42°N

ALBANIA & MONTENEGRO

THREE PASSES TRAIL

NEW 2023!

CONQUER THE ACCURSED MOUNTAINS

Porta Arctica’s new Three Passes Trail backpacking tour takes you into the spring of the Dinaric Alps. Here, in the heartland of Balkans, you’ll hike along rugged shepherd’s paths in breathtaking mountain landscapes, enjoy local hospitality and delicacies, admire seas of beautiful flowers and get in touch with the remains of the communist-era Albania. Join us in a unique trip to the mountain wilderness of Albania and Montenegro, to a former no-go area also known as the Accursed Mountains due to its difficult passage.

1,190 €

Participation is ensured by filling in a binding registration form.

BACKPACKING INFORMATION

  • Dates: May 14.–20. 2023 [1 slot left] and May 21.–27. 2023 (Sunday–Saturday)
  • Location: Prokletije National Park, Albania and Montenegro
  • Length: 60 km
  • Duration: 5 days (+ 2 traveling days)
  • Level of difficulty: 3/5
  • Passport: required
  • Visa: depends on your nationality
  • Travel insurance: required
  • Meeting point | Start: Podgorica Airport (TGD), Montenegro (transport) | Vusanje (backpacking)
  • Group size: minimum 6, maximum 8
  • Guides: 2
  • Guiding languages: Finnish, English, German, Swedish

Price: 1,190 € (including VAT)
Payment is due after the tour.

Please read the travel and cancellation policy

INCLUDED IN THE PRICE

  • Transportations Podgorica Airport – Vusanje and Vusanje – Podgorica Airport
  • Accommodation in a local guesthouse in Vusanje (arrival and departure nights) and Theth (third night)
  • Dinners in guesthouses
  • Cooker and fuels
  • 2 certified wilderness guides (male & female)
  • Border crossing permits, official notifications and reports
  • Satellite communication equipment and First aid packages
  • Safety and route plans
  • Compensating the CO2 climate impact of your flights together with the Finnish Taimiteko project (taimiteko.fi)

NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE

  • Flights to Podgorica (Montenegro) and back
  • Possible accommodations in Podgorica
  • Hiking equipment
  • Backpacking food

ABOUT THE TRAIL

Hiking route: The Three Passes Trail leads you through three mountain passes and three valleys in the border mountains of Montenegro and Albania, as the name suggests. The route starts in the picturesque village of Vusanje in Montenegro, where time seems to have stopped somewhere in the middle of the last millennium – cows graze in the courtyards, chickens roost in backyard barns and Balkan style hospitality flourishes. From the starting point, we head through the picturesque Ropojana valley towards the border of Albania, which is marked by the pillar-like border markers and numerous bunkers from the communist era. On the Albanian side, we will visit two isolated Albanian mountain villages (Theth and Valbona). During the hike, we cross three mountain passes located at an altitude of approx. 1,700 to 2,000 meters and enjoy breathtaking mountain sceneries. We’ll camp three nights near the passes high on the mountains and sleep three nights in the guesthouses in the valleys. The route runs in a circle, so on the last day of the hike we’ll cross the border again in the mountains and return back to Vusanje in Montenegro.

Terrain: The route of the Three Passes Trail consists mainly of an old mule trail, but at an altitude of 1,500 meters and higher, we still have to cross large patches of compressed, melting snow. During the hike, we’ll move in grove-like slope forests as well as in open mountain meadows, on rocky slopes and open cliffs. The route is challenging because of its significant differences in height, combined with possibly warm weather.

River crossings: In the valleys, we may have to wade over some streams, so it is worth preparing for crossings with suitable shoes (e.g. crocs), which are also suitable as camp shoes.

Drinking water: Natural waters in the area are mostly drinkable, but the water sources are few. So be prepared to carry drinking water with you. Up in the mountain camps, we may have to melt snow into water.

Day trips: Due to the elevation differences of the route, the nominal length of the day trips is 10…12 km and the total length of the tour is about 60 km.

Ascents/descents: The total cumulative ascent/descent of the the route is approximately 2,500 meters.

Temperature: In May daytime temperature is typically +15…20 °C in the valleys and +10…15 °C higher on the mountains. Nighttime temperature is typically around +10 °C.

Daylight: In May, the length of the day in the area is 15 hours. The sun rises in the morning at 5:00 a.m. and sets at 8:00 p.m.

Insects: There might be some flying insects in campsites on mountains and we recommend taking a mosquito hat/net weighing a few grams with you.

ROUTE PROFILE

ABOUT THE LOCATION

The Three Passes Trail backpacking route is part of the longer Peaks of the Balkans backpacking trail that runs through the border mountains of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. The most beautiful parts of this 190 km long route fall along the circuit of the three passes. The Accursed Mountain (”Prokletije”) is part of the Dinaric Alps, which spread across the Balkans as a 645 km long mountain range. The area is known for its charming mountain villages, hospitable residents, serpentine roads and peaks over 2,500 m high.

A communist-era bunker on the Three Passes Trail route in Albania.

Albania: Albania has been independent since 1912. The country’s most internationally known figure was Enver Hoxha, the leader of the communists who ruled the country after World War II. Hoxha was paranoidly afraid of an attack on the country by the Warsaw Pact or NATO, which is why 700,000… 1,000,000 reinforced concrete bunkers were built on the country’s borders, coasts and inland to repel a possible attack. The highly isolated country was the last European country to abandon communism in the 1990s.

Currency: The currency of Albania is the lek. Currency may not be taken out of the country or brought into the country. The euro is generally accepted as a means of payment, even though it does not have an official status. The currency of Montenegro is the euro.

Climate: Albania’s climate varies from a coastal Mediterranean climate to a mountainous continental climate. On the coast, it rains mostly in winter, while in the mountains, the amount of rain is more evenly distributed over different seasons.

AIR TRAVEL

Participants must arrange their flights to Podgorica Airport (TGD) in Montenegro and back home themselves.
Please be ready for transport at Podgorica Airport by 14:45 on Sunday at the latest. The price of the tour includes transportation from/to the airport before and after the hike as follows:

  • The one-way shuttle to the village of Vusanje (starting point) leaves on Sunday at 15:00 from the front of the airport
  • The return transport arrives at Podgorica Airport on Saturday at 12:00.

SAFETY & GEAR

A safety plan will sent to all participants in advance by e-mail. Please read it carefully.

For the tour all participants need backpacking gear suitable for spring time camping. No climbing equipment is needed.
Note: Trekking poles are a mandatory piece equipment!

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