Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

7

DAY 7: BATHS OF THETHI

After yesterday’s challenging walk, we take it a little easier today. Today’s walk doesn’t have much gradient and we’ll visit many beautiful sites. After breakfast we hike from our guesthouse to the Thethi Waterfall and the natural pools of Nderlysa. Here we can go for a refreshing swim. From there we continue through the narrow Valley of Kapreja to “the Blue Eye Spring”. Hidden away deep in the forest, the Blue Eye is a natural spring where crystal clear water bubbles up from 50 metres below the surface.

Overnight: Traditional guest house Thethi  I  Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

8

DAY 8: GOODBYE ALBANIA

Take in the final mountain views, it is already the last day of our Albanian adventure. After breakfast there there is time to walk around in Thethi and then we really have to leave. There will be a group transfer to Tirana airport. 3 hours with 4×4 and 2 hours by minivan. On the way to the airport we’ll have a stop for a lunch break.

Suggested flight Transavia: Tirana → Amsterdam  20:55 → 23:45

Meals: breakfast

ESSENTIAL INFO

Please be aware that the itinerary can be subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to weather conditions or other circumstances beyond our control.

THE HIKES

Our hikes are between 10- 15 km long. A walking day is normally six to seven hours and daily ascents will likely be around 500m to 800m, perhaps with the odd day ascending around 900m to 1100m. Suitable waterproof hiking footwear is essential due to the rough, uneven and rocky terrain. No prior hiking experience is necessary, but good health and reasonable fitness are important. The climbs are moderately demanding with some long days of sustained walking with a backpack. The effects of altitude will also reduce your level of strength. Therefore, you will enjoy the trip all the more if you are in good physical shape.

VISA

Please check with the Albanian Embassy if you need a visa to travel there. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel Insurance is compulsory on all Nature Connects’ holidays and is a condition of booking with Nature Connects. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for the cost of emergency evacuation (by helicopter if necessary), medical expenses and repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

ACCOMMODATION & FOOD

During this trip we will spend 1 night in a comfortable hotel in Tirana and 1 night in a similar hotel in Shkodra. The rooms are twin rooms, shared with someone of the same sex. The other 5 nights we’ll stay in simple village guesthouses/ farmhouses in Thethi and the Valbona Valley. Rooms here are welcoming but basic up to 3 people sharing a room. The village guesthouses have basic facilities. Staying with local families is all part of the overall Albanian trekking experience and allows us to experience a genuine side to the Albanian Alps.

FOOD

Albania offers a rich variety of dishes. In the hotels the breakfast are continental style, with cereals, bread and jam, tea, coffee and sometimes eggs. At the guesthouses, breakfasts are simple but filling. Picnic lunches are provided (bread, meat, cheese, tomatoes, cucumber etc).

Evening meals include traditional soups, locally-grown vegetables, local dairy and meat dishes. Meals are based on what the local family would have themselves.

If you’d like to eat snacks during the hikes, please feel free to bring them from home. Water is provided, but very often this is from local wells or mountain streams and is not chlorinated. If you are concerned about drinking untreated water, please bring a supply of water treatment tablets.

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

INCLUDED:

1 night in a hotel in Shkodra & 1 night in a hotel in Tirana (double/ twin room with ensuite bathroom)

5 nights accommodation in traditional local guesthouses

Breakfast in Tirana, dinner in Shkodra, packed breakfast in Shkodra

Breakfast, lunch, dinner during the trek

Professional English speaking local guide

Ferry ride on Lake Koman

Single timed transfer to and from the airport in Tirana

Baggage transfers by pack-horses or mules during the trek

All land transport throughout the trip

Entrance fees

Booking fee

Tourist Tax

NOT INCLUDED:

Meals which are not already included

Tip for the guide

Flights

Travel insurance

Visa

Drinks & extra snacks

Any other personal expenses not mentioned under included