The Best of the Via Dinarica

14 days
from
£1,729
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Challenging
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Trip code: 
TVR
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Walking & Trekking
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

Stunning mountainous landscapes in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro

Discover a network of old shepherd trails as we traverse through high alpine mountains, taking in vibrant forests and glacial lakes. The Via Dinarica trail spans nearly 2000km across Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania and Macedonia. This epic route cannot be completed in two weeks, so we explore the southern part of the Via Dinarica. The mountains encircling Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro offer some of the most remote and wild scenery. Picturesque mountain villages are inhabited by agricultural communities, where farming practices and traditional shepherd life have been preserved for generations. We enjoy breathtaking views as we cross remote borders and summit the peaks of the Balkans, with time to soak up the traditional shepherd mountain life along the way. With a slew of awards - Via Dinarica was National Geographic Traveller's "Best of the World" destination for 2017 - this is guaranteed to amaze and challenge the keen trekker.

Highlights

  • Traditional shepherd hospitality
  • Cross remote borders
  • Wild mountain scenery
  • Picturesque mountain villages

Key information

  • 5 nights hotels, 4 nights guesthouses, 3 nights shepherd mountain huts, 1 night camping
  • 11 days point-to-point trekking
  • Altitude maximum 2694m, average 1956m
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 12 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

11

Pace:

Anything from 6-9 hours per day

Terrain:

Low altitude; uneven trails (can be very rocky in parts), some cross-country routes. Sustained steep ascents/descents (sometimes with gravel slopes) 

Day by day breakdown
Day 25.0km/3.0miles
Day 318.0km/11.0miles
Day 411.0km/7.0miles
Day 513.0km/8.0miles
Day 616.0km/10.0miles
Day 712.0km/7.0miles
Day 816.0km/10.0miles
Day 920.0km/12.0miles
Day 1020.0km/12.0miles
Day 118.0km/5.0miles
Day 1210.0km/6.0miles
Day 135.0km/3.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Depart London; fly to Tirana

    Depart London; fly to Tirana. The tour starts at our centrally located hotel in Tirana, Albania's trendy capital (approx. 30 minutes’ drive from the airport). The group flight arrives in the evening.

    Hotel Kruja or similar

  • Day 2

    Drive to Komani Lake; scenic ferry journey, followed by a walk to Tropoje Village

    This morning we drive (approx. 2 hrs) to Komani Lake. We then have a 2 hour ferry journey through the gorge to Fierza. The boat journey allows us to take in the spectacular scenery whilst we wind our way between high cliffs and towering peaks. It is described as one of the world's great boat journeys. Three hydroelectric power plants have been built here at the lake, which produces approx. 70% of Albania's electricity. Upon arrival in Fierza, we'll visit the 200 year old Mic Sokoli tower, which is significant in northern Albanian history and culture. We'll then walk for 2 hours to our guesthouse in Tropoje.

    Aste Guesthouse or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Through Tropoje Valley, following the river to Sylbice

    We walk through Tropoje Valley and follow the river, taking several breaks along the way to enjoy the beautiful alpine scenery. Lunch will be a picnic in the valley. In the afternoon we reach our alpine huts in Sylbice Alpine Pasture, which is where we stay for the night. The huts belong to a local family and we'll enjoy the homemade food and traditional hospitality, which has remained unchanged in this area for decades.

    Max. altitude 1620m.

    Sylbica Huts

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Cross the border into Kosovo; trek through alpine pastures to Belegu

    Today we cross the border into Kosovo and trek through green alpine pastures to Belegu. We start walking at 1600m, eventually reaching Ali Cela Pass at 2227m, where we have stunning views of the glacial lakes in Albania. We then start descending to Belegu. For lunch, we'll enjoy another picnic en route, and dinner will be taken at Belugu shepherd huts, where we'll be staying this evening. Our host plays the cifteli, a traditional musical instrument, so we'll enjoy some folk songs from the area.

    Max. altitude 2227m.

    Belegu Huts

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Walk along ridges to the shepherd village of Milisevac

    Today's trail is carpeted with a dazzling array of wildflowers as we ascend from deep valleys to green mountain pastures, enjoying breathtaking panoramic views as we walk along ridges to the shepherd village of Milisevac.

    Max. altitude 1700m.

    Milishevc huts

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Trek to Lumbardhi ridge; descend to Rugova Camp Hotel and continue to Reka e Allages

    Today's landscape is truly untouched and wild. This area is renowned for its hospitality, with delicious cheese and homemade raki available to try. We first ascend to Lumbardhi ridge, and then descend to Rugova Camp Hotel, where we can rest for a while before continuing to our guesthouse in Reka e Allages.

    Max. altitude 1600m.

    Ariu Guesthouse (Mustaf Hakaj)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    To Boge via Mt Hajla (2403m)

    An exciting day today as we trek to Boge via Mt Hajla (2403m). Hajla is a mountain situated on the border of Montenegro and Kosovo and belongs to the north-eastern part of the Prokletije mountain range (or the Accursed Mountains). It is the highest peak of this range. Many consider Hajla to be one of the most beautiful peaks in the area. Those who live in this area still rely on stock-breeding and forestry, where shepherds still migrate to their summer huts and high settlements using the trails on which we walk on. Lunch will be a picnic en route and tonight we stay in a mountain lodge in Boge, which has superb views across the valley and of Mt Hajla.

    Max. altitude 1950m.

    Hotel Magra Austria

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Transfer to Kuqishte; trek to Babino Polje, Montenegro

    We have a 25 minute transfer to Kuqishte, the start point of today's trek. We begin with an ascent on a good path, which leads us through lofty pine trees. From here, we have a steady climb to a valley full of dramatic rock formations. This is our highest point of today, with expansive views of the Accursed Mountains to the south. Depending on visibility, we may be able to see Babino Polje in Montenegro. We cross the border into Montenegro from here, with a delightful descent through a high alpine meadow, until we reach the sheep pastures above the Babino Polje Valley. 

    Max. Altitude 1870m.

    Triangle Woodhouse

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Trek to Hrid Lake in Prokletije National Park; continue to Plav

    Today we trek to Hrid Lake, starting with a trail through woodland. Hrid Lake can easily be circled, with its western part offering enjoyable views. The lake is recognised as a strict nature reserve within the Prokletije National Park. We then continue to Plav.

    Max. altitude 1700m.

    Hotel Kula Damjanova or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Transfer to Gradec; trek to Vusanje via Bor Peak (2106m)

    We have a beautiful and exciting trek today, as we summit Bor (2106m). We first have a transfer to Gradec (approx. 20 mins), the starting point of our trek. We then climb Bor, and descend to the village of Vusanje.

    Max. altitude 2106m.

    Guesthouse 

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Trek to the glacial lakes of Jezerca

    Today we walk to the glacial lakes of Jezerca (Buni i Jezerces). We'll then have a short walk upon reaching the lakes. Please note that our main luggage will be carried by horses to the Albanian border only. It will then be transported directly to our hotel in Valbone by 4x4 , which we'll reach tomorrow. You'll therefore need to pack items for both this evening and for our trek tomorrow, as well as your packed lunch. Tonight we'll be camping at Jezerce, which will be set up ready for our arrival. We'll enjoy dinner at the camp this evening. 

    Max. altitude 1800m

    Camping, Jezerca

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Summit Albania's Jezerca Peak (2694m); continue to Valbona

    Today we summit Albania's second highest peak, Jezerca (2694m), with fantastic panoramic views of the Accursed Mountains (also referred to as the Albanian Alps). The summit is only 5km from the border with Montenegro. We start at the lake (1800m) and we climb to the summit for approx. 3.5km. The trek becomes more demanding and challenging as we go higher up. We then descend to Rragam Village in Albania for approx. 6km. From there we transfer to our hotel in Valbona, the home of Albanian folk culture. The walk today will take approx. 9 hours in total, including our coffee break at Simoni Kafe.

    Max. altitude 2694m.

    Hotel Margjeka

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Drive back to Tirana via Gjakovë and Prizren

    This morning we'll have a short 5km walk in Valbona, followed by a drive to Tirana via Gjakovë and Prizren (Kosovo). We first explore the town of Gjakovë, walking through the Ottoman Bazaar which has around 500 stores, one of the largest in the Balkans. We also visit Hadumi Mosque. After this, we drive to Prizren, one of the best preserved Ottoman cities in Kosovo. It has a rich cultural, historical and religious heritage with its 17th century Sinan Pasha Mosque, the Orthodox Church and memorial to the former political ‘Albanian League of Prizren’. We'll have our lunch in Prizren.

    Hotel Kruja or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    End Tirana

    End Tirana following breakfast.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Albania

No visa required for most nationalities, including UK passport holders, most other EU nationalities, US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand.

Montenegro

No visa required for British passport holders.

Kosovo

No visa required for most nationalities, including UK passport holders, most other EU nationalities, US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand.

Vaccinations

Albania

There are no specific health risks.

Montenegro

There are no specific health risks.

Kosovo

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 12 dinners included.

It wasn't until the collapse of the socialist republics in the early 1990s that the world got its first glimpse of the Balkans. This region has retained its subsistence culture and show very little signs of changing. You can expect your food to have been reared/grown not too far from your plate. Dairy products, especially milk, cheese and yoghurt are present in almost every meal. Breakfasts consist of cereals, bread and jam, eggs and cheese, tea and coffee. Picnics are provided on the trek and usually consist of bread, meats and local cheeses. For dinner, simple grilled meats, usually beef, chicken or lamb, are commonly served with potatoes or rice, and locally-grown vegetables and salads. Pies and other pastry-based dishes are also a staple in this region.

If you follow a vegan diet you should expect that the variety of food may be limited whilst on this trip. This diet is relatively uncommon in this region and we cannot guarantee that the hotels, shepherd huts and guesthouses will provide meals that have the necessary variety.

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 or a SteriPEN. 

SteriPENs are widely stocked on Amazon, outdoor shops and other online retailers; look for the latest models but avoid USB charging ones. Better still, a SteriPEN will pay for itself over the course of the trek and you won’t leave behind a single plastic bottle – you will end up spending the same or even less than you would on bottled water, plus you can keep it for future trips.

Weather

In the mountainous, temperatures are mostly elevation dependent. The weather can be unpredictable in the mountains so you should bring appropriate clothing for both sunny and cooler days. Stormy weather cannot be ruled out. Daytime temperatures in the lower valleys will vary between 15ºC and 30ºC. In the summer, the days are generally hot with clear skies and little rain. Temperatures can drop in the evenings. The higher we are, the cooler the temperature.

Weather chart for Kosovo

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 5 (Challenging)

This trek is suitable for keen trekkers who are prepared to put in some physical preparation. For the most part, our walks follow good shepherd trails yet the terrain can be very rocky in parts, winding through high alpine mountains. We will encounter sustained steep ascents/descents (sometimes with gravel slopes) and you should be confident in your ability to deal with heights. Walking hours stated are given as approximates only.

Accommodation is basic. Facilities are limited at the shepherd huts and usually consist of sharing the floor space in a large room (not too dissimilar to a Scottish bothy or a French gite). Rooms at the guesthouses are mixed-sex dormitory style. Our camping night at Jezerce is wild camping and therefore lacks a toilet and washing facilities.

Due to certain areas still being relatively undeveloped, some of these drives will be on windy and quite bumpy roads. Some roads are full of potholes and of a much lower standard to what we are used to in much of Europe. Still, we are always rewarded with spectacular wild scenery throughout.

Luggage is transferred by horses during the trek. Please bring soft bags rather than hard suitcases.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels, guesthouses, shepherd huts and camping

5 nights hotels, 4 nights guesthouses, 3 nights shepherd mountain huts and 1 night camping.

We'll experience wonderful hospitality whilst staying at the shepherd huts and family-run guesthouses. At the huts, all group members share one sleeping space. They are not too dissimilar to a Scottish mountain bothy or a French gite, whereby you sleep on mattresses on the floor. You will need to bring your own sleeping bag for the huts. Facilities are basic but the warm hospitality more than makes up for it. Please note that charging facilities can be limited. At the guesthouses, rooms are welcoming but basic. We stay in dormitory rooms of between 4 and 6 people. It may be necessary for male and female group members to share. Our guesthouse in Tropojë belonged to our local partner's grandfather and has been lovingly renovated into a guesthouse. There are 4 twin rooms and one quadruple room here; all bathrooms are ensuite except for one of the twin rooms where it is separate.

In Valbonë we stay in a charming but somewhat rustic alpine hotel surrounded by some of the highest mountains of the Albanian Alps.

For our camping night at Jezerce, it is two people to a tent. It is full-service camping, whereby dinner is provided and the camp is set up for us ready for our arrival. It is possible to have your own tent if you do not wish to share, but this must be requested in advance. It is wild camping, therefore toilet facilities are non-existent. You'll need to use your own sleeping bag.

Please note that a single supplement is available (hotels only). Single rooms are not available at the shepherd huts or guesthouses. 

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Be the first to post your review! If you have recently returned from an Exodus adventure and want to help other travellers with your feedback then simply use the link below to post your holiday review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 0208 772 3936