Active holidays in Albania, Kosovo
and Montenegro

Discover Albania!
24 pages full of adventures
1
About us
Zbulo developed from our passion
for Albania and its awe-inspiring
natural and cultural treasures.

2
Zbulo!
...is Albanian for “Explore!”
and both our name and
guiding theme.
...is specialized in guided,
self-guided and tai...
4
Index
Northern Albania		

6

Southern Albania		

10

Peaks of the Balkans
Accursed Mountains
Unknonw Alps

Sea to Summits
...
Northern Albania

used, a speciality are spit roasted lamps and wild
river trout.
Many valleys can also be reached with cr...
Highlights of Northern Albania

Shkodra & Skader Lake
Gateway to the Alps

The 2400 year old city got a story to tell, fro...
Peaks of the Balkans
Hiking beyond borders in Albania, Kosovo
and Montenegro

1.	
2.	
3.	
4.	
5.	
6.	
7.	
8.	
9.	
10.	
11....
Accursed Mountains
Cross-border trek in the scenic Alps
✓ Cross the border between Albania and Montenegro on foot
✓ Experi...
Southern Albania
Edith Durham (1909)
Albania is a country within
sight of Italy, which is less known
than the interior of ...
Highlights of Southern Albania

Albanian Riviera
Mountains & the Sea

From the Karaburun peninsula that separates Adriatic...
Sea to Summits
From Alps to Riviera
All of Albania in one tour

✓ Trek old caravan routes through the scenic mountain land...
Nature and Culture in Albania
Heritage walking tour
✓ Walk in Voskopojë to visit monasteries and churches, the forest NP F...
1.	
2.	
3.	
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5.	

Arrival in Tirana
Tirana - Llogara National Park / hiking: 7km / 4h
Palasë - Himarë / kayaking: 12 mi...
Adventure Activity Guide
Cycling & MTB
The Transalpine of the Balkans

As there isn’t much traffic on most secondary roads...
Montenegro
Wild Beauty

Montenegro is as the two other destinations
in this brochure a new addition to the touristic lands...
Highlights of Montenegro

Durmitor & Tara

Dolomites of the Balkans & the emerald River
As a UNESCO protected natural heri...
Grand Mountain Circuit
The 5 most beautiful mountain ranges,
crystal clear lakes and the blue sea

1.	
2.	
3.	
4.	
5.	
6.	...
Trek the Roots
An Montenegrin self-guided Adventure
✓ Hike on forgotten paths through abandoned villages and past old fort...
Kosovo
A newborn Coutry

Kosovo is Europe’s youngest nation in many
respects, it only gained independence in
2008, has the...
Highlights of Kosovo

Bjeshket e Namuna
Accursed Mountains of Kosovo

The mountains served as a retreat area for refugees ...
More Adventures

Jezerca

Highest peak of the Alps

Get ready for the climb to the highest peak of the Accursed Mountains ...
Other Perspectives

Off-Roading
Go get yourself dirty

Albania is criss-crossed by a network of old military tracks and ma...
This catalog…

Discover the

Balkans!

...contains our passion for the destinations we care about, wanderlust to explore m...
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Zbulo! Discover Albania Tours Catalog 2013-14 Active tours catalog of Zbulo! - Discover Albania. Brochure

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Zbulo! Discover Albania Tours Catalog 2013-14
Active tours catalog of Zbulo! - Discover Albania. The brochure contains active tours offers to Tour Operators and Individuals interested in active holidays for Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.

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  • Travel with the experts on the Peaks of the Balkans Trail through Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.
    Zbulo! Discover Albania is member of the steering committee that manages the project and helped to create the trail. We run guided tours for groups and individuals, help independent walkers to obtain border crossing permits and provide ground service for outbound tour operators.
    Trips can range from 7 to 15 days, start and end in each of the three countries and be tailored to your requirements.
    What makes us unique is the extensive knowledge of the region. Benefit from the best choice of stages, trails, accommodation, side trips to summits and cultural sights.
    Zbulo! is Adventure Travel Trade Member, contributes to local projects and has high principles aimed at responsible, sustainable and environment friendly travel. We are looking forward traveling with you.
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Zbulo! Discover Albania Tours Catalog 2013-14 Active tours catalog of Zbulo! - Discover Albania. Brochure

  1. 1. Active holidays in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro Discover Albania! 24 pages full of adventures 1
  2. 2. About us Zbulo developed from our passion for Albania and its awe-inspiring natural and cultural treasures. 2
  3. 3. Zbulo! ...is Albanian for “Explore!” and both our name and guiding theme. ...is specialized in guided, self-guided and tailored walking holidays and trekking trips in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro ...offers activities such as cycling, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, canyoning, climbing, caving, horse riding and paragliding. ...is a small team of passionate outdoor lovers from Germany, Albania, Montenegro, Slovakia and Kosovo. ...is committed to ecofriendly, sustainable and responsible tourism. We have hiked, biked and paddled extensively all over the country and want to share Europe’s last hidden gem with visitors in an ecological, sustainable and responsible way by helping to empower communities and developing mutual understanding among guests and hosts. Find out more about us and what we do on our website. www.zbulo.org 3
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  5. 5. Index Northern Albania 6 Southern Albania 10 Peaks of the Balkans Accursed Mountains Unknonw Alps Sea to Summits Nature and Culture in Albania Cycling the South Multi-Sport Tour 14 Ultimate Adventures Albania Bike the Accursed Mountains Montenegro Grand Mountain Circuit Trek the Roots Custom Tours 16 Kosovo 20 More Adventures 22 5
  6. 6. Northern Albania used, a speciality are spit roasted lamps and wild river trout. Many valleys can also be reached with cross country bicycles and the hospitality and helpfulness of the people in this region invites visitors to go explore by themselves on self-guided trips. Neither the Ottomans nor any other invader was able to pacify this area and exercise governance in the tribal regions where family clans wield their power until today. Back then considered remote, even now roads remain closed for months during winter, with no access to the valleys other than by foot, and lack of electricity throughout the year. Not only the original Catholic faith but many tribal customs were preserved by this isolation. Among those unique customs is the “Men’s Lament”, a characteristic death rite, the tradition of “Sworn Virgins”, women dressing as men to take the role of missing male family members in the patriarchal family system, and also the famous Kanun, the oral customary law code on which both the deadly blood feud but also the incredible hospitality are based. The “lahutar”, a bard, serves as the keeper of the highland clans’ folklore and history which he transforms into epic poetry recited by heart (up to 15.000 verses) and accompanied by traditional instruments like the Cifteli and Lahuta. Geographically the Dinaric Alps form the boundary with Montenegro and Kosovo. They are the prime mountain destination of the country and perfect setting for mule supported village to village treks with dramatic karst land- 6 scapes as their backdrop. High alpine pastures, a riot of colours in spring and full of berries in late summer, dotted with shepherd settlements and their white flock are set among the towering peaks of the so called “Accursed Mountains”. The imposing and hostile looking rocks are interrupted by pristine forests, lush valleys, turquoise rivers, waterfalls and crystal clear glacial lakes. Of course one could travel to Italy or Austria to see the same fantastic mountain landscape but only here brown bear, wolves and lynx still roam the wilderness and livestock is kept by the highlanders in picturesque villages where you will be greeted with true interest and hospitality as one of the few that takes the chance to journey off the beaten track. Visiting Theth in the early 20th century, the british traveller Edith Durham said: In the settlements those travelers find accommodation in traditional guesthouse or shepherd huts and home made meals of local produce are served. Many dishes of the highlands are based on dairy products and corn flour is commonly Guests depart from the Alps with insights in the highlanders lifestyle and the genuine feeling to have visited a unique place in Europe that could vanish within the next years. During communism the region was suppressed, quickly after the fall of the regime an exodus from the mountains took place as poor living conditions prevailed and only farming could provide a livelihood. Since 2007 people return again to their roots since infrastructure started to improve and a modest income can be achieved providing services to visitors. The priority now is to steer the current change process in a sustainable directon, to a future in which natural and cultural heritage is preserved and the local community can benefit from tourism in a long term. “I think no place where human beings live has given me such an impression of majestic isolation from all the world.”
  7. 7. Highlights of Northern Albania Shkodra & Skader Lake Gateway to the Alps The 2400 year old city got a story to tell, from Roman invasions, the Illyrians’ last stand and being the capital of an Ottoman province, to the sufferings of World War one and communist times until its final renaissance in present day time. The historic pedestrian zone, lively oriental bazaar, large castle with attached legend, museums and boutique hotel make it to the perfect base for tours into the Alps. Add on top the setting at the shores of the Balkans biggest lake, lined with traditional villages and a water temperature of 25°C in summer. Koman Reservoir Bus turned Ferry The reservoir was finished in the last days of communism as part of a system of three dams, that produces the lion share of power in a country that relies to 99% on green energy. The narrow flooded gorge with its imposing cliffs provides a unique fjord-like landscape for tranquil boat rides. In ancient times this passage served as a trade route for precious metals from Kosovo, these days a modified Merdeces Setra bus services as a ferry between two of the most important tourism areas of the north Kelmend Land of the Living Past Placed at the western skirts of the Alps and along the border with Montenegro this region is characterized by the deep Cem River Canyon, a karst beauty lined with wild pomegranates, outstanding for the many summer settlements and scenic with rolling glacial shapes on one, karst walls on the other side. An impressive set of waterfalls, unique annual folklore festival called “Miss Mountains” and panoramic location of the village of Lepushe make it a must see and it is easily traveled by bike. Theth & Valbona At the Heart of the Alps Found in the center of the Alps and surrounded by the highest peaks both valleys offer stunning views. Their location and a good network of comfortable guesthouses and first hotels call for longer stays. The drive to Theth alone is worth a trip, a blood feud refuge provides the perfect setting for storytelling and glacials mills near the mystical “Blue Eye”, a frosty kars spring, invite brave swimmers on hot summer days. Valbona is also the only valley with an asphalt road and easiest to access from Kosovo. Tropoja Highlands Unknown eastern Alps Along the border with Kosovo this stretch of radically different landscape is dominated by bare alpine meadows with scattered glacial lakes, shepherd pastures and their huts. A stark contrast is the country’s newest national park, the canyon and deep forest of the Gashi wildlife sanctuary. Note that the area receives the smallest number of visitors and tourism is frankly still in infancy providing a truly authentic pioneering experience. 7
  8. 8. Peaks of the Balkans Hiking beyond borders in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. Arrival – Tirana Tirana - Kruja - Shkodra Shkodra - Nderlysa Nderlysa - Theth Theth – Valbona Valbona – Cerem - Doberdol Doberdol - Mt. Gjeravica - Junik Junik - Decane - Reka e Allages Reka e Allages - Mt. Hajla - Liqenat Liqenat - Babino Polje - Plav Plav - Liqeni i Jezerces - Plav Plav - Grbaja - Lepushe Lepushe - Selca - Virpazar Virpazar - Rijeka - Cetinje Cetinje - Departure Duration: 15-days | Group size: 6-12 Walks: 12x | 3-8h ✓ Accommodation: 6x hotel in double rooms, 5x guesthouse in shared rooms, 1x each in kula (tower building), wooden chalets and basic mountain hut - one overnight in a mountain hut without electricity and shower ✓ Meals: full-board, mostly picnic lunches ✓ Transportation: minibus or 4wd, boat ride, luggage transfer on horses ✓ Other included: entrance fees, multilingual guide X Not included: beverages, souvenirs and tips Season: July to mid-September (mountain spring to berry trails) 12 moderate hikes from 3 to 8h in partly rocky terrain, while carrying daypacks demand good fitness and surefootedness is required. The optional ascent to Mt. Gjeravica passes exposed parts and is of higher difficult, also other hikes can be skipped or shortened. One overnight in a mountain hut without electricity and shower. 8 ✓ Two weeks of trekking with daypacks in the unknown border triangle ✓ Ascend two mountains of Kosovo, highest peak Gjeravica (2656m) and Hajla (2403m) ✓ Experience the people of three countries, their culture, history and cuisine ✓ Visit the glacial lakes below the Alps most imposing mountain Jezerca (2694m) ✓ Enjoy a serene boat ride on Skadar Lake at the end of the journey The Nature, Culture and People of three Nations After traveling three historic cities of Albania the journey enters the Accursed Mountains, where walking through five scenic valleys and several mountain villages, the landscape changes rapidly from forested dells to dramatic gorges and rolling lush meadows to crystal glacial lakes. Scale two Kosovarian peaks and visit a UNESCO world heritage protected monastery with the opportunity to talk to one of the Serbian monks before entering the next country. In Montenegro we start two hikes to the awe-inspiring karst towers that form the heart of the Alps from our base at Lake Plav. Before returning towards the Skadar lake and diving into traditional fisherman’s life our route passes a last shepherds settlement and through the deep Cem Canyon. By the time the journey comes to an end we reflect during a serene boat ride with bird-watching opportunities on the formerly closed borders we have crossed eight times. A new Experience Merely twenty years ago, the whole region had been almost inaccessible to visitors as a military no-go area. Albania was isolated during times of communist dictatorship, Kosovo ravaged by the last of the Balkans’ wars and Montenegro only recently gained its independence. This is what makes this trip a new, unspoilt and authentic experience. Culture and History Next to a vast range of landscapes we visit manifold cultural sights in the capital Tirana, museums in Kruja, the castle of Shkodra, monastery of Decane, tower houses in Kosovo and Plav as well as Cetinje, capital of old Royal Montenegro near Skadar Lake.
  9. 9. Accursed Mountains Cross-border trek in the scenic Alps ✓ Cross the border between Albania and Montenegro on foot ✓ Experience local culture and hospitality first hand ✓ Climb Mt. Arapit (2217m), the Matterhorn of Albania ✓ Luggage transfers on mules Combine the best of the Albanian Alps in a 5-day trekking journey that travels the diverse landscapes of glacial shaped Kelmend, dramatic Grbaja, isolated Theth and awe-inspiring Valbona Valley finishing after a unique boat ride on the picturesque Koman Lake and a cultural visit of Kruja in the capital Tirana. Life in the Alps Staying with the locals offers insights into the rich traditions and customs of the highlanders. Tasty home-cooked meals and hospitality await us. During the trip we meet shepherd families that invite us for cheese, coffee and raki. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Arrival – Shkodër Shkodër – Lepushe Lepushe – Grbaja – Plav Plav – Vusanje – Arapi – Theth Theth - Nderlysa Theth – Valbona Valbona – Kruja – Tirana Tirana - Departure Duration: 8-days | Group size: 6-12 Walking time: 5x | 4-7h per day ✓ Accommodation: 3x hotel in double rooms, 4x guesthouse in shared rooms ✓ Meals: full-board, mostly picnic lunches Transportation: minibus or 4wd, boat ride, luggage transfer on horses ✓ Other included: entrance fees, multilingual guide X Not included: beverages, souvenirs and tips Season: mid-June to mid-September (mountain spring to berry trails) Unknown Alps Discover the Tropoja Highlands ✓ Authentic experiences with homestays and overnights in shepherd huts ✓ Be among the first to discover the least known parts of the Dinaric Alps ✓ Trek with mules between pastures and villages ✓ Feast on vast blueberry fields A journey into the unknown, to the wild hidden highlands of Tropoja and the shepherd families that far away from civilization still live their traditional lifestyle on alpine pastures. A 5-day trek through picturesque landscapes with focus on authentic insights into the life of the Albanians highlanders. Authentic Albania An area that few years ago was one of the most remote corners of Albania, without road access and plagued by violent eruptions after the collapse of a pyramid scheme in 1997. It now becomes one of the most interesting locations to visit, placed in a stunning setting and blessed with overwhelming hospitality of the highlanders. . 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Arrival – Shkodra Shkodra - Koman - Tropoja Tropoja - Sylbica Sylbica - Doberdol Doberdol - Cerem - Valbona Valbona - Theth Theth - Nderlysa Nderlysa - Kruja - Tirana Duration: 8-days | Group size: 6-12 Walks: 5x | 4-8h per day ✓ Accommodation: 2x hotel in double rooms, 3x guesthouse in shared rooms, 1x homestay / shepherds hut / mountain (basic conditions, twice without electricity and shower) ✓ Meals: full-board, mostly picnic lunches ✓ Transportation: minibus or 4wd, boat ride, luggage transfer on horses ✓ Other included: entrance fees, multilingual guide X Not included: beverages, souvenirs and tips Season: July to mid-September (mountain spring to berry trails) 9
  10. 10. Southern Albania Edith Durham (1909) Albania is a country within sight of Italy, which is less known than the interior of America. Not much seems to have changed since Edith Durham traveled as an unaccompanied woman through the Balkans a century ago, at least when it comes to the knowledge about Albania. Images of tattered refugees that pour during the early 90s on rusty overloaded vessels, keen to leave the ports to attempt the crossing to Italy, that at one point lies mere 72km apart, are the one thought that comes to many a mind when confronted with Albania. For those who have visited the country it will be proud hearty people that start their day with espresso and raki (the local liquor often made from grapes), eager to show the beautiful beaches and endless mountains the country has to offer. The well preserved Greek and Roman archaeological sites, gorgeous Byzantine churches, forgotten stone villages, Ottoman old towns, 750.000 concrete bunkers and density of car washes, needed for a perceived million old mercedes that cruise bumpy roads, might leave an impression, too. 10 The real adventure though, starts with a tandem paraglide from the heights of the coastal mountains down to the sea a thousand meter below, a rafting trip through a canyon, shower under waterfalls included, or climb in a 70m canyon by a hidden beach. For those who want to tackle the journey with less adrenaline, why not take in the three UNESCO sites on a leisure cycling tour along windy coastal roads and through mighty canyons, by kayaking to otherwise unreachable coves and along sea caves to the best beaches or with a walking trip through semi-deserted villages with high chance to be invited by villagers to figs and raki, opportunity to borrow a donkey for a ride and later relax in thermal springs? While the north is often famed for its unknown spots, the south is not lacking those. The coastal interior often remains unvisited with many an area only seen by the keenest explorers. If you are looking to be one of the first to leave a footprint, head for the Kurvelesh region. Expect not less than the living past, mountain villages where locals dressed in traditional garb sing in polyphonic style and donkeys are the main mode of transportation across the barren mountains. This doesn’t mean one needs to travel simple, beach hotels and family-run pensions are frequent, restaurants placed at the waterside or overlooking town serve catch of the day and seafood kept in the lagoon behind the next hill. Each day you can encounter a different local speciality: Harapash is similar to porridge and cooked with corn flour and sheep intestines, Qifqi are flavored rice balls, Kackaval a type of yellow aged cheese, Koran a species of trout only found in Lake Ohrid and all of it can be finished with Gliko, a sweet dessert made from different fruits, and a glass of Raki.
  11. 11. Highlights of Southern Albania Albanian Riviera Mountains & the Sea From the Karaburun peninsula that separates Adriatic and Ionian Sea, the mostly rocky coast continues past Corfu to the border with Greece. Long ago the Llogara Pass was climbed by Julius Caesar cursing Pompey, these days it will be sweaty tourist swearing on high temperatures. At one thousand meters the pass is not only a perfect paragliding site but also trailhead for hikes on the peninsula and up to the 2000m high Ceraunian Mountains - only a stone’s throw away from the sea. The list of items is long, secluded sand and pebble beaches, scenic mediterranean stone villages, monasteries and old castles surrounded by olive and citrus groves, the omnipresent bunkers and even an old submarine harbour. Berat and Gjirokaster Museum Cities The two UNESCO protected Ottoman old towns were preserved during communism thanks to their status as museum cities. Gjirokaster is home to a Greek minority, birth place of dictator Enver Hoxha who used the castle as a prison and nobel-prize nominated writer Ismail Kadare that shared his upbringing in one of the multi-story tower houses in the fantastic book “Chronicles in Stone”. Berat is split in three neighborhoods, protected inside the castle on a rock above the Osum River are many orthodox churches and the Onufri icon museum, below Mangalemi, that gives the city the name “City of Thousand Windows”, connected with an Ottoman stone bridge to the Christian neighborhood Gorica. Archaeological sites History revived Romans and Greeks alike settled along the coast of Albania, their traces can be found in present day names but much more vivid in the archaeological sites. Leading the way is UNESCO heritage site Butrint that encompasses a complete Greek colony on a peninsula enclosed by a lagoon. Next is Apollonia, landing site of the Via Egnatia that connected Rome with Constantinople after the Empire split, and followed by less arranged sites of Antigonea, Amantia and Byllis - each in a beautiful natural setting that proves the early settlers need for defense. Ohrid, Prespa and Wetlands Unique habitats High biodiversity distinguishes the three lakes and lagoon around Butrint and in Karavasta national park. All are good bird-watching spots, home to endemic species and either UNESCO or RAMSAR listed sites. The Dalmatian pelican with its 3m wingspan is probably the most impressive visitor but many more in addition to snakes, turtles and other reptiles can be found. In the Prespa Lakes small islands with churches can be visited by boat. At Lake Ohrid the namely called Macedonian city invites for a side-trip. Byzantine and Orthodox heritage Churches & Monasteries Spread across the country are beautiful relicts of the Byzantine Empire dating back to the 13th cent. Fine examples are the St. Mary’s church near Gjirokaster, Ardenica and Leuse. Many are passed on hikes and feature frescoes and carved iconostasis, few remain in use though. A collection of icons is on display in Berat. The most interesting are located near Korce in the village Voskopoja. Once as an important center of the Aromanians it hosted the first press printing press in the Balkans and 24 prosperous churches but was later raided and reduced to a village. 11
  12. 12. Sea to Summits From Alps to Riviera All of Albania in one tour ✓ Trek old caravan routes through the scenic mountain landscape of the Albanian Alps ✓ Sleep in family-run guesthouses and eat homemade Albanian cuisine produced with local ingredients ✓ Walk at the Albanian Riviera where the sea meets 2000m high mountains ✓ Explore historic sites that take you from Roman to Byzantine Empire, Ottoman to Communist era 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. Arrival - Tirana Tirana - Llogara Llogara - Qeparo Qeparo - Saranda Saranda - Gjirokastra Gjirokastra - Përmet Përmet - Berat Berat - Shkodra Shkodra - Ndërlysa Ndërlysa - Theth Theth - Valbona Valbona - Kukaj Valbona - Kruja Departure Duration: 14-days | Group size: 6-20 Walking time: 8x | 2-7h per day Accommodation: 9x hotel in double room, 5x guesthouse in shared rooms ✓ Meals: full-board, mostly picnic lunches Transportation: minibuses, boat ride, luggage transfer on horses ✓ Other included: entrance fees, multilingual guide X Not included: beverages, souvenirs and tips Season: June - mid July, September - end of October 12 This 14-day walking journey covers the whole of Albania. After visiting the vibrant and colorful capital of Tirana start traveling along the azure blue coastline and dive into history at archaeological sites and in Ottoman old towns until your journey ends in the pristine beauty of the Accursed Mountains where traditional lifestyle is still present. From Tirana we travel to Llogara National Park where the Ceraunian Mountains rise 2000m high above the turquoise waters of the Ionian sea. Continue to the secluded beach Gjipe and explore a labyrinth of small footpaths in the semi-deserted hilltop village Qeparo set high above the coast before arriving at the world heritage site Butrint, a Greek colony just across the Strait of Corfu. Albania’s most important archaeological dig is followed by other UNESCO protected sites, walk below slate covered roofs in the cobblestone streets of old Gjirokastra, birthplace of dictator Enver Hoxha and writer Ismail Kadare. Swim nearby Permet in picture perfect scenery at warm thermal springs placed under an Ottoman stone bridge, with snowcovered peaks of the Nemercka range as a backdrop and enjoy the cities famous cuisine. The communists also saved Berat from modernization by declaring it a museum town, the city features more Ottoman architecture and a majestic castle that thrones over the Osum River near the Albanian equivalent of the Throne of God, 2400m high Mt. Tomorr. Heading north we pass Shkodra located at the shore of the biggest lake in the Balkans and foot of the Albanian Alps. Walking on caravan trails we enjoy dramatic alpine scenery and are hosted in family-run guesthouses to experience the highlanders lifestyle first hand. Authentic Albania A country that 20 years ago was one of the most isolated on earth, then thrown in turmoil of violent eruptions after the collapse of a pyramid scheme, it now becomes one of the most interesting and safest locations to visit. Rich in culture, stunning set between sea and mountains and blessed with overwhelming hospitality of the locals it is an unique experience. A complete round-up A journey from Montenegro to Greece, mountains to sea, Gheg to Tosk dialect, Illyrian to Roman and Byzantine sites, spit-roasted lamb to fresh caught fish, Ottoman old towns to vibrant cities where different cultures and religions coexist. This trip reveals the differences and similarities found in such a small but diverse country.
  13. 13. Nature and Culture in Albania Heritage walking tour ✓ Walk in Voskopojë to visit monasteries and churches, the forest NP Fir of Hotova, at the heights of Llogara NP and to cave of Pellumbas ✓ Experience the UNESCO cities Gjirokastra and Berat ✓ Resurrect history at archaeologic sites Butrint and Apollonia ✓ Swim in the turquoise Ionian sea, stroll through stone villages and endless orchards The 10-day walking trip will take you from Lake Ohrid through the mountains at the border with Greece back to the waters of the Ionian Sea, covering the cultural heritage of many civilizations while relating to Albania’s very own peculiarities. The combination of walks in unspoiled nature, visits of main historical sites and swimming opportunities where the mountains reach the sea makes for an unforgettable journey through this multi-faceted country. 1. Rinas - Pogradec 2. Pogradec - Korca 3. Korca - Permet 4. Permet - Gjirokaster 5. Gjirokaster - Qeparo 6. Qeparo - Llogara 7. Llogara - Vlore 8. Vlora - Berat 9. Berat - Tirana 10. Departure Duration: 10-days | Group size: 6-20 Walks: 5x | 2-7h per day ✓ Accommodation: 9x hotel in doubles ✓ Meals: full-board, mostly picnic lunches Transportation: minibus ✓ Other included: entrance fees, multilingual guide X Not included: beverages, souvenirs and tips Season: late March to mid-June, September to mid-November Cycling in Southern Albania An active journey from Ohrid to Berat, passing four world heritage sites ✓ Start your journey cycling along stunning Lake Ohrid ✓ Ride across the scenic highlands surrounded by snow-capped mountains in Korca and Përmet region ✓ Refresh in the sea after dashing along the windy coastal road of the Riviera ✓ Indulge on the regions different dishes, from cevapi to prawn Cycle 9-days from picturesque mountain villages to the sea, through nature and history of Southern Albania’s most scenic corners. People welcome us with warm sincere hospitality and are full of curiosity when encountering visitors on bikes on their door steps. The right challenge for everybody A challenging but rewarding journey suitable for everyone. The support vehicle is always around and allows you to hop on for stretch of driving should you feel tired or want to take a day off. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Arrival in Tirana - Transfer to Ohrid Lake Pogradec - Korçë Korçë - Gërmenjë Gërmenjë - Përmet Përmet - Gjirokastër Gjirokastër - Saranda Saranda - Himarë Transfer from Himarë to Berat Departure to Tirana Airport Duration: 9-days | Group size: 6-15 Bike: 6x | 40-75 per day Distance / Elevation: 375km / 6250m Accommodation: 9x hotel in double rooms ✓ Meals: full-board, mostly picnic lunches ✓ Transportation: minibus or accompanied by support vehicle ✓ Other included: bike rent, entrance fees, multilingual guide X Not included: beverages, souvenirs and tips Season: late April to mid-June, September to mid-November 13
  14. 14. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Arrival in Tirana Tirana - Llogara National Park / hiking: 7km / 4h Palasë - Himarë / kayaking: 12 miles / 19 m Himarë - Qeparo / kayaking: 10 miles / 15km Qeparo - Saranda / cycling: 40km, optional 20-50km Saranda - Gjirokastra / cycling: 35km, opt. 30km Gjirokastra - Përmet / hiking: 11km / 5h Përmet - Berat / 4wd + rafting: 2-3h Berat - Departure 6. 7. 8. 9. Duration: 9-days | Group size: 6-12 ✓ Accommodation: 9x hotel in double rooms ✓ Meals: full-board, mostly picnic lunches ✓ Transportation: minibus, 4wd or accompanied by support vehicle ✓ Other included: bike rent, entrance fees, multilingual guide X Not included: beverages, souvenirs and tips, paragliding flight Season: April - early June, September - mid October (instead of rafting canyoning) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Arrival in Pristina - Peja Peja - Plav Plav - Tamara Tamara - Boga Boga - Theth Theth - Nderlysa Nderlysa - Shkodra Shkodra - Prizren Prizren - Departure Duration: 9-days | Group size: 6-12 Bike: 6x | 10-45km per day (+optional extensions) ✓Accommodation: 4x hotel in double rooms, 4x guesthouse in shared rooms ✓ Meals: full-board, mostly picnic lunches ✓ Transportation: minibus or accompanied by support vehicle ✓ Other included: bike rent, entrance fees, multilingual guide X Not included: beverages, souvenirs and tips Season: June - mid September Six days of moderate cross country cycling on unpaved roads, including one relaxed day that is combined with a walk through the village. 14 Ultimate Adventure Albania! Hike - Bike - Kayak - Raft ✓ Walk in Llogara N.P. which stands more than 1000 m high next to the Ionian Sea ✓ Kayak two days in the Ionian Sea and explore hidden beaches ✓ Cycle along the coast and visit three world heritage sites ✓ Raft the Osumi Canyon passing waterfalls and rapids Experience Albania’s nature and culture on a multi-sport tour. Two days hiking, cycling and kayaking plus another spend rafting. With its variety of mountains, blue sea, narrow river canyons, world heritage sites and traditional villages it is perfect itinerary for an active holiday. (Optional tandem paragliding flight in Llogara possible) Native Adventurists As a sealed off country there wasn’t many, to say almost no, outdoor activities until the 90s. Suddenly left with the opportunity to do what they wanted to do a few enthusiasts started on their own, one of them is Roland Dorozhani. Now a licensed paragliding instructor and plane pilot he broke his leg trying to learn to paraglide by himself after he bought a second hand glider from Italy. Being an Albanian mechanical engineer the assembly of his airplane was completely carried out by himself. Bike the Accursed Mountains Circle on MTB through Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania ✓ Ride across the mountainous border at above 1800m ✓ Combine Lake Hrid, Plav, Skadar and Koman in one journey ✓ Cycle through the Cem Canyon in Kelmend ✓ Visit the three interesting cities Plav, Shkoder and Prizren Following the example of the transnational Peaks of the Balkans trekking route we now work on a similar trail that combines the highlights of all three countries in a round trip for cyclist. Crossing the Alps from East to West, piercing through their heart and returning via a ferry ride to the point of departure takes a week of active riding. A rewarding journey Get to know three nations’ people and culture and be rewarded for your efforts with warm welcomes in guesthouses, hearty meals and stunning views from the bottom of canyons to high mountain passes
  15. 15. Adventure Activity Guide Cycling & MTB The Transalpine of the Balkans As there isn’t much traffic on most secondary roads and drivers considerate when encountering cyclists, the country is with its windy coastal and scenic mountain roads a good but challenging spot for road cycling. Moreover gravel and other unpaved roads zig zag the countryside whereas especially disused military roads in strategic, read scenic, locations, create the perfect conditions for double track cross-country biking. Apart from this single tracks can be found widespread but are seldomly used as there’s very few local cyclists. A route to be highlighted is the East to West crossing of the Accursed Mountains, departing from Kosovo the trail passes through Montenegro and finishes in Albania. Especially the Kelmend Valley and circular route from Shkodra to Theth via Boga, Kiri and Plan Valleys are other gems. Paragliding Fly from Mountain Tops to Seaside Beaches Get off terra firma by setting out on a tandem paragliding flight. Having an average elevation of 708m, twice that of the European norm, the country has many suitable starting points. Fly over the Adriatic sea from Vlore, start at above 1000m from Llogara pass to the beaches of the azure Ionian Sea, enjoy the birds-eye view of the capital Tirana, city Korca or Drinos valley jumping off nearby mountains. Climbing The Balkans largest Big Wall Within one hour’s drive the water reservoir of Tirana is reached. The best site for bouldering and rock-climbing is placed in the beautiful nature setting of the Bovilla Lake. Nearby the capital also more difficult routes can be scaled in the Brari canyon. An outstanding location is the beach of Gjipe and adjacent 70m high canyon, the location is accessed best by foot or from the sea and asks for camping, after a challenging route a refreshing splash comes at the right time. In the Alps one can warm up at a bluff before tackling the highest big wall in the Balkans along the “Raki on Arapi” route. Water sports: Rafting & Kayaking Two Seas and the Balkans four largest Lakes The turquoise waters of the Ionian sea and secluded beaches of the Riviera are backed by old hilltop villages and a 2000m high mountain range with a mixture of cliffs, caves, beaches and coves waiting to be explored by kayak. At the Karaburun peninsula inscriptions of prominent historical figures that date back to the 4th century BC such as of Mark Antony can be found. Wild water kayaking (class II-VI) is also possible on a number of rivers in both North and South. The Vjosa with a snowcapped mountain backogrund and Osumi Canyon, at one point only 1,5m wide, spiked with thundering waterfalls and rock formations, are suitable for rafting in spring (moderate, class II-III) and river walking during the summer. Horse riding Europe’s Wild East In Albania’s rural countryside horses and mules are a common form of transportation and a great way to explore the country, lack of professional equipment remains a hurdle though. The Drinos and Vjosa Valley near the city Gjirokaster in Southern Albania, are a prime destination where long ago historical travelers like Lord Byron left their footsteps in which we follow today. 15
  16. 16. Montenegro Wild Beauty Montenegro is as the two other destinations in this brochure a new addition to the touristic landscape. Formerly a Yugoslav Republic it became independent after a tight referendum in 2006, seemingly unnoticed by the outside world that still often doesn’t offer you to choose Montenegro as county of origin. The tiny surface of this country dubbed by Venetian sailors the “Black Mountains”, is one of the most diverse in Europe and reflected in the highest biodiversity rating of the continent. Surrounded by mountains and deep river canyons that divide it from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo, the border areas attract outdoor enthusiasts to visit for hiking, climbing, mountain biking and rafting. After trekking through Prokletije, enjoying local produce at the wide grassy meadows of Bjelasica, swimming under the high peaks of Durmitor in glacial lakes and rafting on the emerald Tara river it takes only two hours to get to the radically different coast. Jump on the train for one of Europe’s greatest railway journeys, passing from 1000m height to almost sea level along sections with a gradient of 25%, above the world’s tallest railway viaduct and through the incredible scenery of Montenegro’s canyons. With the scenery also changes the mentality and lifestyle of people. Inland karstic plateaus provide pastures for keeping livestock, the cuisine 16 is rich in meat and dairy and Ottoman imprint present. The coast is mediterranean, all about olives, wine and seafood and keeps it ancient connection to the sea. Still many work in the old trade as sailors traveling overseas and influencing their culture on return as it happened hundreds of years ago. Superb beaches and historic cities characterized by Venetian as well as Austro Hungarian architecture await. An extraordinary highlight and example is the Bay of Kotor, often called the southernmost fjord of Europe. A hike along the coastal traverse trail provides the best view of the bay, combines stunning scenery with interesting encounters and allows to explore the sights at the same time. Apart from that the Montenegrin government pursues an agenda to turn the shoreline into an elite tourist destination, paving the way for investment into luxury hotels, restaurants and cruises. Keep also in mind that Dubrovnik is less than 100km away from Kotor, making it easy to integrate both in one trip. Above the bay area Old Royal Montenegro, the only stretch never captured by Ottomans, can be reached by car, bike or on foot. In the former capital Cetinje the atmosphere of past ages is very present and time seems to pass slower. Below the pristine Skadar lake can be navigated to visit small fishermen villages, secluded wineyards and churches or castles placed on rocky islands. When asked to describe a typical Montenegrin experience our resident guide Martin Kmet recounted the following: “After a relaxed day of hiking an accompanying friend invites him on the spur of the moment to his parents house. Approaching the small cottage in a grove along a small gravel road, passing a creek filled with trout, the fragrance of freshly distilled Rakija (plum schnapps) becomes present. Two small people, the parents, await them on the veranda, handshaking, kissing, smiling - like they would be good friends since many years. Modest living conditions, but if guests are expected, they will present everything they have. Sitting under grapevines glasses were filled with their nectar and handed with cheese that tastes like cheese, grilled paprika with garlic follow. Kajmak (fat local cheese) melts on hot fresh made bread, potatoes that smell like the ground they were just digged out are served with Cevapi (ground grilled meat). Their taste tells of the rich food the free roaming animals find on the meadows. After exchanging many a story one wishes each other a good night. The next morning it feels hard to leave the people he encountered for the first time but wished him farewell with a genuine “You are welcome at any time”.
  17. 17. Highlights of Montenegro Durmitor & Tara Dolomites of the Balkans & the emerald River As a UNESCO protected natural heritage site Durmitor is one of the most attractive mountains in the region of former Yugoslavia but still little frequented. Find hidden in dense forests glacial lakes you would not expect to encounter in a Mediterranean country, climb the 2500m high limestone towers and learn about the symbiosis of men and nature at the example case of the traditional and sustainable shepherds lifestyle. Part of the same national park is the deepest canyon of Europe spanned by an iconic bridge and shaped by the emerald waters of the Tara River sometimes dubbed the Montenegrin Colorado. More than 20 rapids and cascades await on the popular three hour rafting trip. Prokletije & Bjelasica Mountains The Soft and the Rugged Prokletije, the Montenegrin part of the Accursed Mountains, is not only more remote and untouched, nature built even higher karst-made skyscrapers that tower over deep glacial formed valleys in which green meadows nourished by springs and mountain creeks host shepherds summer settlements of an ethnically mixed population. Lake Plav is the best base for hikes into the heart of the Alps to one of the many glacial lakes or awe-inspiring valleys. In contrast with it stands the Biogradska Gora national park, one of the oldest protects areas in the world, embedded in the Bjelasica range with soft grassy slopes that rise up to 2000m high. When the nearby town Kolasin was liberated from Ottoman rule in 1878 the locals presented their new king a part of the now more than 500 year old virgin forest centered around a beautiful lake, which was conserved ever since. Bay of Kotor Europe’s southernmost Fjord and its Pearls Even today the origins of the bay often described as a Fjord remain unknown to scientists. A popular theory says it is a submerged river canyon that was formed by glaciers that dropped from the surrounding peaks of Orjen and Lovcen, at heights of 1800m, down into the sea, thus creating this spectacular UNESCO protected setting. Bedded inside are pearls shaped by many civilizations, kingdoms and empires, which looking for a strategic position, built picturesque mediaeval towns like Perast and, jewel in the crown, Kotor. Cetinje & Skadar Lake Old Royal Montenegro The rough terrain and surrounding coastal mountains created a safe location to built the capital of the old kingdom of Montenegro on a 600m high karst plateau in times of Ottoman occupation, making it possible for Cetinje to resist the stronger force’s siege. Visible from the hills, shielded by them and far below is a point of interest for geologists, bird watchers and lovers of fine cuisine and wine alike. The Skadar Lake forms one of largest bird sanctuaries of Europe, home also to the Dalmatian Pelican and due to its mild climate perfect spot for wine production. This is the place for ethno-gastronomic adventures and the biotope best explored on a scenic boat ride or by kayak. Stari Bar & Rumija The Remains of the Glory of Past Times Once a fortified medieval town and important religious, cultural and political center, the city was seriously damaged in Montenegro’s war for independence in 1878 and further destroyed and abandoned after a major earthquake in 1979. What remains within the walls are now thousand years of history in an open air museum that is surrounded by endless citrus and olive groves, among them some of the oldest trees in Europe, aged 2000 years, which (still) provide wealth to the people of Bar. One reason for the city to be founded here was the protection the Rumija range provided. Rising 1600m high it divides Lake Skadar from the Adriatic Sea. In its steep slopes creeks carved gorges where dozens of flowers, including orchids, bloom here in spring and from the top the reflection of the Alps can be viewed in the calm surface of the lake. 17
  18. 18. Grand Mountain Circuit The 5 most beautiful mountain ranges, crystal clear lakes and the blue sea 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. Arrival Podgorica – Plužine Plužine – Žabljak Žabljak (Durmitor) Žabljak – Kolašin Kolašin - Berane Berane – Rožaje (Hajla) Rožaje – Plav Plav Plav Plav – Stavna Stavna (Komovi) Stavna - Virpazar Virpazar – Stari Bar Departure Duration: 14-days Group size: 6-12 ✓ Accommodation: 9 nights in hotels, 3 nights in wooden chalets and cottages with shared facilities, 1 night mountain hut with dormitories and shared toilet ✓ Meals: full-board of local cuisine, mostly with picnic lunches ✓ Transportation: all transfers with minibuses or four wheel drive vehicles, one railway journey, boat ride on Skadar Lake ✓ Other included: entrance fees, local English speaking guide (other on request) X Not included: beverages, souvenirs and tips Season: June - October 18 ✓ Hike the 5 most beautiful mountain ranges of Montenegro ✓ Eat home-made Montenegrin cuisine prepared with local ingredients ✓ Ride on one of the most scenic railway journeys in Europe ✓ Visit medieval cities and dive into past centuries ✓ Explore the Skadar Lake region, famed for its delicious food and biodiversity This 14-day hiking journey covers the most important mountain ranges in the interior of Montenegro, the nature reserve of Skadar Lake and two historical cities. The journey starts in the West at the border with Bosnia & Hercegovina and moves gradually East until we meet the boundaries of Kosovo and Albania. The last part of our journey takes us in the regions of Skadar Lake and to the Adriatic sea, visiting historical cities like Cetinje and Stari Bar on the way. During the round trip the differences of each regions distinct local lifestyle become apparent and we examine traditional peculiarities that are still present. Travel from Podgorica to Plužine for boating on Piva Lake. Hike in Durmitor NP to 2400m high Mt Prutaš for a fantastic ridge walk, drive along most scenic road of the country, meet local shepherds and swim in glacial lakes. Proceed to a bridge across the Tara River and Europe’s deepest canyon. In Bjelasica we walk through 500 year old primeval forest, join the “gjiro” in Berane and stay in a cozy mountain before climbing Hajla (2403m). In Prokletije peek first into Albania until a second hike takes us below the Alps highest mountain Jezerca (2964m) across the border. A short transfer away the climb of one of Komovi’s karst towers (2461m) will be our last hike. On the famous Belgrade - Bar railway we descend down to the Skadar Lake for a boat trip to a remote fishermen’s village. Our journey ends after a visit of royal capital Cetinje at the ruins of the fortified seaside town Bar with dinner in an olive grove but not before optional swim in the Adriatic sea. Montenegro - ski and swim in one day One would not expect that such a small country has so much to offer. While some head for skiing to the mountains others already swim in the Adriatic - only 2 hours driving apart. Still those can be distant from each other, separated by the karstic relief through deep canyons and limestone rocks - also in regards of culture, development and traditions. People in the interior are hikers by nature, relief conditions demand this, on the shore by contrast, the Mediterraneans live in a symbiosis with the sea. A country with growing tourism and much too offer but answered questions of how to make this development sustainable
  19. 19. Trek the Roots An Montenegrin self-guided Adventure ✓ Hike on forgotten paths through abandoned villages and past old fortresses above the Bay of Kotor and in Lovcen NP ✓ Visit of medieval Perast and Kotor, old capital Cetinje and historic towns Rijeka Crnojevica and Stari Bar ✓ Enjoy many opportunities to sample fine Montenegrin kitchen ✓ Relax on a serene boat trip on Skadarwith time for swimming and bird watching An 8-day point to point trekking tour with convenient luggage transfers, tailored for independent walkers, friends and families. Climbing on rarely used paths out of the bay the Venetian cities are left behind and one follows the coastal traverse route to places and monuments of bygone Royal Montenegro. After a boat ride that visits fishermen villages the coastal mountains are crossed again to get back to the Adriatic town of Stari Bar. Holidays at your pace 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Arrival - Perast (Bay of Kotor) Perast - Kotor Kotor - Njegushi Njegushi - Ivanova Korita (Lovcen NP) Ivanova Korita - Ceklin Ceklin - Virpazar Virpazar - Stari Bar Departure Duration: 8-days | Party size: 1-6 Walks: 6x | 2-6h per day ✓ Accommodation: 2x pension / private rooms, 1x wooden cabin / hotel / guesthouse ✓ Meals: 3x bed & breakfast, 4x half-board ✓ Transportation: transfers & luggage transport in cars, two boat trips ✓ Other included: detailed instructions (in English) with topographic maps and GPS records, monitoring during the trip X Not included: entrance fees, several meals, beverages, souvenirs and tips Season: April to June, September to October On this tour you are in charge: You choose the dates, set the pace and decide if the museum will be visited. Even or especially without a guide you will have the possibility to enjoy intimate contact with Montenegrins on your journey, hosts are hand-picked and the itinerary designed to facilitate encounters. Custom Tours Trips tailored with and for you ✓ Complete flexibility, whenever and however you want ✓ Exclusivity for certain itineraries - it is all yours ✓ Be a pioneer and try something no one else attempted before ✓ Always a perfect match You know the requirements of your clients better than we do. With your input we design together the most suitable tour by matching walks and activities, accommodation and restaurants, guides and other experts to your clientele and add on top special encounters that turn it into a unique experience. We love after many an email send, details refined, the tour been published to welcome finally the first group for an exciting new itinerary. FAM Trips Why not come and visit us to see for yourself, get acquainted with the area and be able to answer every questions your customers might have. There are things that are just impossible to explain, that need to be experienced and after all such a trip creates bonds and trust that further a fruitful cooperation in the future. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Start with Albania, Croatia or on Corfu Explore a city or relax in nature How about cycling with stops for swimming Free time to explore by yourself Visit a workshop and learn to use a hand loam Hike to a pasture, milk sheep and stay in a hut Kayak to a fishermen’s village at Skadar Lake Farewell after many unique experiences Arrival airport: Podgorica, Tivat, Dubrovnik (Croatia) Duration: 3-21 days Party size: 1-50 ✓ Accommodation: hotels, pensions, guesthouses, homestays, huts, tents ✓ Meals: full / half-board, B&B, self-catered ✓ Transportation: bus, minibus, 4wd, car, motorbike, bicycle, horse, donkey... ✓ Other included: leaves a lot of open space X Not included: doesn’t have to be Season: Around the year, we would love to have someone for snowshoeing 19
  20. 20. Kosovo A newborn Coutry Kosovo is Europe’s youngest nation in many respects, it only gained independence in 2008, has the youngest population with half of it being younger than 25 years and last but not least it is the newest destination discovered by tourism. The travel sector is one of the brightest perspectives in a country that has an unemployment rate of about 45%, exports mainly scrap metal and which single biggest contributor to GDP are at 20% remittances of the diaspora. That said one third of Kosovars live outside their own country, most flew during the war with Serbia that devastated the country that is now almost completely rebuild. Some started to return, equipped with knowhow, experiences, ideas and the will to change mattes for the better. Locals are eager to show their home to visitors and thus to do away with the negative stereotypes that are attached to Kosovo. 20 Whereas one can assume that Albanians and Kosovars are very similar in mentality, one should not forget what over a century of separation can change. With a Yugoslav passport Kosovars were free to travel and Westerners passed through the country on their way to Greece to avoid under dictatorship isolated Albania. Religion is a more important matter, cuisine influenced by Ottoman kitchen as well as Serbian population and mindset a very different one; still a joint Kosovo and Albania as their ancestors strived for, which was unimaginable for the senior generation, becomes more of a reality for the youth that grow more things in common. The country is landlocked and framed by mountain ranges in the West and South, from there foothills stretch into the basins that dominate the agriculturally rich central region. The northern part around the divided city of Mitrovica is home to the biggest share of Serbian minority of Kosovo. Sights outside the main cities are grouped around the capital Pristina, for example precious metal mines that have already been exploited by Romans, the respective ruins of city of Ulpiana, a spectacular cave filled with stalagmites and stalactites or the historically important Amselfeld where in 14th century the battle between a Serbian lead army and the invading Ottoman forces took place.
  21. 21. Highlights of Kosovo Bjeshket e Namuna Accursed Mountains of Kosovo The mountains served as a retreat area for refugees and fighters of the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) alike. Weapons were smuggled from Albania on ancient trade routes into Kosovo to support the guerrilla war against the Serbian army, while refugee streams poured into the opposite direction into neighboring Montenegro and Kukes which is only city in the world nominated with the Nobel Peace Price for its humanitarian efforts. The mountains are cut by several streams that provide access to the meadows and pastures found on heights above 2000m. They often consist of wooden chalets, a construction style introduced by emigrants who return for summer holidays from Switzerland. Sharr Mountains Dogs, Cheese, Gorani? This range forms the border with Macedonia and to a smaller degree with Albania, too. It can be divided in three parts, the northern section around Mt. Ljuboten and the ski-resort Brezovica, the central section near the culturally important city Prizren and southern extension into Dragash, home to the Gorani minority. While Compared to the Accursed Mountains generally softer in appearance it is with 43 peaks above 2500m not of lesser height, consist of non-porous rocks and dotted with lakes. Sharri forms the largest compact area covered with pastures in Europe, famous for renowned cheeses and as the origins of the livestock guarding dog breed of the Sharplaninec, described as devoted and able to fight or chase off wolves, lynxes and even bears. The Cradle of the Serbian Culture Serbian Orthodox Churches and Monasteries UNESCO nominated and other protected religious sites as Visiko Decani, Gracanica and the Patriarchate of Pec were constructed at the culmination of the Serbian Empire in the 13/14th century. They remain today as a reminder of the Slavic population that was pushed by Ottoman advances and the fallout of the Kosovo conflict to Serbia’s present day position and at the same time constitute its claim on this lands. The monks that remained as protectors throughout the centuries deserve utmost respect and a new generation carries on. Dukagjini / Metohija Heritage Treasure Chest Is the Southern half of Kosovo and was devastated during the Kosovo war with 80% of the buildings being razed. Prizren former Ottoman capital filled with surviving medieval monuments retains its title as cultural capital of the country though. Gjakova’s bazaar was re-erected as well and other buildings of region restored by the Swedish NGO Cultural Heritage without Borders. One project supported the kulas, fortified tower-shaped buildings which began housing B&Bs. They are the perfect base for trips into the mountains and present, bundled with a dinner sitting on the floor around a low Turkish table called Sofra and traditional music, the most authentic way to experience a night in Kosovo. Rugova Canyon Outdoor Destination No 1 The road through the canyon connected Peja with Montenegro 15 years ago but remains closed since the conflict. In its aftermath shelters that resemble spacecrafts were erected in the villages to host returning refugees and can still be found here. A network of hiking and cycling trails between five villages, where visitors are hosted in family run guesthouses, was marked and signposted, climbing routes as well as a via ferrata installed and on top of this caving, rafting and paragliding is being practiced. The canyon is lined by two long stretched mountains above 2400m and included in the official Peaks of the Balkans route. 21
  22. 22. More Adventures Jezerca Highest peak of the Alps Get ready for the climb to the highest peak of the Accursed Mountains on a week long round trip in the main valleys of the Alps. From Theth approach the basecamp and test your skills on Mt. Arapi (2217m). After a night in tents near a shepherds hut on 1900m the summit of Jezerca (2694m) will be raversed. On the other side a second night will be spend in tents near beautiful glacial lakes before the group returns to Valbona Valley. Luggage is transported on mules. Logu i Bjeshkeve Miss Mountains Festival An annual festival is hold on the second weekend of August in Lepushe when the freshly married brides compete in a contest of traditional dresses, dancing and singing for the “Miss Mountain” title. Attend the event on a week long walking journey that takes in first ethnographics museums, provides then insights into the lifestyle and folklore of the the Kelmend region and culminates in the festival itself. Kosovo A Nation Reborn This tour is as much about walking as gaining an understanding about the past and present of Europe’s youngest countries. We examine the origins of the conflict, learn how people coped with it and the country was eventually reborn, an emphasizes is put on the enormous changes that have taken took place since 1999. We also explore what the country has to offer in terms of its rich culture, cuisine, and nature, hiking the Accursed Mountains and Sharri Ranges. Albanian Alps Self guided Our best selling journey of Shkodra, Valbona, Theth and the Koman Lake is now also available as a budget friendly self-guided walking tour. We have picked the best routes and most interesting hosts and send you equipped with a comprehensive “road book”, customized maps, optional GPS unit and language or travel guide books on an unforgettable journey. Luggage transfers are organized and so is everything else for you. Slow Travel Take it easy Most of the tours you find in this catalog are the opposite of slow travel, they showcase destinations and provide a good overview. Of course a journey into Theth and Valbona can also take full two weeks, offering the opportunity to get to know hosts better, relax and acquaint with the area. We know that repacking can be a hassle and offer journeys that use two or three bases from where all hikes start, too. 22
  23. 23. Other Perspectives Off-Roading Go get yourself dirty Albania is criss-crossed by a network of old military tracks and many roads remain unpaved, creating the perfect conditions for off-road drivers. To the present day no exact map exist, nor will any ever be able to keep pace with road construction. This can turn the paradise easily in a tricky labyrinth and the choice of trails is large. If you really want to get off the road our drivers, that successfully participate each year in the Rally Albania, can take you there. Ground Service Lego for your Tour Design Whether you already have a tour in the Balkans that so far merely passes through or even avoids Albania and consider now to add two more days of adventure or you are working in a neighboring destination and want to add that little day trip experience in Kosovo, we are happy to provide seamless ground service or tailor a module that fits your itinerary. Peak Bagging Rough it! From B2B partners there is usually little interest in challenging trailless hikes, when it comes to camping and climbing all those beautiful summits no one else goes to. Only every now and then someone looks for an unique experience, to leave the frequented comfortable trails in the valleys and enter the hostile alpine territory. For those occasions we are on stand-by eager to use the opportunity to scale some of our favorite peaks once more. Volunteerism Giving back Willing to lend a hand and leave more than just footsteps? Such experiences can range from gardening at a family farm or work in a guesthouse to placements in schools, at NGOs or as honorary guides. Computer literacy is low and you can do people a valuable favor by bringing their services online. In most remote villages there is no English nor art teacher. Everyone can contribute something! Outlook for 2014 New Adventures Upcoming! Off season gives us the time to do research, scout and refine ideas. On top of the priority list are community tourism activities with focus on interaction that benefits visitors and locals alike, literature trips in the footsteps of grand travelers like Edith Durham, the Kurvelesh region (hiking Eldorado of the South) and trips that include Macedonia. Stay tuned for new adventures! 23
  24. 24. This catalog… Discover the Balkans! ...contains our passion for the destinations we care about, wanderlust to explore more and desire to guide you to the off the beaten track destinations you don’t want to miss out on. Join us to travel by foot, bicycle or kayak through mountains and across the sea to interesting hosts that offer us their homes and hospitality. We hope to have inspired you. GET IN TOUCH! Zbulo! - Discover Albania Tour Operator and Destination Management Rr. Kajo Karafili Nr 58 Tirana, Albania contact@zbulo.org http://zbulo.org +355 69 67 31 932 24

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