About the challenge
The Albanian Alps offer an unspoilt wilderness of magnificent snow-capped peaks, gorges, lakes and dense forests, dotted with tiny stone-built hamlets that have changed little in years.
Our trek takes us to protected Valbona National Park, home of inspiring scenery and adventurous trekking. One of the many highlights is the high Valbona Pass, used for centuries to connect remote valleys lying among the jagged peaks of the dramatic Accursed Mountains.
The appeal of this memorable and rewarding trip is not just the incredible scenery, but the quietness of the trails – you are just as likely to meet local shepherds as other trekkers.
Dates & prices
|Departs||Days||Charity||Availability||Registration fee||Fundraising target||Payment option|
|10 Jun 2017||9||Open challenge||Spaces||£99||+||£2200||Or||£1100||Book now|
|02 Sep 2017||9||Open challenge||Spaces||£99||+||£2200||£1100||Book now|
|09 Jun 2018||9||Open challenge||Spaces||£149||+||£2200||£1100||Book now|
|01 Sep 2018||9||Open challenge||Spaces||£149||+||£2200||£1100||Book now|
Breathtaking and remote mountain panoramas
Trek through alpine meadows and forest to high passes
Follow quiet trails with very few other trekkers
Guesthouse accommodation in traditional mountain villages
Days 1-2: Fly to Tirana; take a boat trip into the mountains along a fjord-like canyon; trek to hamlet
Days 3-4: Trek through alpine pastures with fabulous views of mountains and the Valbona Valley
Days 5-7: Cross Valbona Pass (1860m) to remote villages and waterfalls; hike up Thore Pass to finish. Return to Tirana
Days 8-9: Free time to explore; arrive home day 9
What makes it tough?
Remote mountain trails
Trek up to 7-8 hours per day
Arduous uphill walking
Cross high passes over 1800m
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The tour cost includes flights and transport, accommodation and all meals except two as specified in the itinerary. Any airline taxes are also included in the tour cost. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, with a support crew of local guides and drivers.
It does not include personal travel insurance, tips for local crew, or international departure tax. It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions you may wish to visit. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate adn we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card om case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flight please ask us for a land-only cost.
We stay in local guesthouses in mountain villages. They are wonderfully located and very hospitable, but expect fairly simple facilities. In towns we stay in hotels on a twin-share basis.
All food is included except for meals as specified in the itinerary. The food is plentiful, local in style and very tasty. We drink from natural springs on trek. Please let us know any dietary requirements well in advance.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – Iceland relies on imports for much of its food. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in cities, where you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences. It is usually easy to find something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, cooks and drivers; they are always friendly and approachable. Your local guide knows the local area well and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! See ‘Costs in Iceland’ above for a guideline amount, your leader will let you know if there is any change to this guideline.
Vehicles support us on our trek. They carry all the luggage, food, water and camping equipment as well as providing emergency support. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
Walking terrain varies from wide tracks through valleys and mountain pastures, to narrow, uneven rock or dirt paths on exposed ridges. There are steep ascents and descents, and the exposed nature of the terrain adds to the challenge.
Much of the area we trek through is remote, with little vehicle access, and we recommend you have experience of walking on uneven terrain in exposed mountain environments. This trek is achievable for most people provided they train well in advance. We will supply you with a thorough training guide when you have registered.
Clothing & Equipment
We are trekking through remote terrain and could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions do change quickly in the mountains! Be prepared for strong winds, rain and lovely sunny skies, all in the same day! We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
Temperatures can vary widely, though generally it should be warm and sunny at lower elevations, and will be colder on the higher slopes. Rain and strong winds are always a possibility and it may be blustery. Be prepared for any conditions in the mountains!
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A ten-year passport is essential and must be valid for at least 6 months after entry into Albania.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last 10 years and highly recommend protection against Polio. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through. AITO, our Trade Association, has recognised the work we do in this area and has awarded us 5 stars as a Responsible Tour Operator.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Make your volunteer pledge by going to www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.