Albanian Alps Adventure

Superb trekking holiday through the spectacular Albanian Alps




From $980 Land only

Book this holiday

Holiday Overview


  • Experience wild Albania by crossing the Valbona Pass on foot
  • Hike through two spectacular national parks - Valbona and Thethi
  • Travel on Lake Koman by boat and explore historical Kruja
  • Stay in the beautiful village of Thethi with its `lock-in tower`

In the far north of Albania, a range of rugged peaks rises to a high point at Jezerca (2694m) and is known locally as the Albanian Alps.  Stunning and remote, this area is an undiscovered gem with one of the warmest welcomes in Europe!  These "alps" form the southern part of the mountain range called the Dinaric Alps extending from the Julian Alps in Slovenia to Mt Korab on the border between Albania and Macedonia.  From the lakeside town of Shkodra, we journey to the village of Thethi, with its rural homestays, traditional wooden houses and impressive stone "lock-in" tower that sheltered the men-folk in times of blood feud.  The intrepid explorer Edith Durham, author of 'High Albania' based on her own journey to the Thethi Valley in 1908 described Albania as a country where she "forgot all about the rest of the world and there seemed no reason why I should ever return."  From here, we enjoy a series of beautiful walks before trekking with mule-support across the exciting Valbona Pass into the lovely Valbona Valley.  Staying in simple and newly established guesthouses, we are treated to traditional food and real mountain hospitality.  A ferry ride out of these enchanting mountains on the fjord-like Lake Koman is a real highlight of our journey.  We spent our final night in the important historic town of Kruja, with time to explore the bazaar and visit the interesting museums.  Isolated from the outside world for much of the 20th century, Albania is a superb adventure travel destination, blessed with stunning mountain scenery, fascinating history and warming smiles from some of the most welcoming people in Europe!

Is this holiday for you?

This is a low-level trekking holiday (maximum elevation is below 2000 metres) with no camping.  Generally we are always following well-established trails between valleys and villages that are suitable for mules and very straightforward for trekkers.  There are some steep ascents and descents and the crossing of the Valbona Pass cannot be avoided other than by a very long road journey - this day is a journey into the next valley and the crux of the trip. Some of the walks are optional.  You should ensure you are physically prepared for the trek and able to walk for approximately 6 - 7 hours each day and for several days continuously.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at Tirana Airport. Drive north to the oldest city in Northern Albania, Shkodra.
  • Transfer to the Valley of Boga via the shores of Shkodra Lake. Afternoon walk to the hamlet of Nderlysa.
  • A spectacular day of trekking towards the Valley of Thethi with time to explore its `Lock-In` tower.
  • Trek the foothills of Jezerca, taking in glacier lakes, stunning panoramas and the Peja Pass (1710m).
  • Trek across the Valbona Pass (1960m) passing beech forests, alpine meadows and shepherd pastures.
  • Explore Albania's best kept secret, Cerami. Rustic farm buildings, alpine flora and pretty hamlets.
  • Trek the White Circle Trek and exlpore the isolated village of Kukaj to shepherd huts at 1600m.
  • Transfer to Lake Koman for a fantastic ferry ride before arriving in the historical town of Kruja.
  • Departure Day. A single timed transfer to Tirana Airport is provided.
Sat 25 Jun - Sun 03 Jul Code ALB /01/16/ Adult$980 Status Guaranteed Book now
Sat 16 Jul - Sun 24 Jul Code ALB /02/16/ Adult$980 Status Available Book now
Sat 06 Aug - Sun 14 Aug Code ALB /03/16/ Adult$980 Status Available Book now
Sat 17 Sep - Sun 25 Sep Code ALB /04/16/ Adult$980 Status Guaranteed Book now
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Tirana. For clients making their own flight arrangements, Tirana 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

  • point
  • airport
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at Tirana Airport. Drive north to the oldest city in Northern Albania, Shkodra.

    Meet at Tirana Airport for the group transfer to Shkodra. This transfer will be in the early afternoon and the journey north to the oldest and biggest city in northern Albania takes about an hour and a half. After lunch at a waterfront restaurant, we will have time for sightseeing at Rozafa Castle, which sits in a commanding position on a rocky hill above Lake Shkodra. The impressive castle dates from the 4th century BC and provides us with great views of the lake, the city and the surrounding mountains. In the evening, we will have a traditional Albanian dinner.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • Transfer to the Valley of Boga via the shores of Shkodra Lake. Afternoon walk to the hamlet of Nderlysa.

    After breakfast we head off north and follow the shore of Shkodra Lake, the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula, located between Albania and Montenegro. We continue through the sage fields of Koplik-Dedaj and head for the valley of Boga, where the landscape changes dramatically - welcome to the Albanian Alps! The road climbs towards the Qaf Thore (The Diagonal Pass 1700m) where we are rewarded with breathtaking views and the start point of our walk. Initially the trail descends, passing open meadows and forest. From the trail we have a fantastic view of the Biga e Gimajve mountain towering above us. Once we reach the remote valley of Kaprea we have time to enjoy the beautiful tiny lake of Blue Eye and its small waterfall. The final short section of our walk follows a stream until the hamlet of Nderlysa where our friendly guesthouse and hosts await us. After our arrival there will be time to relax or discover the rural surroundings of Nderlysa.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 1150m

    • Distance 8km

    • Meals bld

    • Time 6 hours of trekking

  • A spectacular day of trekking towards the Valley of Thethi with time to explore its `Lock-In` tower.

    Today we leave our guesthouse in Nderlysa and make our way towards the village of Thethi, situated in the Thethi National Park. The area of Thethi is rich in wildlife including bear, deer, wild boar, falcons and eagles, the latter being the national symbol of Albania. Initially we follow the River Shala before reaching the top of the Grunasi Cayon where we find terraces and walls from the late Bronze Age in a spectacular mountainous setting. The trail than climbs quickly to the pretty Waterfall of Thethi and from now on our approach to the village leads us through some of the most spectacular scenery as we pass traditional wooden-tiled houses surrounded by rugged peaks. Today we also visit 'Kulla e Ngujimit' - the 'blood-feud or Lock In' tower. Traditionally Ottoman Tower Houses these stone structures were either three or four stories high and square or rectangular in shape. Of dual purpose, military and residential, Thethi has a wonderful example in an atmospheric setting. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the village and if you're lucky, spot eagles soaring above!

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 250m

    • Distance 7km

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 250m

    • Time 4 - 5 hours of trekking

  • Trek the foothills of Jezerca, taking in glacier lakes, stunning panoramas and the Peja Pass (1710m).

    Today see us leaving Thethi as we hike towards the end of the valley, passing through the hamlet of Okol before continuing on a beautiful trail to the Pass of Peja (1710m). This lovely path zig-zags on the slopes below the rocky dome of Mount Harapit - 2218m. After admiring views towards the Thethi and Radohima mountain ridges, we continue walking until we reach the meadows of 'Gropat e Bukura' on the foothills of Mt. Jezerca - 2694m. The highest peak in the area. Mt Jezerca lies only 5kms from the Montonegro border and straddles two national parks, Thethi and Valbona. Surrounded by wild and rugged mountains, we relax and enjoy a picnic, making use of the stunning panorama. During the afternoon we descend slowly back to our guesthouse in Thethi village passing a small glaciar lake along the way.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 1010m

    • Distance 16km

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1010m

    • Time 7 hours of trekking

  • Trek across the Valbona Pass (1960m) passing beech forests, alpine meadows and shepherd pastures.

    A longer day today, as we set out with our pack-horses to hike to the neighbouring Valbona Valley. We start out beside the Shala River and climb steeply to the settlement of Gjelaj and then through beech woodland to a lovely alpine meadow where shepherds from Thethi would formerly spend the summer months tending their flocks. We pass through a higher forested area, before emerging into the rockier Alpine zone. Approaching the Valbona Pass (1960m), we are on a real mountain track, with views across the valley to Sheep and Diagonal Passes and down to Thethi and the headwaters of the Shala River. The view from the top of the pass are stunning – Thethi behind and Valbona beyond. After crossing the pass, we drop down more easily to Valbona and walk on to our guesthouse accommodation in Grykat e Hapura.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 1000m

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1000m

    • Time 6 - 7 hours of trekking

  • Explore Albania's best kept secret, Cerami. Rustic farm buildings, alpine flora and pretty hamlets.

    Today we start with a short scenic transfer (30 - 40 mins) to the beautiful hamlet of Çerem, an off the beaten track destination of rare beauty. Here we start a spectacular circular walk, through green meadows dotted with rustic farm buildings that are topped with traditional wooden roof tiles. This whole area is rich in alpine flora and fauna and our trail takes us to alpine springs before the valley opens out, offering wonderful views of Sqapit Peak on the Montenegro border. After picnicing we head back down to Çerem following a different trail, before a short transfer takes us to Valbona where we overnight. Valbona village is situated in Valbona National Park, known as the gem of the Albanian Alps and is named after the River Valbona which flows through the valley.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 530m

    • Distance 13km

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 530m

    • Time 6 - 7 hours of trekking

  • Trek the White Circle Trek and exlpore the isolated village of Kukaj to shepherd huts at 1600m.

    Starting directly from our accommodation, we will trek to the isolated village of Kukaj, where we can visit some of the traditional houses. Then, a shepherd’s path will take us high up into one of the most remote parts of the eastern Albanian Alps. We pass through meadows and forest to a collection of huts at 1600 metres, where there are spectacular views of Jezerca and 'Rrethi i Bardhe' - the White Circle, a fortress-like wall of rock below Jezerca, so called because of the way it looks when covered in snow in winter-time. We return to our accommodation in Grykat e Hapura.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 900m

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 900m

    • Time 6 - 7 hours of trekking

  • Transfer to Lake Koman for a fantastic ferry ride before arriving in the historical town of Kruja.

    We have an early start for our journey out of the mountains following the Drin Canyon to the town of Bajram Curri before reaching Fierze, the dock for our ferry that will transport us on the navigation of the Lake Koman. With steep cliffs on either side of this unusual waterway, it is just like being on a Norwegian Fjord. Taking all of our baggage with us, this boat ride takes around two and a half hours. Disembarking from the boat we drive to our overnight stop at the important, historic town of Kruja where we take lunch. Skanderbeg, the Albanian national hero, led his legendary resistance to the Ottomans from this town, back in the 13th century. Following an afternoon visiting the interesting local museums and the traditional bazaar, we will take our evening meal at a restaurant with a panoramic view of Kruja Fort.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

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

    There is time in the morning to explore Kruja to shop for any last-minute souvenirs in the bazaar, before taking the single group transfer back to Tirana Airport. KE group package services end on arrival at the airport.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • A professional English-speaking local guide
  • Single timed Tirana Airport transfers at the start and end of the trip
  • All land transport throughout the trip
  • 1 night's hotel accommodation in Shkodra and 1 night in Kruja
  • 6 nights village guesthouse accommodation
  • Baggage transfers by pack-horses or mules during the trek
  • Ferry ride on Lake Koman
  • Entrance fees at tourist sites
  • All meals

  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for local staff
  • Tirana Airport transfers (other than the single group transfer at the beginning and end of the trip)
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc.

During this trip, the group will spend 1 night at a comfortable hotel in Shkodra and 1 night at a similar establishment in Kruja. These hotels provide twin-sharing accommodation. There will also be 6 nights in basic village guesthouse or farmhouse accommodation in Thethi, Nderlysa, and Valbona, with up to 5 or 6 persons sharing a room. Note that it may be necessary for male and female group members to share, depending on the make-up of the group. The village guesthouses, whilst charming and friendly, have basic facilities. For the 2 nights in hotels, it should be 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

All meals are included in the trip price, from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 9.

With a mix of Balkan, Turkish and European influences, Albanian food can be brilliant. 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 Albanian 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.  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.

The group will rendezvous at Tirana Airport. Within the Land Only cost of this holiday, we have arranged for a single timed group transfer from Tirana Airport on arrival. This transfer will normally depart after the arrival of the Austrian Airways flight on Day 1 of the trip itinerary. 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 Kruja back to the airport in Tirana. This transfer will depart mid-morning to enable check-in for the Austrian Airways flights. Hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with your booking confirmation.

There will be an experienced local trekking guide, one or more support vehicle drivers (on Days 1, 2, 8 and 9), and a team of pack-animals and their handlers during some of the trekking days.

Approximately £150 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).  Albania's unit of currency is the leke.  By far the easiest way to obtain your travel cash is from ATM’s using a credit card or a debit card linked to the International Plus or Cirrus system - remember you will need your PIN number to do this.  ATM’s are available at the airport in Tirana and in Shkodra and in Kruja.  Credit cards can be used to purchase goods and services in some shops, hotels and restaurants in Albania.

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 £25 and that tips are then distributed between the guide and support staff as the group feels is appropriate.

Baggage will be transported between overnight stops by vehicle, other than on day 5 when it will be transported by mules.  There is no weight restriction other than that imposed by your international carrier but we do ask you to limit your luggage to one piece which weighs no more than 15kgs plus your day pack.  For this holiday we recommend a soft holdall or kit bag which is easier to secure and more comfortable for the mules.

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.

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

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

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 – 1800 cu in
  • Headtorch / headlamp with spare batteries
  • Sun protection (including for lips)
  • Water bottles 1 Litre / 2 pint (x2)
  • Washbag and toiletries
  • Travel towel
  • Antibacterial hand wash
  • Small padlock (to lock your KE trek bag)
  • 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:

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

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.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. 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. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

You should contact your GP or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations or other preventive measures. You should be up to date with routine courses and boosters as recommended in the UK e.g. diphtheria-tetanus-polio and measles-mumps-rubella, along with hepatitis A and typhoid. A good online resource is Travel Health Pro.

The unit of currency in Albaniais the Lek.

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

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on an active holiday getting some additional exercise.  Whilst regular hiking in hill or back country is the best preparation, running, cycling and swimming are also good for developing better cardiovascular fitness and stamina.  Before departure, we suggest that you try to fit in a number of long walks in hilly country.

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: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: 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.

Daytime temperatures in the lower valleys will vary between 20ºC/68ºF and 30ºC/86ºF 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 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.

  • Albania (The Bradt Travel Guide) - Gillian Glover
  • Western Balkans - Lonely Planet
  • The Accursed Mountains - Robert Carver
  • Broken April - Ismail Kadare
  • General of the Dead Army - Ismail Kadare
  • High Albania - Edith Durham
  • The Albanians : A Modern History - Miranda Vickers

Albania Road Map. Freytag and Berndt. 1:400,000.

Road map of the entire country of Albania.

Recent Reviews & Blog Posts