Fri 14 Aug - Fri 21 Aug 2020

OVERVIEW

What to expect

ITINERARY

What you will do

COSTS

Ways to pay

ESSENTIAL INFO

All you need to know

Everything you need to know

This page provides you with a variety of information about the challenge that you might find useful.

Level of difficulty

Typical day

Safety

Responsible Tourism

Flights

Visa

Vaccinations & Medicines

Climate & Terrain

Training

Training weekends

Luggage allowance & valuables

Leadership

Group size

Clothing & equipment

Accommodation & toilets

Food & drink

Money

Phone & Wi-fi

Emergencies

Level of difficulty

Challenging: A “challenging” trip will test someone who is relatively fit and has a spirit of adventure. You may have had some previous experience, but this is not necessary as long as the correct training is undertaken. 

You can tell your supporters that on your Trek the Accursed Albanian Alps Challenge you will be:

  • Trekking for around 5-8 hours per day.
  • Reaching the summit of Zla Kollata, Montenegro's highest mountain, 2,534m
  • Traversing the Valbona Pass

Typical day

You will wake early in time for breakfast and prepare your rucksack for the day ahead. Hiking will start around 0830hrs. The number of hours spent hiking will depend on the size and ability of the group. There will be plenty of refreshment stops, and visits to places of natural beauty and interest. In the evening you will have dinner at your hotel or guesthouse.

Safety

Charity Challenge considers the safety of all of our participants and staff to be a top priority, and as such we have set up Challenge Safe, an advanced and thorough safety management system. Challenge Safe formalises our ethos when it comes to safety, and brings together the procedures and risk management strategies that we use to audit all aspects of our challenges, from vehicles to accommodation to the challenge activity itself. Your welfare is absolutely paramount.
In terms of your Albania challenge, there are a couple of important points that you should be aware of:

  • Most of the walks are on well-defined footpaths, mountain trails and some dirt tracks. There may be some steep ascents and descents and you should be confident dealing with heights.
  • The weather conditions in the mountains can be changeable. Make sure you carry an additional warm layer, waterproof jacket.
  • Ensure that you keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of fluids.

Responsible Tourism

At Charity Challenge we are committed to sustainable and responsible tourism, and work closely with bodies such as the International Porter Protection Group and Climate Care to ensure that our challenges benefit the local environments and communities in which they take place. We ensure that all rubbish is disposed of responsibly, and following local guidelines on cultural and environmental protection and respect, we aim to limit our impact on the natural environment. In addition to taking these practical steps to ensure that our challenges are sustainable, we also make a contribution each year to a number of local community projects, so as to give something back directly to the communities that we visit. Since 2000 we have donated almost £200,000 to such projects, supporting a range of initiatives, including schooling for children in Africa, shelter for street children in Brazil, and Orang-utan conservation in Indonesia. We recommend that any gifts brought over for children are given to the UK challenge leader and distributed where needed by them and our local Ground Agent. If you wish to do more, you should consider buying drinks, postcards and souvenirs from the local vendors. For many, it is their sole source of income. For more information, please visit our Responsible Tourism pages, where you will be able to view a list of the projects that we currently support.

Flights

You will be flying from London to Tirana and returning via the same route. Your flight tickets will be e-mailed to you before departure.
If you choose to book your own flights you must confirm with the Charity Challenge office before paying otherwise you may be liable for your included group flights (please contact flights@charitychallenge.com for further assistance). Your flight info can also be found in your Account Area under 'Flights' once they have been confirmed.

Visa

You need a valid passport to fly from London to Tirana. For UK passport holders, you don't need a visa for trips of 90 days or less. Your passport must be valid for a full six months from your date of entry into Albania. Non-UK passport holders should consult their nearest Albanian embassy regarding visa requirements.

Vaccinations & Medicines

For up to date vaccination information please check the Travel Health Pro page:  https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/2/albania#Vaccine_recommendations 

The Charity Challenge team are not medical experts and we would encourage you to visit your doctor or travel nurse to discuss vaccination requirements. Your doctor may ask questions about the specific locations that you are visiting, and as such it may be useful to take a copy of your itinerary with you.

Medication

  • Carry medicines (including those bought over the counter) in their correctly labelled original packaging, as issued by the pharmacist. These should be carried in your hand luggage.
  • Consider packing a spare supply of medication in the hold luggage in case of loss of hand luggage
  • A letter from the prescriber detailing the medicines with the generic names for the medications can be helpful for border control checks, and in case medicines have to be replaced or medical help is required
  • Carry a note from the prescribing physician on letterhead stationery for controlled substances and injection medications
  • Take out an appropriate level of travel health insurance including repatriation and specific cover for any pre-existing illnesses

N.B.  Some medications are banned abroad so please check. You can find further information at https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/43/medicines-abroad

Climate & Terrain

Climate
Albania has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The daytime temperatures during the challenges should be between 25C – 28C, falling at night to 12C – 15C. Higher up, the conditions may be cooler and wet and rainy weather cannot be ruled out at any time of the year in the mountains. 

Terrain
Most of the walks are on well-defined footpaths, mountain trails and some dirt tracks. The terrain can be very rocky and slippery in parts with some gravel slopes.

Training

The ideal training for this challenge is, naturally, hill walking. However, if you do not have the luxury of living near the hills, then the stairs at home (or an office block) are a great place to start. Most training should be part of an ongoing lifestyle, but if this is not the case then you should begin training 2-4 months prior to the challenge and gradually build up as suggested. Remember to use the walking boots that you will be wearing on the challenge in order to get them worn in, and take the daysack that you will be using during the challenge.

There is no substitute for walking in the hills so try if possible to get out on a weekend and train in an area with steep hills. You should progress to training with your boots on from week 4 at the latest, but preferably from week 1. The more you exercise before the expedition, the more you will get out of it. Also see your Charity Challenge Fitness Training notes

Training weekends

We offer superb training weekends across various locations in the UK, from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. These training weekends not only help you become physically prepared for the challenge, but our experienced instructors and leaders will talk you through your clothing and equipment, camp craft, health and wellbeing, trekking skills (walking on different terrain/at altitude/at night/using walking poles), teamwork on expedition and many more themes designed to make you get the most out of your challenge. The weekends are great ways for you to get out into the mountains of the UK, while also meeting other Charity Challengers and sharing your experiences. To read more about our training weekends, including dates and prices, check out our dedicated page here.

Luggage allowance & valuables

Try to keep luggage to an absolute minimum – details of what to pack are provided in your kit list. Your rucksack/holdall (suitcases are not appropriate) must not exceed the maximum weight limit of the airline you are flying with (usually 20kg, however do check this with the airline or contact our flights team if in doubt). During the challenge your bags will be transported by vehicle as well as pack horse. You will not have to carry your main pack.

Whilst we will do everything to provide adequate safety for the group and security for your possessions, the general rule is that if you don’t need it, don’t bring it. This includes jewellery, necklaces, rings and even watches. Your passport and money should be kept on you at all times.

Leadership

There will be an English-speaking challenge leader who will be responsible for the logistics and co-ordination of your challenge. There will also be numerous local support guides and staff to assist them. The challenge leader will be ultimately responsible for the running of the itinerary and the safety of your group.

Group size

Each group is intended to be 14 people minimum in order to run and a maximum of approx. 30 people. We will be able to run this challenge for 10 to 13 people by charging a small group supplement of £75 which will be added to your final balance invoice (self funders) or charged to your charity (minimum sponsorship or flexi).

Clothing & equipment

Good quality, durable kit could mean the difference between a fantastic challenge experience and an uncomfortable one. For this challenge, waterproof, well-worn in boots will be indispensable, particularly coupled with some really good quality walking socks. You don’t need a clean pair every day, but enough to make sure you have dry socks each morning. The benefits of a comfortable day sack cannot be underestimated, so make sure that you train with this. Other essentials are high quality gore-tex waterproof and windproof jackets and trousers, and technical/wicking t-shirts rather than cotton shirts. Walking poles are also recommended, as a preventative as well as for anyone with any pre-existing leg injuries or niggles. A full kit list for this challenge can be found here and once you book you will have access to kit discounts with our partners Cotswold Outdoor, Cycle Surgery, Snow and Rock, and Runners Need.

Accommodation & toilets

Accommodation
On this challenge, the hotels offer a good level of service often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en-suite facilities. If you are travelling with a friend or partner who you wish to share with, please ensure that you note this where appropriate when booking or email challenges@charitychallenge.com

Toilets
These range from basic during the trek to normal western standards in the accommodation. Remember to bring some toilet paper with you as it may be difficult to find during your trekking day!

Food & drink

The food will be very filling and nutritious. Breakfast will consist of eggs, ham, cheese, jam or honey and tea/coffee. Lunches are picnics with meat, cheese, fresh vegetables and fruit, chocolate or cookies. Dinner will be three courses: soup followed by a main course and dessert. Plenty of drinking water will be available to keep you hydrated. You may want to bring some extra snacks, such as cereal bars, nutrigrains, dried fruits etc. You can buy extra food or alcohol at the hotels/guesthouses if you wish. 

Whilst we can cater for vegetarians, with a limited choice, it may be more difficult to cater for special diets. The local team are very good at trying to accommodate different dietary requirements but a vegan and gluten free diet will be difficult to cater for. It may be necessary to supplement your diet with food products that you are used to eating as well as snacks from home. Please let Charity Challenge know prior to departure if you have any specific dietary requirements or allergies.

Money

Currency: The national currency is the Albanian Lek. For up to date currency exchange, go to www.xe.com.

Cash: There are ATMs available at Tirana airport and in the larger towns. For travel around the country it is a good idea to carry cash.

Credit cards: ATMs are generally OK. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most widely accepted and may be used at cash points. In smaller towns, banks do not necessarily have cash points. Credit cards can be used to purchase goods and services in some shops, hotel and restaurants in Albania.

Spending money: You will not need a large amount of money during this trip. Albanian Lek can't be exchanged outside the country, so exchange them or spend them before you leave. Although the Euro is widely accepted; you'll get a better deal for things in general if you use Lek. Approximately £100 should be sufficient but please take more if you plan to extend your stay or shop a lot!

Tips: Tipping is personal and at your sole discretion. You should only tip if you feel that you have received good service. We recommend approx. EUR40 per person and this should be given to the challenge leader at the end of the challenge who will distribute it amongst the local support team. In bars and restaurants tips are very common and are about 10% of the total bill.

Phone & Wi-fi

Most of the accommodation you are in will have limited Wi-Fi which you will be able to use, but please do not rely upon this. You will have phone signal in almost all places on the challenge. Please remember that Albania is NOT in the EU so the EU Roaming Regulations do not apply and you will be charged when using your mobile data.

Emergencies

The event is not run as a race and there is always a large discrepancy in people’s walking ability. This is allowed for. There will be a staff member at the back of the group at all times to ensure that you are not left behind and can take things at your own pace. If we find somebody is unable to walk at all, then we can transport him or her from one location to the next with the help of our staff. Throughout the challenge, back-up support will be close by.

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ATOL protected

We hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 6546. Many of the flight-inclusive challenges on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. This ATOL protection only covers challenges that include flights booked by Charity Challenge and that originate in the UK. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLcertificate

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