Looking to hot-foot off on your own independent hill adventures? Then put your annual leave to better use in 2019 and acquire and develop your expedition skills.
For those who want to learn expedition skills that will help them plan and execute their own independent travel, this adventure to the Balkans does just that. Spend 10 days exploring the Sar Mountains of Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo during this unique cultural opportunity while gaining practical knowledge in the field in a world-class hiking destination.
- Develop skills in a real world environment
- Learn from highly qualified expedition leaders
- Trek long-distance trails that are truly epic in scale
- Summit Mt Korab (2764m), the highest peak of Albania and Macedonia.
You will trek the newest section of the High Scardus Trail. This hike is 495 kilometres and crosses the borders of Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania. There are long and challenging days that are self-supported and which provide training for larger independent trips. This is a hugely rewarding adventure for anyone with a taste for connecting with nature and solo travel.
During your trek, you will learn first aid, negotiate river crossings, learn leadership skills, cross high passes, summit a mountain, and more. If you have a good level of general fitness, you should be able to enjoy the challenges of this trip. No previous experience is necessary but the operators do suggest you train for long distance walks if you can.
Enquire to day to save your spot this fantastic Balkans expedition.
Why We Love This Adventure
- Learn expedition skills highly-qualified and experienced outdoor experts
- Great location for dramatic, unspoilt mountain scenery
- Take on long challenging trail days in one of the premier hiking regions of the Balkans Peninsula
The High Scardus Trail
The team will be trekking some of the best stages of the High Scardus Trail, connecting them with the newest section of the Via Dinarica – the 1930km mega-trail connecting the countries of the Western Balkans. Extending towards Mt. Korab, the highest peak of Albania and the Republic of Macedonia (one of only two summits in Europe to form the highest point for more than one country), these highlands are home to Albania’s highest peaks.
With more than 40 mountains reaching above 2,500 meters, the diverse landscapes of the Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia borders provides a great setting to learn and develop expedition skills. Expect dramatic, unspoilt mountain scenery, authentic homemade organic food and a country rich in contrasts as you take on long challenging trail days in one of the premier hiking regions of the Balkans Peninsula renowned for its population of brown bears, wolves, foxes and roe deer.
The High Scardus Trail crosses the borders between Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo to bridge cultures and promote cross-border discovery. Romans dubbed the range Scardus, which translates as colourful – symbolic perhaps of the mix of landscapes, cultures and ethnicities of this cross-border region which persist to the modern day. Taking in an array of lifestyles from the urban bustle of Albania’s capital, Tirana, to the bucolic pastureland of Macedonia where the team will be hosted by local shepherds with traditions unchanged from thousands of years, this expedition will provide an insight into the dynamics of the local area and some of the challenges faced by all countries along this winding border.
All teammates fly into the international airport of Tirana. Once at the nominated team hotel you will meet your expedition leader and instructor before driving out of town towards the trailhead.
Heading off from the small town of Bulqize, there will be a short morning transfer to the trail-head before the trekking begins. Although this expedition will be horse supported for the most part, there are several days planned for self-sufficient trekking to provide a more varied expedition experience and prepare the team for future trips. The pace will be reasonably slow.
Evenings will be a mixture of sleeping in twin share tents in wild camps to hone your camping skills and experiencing the local culture in small mountain homestays.
After coming to the end of the trek, a bus will be on hand to take you back to Tirana to hot showers and a celebratory team meal.
- Professional expedition leader with full medical and communications kits.
- Local guide and support team including pack horses.
- Structured learning objectives and training equipment.
- All accommodation throughout.
- Group camping equipment including tents.
- All meals and soft drinks from arrival lunch on the 18 May to breakfast on the 27 May.
- All transport as outlined in itinerary.
- Special permits and permissions within Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo.
What's Not included
- International flights/ travel to and from the start and end points.
- Travel insurance (obligatory).
- Visas if required.
- Tips to local guides (discretionary).
- Alcohol unless provided by hosts with meals.
- Personal equipment (full kit list in the Handbook).
- Any accommodation, travel or activities outside of the stated itinerary.
Trip Duration10 days
Start LocationTirana, Albania
End LocationTirana, Albania
Average Group Size12
There will be a mixture of sleeping in twin share tents in wild camps and experiencing the local culture in small mountain homestays.
Vegetarian ration packs are available and most homestays are very accommodating for different dietary needs providing we can let them know in advance. Outline all dietary and allergy requirements on your Application Form.
This Trip is Suitable For
This expedition is achievable by anyone with a healthy lifestyle and a good level of general fitness. Teammates should be willing to be part of a team working together to achieve the goal of the expedition. For those less used to challenging expeditions, the biggest challenge on this Adventure Academy expedition in the Balkans is likely to be carrying enough equipment and food to be self-supported for several days and trekking for multiple days in a row. Teammates who arrive without meeting the agreed minimum fitness requirements can jeopardise themselves and the expedition’s goal so do take training seriously, prepare as appropriate and arrive fit and ready to go.
No previous experience of mountainous conditions is necessary to join this expedition, but team members would benefit from trekking or hill-walking practice and being used to carrying 10 – 20kg for multiple days. This expedition will teach mountain and expedition skills on the assumption that team members have no previous knowledge and will provide a platform for those with previous hill walking experience to further develop their skills in a challenging expedition environment. Teammates must be comfortable with the following.
Minimum fitness requirements
- Trek: up to a maximum distance of 18km per day.
- Daily activity: up to nine hours per day for seven consecutive days.
- Carry: up to 20kg per person (although this will often be less due to horse support).
- Terrain: varied and uneven underfoot. Expect some steep, loose and mountainous terrain.
- Altitude: up to 2764m on Mt Korab.
- Climate: exposed conditions with temperatures ranging from +25C to 0C with wind-chill.
- Swim: comfortable practising river crossings.
The aim of this Adventure Academy expedition is to learn and practice expedition skills in the world-class hiking destination of the Šar Mountains. Equipping you with the skills, knowledge and practical experience in the field, this is your chance to take your independent adventures to the next level.
Immersed in the region’s unique and distinctive landscape, this Adventure Academy expedition will use a framework of set training objectives – although this content does not lead to a certified qualification, it has been developed specifically for the trip agent based loosely on the Joint Services Summer Mountaineering Foundation, and the Mountain Training Mountain Skills Course with an emphasis on multi-day expeditions.
To give you the skills you need to be competent, confident and safe in expedition environments and on your own trekking adventures, lessons will take the form of open discussions and practical demonstrations. Dependent on the skill and confidence level of the team and what the individuals hope to achieve from the trek, the training objectives below may be varied but these offer guidance of what to expect on this expedition.
Introductory Training Objectives
- Hill and mountain skills.
- Route planning, logistics, transport and budgeting.
- Risk assessments, both formalised and dynamic.
- Kit and equipment selection and care.
- Navigational exercises, use of compass, walking on bearings, timing and pacing.
- Using navigational aids such as GPS and smartphones with apps such as ViewRanger.
- Health & hygiene on expedition.
- Wilderness first aid.
- Tropical illnesses such as malaria and prevention.
- Moving on steep terrain.
- River crossing techniques.
- Camp-craft including different types of tent, correctly setting them up and the safe use of stoves.
- Team management and leadership styles.
- Mountain weather systems.
- Geology and geography.
- How to mitigate human impact on mountain environments.
Dates & Availability
- 18 May 2019 – 27 May 2019
When it comes to getting off the beaten track these guys can’t be beaten. They lead pioneering expeditions to some of the most remote regions on earth. The organisers are dedicated to creating imaginative experiences for adventurers around the world and their team of expert military guides are some of the most experienced in the industry. Nowhere is off limits and no idea is too crazy. They have achieved ground breaking world firsts such as mountain biking in Afghanistan and mountaineering in Iraq and their first ever expeditions to walk across Madagascar and pioneer white water rafting in South Sudan both made the headlines…. and a bit of history.
Being wild and wacky is one thing but with their background as commanders in the British Army and experienced team of specialists in every kind of terrain and environment means that all of their adventures are thoroughly planned and the safety and security of teams is always their highest priority. Expeditions can be inherently risky, but they do everything possible to minimise potential hazards and for that, and the utterly extraordinary trips they put on, we salute them.
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