Snowshoeing in Kosovo, Albania & Montenegro

8 days
from
£1,349
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Trip code: 
CVO
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Snowshoeing
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Discover unexplored snowshoe routes in the Balkans

The mountains encircling eastern Kosovo, northern Albania and southern Montenegro offer some of the most unexplored snowshoe routes in the Balkans. These borderlands are after all one of the last hidden gems of Europe; it wasn't until the collapse of the socialist republics in the early 1990s that the world got its first glimpse of the Balkans. Inhabited by resilient agricultural communities, farming practices and traditions have been preserved for generations. The rugged landscape remains pristine and wild, which we see as we snowshoe through alpine meadows, rural hamlets and untouched forest. Climbing high to enjoy breathtaking views of Albania's Valbonë Valley, Montenegro's Hajla Peak and Kosovo’s Rugova Valley, these pioneering routes are guaranteed to challenge and amaze the recreational snowshoer.

Highlights

  • Enjoy breathtaking views of Valbonë Valley
  • Discover unexplored snowshoe routes
  • Snowshoe to Hajla Peak in Montenegro

Key information

  • 5 nights hotels, 1 night guesthouse, 1 night mountain hut
  • 6 days of guided snowshoeing
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leaders. Min. age 16 years
  • Travel by private minibus
  • Snowshoes and poles provided

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 4 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights
  • Snowshoes and poles provided

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement

6

Pace:

Approx. 6-7 hours of snowshoeing/walking per day

Terrain:

Some steep ascents

Day by day breakdown
Day 27.0km/4.3miles
Day 313.0km/8.0miles
Day 46.0km/3.7miles
Day 511.0km/6.8miles
Day 613.0km/8.0miles
Day 714.0km/8.7miles

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

    Start Gjakovë, Kosovo.

    Those on the group flight will be transferred from Pristina Airport to Gjakovë (approx. 70km, drive 1.5 hrs).

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Transfer to Valbonë in Albania for a full day of snowshoeing.

    Today we drive to Valbonë (approx. 1.5 hrs) for a full day of snowshoeing in the area. We first start snowshoeing to Kukaj village along the Valbonë riverbed, taking a break near old bunkers built during the communist government of Enver Hoxha, who was convinced that Albania would be invaded at any moment. It has been estimated that approx. 750,000 bunkers were built during this time. We then continue uphill along a road track to a point where we can see Jezerca (2694m). From there we circle back to the village of Kukaj where a warm welcome awaits, with hot mountain tea, homemade cheese and local raki.

    Max altitude 1500m.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Snowshoe towards Gropa e Rragamit; transfer to the village of Tropoje.

    This morning we snowshoe through the forest toward Gropa e Rragamit (Rragam Valley). The route leads us to an area where there is a large lagoon, which is filled with snow during winter. At the end of the walk, we are transferred to the village of Tropoje (drive approx. 1 hr).

    Max. altitude 1620m, with an ascent of 470m.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Drive to Bucaj and snowshoe across the border to the village of Koshare in Kosovo. Drive to Visoki Dečani Monastery, a 14th Century Serbian Orthodox monastery, surrounded by a forest of pine and chestnut trees. Continue to Peja.

    We first drive to the village of Bucaj (approx. 20 mins). From there we start snowshoeing toward the village of Padesh and cross the border into Kosovo, stopping for lunch at the village of Koshare. We then continue with more snowshoeing in the mountains. At the end of our walk, we drive (approx. 30 mins) to Visoki Dečani Monastery, a 14th Century Serbian Orthodox monastery, surrounded by a forest of pine and chestnut trees. Here we can see well-preserved Byzantine frescoes, as well as the monks who live here. We then transfer to Peja.

    Max. altitude 1300m, with an ascent of 750m.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Transfer to Bogë; circular snowshoe walk in the area.

    After breakfast we will transfer to the village of Bogë (approx. 1 hr), where we have a full day of snowshoeing in the area. Bogë is located in between the Rugova Mountains (the third region of the Bjeshket e Nemuna, also known as the Albanian Alps). It is a national park and one of the most beautiful places in Kosovo, where you can enjoy a variety of snow related activities. The climate, mountains, atmosphere and ambience that surround you in Bogë are wonderful. Locals here are well-known for their traditions and hospitality.

    Max. altitude 1300-1400m.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Transfer to Rekë e Allagës; snowshoe across the border to Hajla Peak in Montenegro.

    We first transfer to Rekë e Allagës (approx. 45 min), the start point of today's snowshoe walk. We snowshoe across the border into Montenegro, to a mountain hut located on Hajla at 1900m, where we sleep for the night. Hajla (2403 m) is located on the Montenegro-Kosovo border 

    Max. altitude 1950m.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Snowshoe to Rožaje; explore the city before driving across the border to Peja in Kosovo.

    Today is our last day on snowshoes. We descend Hajla Peak and make our way to Rožaje, in time for a late lunch. Rožaje is a city surrounded by magnificent mountains; Hajla, Mokra gora, Krstac, Zljeb and Turjak. During the winter months, these surrounding peaks are covered with snow and skiing becomes a popular sport. We have a city walking tour, visiting the local museum. We then transfer back to Peja, Kosovo.

    Max. altitude 1950m.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    End Peja.

    Those on the group flight will be transferred to Pristina airport.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info

Visas

Kosovo

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

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.

Vaccinations

Kosovo

There are no specific health risks.

Albania

There are no specific health risks.

Montenegro

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 4 dinners included.

Dairy products, especially milk and yoghurt are present in almost every meal.

Simple grilled meats, usually beef, chicken or lamb, are commonly served with potatoes or rice, as are freshwater fish. Pies and other pastry-based dishes are also a staple.

Weather

In the mountains, temperatures are mostly elevation dependent. Low winter temperatures are caused by the continental air mass that dominates the weather in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, with characteristic northerly and north easterly winds. Whilst winters generally remain mild elsewhere in these countries, in the mountains temperatures regularly drop below freezing during the months from November to March. More precipitation falls in the winter months and January and February are considered the most reliable months for snow cover, especially at elevations of 1000m or above. Due to the mountainous nature of topography, the weather can be unpredictable so you should bring appropriate winter clothing for both sunny and snowy days.

Pristina, Kosovo

Is this trip for you?

This trip is graded level 4 - Moderate/Challenging

Since these borderlands are such a fascinating and untouched part of the Balkans, this winter holiday has been designed with both an active and cultural focus in mind. It would be a shame not to showcase both the rugged natural beauty and unique historic tradition of the region.

Previous experience of snowshoeing is not essential but would be advantageous as this is a moderate to challenging grade trip in a very remote region. You should lead an active lifestyle involving some form of regular exercise, and have a good level of fitness. On snowshoe days we will be walking for up to 6-7 hours a day (including rest breaks and lunch stops).

Mornings usually start with a short transfer. Expect to encounter undulating terrain and possibly deeper snow in parts and be prepared for some traverses and steeper sections of ascent and descent.

Whilst part of its charm, tourism is still in its infancy in this region and facilities and services may not be on par with other European countries. Although the guesthouses/alpine hotels in the mountains are warm and characterful.

As snow cover cannot be guaranteed on any winter holiday, your leader will adapt the itinerary accordingly if conditions dictate this necessary. Usually this means that walks will be offered in place of snowshoeing.

Snowshoe Equipment
Snowshoes are adaptable to fit most trekking boot sizes, however if you wear larger than UK size 12 boots (US13 or EU47) please let us know at the time of booking. We will then be able to confirm if we can provide suitable snowshoes for you.

Accommodation

Hotels, guesthouse and mountain hut

We spend 5 nights in tourist-class hotels, 1 night in a guesthouse, 1 night in a mountain hut.

Our lovely family-run hotel in Gjakovë old town is one of the finest in the region and a stone’s throw away from the bazaar. Full of character and decorated to a high standard, the rooms are equipped with all the mod-cons. The restaurant serves up particularly tasty local fare too.

In Valbonë village accommodation is a little more rustic. We stay in a simple but charming alpine hotel surrounded by mountains and with views of Jezerca (2692m), the highest peak in the Albanian Alps.

The guesthouse in Tropojë belonged to our local partner's grandfather, and has been lovingly converted into a traditional guesthouse. There are 4 twin rooms and one quadruple room; all bathrooms are en suite except for one of the twin rooms where it is separate.

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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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