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[9 days] Peaks of the Balkans Rugova Mountains, Western Kosovo

  • Trip Type: Private (Guided)
  • Group Size: Min 1, Max 12
  • Departure Date: Flexible
  • Bookable From: May - October
  • Duration: Weeklong (7-9 days)
  • Physical Rating: Mildly Strenuous

3 for 1! The transnational “Peaks of the Balkans” trail leads you through one of the most remote and wild mountainous regions of the Western Balkans. Venture through Kosovo, Albania, and Montenegro on this special route.

You will use shepherd paths and footways on this trek as you wind through alpine mountains up to a maximum altitude of 2656 meters. Wild mountain scenery will display a diversity of breathtaking landscapes, varying from green valleys, to crystal clear mountain lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and remote picturesque mountain villages. The beauty and tranquility in the region might make it seem like time has stopped, making this trail a true hidden treasure for nature lovers and hikers. It will be an unforgettable week of exploring!

This region is also known for the hospitality of its inhabitants which visitors can enjoy while staying in one of the traditional stone or wooden houses that can be found along the trail in all three countries. At these small accommodations, you’ll eat authentic, homemade dishes served by your local hosts.

Highlights:

  • Kosovo:
    • Hike Hajla mountain for a scenic view over the mountain range
    • Venture to Lake Linqenat for its beautiful mountain lakes
    • Visit the handicraft shops at the Old Bazaar in Gjakova
  • Montenegro:
    • Pass through Ropojana valley
  • Albania:
    • Visit Thethi mountain village and the Blue Eye of Theth
    • Hike through Valbona Valley National Park
    • Hike through Qerrem & Doberdol remote mountain villages

🌤️ Seasonal Notes: The high season (July and August) can have very hot weather. This trip can occur during the low season (May, October) or the shoulder season (June, September) to help with tourism dispersal, which helps to spread out traffic and avoid busy guesthouses. May and October will generally have cooler weather.

📋 Itinerary

This itinerary is customizable. Contact Yūgen Earthside for more information.

Day 1: Peja [Western Kosovo] (Arrival day)

Day 2: First stage of the hike from Pepaj-Hajla-Drelaj. Start at 1650m, reach Hajla at 2100m, then Drelaj at 1100m.
9km / 5.6 miles | 5-6h | +450m ascent | -1000m descent

Day 3: Second stage: Liqenati Lakes –Babino Polje. Start at 1550m. [Montenegro]
16km / 9.9 miles | 7-8h | +1150m ascent | -110m descent

Day 4: Third stage: Babino Polje – Thethi. [Albania]
19km / 11.8 miles | 9h | +1110m ascent | -1140m descent

Day 5: Relaxing stage: Thethi highlights.
16km / 9.9 miles | 5h | +800m ascent | -800m descent

Day 6: Fourth stage: Thethi – Valbona.
19km / 11.8 miles | 7-8h | +1070m ascent | -820m descent

Day 7: Fifth stage: Valbona – Doberdol.
15.5km / 9.6 miles | 7-8h | +1030m ascent | -440m descent

Day 8: Sixth stage: Doberdol – Gjeravica. [Kosovo]
19.5km / 12.1 miles | 7-8h | +900m ascent | -920m descent

Day 9: Gjakova [Kosovo] (Departure day)

🌱 Sustainability

🌱 We develop tours and activities that meet the needs of tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future of everyone involved. Our tours are designed around the local people who rely on the revenue that tourism brings to their community. We also take care to protect the natural and economic environment in tourist areas.

🌎 This trip helps with tourism dispersal by taking you to less-touristed countries where tourism revenue is greatly needed. We also encourage booking this trip during the low or shoulder seasons.

💧 We encourage travelers to bring reusable water bottles and fill them up at the many clean and safe water sources available.

🗑️ We encourage guests to "leave no trace" and to minimize the use of single-use plastics.

🐎 In addition to this trek having a low-carbon impact, we transport our guests' bags mostly using local horses. We commit to not harming the animals by not overloading their pack weight.

🏡 Some of our homestays and guesthouses use solar power and energy-saving lights.

🍴 All meals are local and most are organic. Vegetarian options are available throughout the entire trip.

💼 This trip generates jobs for local residents and supports the local economy. Female guides are also available but are limited.

🎭 This tour will highlight the local cultures of these three countries (Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro). You will stay with local people in each country and get a chance to interact with them and learn about their lives.

  • Clear sustainable travel policy
  • Social / Environmental Impact
  • Tourism Dispersal
  • Small Group Travel
  • Listen to Community Feedback
  • No Animal-Harming Tourism
  • Use Renewable Energy
  • Green Transportation
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurants
  • Local/Organic Restaurants
  • Focused on Minimizing Waste
  • Support Suppliers Managing Waste Properly
  • Energy-Saving Lights
  • Solar Thermal Panels
  • Provide Local Employment
  • Fair Wages / Fair Trade
  • Supports Local Businesses
  • Tours Benefit Local Community
  • Connect Travelers to Local Products
  • Engage with Local Communities
  • Stay with Local Communities
  • Provide Authentic Experiences

📌 Location

Use the Google map to orient yourself about where in the world this trip is. The location indicates the starting point for this trip.

A specific route map is included in the downloadable detailed itinerary.

🏷️ Pricing

🏷️ Prices exclude flights to/from the destination.
🏷️ See the full list of price inclusions and exclusions in the downloadable detailed itinerary.

  • Deposit

    10% of trip price per person; Refundable (see Cancellation Policy)

  • Standard trip price - double room

    Price per person (exlc. flights)

    $ 945
  • Standard trip price - single room

    Price per person (exlc. flights)

    $ 1005
  • Optional bag transport through entire hike

    Price per person for 2+ travelers

    $ 90
  • Optional bag transport through entire hike

    Price for solo travelers

    $ 300

ℹ️ Other Info

📧 If you're ready to book this trip, or if you still have some questions, contact us to let us know!

💯 Book with confidence: To reserve your spot on a tour, a 10% deposit will be required. However, you can book with complete peace of mind as this deposit will be 100% refundable until 14 days prior to the trip start date.

The required deposit is 10% of the total sum per person and is payable via bank transfer or PayPal. Once we receive the deposit the tour is confirmed and reservations are placed. Fourteen days before you travel, you pay another 40% and the remaining balance on your arrival.

In 2020 we introduced Flexible Bookings, which means that you can change the booking dates, choose a different tour, or receive a credit if the plans change. We strongly recommended that you purchase trip cancelation insurance or travel insurance before you make your trip.

📅 This trip has a variable start date, so you can plan a departure date for when it is safe to travel.

⚕️ Be sure you have traveler's insurance.

😷 If you choose to travel before a vaccine is widely available, be sure to get a negative test result prior to arriving. You should also have both a mask and hand sanitizer with you at all times.

Special precautions:

In January 2021, we earned a certificate of Safe Travels from the World Tourism and Travel Association for taking appropriate health measures when clients travel with us.

💭 Q: What does the Physical Rating of "Mildly Strenuous" mean?
A: The level of difficulty ranges from Easy to Mildly Strenuous. The average walking time per day is 6-8 hours. Hikes can be up to 19 km (11.8 miles) on rolling or mountainous terrain. There are some steep ascents/descents and uneven trails at altitudes of up to 2500 meters. This trip requires good physical condition and the use of mountain equipment.

💭 Q: What are the accommodations like?
A: Guesthouses along the trail where toilets and showers are shared. We'll stay in a 3-star hotel on the first and last day.

💭 Q: How should I prepare for this trip?
A: Before you go, we provide you with extensive pre‐departure information, including clothing recommendations, suggested reading lists, up‐to‐date health advice, and other details.

💭 Q: What's the maximum altitude reached on this trip?
A: 2656 meters.

💭 Q: What about weather and safety?
Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary schedule as listed, it is subject to change for numerous reasons, including weather, and other reasons beyond our control. Generally, the weather won't strongly impact the trip, but all travelers should bring a rain jacket just to be prepared.

💭 Q: Is this trip safe for solo/female/LGBT+/minority/POC travelers?
A: Yes, the tour operator and the countries we visit are welcoming, open, and very tolerant.

💭 Q: Do I need a visa?
A: No.