Snowshoeing in Albania

9 days
from
$1,515 USD
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Traveller ratings
4.8 / 5 from 9 reviews >
Trip code: 
CVA
Way to Travel:
Guided Group Adventure Holidays
Activity:
Snowshoeing
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

Snowshoe amidst the rugged Albanian Alps and experience traditional rural life

This is uncharted territory for recreational snowshoers. The rugged Albanian Alps possess a wild and outstanding natural beauty and the country a captivating history. Ancient blood feuds and folklore mark its past and agricultural life has remained unchanged for centuries. Some say that visiting Albania is as close as you'll get to stepping back in time. 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. After winter snowfall, the remote mountains around Valbonë and the Kosovo border offer some fantastic snowshoe routes passing alpine meadows, rural hamlets, snowy summits and pristine forest. There’s time too for sightseeing in Prizren before heading back to Tirana for our last night.

Highlights

  • The wild landscapes of Valbonë National Park 
  • Rural hamlets, open meadows and pine forest
  • Visit the fascinating cities of Tirana and Prizren
  • Enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals

Key information

  • 7 nights hotel, 1 night guesthouse
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus leaders. Min. age 16 years
  • Travel by private bus
  • 5 days guided snowshoeing
  • Snowshoes and poles provided

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 7 dinners are included
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights
  • Snowshoes and poles provided

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call us on
1 844 227 9087
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.

5

Pace:

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

Terrain:

Some steep ascents

Day by day breakdown
Day 310.0km/6.2miles
Day 48.0km/5.0miles
Day 510.0km/6.2miles
Day 64.0km/2.5miles
Day 720.0km/12.4miles

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

  • Day 1

    Start Tirana.

    The tour starts at our city centre hotel in Tirana. The group flight usually lands at approx. 20:30 so you may wish to have a substantial snack or dinner beforehand. The drive from the airport to the hotel is approx. 30 minutes. A welcome dinner is included this evening for those who wish to eat upon arrival, however it will be quite late so feel free to opt out, or to join for some welcome drinks instead.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Drive northwards via Bajram Curri to picturesque Valbonë in the Albanian Alps.

    We have a fairly early start today as we have a quite a lot of ground to cover to reach our alpine hotel in Valbonë village - located in the heart of the spectacularly wild and rugged Albanian Alps.

    We break up the journey with stops along the way, having lunch in the city of Gjakova and taking a break in Bajram Curri in the foothills of the Alps. The name of the city comes from the national war hero and freedom fighter 'Bajram Curri', who fought against the Ottoman Empire and later against the new Albanian government. A seven metre high statue stands in the town centre in honour of him. After this we wind our way through pretty villages until we reach Valbonë. The Valbonë Valley was declared a National Park in 1996 and is renowned for its outstanding natural beauty and age-old agricultural traditions. We will be based here for the next four nights and have plenty of time to soak up rural life and mountain vistas as we follow a variety of snowshoe routes.

    Approx. 300km driving, 6.5 hours (with stops).
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 3

    Circular snowshoe walk climbing to the village of Kukaj and then descending through wild meadows.

    After breakfast, we put on our snowshoes and begin snowshoeing to the village of Kukaj. We follow the  Valbonë River and take a break near some old bunkers, where we learn about the fortification of Albania during the 1970s and 80s. We then continue along an uphill road track until we reach the village, where we then continue snowshoeing to view the highest peak in the Albanian Alps, Jezerce (2694m above sea level).

    Making our way back to Kukaj village for lunch, we receive a warm welcome from our local host, Tahir, who serves delicious hot mountain tea, homemade cheese and local raki. In the afternoon we make our way back to Valbonë, passing through wild open meadows and farmland.

    Approx. 6-7 hours walking, distance 10km, max. altitude 1300m.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Demanding ascent up the slopes of Grykat e Hapta to 1300m, offering vistas over some of the highest peaks in the region.

    Today is one of the more demanding snowshoe walks of the week. We snowshoe from our hotel and then climb the slopes of Grykat e Hapta Mountain, reaching an elevation of about 1300m. From our highest point, we can enjoy amazing views over the Valbonë Valley and extending as far as Jezerca. We descend back to Valbonë after our picnic lunch.

    This evening will be rife with music and culture as we enjoy a special folklore performance performed by a family who live in a village nearby.

    Please note that if the snow conditions are poor, we will take an alternative route and go snowshoeing in Gropa e Rragamit.

    Approx. 6-7 hours walking, distance 8km, max. altitude 1300m.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Snowshoe walk around Rrogamit Mountain, ending in the alpine village of Rrogam; folklore evening.

    We begin our morning with an explanatory session about snowshoes for first timers. We then set off in the direction of  Valbonë Pass (1815m), gently walking along the riverbed of the Valbonë River as we test our snowshoes. We may pass the occasional shepherd hut en route but besides this we find ourselves among an almost pristine wilderness. From our highest point (1200m) we can look down upon the beautiful alpine village of Rrogam, the last village in the Valbonë Valley and therefore one of the most remote and picturesque. We can enjoy the serenity as we descend through snow-clad pastures to Rrogam, where we enjoy our picnic lunch in a local's house. We then make our way back to Valbonë.

    Approx. 6 hours walking, distance 10km, max. altitude 1200m.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Transfer to Tropojë, enjoying a snowshoe walk through traditional mountain villages en route; optional afternoon walk.

    Our final destination for tonight is the village of Tropojë, the former administrative centre of the district.

    After breakfast we walk along the valley for 30 minutes until we reach the house of our local guide, where we stop for a coffee or raki. After another hour of snowshoeing, we take off our snowshoes and boots and take our minibus to the city of Bajram Curri for lunch. In the afternoon we visit a typical North Albanian turret type house, which belonged to an important Albanian hero called Mic Sokoli, who died as he was fighting against the Ottoman Army. In the afternoon we reach the village of Tropoje, where we stay for the evening. We will take a walk through the village and have coffee with the locals.

    Approx. 3 hours walking, distance 4km, max. altitude 800m. Approx.2 hours driving, distance 40km.
    Basic Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Snowshoe through beech and pine forest to Padesh (1450m); continue to Botushë; short drive to Gjakovë, Kosovo.

    After a short (20 minute) transfer to the village of Buçaj, we follow a snowshoe route uphill for around 2.5 hours until we reach Padesh village (1450m). Set amidst dense beech and pine forest, this village is particularly beautiful in winter time when the trees are dusted with snow. On a clear day, we are rewarded with views over Tropojë Valley and toward the Dukagjini Plains in Kosovo.

    After lunch we continue on our snowshoe walk, crossing the border into Kosovo and pass a number of small hamlets until we reach Koshare village where our walk ends.

    We then drive to Gjakovë (approx. 30-45 minutes drive). Gjakovë is famous for its Ottoman bazaar, which with over 500 stalls is one of the largest in the Balkans. We also have the option to visit the Monastery of Decani en route; a beautiful 14th Century Serbian Orthodox Church where approximately 15 monks are serving there. This is a good opportunity to learn more about the dichotomous view of Kosovo by both the Serbs and Albanian population who live there. The entrance fee is €5 per person.

    Approx. 5 hours walking, max. altitude 1200m, Approx. 1-1.5 hours driving, distance 20km.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Sightseeing visit to the Ottoman city of Prizren; continue to Tirana.

    Our destination for our last night of the holiday is Tirana. We first explore the town of Gjakovë and then we cannot leave Kosovo without visiting Prizren. Prizren is one of the best preserved Ottoman cities in Kosovo and 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’. In Prizren you are free for lunch.

    From Prizren it is approximately a 3.5 hour drive to reach Tirana, where your leader will recommend some restaurants for a farewell dinner, and for those who wish there are plenty of bars to frequent. The main centre of Tirana's night life is in the Blloku neighbourhood, where villas were once occupied by members of The Politburo (former leading sect of the Party of Labour of Albania) but which is now a lively centre full of trendy bars, cafés and fashionable clubs.

    Approx. 5 hours driving, distance 235km.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    End Tirana.

    For those not travelling on the group flights, the tour ends at our hotel in Tirana after breakfast.

    If you have time before you fly home you may wish to take a look around Skanderbeg Square (located approx. 300 metres walk from our hotel). The square is dominated by the façade of the National History Museum, which is adorned with a gigantic mosaic known as, ‘The Albanians’. This is one of the finest examples of late Albanian Socialist Realism in the country, depicting the resilience of the people in their fight against invasion and occupation throughout the centuries. The airport is just a 30 minute drive away from the city of Tirana.

    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.

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.

Kosovo

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 7 dinners are included.

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 yogurt are present in almost every meal, usually locally sourced. Meals are reasonably priced at around GB£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, Elbasani yogurt 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 beer costing around GB£2.20 yet traditional drinks need to be tried as well, Raki and 'Scanderbeg' Cognac, (noted for its unique flavour and aroma). Your leader will recommend restaurants where meals are not included.

Weather

For a relatively small country, Albania has several different climatic regions. In the mountainous north of the country, 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 the country, 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 in the north of the country so you should bring appropriate winter clothing for both sunny and snowy days.

Tirana, Albania

Is this trip for you?

This trip is graded level 4 (Moderate/Challenging). As Albania is such a fascinating country, 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. Besides the arrival and departure days, there are five days of snowshoeing plus two travelling/sightseeing days including time in Kosovo’s cultural capital, Prizren. The snowshoe walks are centred amidst the stunning Albanian Alps and close to the Kosovo border in the remote north of the country. 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 involve roughly a 3 hour ascent, followed by a picnic lunch at a scenic high point before descending along a different route for roughly a further 2-3 hours. 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 Albania 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.

There are some early starts and unavoidable long drives, namely the drive to Valbonë on day two, and the drive back to Tirana on day eight (approx. 6-7 hours). Journeys are broken up with sightseeing and lunch stops wherever possible. Many roads in the country are being resurfaced; however you can expect some bumpy potholed sections as we head into the mountains.

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.

Call us on
1 844 227 9087
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 & Guesthouse

We spend 3 nights in 3-star hotels with en suite facilities, 4 nights in an alpine hotel (en suite) and 1 night in a village guesthouse (one room is quadruple-share, one of the bathrooms is not en suite).

Our centrally located hotel in Tirana is just 300m from Skanderbeg Square, and in Gjakovë we stay in a beautiful hotel close to the bazaar. In Valbonë we stay in a charming but somewhat rustic alpine hotel surrounded by some of the highest mountains of the Albanian Alps. Our guesthouse in Tropojë belonged to our local partner's grandfather and has been lovingly renovated.

A single supplement is available from GBP100 and includes a single room for all nights of the tour except the night in Tropojë (which has twin and quad rooms).

Call us on
1 844 227 9087
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.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call us on
1 844 227 9087
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

  • Reviewed March 2017
    Ross Harding

    Well worth the effort

    The trip is really well organised, and the tour leader is clearly an expert in running this kind of thing. The views experienced during the snow walks are breathtaking, and are definitely worth the sometimes long ascents. Oddly when booking the trip I worried that there may not be enough walking - but I assure you there is! The hotels are all really good - even the 'standard' and 'basic' ones were significantly better than I imagined.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me the end of the final long walk into Kosovo, was quite a thought provoking experience. It's all well and good reading or remembering the news about Kosovo's recent history, but actually being there really brings it home. I think it is important to visit places like this, and they are very welcoming of visitors. On a less sombre note - being in Snow that was in places 2m deep, was for me a first in a lifetime experience!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Without doubt the best group leader I have experienced. Always willing to help, and always working to find ways of making us enjoy the trip even more.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Clothes/Shoes: No need to go nuts on buying super warm clothes (I bought some crazy merino wool base layer trousers, which I never used), the exercise will get you very warm indeed. Most of us spent the first morning stripping off layers as we walked. Obviously have some spare clothes with you each day though in case there is a long stop ( you will definitely get cold once not moving). Don't forget Waterproofs! Even in only gentle falling snow, 5-6 hrs of it will soak anyone not dressed properly. Similarly good walking shoes and gaiters are of course key, as you don't want wet feet! Bag: I'd say make sure you have a decent approx 30L day pack with good straps or clips on (for holding snow shoes). Definitely want a waterproof cover, but bring good interior drybags as well - since the snow shoes may make it hard to get the cover on. We only had one really wet (snow) day, but if I hadn't had all my stuff in dry bags it would have been soaked. Food/Drink: I carried a supply of cereal bars and was very grateful for them, so would recommend doing something similar if you prefer snacking on the go. The hotels supply packed lunches which are good, but designed for the big stop and eat once method. One litre of water got me through most days, but I would probably have felt better if I had a bit more (I was mentally rationing on some of the hot days). If you have a thermos, the hotels will happily stock it up with tea/coffee if you ask.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There was some debate in our group about whether the 'Moderate/Challenging' rating is accurate. So to be clear - there are some long, and indeed occasionally steep, ascents and descents. I certainly was surprised at first by how strenuous the walking & snow shoeing was , but this did not detract from how wonderful it was to experience the heights that we reached. Experienced walkers of any age will have no issue - but this is not a gentle ramble.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Elizabeth Broumley

    The not so accursed mountains - Snowshoeing in Albania

    An excellent trip to a very beautiful and unspoilt part of Europe; stunning landscape, delicious food and very friendly people. The holiday is a good blend of mountain activity and sightseeing enhanced by a very knowledgeable guide with seeming unlimited patience. For people who enjoy the less usual and love being in the mountains this holiday is ideal.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Here's three: After a challenging trek uphill through snow covered forests, coming into a high alpine meadow covered in pristine snow was just breathtaking, an appropriate place to stop for lunch! Visiting the monastery of Decani, the mosque in Gjakovë and Albanian League museum in Prizren all left me with an enhanced view of the history of this part of the Balkans, a history which is far more than a simple tourist attraction, it shapes the current politics of the area in a a way which demands tact and discretion. Can't finish without praise for our local trekking guide's home distilled plum raki, it is the Lagavulin of rakis.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian was excellent; a mountain leader with a very full knowledge of his country's history, culture, ecology, economics and politics. On specialist issues he was willing to defer to local experts and patiently translate their answers for us if necessary. I'm partially deaf, which presents problems for a guide, Dorian dealt with these issues graciously making sure I never felt left out of the group. He worked well with all the group members to ensure that as a group we all worked well together.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't forget the gaiters! Make sure you have any special treats you might want with you - there was no time for shopping (another plus side to the holiday).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you don't want the razzmatazz of winter sports centres, but enjoy a winter challenge then this holiday won't disappoint. The standard of accommodation and facilities was better than the Exodus descriptions had led me to expect. For the snowshoeing we experienced ideal weather which, unfortunately, cannot be guaranteed but in these conditions everything worked very well.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Susan Dalton

    Snowshoeing in Albania

    A very enjoyable snow-shoeing trip to the totally unspoilt Valpone valley surrounded by soaring rocky peaks, combined with interesting walks, travelling and sight-seeing through northern Albania and southern Kosovo.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The mountains and woods are really beautiful, particularly just after a snowfall, as the valley air is so still and the trees are covered in sparkling snow. Visiting the beautiful church at the Monastery of Decani with it's lovely paintings and carvings. Seeing the traditional agriculture and enjoying the local hospitality, music and dance.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian was very interesting and knowledgeable about all aspects of Albania and the Balkans, past and present and took us to see the most significant historical sites in the area. I was inspired to read more about Balkan history to better understand the significance of all we had seen. He was tireless in answering questions, translating other peoples questions and answers and generally ensuring we all enjoyed our trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect to diet as the food is plentiful and very nice and fresh. All the accommodation is excellent, clean and comfortable and much better than we expected. The hotel in the Valpone valley is in a stunning situation so make sure you see the sunset.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Albania was a wonderful surprise with friendly people, a fascinating history and a beautiful landscape.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Irene Neilson

    Good mixture of culture and activity in a historically fascinating country

    Albania is a really interesting country and its people and very welcoming and friendly. This trip combines the activity of a winter sport -snowshoeing- with an opportunity to see some key sights within the country and its neighbour, Kosovo. The combination works well.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Three things:- (a) when the sun came out on the second day and we saw all the beautiful snow capped peaks that surrounded us as we snowshoed through pristine, deep, powder snow (b) the fantastic painted interior of the 14th century Unesco World Heritage Visoki Dečani Monastry, superbly preserved (c) seeing fresh bear tracks in the snow as we trekked on day seven over the border into Kosovo.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian was an enthusiastic and informative guide, very keen that we all enjoyed the trip. He opened up more about the history of Albania and the complex politics of the region as the trip progressed making for some really interesting and informative discussions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather was a bit unkind to us. On the first day snowshoeing we got really drenched. It was very difficult to dry clothing in the hotel as the latter was experiencing some boiler issues and radiators in the rooms were not that warm initially. There is no dedicated drying area. So at least one full change of gear is needed. If you like SealSkinz I'd bring a pair as boots can get wet crossing the river if there is a thaw. Gaiters are really essential - we took to wearing over trousers all the time as well. An umbrella is useful as the rain is vertical!! You don't need to change much money as there is little to spend it on and food/drink is inexpensive. Kosovo is euros. Albania lek. Food is plentiful but vegetarian options are basically limited to salads with eggs or cheese. Snowshoeing is straightforward to learn.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We spent two days in Tirana prior to the trip beginning. Just the right amount of time to see all the main sites and travel out to Bunk'Art (bus to Linze 40 lek) which is the huge bunker that Hoxha built for his parliament on the outskirts of Tirana near the Dajti Cable Car. Bunk'Art is now a historical museum (and Art/Music venue) with interesting photos with captions in English of the history of Albania from the invasion by fascist Italy, through the 2nd World War and the partisan forces, to the rise of communism under Hoxha. There is an app available that allows you to load an audio guide onto your phone when at the ticket office. We found there was enough info without this. The main tourist office is behind Skandenberg Square, beside the Albanian University. We ate at a local cafe just up from Hotel Krupa called Kapricozi. Food was simple but freshly cooked with draught beer.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    Catherine Smith

    Snowshoeing in Albania

    Fascinating country, challenging and exciting snowshoeing, lovely friendly hospitality, off the beaten track and something completely different.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Waking up on the second day of snowshoeing to crystal clear skies and being surrounded by rugged snow clad mountains. It snowed heavily all day on the first day which made for exciting snowshoeing but no views. Valbone is stunningly beautiful, remote and a winter wonderland.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian was a very concientious and caring leader. His local and historical knowledge was excellent, making the trip fascinating culturally as well as physically challenging.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The level 4 awarded for this trip should be noted. Valbone is remote and the snowshoeing was challenging in places, from steep forests to high alpine meadows. Previous experience of walking in snow and mountainous terrain would be recommended. The accommodation was comfortabke and homely, the food all home produced and the local hospitality a real treat. We were invited into locals homes several times for a coffee as we were passing!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you like bring off the beaten track, like to be physically challenged, are interested in other cultures and fancy something a little different then this is the trip for you!
  • Reviewed March 2016
    Jane Byrne

    Snowshoeing in Albania

    Albania in Winter is so beautiful, the Valbone valley is totally unspoilt and the scenery is breathtaking. I have walked here in the Summer but the experience of being high up among the snow fields was truly memorable. As a novice at winter sports I found the snowshoeing a degree harder than walking the same area but absolutely worth the effort. Due to a warm Winter there was no snow at the lower levels but here we walked through woods carpeted with primroses and violets, beautiful in there own right

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top and coming out into the open fields of snow, despite my clumsiness at snowshoeing - an inspiring sight, and then the realisation that the baby trees peeping through the snow were actually the tops of full grown fir trees. The blazing sunset turning the snowy peaks crimson. Mastering a folk dance with the help of a troupe of dancers who were partying in our hotel.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely excellent - Dorien treats everyone as a friend and within a few hours the group is one big happy family. His knowledge of Albania's past, illustrated with personal experience,. is vast and his passion to develop tourism of a responsible nature in Albania is immense. In addition he takes care to help the local people develop their expertise as guides and so increase the opportunities for people in remote rural locations. But above all he ensures that everyone has a really great experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A torch or headtorch is necessary as there can be power cuts in the mountains. My best advice is just to visit Albania while it is still "different".

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Albanian hospitality is an integral part of the people. You will be offered coffee, raki and maybe a snack everywhere you go and the most polite thing to do is to accept. In hotels or restaurants if, like me, you were brought up to clear your plate you may be overwhelmed by the amount of food offered, but it is not rude to leave food so go ahead, accept it and try it.
  • Reviewed February 2016
    Caroline Simmonds

    Snowshoeing in Albania

    Despite the lack of snow (so it was more "hiking in Albania") this was a very good trip - the scenery in the Valbone Valley is spectacular and it was so nice to have sunshine after the wet gloomy weather in the UK!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably the realisation that despite all their historical problems, the Albanians are a genuinely friendly and welcoming people

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorien went the extra mile to ensure we had a good trip

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Remember to take a head torch, as the electricity supply can be a bit erratic (we had power cuts almost every evening!) Also, you really don't need very much Albanian Lek spending money - drinks etc are ridiculously cheap, and you are in Kosovo for some of the time, where they accept euros.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip is in quite a remote and undeveloped area, so be prepared for that.
  • Reviewed March 2015
    David Burrows

    Fascinating mix of scenic, political and cultural

    A fascinating trip combining beautiful mountain scenery but also a unique insight into the cultural and political world of the Balkans.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Eating lunch in the snow-bound village homes of Albanians - copious amounts of food, a very warm welcome and non stop background satellite TV. Entry into the beautifully ornate Orthodox Christian Serb monastery within Muslim Kosovo; still guarded by NATO.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian gave superb insights into the Albanian / Serb enmity and the simmering aftermath of the 1999 Kosovan war.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This certainly isn't purely snowshoeing. Only go if you're also interested in culture and politics.
  • Reviewed February 2015
    Sally Fowler

    Snowshoeing in Albania

    Snowshoeing in Albania was excellent. Blue skies led to some stunning images of snow of the Valbone valley and surrounding mountains. Snowshoeing was good with local information about each area was very informative.Lots of happy people ready to help ensure our holiday was fantastic.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Snowshoeing into Kukaj side valley suddenly brought you into a picture perfect valley followed by a visit to the home of one of the locals with plenty of Racki (Local moonshine!). Snowshoeing up to Albania / Kosovo border was also another fantastic day having lunch in a snowed in hamlet (3 winter inhabitants) across the boarder to be met by 3 smiling happy boarder police "Welcome to Kosovo".

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorien was fantastic he went out of his way to ensure we were having a good time ensuring everyone had all the information they required. He was also amazing about his local knowledge telling us local stories about people and events that had happened in each area. He was also good at getting the local guides to explain their memories / stories.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go to Albania this is a wonderful new area where everyone wants to welcome you and make you holiday a wonderful experience. Cost is cheap with Coke / Beer costing less than £1.

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