The Best of the Via Dinarica

Start: Tirana Finish: Tirana

Visiting: Tirana, Kruja, Prizren


Duration: 12 Nights

Physical rating: Challenging

Special diets catered: Please inform Exodus of specific dietary requirements

Tour Operator: Exodus

Group size: 5 - 16

Age range: 16 to 99

Tour operated in: English


Prices From: $2475

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Tour Overview

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 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

  • iconTraditional shepherd hospitality
  • iconWild mountain scenery
  • iconCross remote borders
  • iconPicturesque mountain villages

Places You'll See

Cities & Attractions:

Itinerary

Map Image
icon Day 1 : Start Tirana, Albania

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. Our leader will hold a briefing in the morning to discuss the upcoming trip and answer any questions. *Hotel Kruja or similar*

icon Day 2 : Drive to Komani Lake; scenic ferry journey, followed by a walk to Tropoje Village

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

This morning we drive (approx. 4 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*

icon Day 3 : Through Tropoje Valley, following the river to Sylbice

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

We walk up 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*

icon Day 4 : Cross the border into Kosovo; trek through green alpine pastures to Belegu

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Today we cross the border into Kosovo and trek through green alpine pastures to Belegu. We start walking at 1650m, 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 built this hut in the pine forest and plays the cifteli, a traditional musical instrument, so we'll enjoy some folk songs from the area. Max. altitude 2300m. *Belegu Huts*

icon Day 5 : Walk along ridges to the shepherd village of Milisevac

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

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 run by a delightful family. Today’s route takes us off the tourist map and follows trails known by our local guide, we are unlikely to pass fellow trekkers as our paths takes us away from the Peaks of the Balkans trail. The halfway point of today's walk is the remote village of Prilep where we will enjoy local hospitality and have our lunch.  Max. altitude 2018m. *Milishevc hut, *Lojza hut**

icon Day 6 : Trek to Lumbardhi ridge; descend to Rugova Camp Hotel and continue to Reka e Allages

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Today's landscape is truly untouched and wild starting at 1600m we hike up to 2150m over 6km. 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 through forest (sometimes the trail may be muddy) to Rugova Camp Hotel. From here we take a ride in 4x4’s to our guesthouse in Reka e Allages to avoid walking along the tarmac road. Max. altitude 2127m. *Reka e Allages Ariu Guesthouse *

icon Day 7 : To Boge via Mt Hajla (2403m)

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

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 in 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 hotel in Boge. Max. altitude 2123m. *Hotel Magra Austria*

icon Day 8 : Transfer to Kuqishte; trek to Babino Polje, Montenegro

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

We have a 30 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 and lakes. 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 2276m. *Triangle Woodhouse*

icon Day 9 : Trek to Hrid Lake in Prokletije National Park; continue to Plav

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

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. If the weather is good we can enjoy a quick refreshing swim at this tranquil spot. We then continue along a series of hills to Plav. Today’s walk is one of the longest and we cover a variety of terrain. In Plav there is a supermarket so there is an opportunity to purchase snacks and ice-cream.  Max. altitude 2046m. *Hotel Lake View or similar *

icon Day 10 : Transfer to Gradec; trek to Vuthaj via Bor Peak (2106m)

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

We have a beautiful and exciting trek today, as we are going to summit Bor (2106m). This morning we start with a transfer to reach the start point of the trek, we begin driving on a tarmac road before turning off onto a gravel road where it gets progressively bumpier the higher we go. The trail starts in the beech forest and then it opens out into meadows covered in wildflowers. We then climb Bor (a steep ascent), from the top there are stunning panoramic views of the Guisinje Valley, Plav and the surrounding mountains of Kosovo and Albania. The next part of the trek follows a nice path as we gradually descend to the village of Vuthaj. Max. altitude 2106m. *Rosi or Dudushi Guesthouse Vuthaj*

icon Day 11 : Trek to the glacial lakes of Jezerca

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

This morning we will be transported with our luggage by 4x4’s to the Zastan huts. From the old police border office, we climb up to the Jezerca lakes, passing through dense forest. It is important to carry enough water for the day on this day as there are limited water sources along this route. From the lakes, we continue through forest along a trail all the way to Rossi Pass. We then descend into the village of Valbona.  Max. altitude 2000m *Hotel Margjeka or similar*

icon Day 12 : Drive to Prizren and onto Rubik; short afternoon walk. 

Meals: breakfast, dinner

This morning we leave the Valbona Valley and drive into Kosovo, we stop at the Old Town of Prizren. Here we will have a guided tour of the city including The League of Prizren, Sinan Pasha Mosque and the old town centre. After the tour, we will have lunch in Prizren before continuing our drive to the small village of Rubik (approx. 2 hours). Upon arrival in Rubik we will check into our hotel. In the late afternoon, we will take a short walk through the village.  *Eco Hotel Marubi*

icon Day 13 : Drive to Tirana; free afternoon

Meals: breakfast

After breakfast, we transfer back to Tirana. When we arrive in the capital we will have a short orientation tour, the rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore the city. We transfer to the airport late afternoon in time for the group flight in the evening. 

What's Included

  • icon
    All accommodation (please see accommodation section)

  • icon
    Transfer for group flights

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    All breakfasts, 10 lunches and 12 dinners

What's Not Included

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    Visas and vaccinations

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    Travel insurance

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    Single supplement

Food

All breakfasts, 10 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.

Book with Confidence

  • icon
    Low Deposit

    Exodus requires a deposit of 20% to secure a place on this tour, and the final balance is not due till 70 days before departure..

  • icon
    Secure payments

    All payments to TourHub are deposited into an externally regulated Trust account.


Reviews

Read all 16 reviews
Fantastic - and challenging!
This is basically a nine day continuous hike - trekking at least 88 miles over those nine days, up over 8000 metres, and down a lot more. There is ....more This is basically a nine day continuous hike - trekking at least 88 miles over those nine days, up over 8000 metres, and down a lot more.

There is no rest day in the middle.

The speed is fast, with few sitting-down rest stops (just quick water/snack breaks standing up).

Most days involve a fast steep ascent, and 7-8 hours of trekking.

The views of mountains, alpine meadows, and flowers are unbelievable.

There are very few people, as a lot of the route is taken on local tracks.

Highly recommended, but only for the very fit.

; ....less
Really interesting
I really enjoyed this trip, which included some fantastic treks in some of the remoter parts of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. Some of the accommodation was indeed basic (as flagged ....more I really enjoyed this trip, which included some fantastic treks in some of the remoter parts of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.

Some of the accommodation was indeed basic (as flagged up in the brochure) but the welcome from local folk was fantastic.

Some of the food was less varied that I am used to, but it was beautifully prepared - tomatoes, stuffed peppers, locally-made cheeses, very tasty home-made bread, with some more elaborate meals also provided.

The walks - about 8 to 10 miles a day - were mainly along good trails, and taken at a reasonable pace.

The countryside was very lush and pastoral, far less arid than the mountains of the southern Balkans.

Helpful guides, and a very friendly bunch of fellow travellers.

This tour gave us a real taste of a rural way of life that has died out elsewhere in Europe.

; ....less
The Trip of a Lifetime
A Synopsis of this amazing trip. . .After a long drive, a beautiful ferry journey, and a short 2-hour hike on the first day, we hiked every day, 11 days ....more A Synopsis of this amazing trip.

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After a long drive, a beautiful ferry journey, and a short 2-hour hike on the first day, we hiked every day, 11 days without respite; a daily trek of 8-14 miles climbing a total of 32,000 feet.

The stunning views were worth every step; rolling green hills littered with vibrant wildflowers, sometimes dotted with grazing sheep and cows, jagged cliffs and enormous mountain peaks outspreading around us as far as the eye could see.

We had the wilderness to ourselves.

Besides an occasional shepherd or odd hiker (we saw perhaps 10 hikers in 11 days), the mountains were our private domain.

Most nights we stayed in shepherd’s hut or rustic guest houses, and the living conditions were sometimes trying.

The huts had limited electricity, cold water that was delivered directly from the mountain, one toilet, sometimes shower, shared by 17 people, and tight sleeping arrangements on the floor or bunk with separate rooms or buildings for men and women.

Getting clean, sorting belongings for daily living, and dealing with basic needs was an ongoing struggle.

Without proper sanitation, many of us including me and my husband, contracted food borne illnesses.

It was pretty awful and the food was never enjoyable after the days of sickness.

These huts were the shepherd’s family homes and we were invited guests.

Besides cooking for us, they still shouldered their unending work, including the herding and milking of their animals which, in awe and wonder, we watched the procession.

This was the real deal.

Like a step back in time, we experienced a way of life that has endured for centuries.

And here lies the paradox of discomfort: the rough living conditions were the price we paid for the utter joy of hiking in pristine and remote wilderness in almost complete isolation.

True authenticity, by definition, cannot be faked.

One must take the good with the bad.

The Via Dinarica mega trail is still new and the region has a long way to go in their efforts to develop an infrastructure along the way.

We have been blessed to be here in its infancy; it will never be as wild and unique as right now.

; ....less
People, scenery and flowers
A challenging trek surrounded by wild flowers through ever changing scenery meeting very friendly people. A challenging trek surrounded by wild flowers through ever changing scenery meeting very friendly people.

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Great trip!
This was my second Exodus holiday. Totally different to my first but just as enjoyable and memorable with a great group of people and guides!The walks varied in length, ....more This was my second Exodus holiday.

Totally different to my first but just as enjoyable and memorable with a great group of people and guides!The walks varied in length, technicality, altitude and difficulty however the scenery and landscape was beautiful throughout.

Accommodation types varied from hotels to shepherd huts to guesthouses however the hospitality offered in the more remote parts was exceptional.

I do not think there is anywhere else in Europe where I could be eating and sleeping as a tourist in people's actual homes! All food was locally sourced with plenty of Raki on offer!; ....less
Fantastic trip through unspoilt landscapes
A challenging trek through unspoilt mountains with fantastic hospitality from the locals along the way A challenging trek through unspoilt mountains with fantastic hospitality from the locals along the way;
Unspoilt Mountains
A wonderful trek in an unexploited part of the world A wonderful trek in an unexploited part of the world;
Awesome mountain views with hospitality to match
Point to point through the Mountains of Northern Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo. You climb at least one mountain a day, enjoying the view and a packed lunch at ....more Point to point through the Mountains of Northern Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo.

You climb at least one mountain a day, enjoying the view and a packed lunch at the top.

If you crave 'the middle of nowhere' you will love this trek.

; ....less
Solitary hiking in the Balkans
This was a wonderful exploration of the mountains of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro with knowledgable guides who led us across hillsides and on established trails. The meadows were lovely ....more This was a wonderful exploration of the mountains of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro with knowledgable guides who led us across hillsides and on established trails.

The meadows were lovely and the peaks were stunning.

It was hot in Tirana but comfortable in the mountains, with only one afternoon of rain on the trail.

Even in mid-August there weren't many other people hiking or at the guesthouses/alpine huts.

The proprietors were very hospitable, serving traditional meals with locally grown ingredients such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, bread and feta-like cheese.

We had a great group of 16, five couples, all experienced hikers who were friendly, considerate and responsible.

Given the group size, pace differences, and terrain, it was helpful to have two guides, one who led and the other who stayed at the back of the group.

Two members of the group who wanted a rest day were able to catch a ride to the next accommodation with the luggage transport vehicle.

; ....less
Peaks of the Balkans
A challenging trek through unspoilt mountain scenery criss-crossing Albania, Kosovo & Montenegro staying in Mountain Guest huts and the occasional hotel. The local hospitality was tremendous. A challenging trek through unspoilt mountain scenery criss-crossing Albania, Kosovo & Montenegro staying in Mountain Guest huts and the occasional hotel.

The local hospitality was tremendous.

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Dates & Availability

Saturday Aug 07, 2021

Nights

12

Available

8

$2474.79

Saturday Sep 04, 2021

Nights

12

Available

4

$2474.79

Saturday Jun 25, 2022

Nights

12

Available

8

$2572.16

Saturday Jul 09, 2022

Nights

12

Available

8

$2572.16

Saturday Jul 23, 2022

Nights

12

Available

8

$2572.16

Saturday Aug 06, 2022

Nights

12

Available

8

$2572.16

Saturday Sep 03, 2022

Nights

12

Available

8

$2572.16