Kosovo, Albania & Macedonia Explorer

Trip Code: ZMSX

Why we love it

Explore the remote northern reaches of Albania and take one of the world’s best boat trips with a cruise through the mountainous corridors of Lake Koman, Experience daily life in the Valbona Valley with a stay at a local guesthouse. Clink glasses with the locals in the village and hike the rugged valley passes., Sail across the blue waters of Lake Ohrid, one of Europe's oldest lakes. No wonder North Macedonia and Albania share this beautiful attraction – nobody would want to let it go., Kososvo is rich in history and contrasts. Step back in time and learn about the infamous Battle of Kosovo on a day trip to the Field of Blackbirds, before embracing the modern culture thriving in Prishtina, Europe’s youngest capital., Lose yourself in Tirana, the Albanian capital full of a revitalised urban energy, and partake in the local's favourite pastime: drinking coffee and people-watching.

Is this trip right for me?

Weather in this part of Europe can be unpredictable. Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat and drink plenty of water. On the other hand, the weather in the mountains can be cold and wet throughout the year. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.

As accommodation on this trip is twin-share, single travellers will share a room with another traveller of the same sex. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can. However, if you’d prefer not to share, a single room supplement is available at an additional charge. Please ask your travel consultant for more details. Also, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Days 3 and 4 (Guesthouse) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
The price of the single supplement does not include the following nights, where a single room does not form part of the package. In this case you will be matched up with another traveller of the same gender. If a single room becomes available at check-in for these nights, there may be the option for you to upgrade to a single room and pay the surcharge locally for that night.
Please also note that due to the small properties we use in Europe there is only a limited amount of single supplements available per trip departure. If you would like to book a single supplement and enquire about availability please speak to your booking agent for further information.

What to bring/pack

PACKING
On this trip you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb. Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list., https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list, TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light., WATER BOTTLE
Please bring your own water bottle to refill along the way. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided on some of our vehicles and at some of our accommodation. Your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination, if it is you can simply refill with tap water. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day., IMAGES FROM HOME
During our trip, there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos/postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country, etc.

Physical rating

 
2

This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

INCLUDED HIKES
Please note that some of the hikes may be of a higher physical rating compared to the overall trip rating. Your leader will be able to provide you with more details on the included hikes. Please feel free to opt out of the hikes should you prefer to enjoy a more leisurely day.

TOPOGRAPHY
Please be aware that the Balkan Peninsula is quite mountainous, which means steps and slopes are an inherent feature of the landscape. You will have to be able to easily lift your luggage and carry it up and down stairs and inclines. Also, stone streets can become slippery when wet. Some people may find the region's topography very demanding.

Joining your group

Hotel Kruja, Rruga Mine Peza Perballe Komisariatit Nr 3 te Policise, Tirana, ALBANIA, Phone: +355 42238106

Hotel Kruja is situated in the centre of Tirana, a short walk from Skanderbeg Square in the centre of the city. It features air-conditioned rooms, each with ensuite bathrooms, TV and a minibar, and free Wi-Fi throughout the property.

Joining instructions

At Tirana Nene Tereza International Airport (airport code TIA) taxis are readily available. The drive into the city should take between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on traffic. Agree on a price before getting in. Addresses in Tirana don't have house numbers. Instead landmarks are being used to describe the location. In case of Hotel Kruja the address is Rruga Mine Peza perballe Komisariatit Nr 3 te Policise. This translates to Mine Peza Street, opposite Police Station No 3. Please have this description handy when using a taxi. Alternatively the Rinas Express airport bus operates from 6 am to 6 pm as an hourly bus service between the airport and the National Museum on Skanderbeg Square in the centre of Tirana. From Skanderbeg Square it takes about 10 minutes to walk to the hotel. Head west along Rruga e Durrësit, then turn slightly right at Rruga Mine Peza and follow this road. The hotel is on the left hand side after about 500m.

Pre booked arrival transfer from Tirana Airport (TIA): If you have pre booked an arrival transfer your transfer driver will be waiting in the arrivals hall, holding a board with the Intrepid Logo or your name on it. In case of flight cancellations, changes, if you experience severe delays at immigration, baggage collection or customs, or if you are not able to find the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly: +355 69 20 81113.

Finishing your trip

Hotel Kruja, Rruga Mine Peza Perballe Komisariatit Nr 3 te Policise, Tirana, ALBANIA, Phone: +355 42238106

If you are making your own way to Tirana Airport (TIA) the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception. Alternatively the Rinas Express airport bus has hourly departures from behind the National Museum on Skanderbeg Square.

If you have pre booked a departure transfer, you will be collected at the hotel reception 3 hours before your flight departure time. In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you are not able to find the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly: +355 69 20 81113.

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 14

Lunches included: 1

Dinners included: 2

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

VEGETARIANS
Vegetarians might find the menu selection in Europe less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and generally the choices are basic, involving vegetables, soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets may find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for any included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own.

BREAKFASTS
There are some continental breakfasts included on this trip which may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar).

Climate & seasonal information

SUMMER
Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.

SHOULDER SEASON
In contrast, weather in shoulder season can be unpredictable, and snow is not unheard of at higher altitudes. If you travel at the start or towards the end of the European season please pack accordingly with warm and/or waterproof clothes (preferably layers). The advantage of travelling during this time is that there are less tourists around.

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

If you have booked an arrival transfer, and you experience severe delays at immigration, baggage collection or customs, or if you are not able to find to the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly on the number listed in the joining point instructions in the section above.

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below:

Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8677 9186 657

Accommodations

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin share basis (unless noted otherwise in the day-to-day itinerary). Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite.

CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

FACILITIES
Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.

Transportation

PRIVATE VEHICLES
The main mode of transport on this trip are locally sourced private vehicles. Not all have air-conditioning. On some days we will be covering long distances, which will make these days feel longer, however spectacular views and interesting stops along the way make up for it.

PUBLIC BUSES
This trip covers some distances by public buses. Buses in the Balkans can range from high standard coaches with reclining seats and air-conditioning to Yugoslav era vehicles for shorter distances.

ROAD CONDITIONS
Please note that some of the roads in the region are of poor quality, which makes for a bumpy ride in places. The mountainous topography of the region also means that roads are windy. If you suffer from motion sickness you may want to bring along some medication.


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