The Trail of Taste: Kosovo – Albania – Montenegro. Albanian Great Escapes 2017

January 23, 2020 || views
A tasteful journey through the beautiful mountain paths of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, recognizing the characteristic cuisine of each area, the forgotten remedies that are being resurfaced and the healthiest foods, most of which produces from nature itself and the rest, from the golden hands of these hospitable and bourgeois inhabitants. This trail is also part of the “Bread, salt and heart” project, realized by Vis Albania and the “Spirit of Kelmend”.

Duration: 7 days
Difficulty: E / EE
Min – Max of participants: 4-16
Recommended period: from June to September. Alpine climate.
Daily average: 6 to 8 hours.:
Total length of trekking: approximately 105 km (walk)
Ascent: about 5,100 meters
Descent: about 5,300 meters
Max/mini altitude reached: Mount of Berizhdol 1979/302 Tamara.
Accommodation: guesthouses 
On-site transfers: bus and off-road.
What to bring: Hiking boots, tennis shoes, windproof jacket, backpack (55-65 L), a water bottle (1L / 1.5L), valid passport for travel abroad.
Logistics and guides: Viaggiare i Balcani, Kosova Outdoor (certified guides D.A.V.) in collaboration with “Fryma e Kelmendit” Consortium

Day 1: Peja (220 km from Tirana, 4 hours), Rugova Valley.
Immediately the environment becomes more and more spectacular and rugged, as you enter into the Rugova Gorge. Accommodation in one of the guesthouses of the “Green Path” network.

Day 2: Reka e Allages – Qafa e Gjonit – Drelaj
H: 6 / Ascent – Descent: +930; -850
Stage dedicated to the discovery of the Rugova Valley, between fir forests and pastures of Mount Hajla, the plateau of Pepaj, and the throats of Koshutani, to go down to the village of Boge, to Osman, a member of the Slow Food convivium. Osman’s family is committed to 360° in the km0 cultivation and breeding.

Day 3: Drelaj – Liqeni Kuqishtes – Jelenk – Babino Polje – Eco-Village.
H: 6 /Ascent – Descent: +1020; -870
An amazing path that immediately meets two crystal mountain lakes, then proceeding to Jelenk. You walk along the Kosovo-Montenegro border, on a long ridge with a 360° view on the mountain massif. Then you descend to the Bivoliak valley that ends in Plav, where the minarets mingle with the Christians bell towers. Accommodation in the Eco-village of Babino Polje.

Day 4: Babino Polje – Grbaja – Lepushë.
H: 7 / Ascent – Descent: +650; -700
Transfer by minibus to Grbaja (1h), where we start to cross the Montenegro-Albania border. Wonderful trail for its environment, nature and typology. Along it you can experience various degrees of elevation and vegetation of an ancient communication valley that connects Montenegro with Albania. The arrival in the valley of Lepushe, the heart that beats in the wild Kelmend. Here you will find the producers of Mishavine, the alpine cheese – Slow Food Presidum. A meeting with the representatives of “Fryma e Kelmendit” consortium, the network that support local production and sustainable tourism in this pristine and uncontaminated area. Accommodation at a producer’s guesthouse.

Day 5: Lepushë – Greben – Lepushë.
H: 7 / Ascent – Descent: +550; -550
Lepushë, with its open green valley between beautiful mountains and its pastures, deserves a dance with us. A circular route that touches all its beauty and its treasures, hidden for centuries and remained unchanged as anywhere else in Europe. We will hide in its forests and hike on the crests of its mountains, visit the huts and get late with the local pastors tasting the fresh Mishavine (the alpine cheese, Slow Food Presidium) and sipping herbal brandies. Accommodation at Mishavine’s producer guesthouse.

Day 6: Lepushë – Berizhdol- Nikç
H: 7 / Ascent – Descent: +660; – 950
Stage dedicated to the overlooking massive of Kelmendi. The hiking path from Lepushë is not difficult. We will arrive mid-day on Mount Berizhdol that overlook the three valleys of Kelmend (Vermosh in north, Lepushe in east and Tamara in south). Long descent to the amazing village of Nikç with its still functioning water mills. Accomodation at guesthouse.

Day 7: Nikç – Kozhnja – Tamara.
H: 3 / Ascent – Descent: +50; – 300
Comfortable walk along the river at the end of the whole trek. We arrive to Tamara, administrative center of Kelmend, and we celebrate with a variety of flavors and local products at the restaurant “Bukë, Kripë dhe Zemër” (Bread, Salt and Heart), supported by the Slow Food network and the Albanian Slow Food Chefs Alliance. Accommodation at guesthouse.