Walking in Albania Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Albania
Programmes:
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
TVZ
Activity Rating - Moderate
Moderate

You are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.

8 Days Flight Inclusive
8 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

This fascinating, lesser-known Mediterranean country has a pristine, rugged and wild landscape waiting to be discovered. It wasn't until the collapse of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania in 1991 that the world got its first glimpse of the country within. Our trek is focussed in the remote Albanian Alps in the north, where ancient blood feuds and folklore mark its past. We explore the remote regions of Theth and Valbonë on foot, where Agricultural life has remained unchanged for centuries. We then have time to explore the historic towns of Berat and Krujë and delve into the captivating history of this hospitable country.

At a Glance

  • 2 nights guesthouses, 5 nights hotels
  • 3 full day walks; 2 shorter walks
  • Altitude maximum 2090m, average 1250m
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader(s). Min age 16 yrs

Trip Highlights

  • The picturesque regions of Theth and Valbone
  • The 'Lock-in Tower' of Theth
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites 
  • Traditional folklore evening 

Is This Trip for You?

Activity Level: 3 Moderate

This trip focuses on the north and central regions of Albania and is a balance of walking, culture and sightseeing. During the first half of the week, we trek in the remote Albanian Alps in the north. For the second half, we visit the historic towns of Berat and Krujë.

This trek is suitable for the average walker who is prepared to put in some physical preparation. For the most part, our walks follow good trails yet the terrain can be very rocky and slippery in parts, particularly in the Theth and Valbonë regions. We will encounter sustained steep ascents/descents (sometimes with gravel slopes) and you should be confident in your ability to deal with heights.

Over the course of the week, we enjoy five walks of varying length. There are three spectacular full day walks of up to about 7 hours walking per day, and two shorter walks each of roughly 1-3 hours walking (including stops). Walking hours stated are given as approximates only. The remainder of our time is spent sightseeing in Berat and Krujë.

There will be some long drives (approx. 4 hrs in total on Day 6 plus a 2hr boat journey), which are unavoidable in order to see as much as possible. Due to certain areas still being relatively undeveloped, some of the drives will be on windy and quite bumpy roads. Some roads are full of potholes and of a much lower standard to what is mostly expected in Europe. Still, we are always rewarded with spectacular wild scenery throughout. One transfer includes a short off road section, for this journey we use local transport which will likely not have seatbelts.

Luggage is transferred by horses during the trek. Hard suitcases are therefore not suitable. 

Download our Fitness Training Guide for more information on our Activity Levels.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

There will be a local leader, a driver, plus a second support guide and horsemen during the trek (to help with luggage transportation from one village to the next, although their English may not be as good as the leader’s). Our local partner, Dorien, was born and raised in the Albanian Alps and has been walking in the region since he was a child.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Tirana
End City:
Berat

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Tirana

    The tour starts at our centrally located hotel in Tirana, Albania's trendy capital. Those on the group flight arrive at lunch time and will be transferred to the hotel (approx. 30 mins drive).
    Standard Hotel

  • Day 2

    Drive via Shkodër and Rozafa Castle to Theth; short walk around the village

    We have an early start this morning and drive to Shkodër (approx. 2 hrs), where we visit the Castle of Rozafa and the city centre of one of the oldest and most historic places in Albania. We recommend that you also take this opportunity to shop for anything you might want for the next three days (snacks, chocolate etc.) before we head into the more remote regions. Our journey continues into the breathtaking Albanian Alps and Theth National Park (approx. 3 hrs), an area admired for its rich flora and fauna. After checking into our quaint guesthouse in Theth, we set off on a gentle walk through the valley nestled between the wonderful surrounding peaks, gaining an insight into agricultural life as we pass locals going about their day. We continue to the Roman Catholic Church of Theth, built in 1892, which was once used as a health centre during the communist regime. The highlight, however, is a visit to the shutting tower (or lock-in tower) of Theth, known locally as ‘Kulla’. These historic stone ‘lock-in towers’ were used for protection of families that were involved in blood feuds and this is one of the few that remains today.

    Guesthouse

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 2 km / 1 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    50
    Total descent (m):
    50
    Activity (hours):
    1
  • Day 3

    Walk to Grunas waterfall, Nderlyse and the 'Blue Eye of Kapre'

    Theth Valley is predominantly an agricultural region, where age-old farming practices and horse-drawn carts are still used today. We observe rural life as we begin walking to Grunas Waterfall. From here we continue on to Nderlyse where we find a string of natural water pools and a feature known as the ‘Blue Eye of Kapre’. There is an opportunity to swim here, so don't forget your swimming things.

    Guesthouse

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 14 km / 9 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    400
    Total descent (m):
    680
    Activity (hours):
    5
  • Day 4

    Trek over Valbonë Pass to Rragam village; transfer to Valbonë, home of Albanian folk culture

    We walk through some of the wildest scenery into the Tropojë District, known as the home of Albanian folk culture. We firstly ascend through forests and alpine pastures to reach the Valbonë Pass (1800m), from where we take a few moments to enjoy the spectacular views down Valbonë and Theth Valleys. We then follow a trail which brings us alongside the Valbonë River, passing some beautiful waterfalls along the way. We finish at the quaint village of Rragam, where the minibus will wait for us to transport us to our hotel. Expect some rocky mountainous terrain today, particularly as we descend.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 10 km / 6 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    1056
    Total descent (m):
    720
    Activity (hours):
    7
  • Day 5

    Follow a route below Rosi Peak, passing through forest to the 'White Circle'

    Our route today takes us through beech and pine forests down Rosi Peak and leads us onto the 'White Circle', where we enjoy panoramic views of the peaks and valleys of the Albanian Alps. There is the option to either do the full length of the 'White Circle' or walk as far as the ridge of the 'White Circle', then back down the valley. For those who wish to opt out of the 'White Circle' walk, you can instead walk independently in the local area, or head to the slopes to collect some mountain tea. Please note that the total ascent/descent is 1000m if doing the full length.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 15 km / 9 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    1067
    Total descent (m):
    833
    Activity (hours):
    5-7
  • Day 6

    We take a boat on Komani Lake; continue to Kruje

    After breakfast, we drive to Fierza (approx. 1.5 hrs). We then take a boat through the beautiful Komani Lake (which takes approx. 2 hrs). The boat journey allows us to take in the spectacular scenery whilst we wind our way between high cliffs and towering peaks. Three hydroelectric power plants have been built here at the lake, which produces approx. 70% of Albania's electricity. We then drive for another 2.5 hrs to Kruje, the centre of Skanderbeg's resistance to the Ottoman invasion in the 15th century. 

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 3 km / 2 miles
    Activity (hours):
    2
  • Day 7

    Visit the Ethnographic Museum and the King Mosque in Berat

    This morning we travel to Berat. On arrival, we enjoy a guided tour around the old district of Berat, with its pretty white buildings perched on the hill amid pine forests. Our tour includes a visit to the Ethnographic Museum (a 18th-century Ottoman house) and the King Mosque. We walk through the narrow cobbled streets to finally reach Berat Castle on the slopes of Mount Tomorr, where we are rewarded with breathtaking views. Within the castle walls are dwelling houses and the Onufri Museum (Museum of Iconography). There is free time to enjoy the other sites of Berat or to perhaps absorb the relaxed café culture on the promenade. Our hotel is situated in Mangalem, the historic quarter of Berat, where the castle peers down upon the area from its hilltop.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 2 km / 1 miles
    Activity (hours):
    3
  • Day 8

    End Berat

    Those on the group flight will be transferred back to Mother Theresa Airport for their lunchtime flight to London (approx. 2-hour drive to the airport).

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Accommodation

Hotels & Guesthouses

We will spend 2 nights in a mountain guesthouse and 5 nights in 3-star en suite hotels. Ratings should not be compared to Western Europe as there is currently not a regulated system for this in Albania. The guesthouse and hotels are chosen for their character, location and welcoming atmosphere. The hotel and guesthouse in the mountains (Theth and Valbonë) are charming yet rustic. Our two nights in the guesthouse at Theth are in double and triple rooms, with shared bathrooms (triple rooms are not mixed sex, single supplements are not available here).

Additional Accommodation

It is possible to book additional accommodation in Tiranna before and after the tour. For anyone looking to extend their stay additional nights can also be arranged in Berat. Please contact your sales consultant if you wish to extend your trip.  

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £145.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 4 dinners included.

Three of these lunches are packed lunches. In the itinerary, we state which meals are included on each day.

Under the leadership of Enver Hoxha (the communist leader of Albania from 1944-1985), Albania became a self-sustaining country due to its isolation to the world. However, due to the lush fertile valleys, fresh mountain springs and Mediterranean climate, they are still very much a subsistence culture and show very little signs of changing. In the countryside expect your food to have been reared/grown not too far from your plate.

Food in Albania is quite varied thanks to the many influences on the country and particularly Mediterranean combining both Turkish and European tastes. Dairy products, especially milk and yoghurt are present in almost every meal, usually locally sourced. Meals are reasonably priced at around GBP£3-5 per dish for traditional dishes such as baked rice, casseroles, stuffed aubergine and Jani Meat (beef or lamb sautéed with onions, garlic and spices). Fresh fish is also plentiful, from the sea or lakes and is an important ingredient in many dishes. Dishes that must be sampled are Tirana stew, Elbasan yoghurt and baked phyllo pie. For dessert, there are the classic cookies and puddings but most importantly the Baklava is very popular. Drinks are reasonably priced with a bottle of local beer costing around £1 yet traditional drinks need to be tried as well, Raki and ‘Scanderbeg’ Cognac for example (noted for its unique flavour and aroma).

Your leader will recommend restaurants for each evening. Vegetarians are well-catered for in Albania as long as the hotels are advised in advance - please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. 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 and restaurants will provide meals that have the necessary variety.

Transportation

For this trip, we use private buses. One transfer includes a short off road section, for this journey we use local transport which will likely not have seatbelts.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Albania generally experiences a Mediterranean climate with summer temperatures at 25ºC on average in the day, and the warmest months are July and August where temperatures can rise to 30ºC and above. It becomes cooler further inland towards Korca during these months, especially in the evenings with high temperatures around 25ºC. There is always the small chance of rain in the mountains yet we aim not to travel in the coldest and wettest months, which is November to January. Berat also experiences a Mediterranean climate but thanks to its location in the shadow of Mt Tomorr, summers are much warmer than expected for the Mediterranean.

Weather Charts

Tirana, Albania

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 8 days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of British Airways or Austrian Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 8 days starting in Tirana and ending in Berat

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Tirana in the evening of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it. 

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight ‐ please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

Location start:
Tirana
Location end:
Berat

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Small rucksack (20 litres for water bottle, camera etc)

Lightweight walking boots (with good tread and ankle support)

Water bottle

Sandals or comfortable shoes for the sightseeing days

Lightweight waterproof jacket and wind stopper

Warm jumper or fleece for evenings

Sunscreen, sun-hat, sunglasses

Please note: Luggage is transferred by horses during the trek. Hard suitcases are therefore not suitable. 

Environmental Considerations

We believe in reducing our negative environmental impacts wherever possible, this goes for when you need to spend a penny in the great outdoors! If no facilities are available there may come a time when you need to go to the loo behind a tree/bush/rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind we recommend taking biodegradable dog poo/sandwich bags with you. Once you have done your business you can pop the used toilet roll in here and take it off the mountain or trail at the end of the day and dispose of it when there are appropriate facilities available.

Optional Equipment

Walking poles

Swimwear

Towel

Exodus Kitbag

If you book this trip, we provide an Exodus kitbag to pack your luggage in whilst on trek. Once you have booked you will be sent instructions on how to claim your free bag (they will not be sent out automatically). There are also details on how to claim for another item from the Exodus shop should you already have one of these. If you book via an agent, it is at the agent’s discretion and you should speak directly to them to arrange delivery. Please note that if you book less than three weeks before the departure date we cannot guarantee that your kitbag will arrive before your trip starts, so if this is the case please contact us on [email protected] to let us know. For full T&Cs see www.exodus.co.uk/kitbags.

Reading List

Huber Verlag Hiking maps (created with Albanian Association of Climbers), which cover the National Parks we travel to in the Albanian Alps.
Vermoshi - Tamare - Razma - Thethi (1:50,000 - Sheet 1).
Tropoja - B. Curri - Valbona (1:50,000 - Sheet 2).
If you are interested in any of these books then you can order them from our very own Exodus shop, 'Exodus Travel Essentials' in partnership with Amazon.

The most accurate maps are Huber Verlag Hiking maps (created with Albanian Association of Climbers), which cover the National Parks we travel to in the Albanian Alps.
Vermoshi - Tamare - Razma - Thethi (1:50,000 - Sheet 1).
Tropoja - B. Curri - Valbona (1:50,000 - Sheet 2).  
If you are interested in any of these books then you can order them from our very own Exodus shop, 'Exodus Travel Essentials' in partnership with Amazon.

Practical Information

Visa

Albania

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

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Ticks are known to be present in this region and can carry Lyme disease, Tick-Borne Encephalitis and other diseases. Please take care to protect yourself. You can read more about ticks here.

Vaccination

Albania

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Albania's Timezone:
Europe/Tirane CEST (GMT +02:00)

Electricity

Albania's Electricity:

European plug ‐ 2 round pins. 230 Volts AC.

Money

Albania's Currency

The national currency of Albania is the Albanian Lek (ALL), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (June 2020)  of approximately 136 to the GBP, 109 to the USD, 80 to the CAD, 123 to the EUR, 76 to the AUD and 71 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

We recommend that you do not bring travellers cheques. It is best to use a mixture of Sterling cash, Euros and ATMs. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in shops for larger purchases. Albania has a good network of cash machines which can be used to get advances in Lek. Many shops and restaurants in the main cities also accept Euros.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

There are no restrictions on the import of Albanian currency, though local exchange rates are invariably better than those in the UK. The exchange does fluctuate considerably, so it is best to check just before departure. We recommend that you change a small amount of money on arrival at Tirana Airport for water, snacks and drinks as otherwise, you may not get the chance to change money until you reach Shkoder the following day. If you allow £80-100 for lunches and evening meals, excluding drinks this should be plenty. Approx. drink prices in restaurants: beer, water, soft drinks £1-1.50, bottle of wine £6-11.

Allow £15 for entrance fees to other historical sites mentioned as optional against the itinerary and extra for souvenirs etc.

Entrance to National Historic Museum, Tirana, €2 per person.

Tipping

Tipping of leaders is entirely at your own discretion. Our local leaders are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus, however, if you wish to show your appreciation a tip of around £2-£3 (US$3-4.50) per person per day would be appreciated. By definition, gratuities are not something that can be included in the tour price.

Responsible Tourism

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… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.