hidden valley albania mountain panorama
hidden valley albania mountain panorama

Hidden Valley Trek

54 km
8 days | 7 nights
Mar Apr May Jun Sep Oct
price from
€ 846
CO2 footprint
307 Kg/person
  1. Albania
  2.  | 
  3. Hiking Tours
  4.  | 
  5. Tourcode ALSWHVT

Europe’s last wild river, Vjosa, winds its way across southern Albania. This journey sees one of the most impressive mountain-framed valleys one of its branches, the Zagoria River, has formed.

Trek from doorstep to doorstep through remote, idyllic villages where time stands still. Panoramas of flower-covered meadows circled by snow-capped peaks unfold in spring, the sweet harvest time awaits in autumn. Follow in the footsteps of caravan travel, cross historical Ottoman stone bridges, visit the well-preserved orthodox churches, and marvel at medieval frescoes. Bathe in a waterfall and the healing waters of thermal pools.

Experience history and tradition that come to life inside the finest mansions of the City of Stone Gjirokastra and conclude the journey in the dynamic capital city Tirana. 



Day 1

Welcome to Albania!

Welcome to Albania!

Welcome to the Balkans! Thestaff meets you in town or at Tirana Airport (TIA) to hand over materials (road book, maps, GPS & SIM card), walk you through the trip and answer all your questions. Depending on your booking, you're either taken to the bus station for public transport towards the overnight location or depart on a private transfer, directly to the doorstep. Driving yourself, this can also be accommodated. The transfer into Southern Albania takes up to four hours, it leads past the coastal plain's colorful produce stands and along the mountain-backed Vjosa River to the outskirts of Tepelena. There, a bold bridge is followed by a narrow road that meanders into the small village Peshtan, right at the starting point of the hike and by a cozy, family-run guesthouse. The hostess Mirela is a hiker and explorer of the area, and the proud owner of an impressive collection of relics from the wars that unfolded in the mountains over the last century. Time to relax and enjoy her delicious cooking and home-made wine, tomorrow you start walking the beautiful Zagoria Valley.

Day 2

From Peshtan to Limar, 11 km

From Peshtan to Limar, 11 km

The trek starts at the doorstep of the valley. Zagoria is not yet visible - Dhembeli, Nemercka, Lunxheria and Bureto, four mountain ranges, encompass and shield it from the outside world. Only an almost forgotten caravan route leads inside this hidden place. Through open woodland, the route ascends to a pass that reveals the full extent of the valley, out of which mountains rise on both sides. Over terraced fields, the path leads to the almost deserted village Kala, where only three inhabitants remain, and then down to the river. It's crossed via one of Ali Pasha’s impressive Ottoman stone bridges and climbing up to Limar, remains of the cobbled caravan path are visible. The views of the distinct Mt Strakavec (1.958 m), remote feeling and vernacular stone architecture of Limar leave a lasting impression. A stroll through the village reveals its whole extent. and you can learn more about life here from your hosts. Overnight in the teacher's house, who takes care of the 2 pupils who remain in school regardless of the seclusion.

Distance: 11 km

Altitude difference: +750 / -425m

Day 3

From Limar to Hoshteve, 14,5 km

From Limar to Hoshteve, 14,5 km

Only footpaths connect the villages en route to the next overnight location, where your luggage is transported by horse. Passing several hamlets gives you the opportunity to experience rural lifestyle, meet locals and admire the mountain splendor above as well as the Zagoria River below, where the cooling Doshnica Waterfall awaits. Depending on the river level, you can continue along the stream or backtrack into the village and over grassy meadows before the reascent to Hoshteve marks the final stage. Animal husbandry, beekeeping and the collection of medical herbs have been the only sources of meager income, triggering mass emigration to Greece. The hosts lived and worked there too for 17 years, then returned to spend their golden years and open a B&B in their home village. They're a good example of the returning diaspora, equipped with new skill sets and savings to invest. Don't miss out on the Church of the Holy Apostles, a fine example of Orthodox heritage and one of the best preserved in the country.

Distance: 14,5 km

Altitude difference: +725 / -575 m

Day 4

From Hoshteve to Sheper, 12,5 km

From Hoshteve to Sheper, 12,5 km

Today’s shorter and easier route with views of Mt. Cajupi (2.145 m) allows for a relaxed, yet rewarding walking day. The villages Vithuq, Koncka, Nivan, and Sheper are connected by roads, their influence is manifested in newer buildings that serve as weekend and retirement houses. Nivan served as the center of the commune - remains of military installations and storage depots are visible, while its central square is dedicated to William Tilman. Described as “the 20th Century's last true explorer", Tilman was a famed British mountaineer and sailor who, during WW2, fought based out of Zagoria with the resistance against German occupation. Only once more, the trail takes you down to the river, the old monastery, and (on an optional detour) to the last of Ali Pasha’s stone bridges. After a shortcut across meadows you reach Sheper, where many ex-nomadic, Aromanian shepherds were forced to settle during communism. Time can be spent with the family or exploring the village, in particular the neglected museum and buildings adorned with weathered Marx and Lenin quotes. This will be the last village overnight. 

Distance: 12,5 km

Altitude difference: +600 / -550 m

Day 5

From Sheper to Permet, 10 km

From Sheper to Permet, 10 km

The crossing of the Dhembel-Nemercke Range is the last stage of the trek through the secluded valley, leading back into the outside world. As the drive around takes almost as long as the walk across, the challenging route remains in use by locals to this day. Enver Hoxha's bunkers still protect the entrance to a crack that climbs with fabulous views of Mt. Cajupi (2.145 m) to the top of the mountain. Shepherds come from as far as Konispol, the southernmost point of Albania, to these summer pastures. It isn't uncommon for flocks to travel two weeks to reach the fertile meadows. The alpine valley is bare of trees and flanked by steep slopes, the Dhembel Pass (1450 m) sits at its end and offers views of the Eastern Mountains, across into Greece and to the city of Permet far below. The long rocky descent requires attention and leads into Leuse, another stone village with an imposing, fresco-covered church - perhaps the most beautiful in Southern Albania? From here it's only a short walk to the centrally located hotel. After a long day, you can put up the tired leg and look forward to the city’s cuisine, wines and raki.

Distance: 10 km

Altitude difference: +125 / -1250 m

Day 6

From Permet to Gjirokaster, 6 km

From Permet to Gjirokaster, 6 km

The scenery alone is worth the 45 min drive to today's trailhead. Below, the turquoise waters of Vjosa have dug deep into the rock, above the river towers the rugged Mt. Nemercka (2.485 m). From afar, the sheer, 650 m high wall of Southern Albania's second highest summit looks impressive, but only a walk along water channels towards the Sopot Waterfall at the wall's base reveals its full extent. Returning from the hike, another unique nature gem at the nearby entrance of the Langarica Canyon waits to surprise. The warm thermal pools of Benje are said to have a healing effect on many ailments. They are a welcome treatment after the last days of hiking. Soak and relax in their sulfuric waters or explore the river canyon on foot. From here it takes a good 90 min to transfer to Gjirokaster, where you will stay at one of the vernacular mansions of Ottoman architecture in the old town. Start exploring the streets of the "City of Stone'' and absorb the atmosphere in one of the many small cafes, tomorrow there's time for more. 

Distance: 6 km

Altitude difference: +350 / -350 m

Day 7

Gjirokastra and the modern Tirana

Gjirokastra and the modern Tirana

Famed for its intricate Ottoman mansions, it's also known as the birthplace of dictator Enver Hoxha and Albania's Nobel-nominated writer Ismail Kadare. Protected by the status of "Museum Town", Gjirokaster survived socialist modernization campaigns and is today inscribed in the World Heritage List. Get lost in a maze of narrow, cobbled streets, visit the ethnographic museum in Hoxha’s birth house and climb to the towering castle above. Inside the walls, oddities like an American “spy plane” sit on display, the city museum enlightens with unique insights and the views from the iconic clock tower over the Drino Valley remind of the trekking days. One can easily spend more days walking through the neighborhoods or visiting nearby sites. Butrint, the Blue Eye (a karst spring) and beaches of the Albanian Riviera are also less than two hours driving from here. A private transfer or public transport takes you to the centrally located hotel in Tirana (up to 4 h), the modern capital that wants to be everything but Albanian. Visit the Skanderbeg Square and trendy "Blloku" district to watch the city come to life at night.

Day 8

Farewell Albania!

Farewell Albania!

Time permitting, Tirana invites you to explore its streets and sights on a stroll. Sip an espresso in one of the charming bars, observe the busy morning flow and select special treats as edible souvenirs at the lively “New Bazaar”. Interested to learn more about the communist past? “Bunkart 2” and “The House of Leaves” provide insights and are only a 5 min walk away from Tirana’s main "Skanderbeg Square". Your multi-faceted journey in Albania ends with a 40 min transfer to the airport. Thank you for joining our adventure, we hope to see you again in the country of warm hospitality, countless mountains and sun-kissed beaches. 


Is this for me?

Hiking routes on the Hidden Valley Trek are often narrow and uneven, sometimes they're also steep and rocky - especially the descent from the Dhembel Pass. Because the marking is not on par with the quality of the Central Europeans Alps and some trails are not very frequented, we provide a GPS unit to resolve unclear situations. While all trails are wide enough to be used by pack horses loaded with luggage and pose no objective danger, there some minor and usually very short 5m stretches crossing Ottoman bridges and near the river that people suffering from vertigo my perceive as subjectively "intimidating".


What is included

  • 7 Nights in double room in ** hotels, guesthouses with breakfast
  • 4 lunches
  • 4 dinners
  • luggage transportation from hotel to hotel (max 15 kg per person) - only backpacks or duffelbags
  • transfers as described in the day by day program, including the airport transfer
  • maps and detailed description of the itinerary in digital form, app
  • Medical and luggage travel insurance
  • 24h phone assistance

What is not included 

  • Transfers to the starting location and from the arriving location of the tour
  • lunches and dinners, if not otherwise stated
  • visits and entrance fees - tips
  • personal expense
  • possible sojourn taxes
  • everything that is not mentioned in the "What is included" section.

Optional Services

These services can be added to the ones included in the base price of the tour:

  • Single room supplement
  • cancellation insurance


We work with 3* hotels, B&Bs and farmhouses that reflect our way of experiencing travel: they are comfortable and characterful structures, which we choose one by one, managed by passionate and welcoming people.

Unless otherwise specified in the travel listing, all provide private en-suite rooms with breakfast included.


Mani Damani - Limar

+355 69 261 7660

Sotir Kristiani - Hoshteve

+355 68 549 6130

Edmond Duli - Sheper
Hotel Alvero - Permet

 +355 68 208 1334 


Hotel Kodra - Gjirokaster

 +355 69 406 1662 


Vila 60 - Tirana

+355 69 558 1022 


When to travel

The Spring and autumn weather is mild. On altitudes from 400 to 1.450 meters the weather rarely harsh and the walks mostly inside the protected valley. The long season is interrupted by a summer too hot for most walkers. To beat the heat, you may start early and take a long lunch time siesta near the river.

What to bring

Clothing and other items
You will need your regular walking/cycling gear, including some sort of reflective garment. For the evenings, smart outdoor style trousers (or shorts) are invaluable, as are quick-dry t-shirts. These can be washed easily and will dry overnight and still look good for sightseeing or having a drink in town.

Take as little as possible to avoid potentially lugging a heavy suitcase up three flights of stairs at the end of the day. Please be aware that laundromats (“Laverie”) are not common in rural areas, so plan to do handwashing of small items.

Lightweight walking shoes/ trainers
For wearing around towns & villages. They can also be a back-up pair.

Socks & underwear
Take only good quality socks with quick-dry and insulating qualities. Road test them before you go on the trip. Take a suitable quantity of underwear as washing facilities are limited.

Warm jacket, hat, gloves
Bring a fleece, Polartec or warm layers for the evenings especially in spring or autumn; be sure it is totally suitable for your needs.
A fleece jacket which blocks the wind (Wind-stopper) is the most preferable. In the summer months a lightweight jacket is suitable for evenings.
If you are cycling/walking in mountainous or coastal areas, even in the height of summer, the weather can change very quickly and unexpectedly and you should be prepared for fog, mist, rain, snow or hail at any time. Always take an extra layer with you, as well as a warm hat and gloves.

Waterproof jacket & trousers
If you are caught in heavy rain, with good waterproof clothing you should remain dry. Remember that most garments will lose their properties over time. Few will remain waterproof for more than five years and many deteriorate in three years or less. We recommend a rain jacket with a good hood and collar and waterproof or thermal walking/cycling trousers or tights.

Dress code
In general, you should wear suitable clothing when entering a church (in many places, it is considered unacceptable to go inside wearing shorts or a tank-top). We suggest that women carry a shawl to cover up bear shoulders or low-cut tops. It also comes in handy when your shoulders get sunburned!

It is considered inappropriate for men to go without a shirt / T-shirt (other than at the beach).

Trekking poles (adjustable)
Highly recommended. A pair works best, depending on what you are comfortable with. If you suffer from back or knee pain this should be considered essential. Remember to practise walking with your pole(s) on different types of terrain in the months preceding your trip.

Walking boots
The importance of good footwear cannot be stressed enough. Your boots should be sturdy and of good enough quality to handle all types of terrain. Lightweight boots, (cordura/leather boots) which have Gore-Tex or sympatex water-proofing are most suitable for this trip. They should provide good ankle protection and be well broken in. Waxing leather boots regularly prolongs their life.

Walking tops & trousers
We recommend walking trousers and shorts and quick-dry wicking t-shirts. These can be washed easily and will dry overnight and still look good for sightseeing or having a drink in town. Wicking T-shirts are fast drying, keep moisture away from your skin and are available at outdoor stores. You should also bring one pair of loose-fitting trousers to wear in cities and for evenings out, etc. Shorts or zip-off trousers are useful in warmer weather.

Practical info

How to arrive

Airport to fly into and from is Tirana. The airport transfer to the first accommodation is included in the price.

Mobile App

Use the SloWays APP for iOS and Android smart phones in combination with the written documentation provided.

The App has the detailed tracks and maps that you can use offline and without roaming. Thanks to the phone’s internal GPS, you can check your exact position on the map, so you always know exactly where you are. It also helps you self-navigate you way while travelling. More information on how to use the App inside the roadbook documents.

The navigation features include:

  • Offline navigation. Mobile data not required after initial download
  • Accurate GPS tracks
  • Autorotation of the maps
  • Daily route summary and elevation chart
  • Panorama of the track and at street level
  • Alarm and vibration that alerts you in case you go off track.
  • Emergency SMS button with position coordinates
  • Possibility to record and take georeferenced photos of problems on route alerting fellow travelers
  • Hotel information
  • Points of interest along the way
  • Historical background

Wanderlust Nominee Best Specialist Tour Operator 2023
Nominee Best Specialist Tour Operator 2023
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Borgo Allegri 16R
50122 Firenze FI
P. IVA 05227330486

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