Walking in the Balkan Borderlands

A one week walking holiday in the heart of the Balkan Mountains




From $1,380 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Trek the Accursed Mountains of Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania
  • Spectacular hike from Montengro to Albania over Talijanca - 2056m
  • Experience friendly rural guesthouses and Albanian hospitality
  • Explore Lake Skadar home to rare birdlife and UNESCO Bay of Kotor

Originally designated a Peace Park area after the Balkans war, a new hiking trail called the "Peaks of the Balkans" weaves through a spectacular mountainous area by way of high passes and remote valleys.  Trekking the superb Accursed Mountains, this unique walking holiday crosses several international frontiers in the wild borderlands of Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro.  KE's Balkan Borderlands trek takes in the very best parts of this trail and finishes with a relaxed end in UNESCO Kotor Bay.  As a largely protected area, cross-border permits are required to follow the route, together with stunning scenery and friendliness of the local people, which all together guarantees a very special walking holiday.  We start with a short transfer from the Kosovan capital of Pristina and begin our adventure trekking holiday in the historic city of Peja (Pec).  Located in the foothills of the Rugova Mountains, this enchanting city features well-preserved Ottoman-era architecture and friendly locals.  After a morning visit to the monastery ‘Patriarchate of Pec', we then commence our trek into a real hidden corner of Europe.  Passing through traditional villages and over the Jelenak Pass (2272m), we cross from Kosovo into Montenegro and continue our Balkan adventure following the old trade routes of the ‘Accursed Mountains'.  As we cross into the wild and rugged frontier of Albania, we are welcomed by the highland hospitality of our village guesthouse stay.  Continuing our walk through pasturelands and over a rocky mountain pass (1800m), we enjoy true local hospitality with the last of our Albania hosts before transfering to the Montenegrin town of Virpazar on the shores of the largest lake in the Balkans, Lake Skadar.  After a morning boat ride we finish this Balkan walking adventure with 2 relaxing days to explore the UNESCO Bay of Kotor - with its historical ramparts, pavement cafes and spectacular mountain views.  If you're looking for a cross-border walking journey through exciting and undiscovered destinations which offer ancient and traditional Balkan culture, alongside unforgettable hospitality, then this is the only one! 

Is this holiday for you?

This is a low-level trekking holiday (maximum elevation is below 2300 metres) with no camping. Generally we are following trails between valleys and villages that have been used by shepherds and local people. However, some of the paths are not very well-defined and the going underfoot can be more difficult on occasion, with no obvious path to follow and steep or overgrown terrain. For June departures, there may well be some latey-lying snow patches to cross.  Please note that there are some steep ascents and descents, and the walking is in a remote area. You should ensure you are physically prepared for the trek and able to walk for approximately 6 - 8 hours each day and for several days continuously.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Peja. A single, timed transfer from Pristina Airport is provided.
  • Explore the old town of Pec. Transfer to trek in the Rugova Mountains after lunch with a local family.
  • Exciting day of trekking into Montenegro as we cross the Jelenak pass (2250m) and descend to Gusinje.
  • Trek to Albania via Talijanca peak (2056m) offering spectacular views of the Accursed Mountains.
  • Trek through pretty meadows and rich forest to Nikc. Transfer to the shores of Lake Skadar.
  • Morning boat trip on the clear waters of Lake Skadar, the largest lake in the Balkans. Transfer to Kotor
  • Walk and explore the stunning Bay of Kotor on old military trails to the top of Mt Vrmac (710m).
  • Departure Day. A single, timed transfer to Dubrovnik Airport is provided.
Sun 12 Jun - Sun 19 Jun Code BBL /01/16/ Adult$1,380 Status Guaranteed Book now
Sun 24 Jul - Sun 31 Jul Code BBL /02/16/ Adult$1,380 Status Available Book now
Sun 28 Aug - Sun 04 Sep Code BBL /03/16/ Adult$1,380 Status Guaranteed Book now
Sun 18 Sep - Sun 25 Sep Code BBL /04/16/ Adult$1,380 Status Available Book now
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Pristina (Kosovo) and departing from Dubrovnik (Croatia). For clients making their own flight arrangements, Pristina Airport is the most convenient for transfers to the group hotel. Please refer to 'Joining Arrangements and Transfers' in the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee*

* Against Land Only services.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Peja. A single, timed transfer from Pristina Airport is provided.

    Meet at the group hotel in Peja. A single, timed private group transfer from Pristina airport to Peja (1hr 15 mins) is provided with the local guide accompanying the group to the hotel. Time permitting, and depending on the final time of the group transfer, we may visit the Decani Monastery which is close to Peja. UNESCO-protected and guarded by KFOR (the Kosovo Protection Force), the monastery was founded in 1327 by an order of Serbian Orthodox Monks. The monastery has some fabulous icons and frescoes, and the monastery shop sells delicious wine and honey. KE group package services begin with dinner in a local restaurant.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • Explore the old town of Pec. Transfer to trek in the Rugova Mountains after lunch with a local family.

    Peja, or otherwise known as Pec, is thought to be one of the oldest settlements in Kosovo. The Illyrians settled here back in 200 BC, and archaeological evidence has shown that Peja was one of the most important cities in the surrounding Dukagjini valley, during this period. Through the ages it has been occupied by the Byzantine people and the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish arrival brought with it the Islamic culture, and much of all of these cultures can still be seen and felt in the city today. This morning we visit the Patriachte of Pec monastery, which dates back to the 12th century and is another important spiritual place for the Serbian Orthodox church. After our cultural visit we transfer via the dramatic Rugova Gorge for 1 hour to the village of Reke e Allages. Many families only live here in the summer months as they tend their herds, and we will have lunch with a family in their local guesthouse home. Lunch is usually a serious affair in this part of the world, and includes fresh salads, homemade bread, birek or other pastry dish served with cheese and local raki (homemade brandy). After lunch we start our walk through the Rugova Mountains ascending through meadows and high pastures and descending through small villages and passing by farmsteads. At the trail end we meet our vehicle and have a short transfer to our accommodation in remote Liquenat. Overnight in simple guesthouse lodge accommodation.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 500m

    • Distance 10km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 900m

    • Time 5 hours

  • Exciting day of trekking into Montenegro as we cross the Jelenak pass (2250m) and descend to Gusinje.

    After breakfast we set off on our walk straight from the accommodation. It’s an exciting day today as we cross over into Montenegro via the high and unmanned mountain border (the actual border is disputed by both countries at this point, and is shown as a dotted line on many maps). The path initially winds up through forest and passes the small blue glacial lakes called Liqueni i Kuchishtes and i Dreljave. Leaving the treeline behind us, we ascend into a dramatic valley and cross the Jelenak pass at 2250m. Crossing the head of the valley, we finally enter Montenegro via a point on the ridgeline at the Ravno Pass. We descend to the village of Babino Polje (Grandma's Field) where we meet our vehicles and transfer (1hr) to the remote town of Gusinje where we overnight. Gusinje is a small town of around 1700 people who are mostly Muslim, although the 2 mosques sit alongside churches and everyone coexists peacefully. The town is on the edge of the Prokletije Mountains, and there are dramatic views towards the peaks on the Montenegrin/Albanian border.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 1150m

    • Distance 14km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1000m

    • Time 8 hours

  • Trek to Albania via Talijanca peak (2056m) offering spectacular views of the Accursed Mountains.

    This morning we take a short transfer (20 mins) to the start of our walk. Today we'll cross the border between Montenegro and Albania by way of a small peak called Talijanca (2056m). The trail begins by zigzagging through forest before emerging into a small corrie. From here we hike up to a ridge from where there are spectacular views of Albania's Accursed (Prokeltije) Mountains, which look both forbidding and alluring. From the summit of Talijanca, we can see into both Montenegro and Albania. We then descend to the sleepy village of Lepushe in the vicinity of Bordolescit where we overnight. This region of Albania is still very remote from mainstream tourism and this is a great opportunity to experience rural lifestyle. People living in the villages are generally self-sufficient, growing their own vegetables and fruit and keeping cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and bees. Local honey is delicious. Electricity comes from local hydropower stations and there are few telephone lines.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 925m

    • Distance 10km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 730m

    • Time 6 hours

  • Trek through pretty meadows and rich forest to Nikc. Transfer to the shores of Lake Skadar.

    Another beautiful day of walking today. We set off from the guesthouse and walk through forest and pretty meadow pastureland and ascend to a rocky mountain pass at 1800m. Again we have splendid views of this unique and pristine mountain environment. We descend to the village of Nikc, in the Kelmend province of Albania. It is remote here, even for the people of the Balkans! The people here, due to their isolated location in a mountain valley, are incredibly hospitable and it is not unusual to be invited into someone's home to taste their homemade raki or take a cup of locally-brewed mountain tea. Our vehicle will be waiting for us and after some refreshments we drive (3hrs) across the border into Montenegro and then onto Virpazar, on the shores of Lake Skadar. Overnight in a hotel by the lakeshore.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 600m

    • Distance 13km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1300m

    • Time 6 hours

  • Morning boat trip on the clear waters of Lake Skadar, the largest lake in the Balkans. Transfer to Kotor

    Straddled between Montenegro and Albania, we take a morning boat journey (2-3 hrs) across the clear waters of Lake Skadar. This is the largest lake in the Balkans and we enjoy some impressive views back to the Prokletije mountains which we have just walked through. The lake is one of the most important reserves for wetland birds in Europe and is home to a colony of Dalmatian pelicans, cormorants, herons and terns. At least 48 species of fish live in the lake, including carp, bleak and eel, all of which are offered up on local restaurant menus. We then transfer to the former royal capital of Cetinje. Here we have some lunch and then drive on into the Lovcen National Park above the Bay of Kotor. We have some fabulous views of this UNESCO world heritage site as we descend along a trail which once connected the port of Kotor to the mountainous interior of Montenegro. It is fantastic to enter the town on foot, via the ancient city walls, descending into the atmospheric streets and squares which date back to medieval times.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Distance 7km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 900m

    • Time 3 hours

  • Walk and explore the stunning Bay of Kotor on old military trails to the top of Mt Vrmac (710m).

    Our last day and we enjoy great views of the bay as we walk across the Vrmac ridge, which divides Kotor Bay from Tivat. We make use of an old military route which takes us to the top of Vrmac mountain (710m). Here we find a vast military complex dating back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The lookout point on the summit of the ridge was perfect for surveying ships entering the bay. We continue along the ridge before descending to the village of Gornja Lastva. From here we transfer (20-30 mins) back to Kotor. In the late afternoon we should have some spare time for sightseeing and relaxing. There is the option to take the public bus to the old baroque town of Perast, north of Kotor, still within the bay. From here we can visit the famous island ‘Lady of the Rock’ (payable locally). Alternatively you can walk, or take the bus, into the old town of Kotor and explore the maze-like streets, or just relax. In the evening we will have a celebratory farewell dinner. Walk distance approx: 5 hours, 13kms, 800m of descent & 700m of ascent.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 700m

    • Distance 13km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 800m

    • Time 5 hours

  • Departure Day. A single, timed transfer to Dubrovnik Airport is provided.

    After breakfast, there is a group transfer (approx 2 hrs) to Dubrovnik Airport. KE Land Only package services end on arrival at Dubrovnik Airport. Dubrovnik is a short transfer from the airport, and is a fantastic place to spend a few days relaxing and sightseeing at the end of the trip. Should you wish to extend your stay in the Balkans to enjoy Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian Coast, please contact our office for further information - we can arrange for transfers to Dubrovnik and hotel accommodation in the city.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • English-speaking local guide
  • Group airport transfers
  • All accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • Meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • All land transport required by the itinerary
  • National park entrance fees
  • All excursions mentioned in the itinerary.

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Airport taxes
  • Airport transfers other than group transfers
  • Any extra activities and excursions
  • Tips for local staff
  • Miscellaneous personal expenditure

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

The group will rendezvous at Pristina Airport at lunchtime on day 1. Within the Land Only cost of this holiday, we have arranged for a single timed group transfer from Pristina Airport to Peja on arrival. This transfer will normally depart early afternoon on Day 1 of the trip itinerary. The transfer from Pristina to Peja takes around 1.25 hours. The local guide or a representative of our local agent will assist with this transfer. At the end of the trip there will be a single timed group transfer from Kotor to Dubrovnik airport in Croatia, leaving at approximately late morning on the last day of the trip itinerary. Hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with your booking confirmation.

This holiday does not involve any significant ascent to altitude and we would not expect any altitude issues with this trip.

During this trip, the group will spend 1 night at a comfortable hotel in Peja/Pec, 1 night at a similar establishment in Virpazar, and 2 nights in Kotor. These hotels provide twin-sharing, en-suite accommodation. There will also be 3 nights in basic village hotel/guesthouse/lodge accommodation. For the guesthouse accommodation it may be necessary to share, with between 2 and 5 people per room. There are bathrooms in all accommodation. Note that it may be necessary for male and female group members to share, depending on the make-up of the group athough every effort will be made to accommodate members as appropriately as possible. The village guesthouses and lodges, whilst charming and friendly, have basic facilities. For the 4 nights in hotels, it is possible to arrange for single room occupancy at additional cost. For hotel prices and single supplement costs please refer to the website. Hotels are subject to availability and prices may vary.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

With a mix of Balkan, Turkish and European influences, the food in this part of the world is fantastic. In the hotels breakfast are continental style, with cereals, bread and jam, tea, coffee and sometimes eggs. You may also have the chance to try a more traditional breakfast of flavoured rice. At the guesthouses, breakfasts are also simple. Packed lunches are provided and will consist of bread and a variety of meats, cheeses, tomatoes and cucumber. There will also be plenty of fruit, biscuits and cake. Evening meals include traditional soups, fantastic locally-grown vegetables, local dairy produce and meat dishes. Soups, stews, and goulashes are common. There is always plenty of bread which is usually Italian style, often served with a tomato and olive salad and various cheeses. On and near the coast, the diet is even more Mediterranean with fish understandably featuring in the most common dishes. 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, we suggest you bring a supply of water treatment tablets.

All meals are included in the holiday price, from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 8.

Approximately £100 should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including your bar bills and reasonable tips to the support crew. If you intend to buy expensive souvenirs, you should budget accordingly (credit cards can be useful in this respect). Kosovo & Montenegro use the Euro, and the Lek is the currency of Albania. You should obtain Euros for this holiday. By far the easiest way to obtain your travel cash is from ATM’s using a credit card or a debit card. ATM’s are available at the airport in Pristina and in Peja, as well as Cetinje and Kotor. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES (Subject to change) Boat ride to Lady of the Rock : €5 Local bus to Perast : €1 each way

The group will be accompanied throughout by a professional English-speaking local tour leader.

Tips do not form part of the wages of local staff but they are very much appreciated. It is important to remember that tipping is voluntary and should be dependent on good service. It is best if the tip is given at the end of the trip by the group as a whole. We recommend that each group member contributes around £30 and that tips are then distributed between the guide and support staff as the group feels is appropriate.

There is no weight restriction as such on this holiday other than that imposed by your international carrier (normally 20kg). However, we do ask you to restrict your luggage to one trek bag/suitcase and one small daypack per person.

KE Trek Bag / Free Gift

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

We do keep our information up to date but be advised visa requirements are subject to change. It is recommended that you contact the relevant commission in the case of recent alterations.


A passport with 6 months remaining validity is required. Visas are not required by citizens (passport holders) of the EU, USA, Canada, and Australia for stays of up to 90 days. Other nationalities should check visa requirements with the Kosovo Consulate in their own country.


A passport with 6 months remaining validity is required. Visas are not required by citizens (passport holders) of the EU, USA, Canada, and Australia for stays of up to 30 days. Other nationalities should check visa requirements with the Albanian Consulate in their own country.


A passport with 6 months remaining validity is required. Visas are not required by citizens (passport holders) of the EU, USA, Canada, and Australia for stays of up to 30 days. Other nationalities should check visa requirements with the Albanian Consulate in their own country.

IMPORTANT :a scan of the information page of your passport will be required by our office approximately 6 weeks prior to departure to allow us to arrange the necessary cross-border permits. Please be sure to forward this to us in good time.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

You must bring the following items:

  • Hiking boots
  • Socks
  • Trekking trousers / pants
  • Waterproof overtrousers / rainpants
  • Underwear
  • Baselayer shirts (1 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve)
  • Light fleece shirt or mid-layer
  • Warm fleece jacket or jumper
  • Waterproof jacket
  • T-shirts or casual shirts
  • Lightweight thermal gloves
  • Sunhat
  • Warm hat
  • Eyewear-Sunglasses
  • Daypack c.30 litres
  • Headtorch / headlamp with spare batteries
  • Sun protection (including for lips)
  • Water bottles 1 Litre (x2)
  • Washbag and toiletries
  • Travel towel
  • Antibacterial hand wash
  • Small padlock (to lock your KE trek bag)
  • Name and address label for your trek bag (for Customs when the bags travel across borders by vehicles unaccompanied by their owners)
  • Basic First Aid Kit including Insect repellent (DEET); antiseptic cream; throat lozenges; diarrhoea treatment (Diocalm or Immodium); painkillers; plasters/band-aids and blister treatment; and re-hydration salts (Dioralite). Glucose sweets and vitamin tablets are a useful addition.

The following items are optional:

  • Sheet sleeping bag liner
  • Training shoes, sneakers or sandals
  • Spare laces
  • Shorts
  • Travel clothes
  • Trekking poles
  • Camera, media, batteries
  • Penknife

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:


Know before you go

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: www.fco.gov.uk. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: www.travel.state.gov for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on a walking holiday getting some additional exercise. Regular walking in hill or back country is the best preparation. Running and swimming are also good for developing better cardiovascular fitness and stamina.

Daytime temperatures in the lower valleys will vary between 15ºC and 30ºC at the times of year we operate this trip. The weather in summer is generally excellent - with hot days, clear skies and little rain. Note that temperatures do drop in the evenings in the mountains by several degrees. High up, we may encounter cooler conditions and stormy weather cannot be ruled out at any time of year in this mountainous region. At the coast the temperatures will be higher.

In Kosovo they speak Albanian, Serbian, Bosniak and Turkish, depending on the region. In Albanian they speak Albanian and sometimes Greek and Italian. In Montenegro they speak Montenegrin, which is very similar to Serbian. In the area that we visit they also speak Albanian. English will be spoken by some people in the main tourist areas, but not in the remote areas we will be visiting.

Western Balkans. Lonely Planet Southeastern Europe. Lonely Planet The Accursed Mountains. Robert Carver Broken April. Ismail Kadare High Albania. Edith Durham The Mountains of Montenegro – A Walkers and Trekkers Guide. Rudolf Abraham. (Cicerone) Kosovo Bradt guide

Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro

1:600,00. Detailed, double-sided road map of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, with index and city centre street enlargements of Belgrade, Sarajevo, Zagreb and Ljubljana. Clearly shows the national road network and selected provincial and local roads, with each class of road clearly indicated and road numbers shown. Intermediate driving distances between locations are shown in kilometres alongside the road, motorway filling stations are shown and motorway junctions are indicated.

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