Buni Jezerce, Great Valley of Lakes, Peaks of the Balkans, Accursed Mountains, Albania

Trekking to Buni Jezerce,
the Great Valley of Lakes

Trekking to Buni Jezerce, the Great Valley of Lakes was originally published in 2024

Known as Buni Jezerce in (Shqip) Albanian, the Great Valley of Lakes undoubtedly stands as one of the most breathtaking destinations in the Accursed Mountains. 

Making a great addition (or detour) to the Peaks of the Balkans Trail or as a standalone day hike, Buni Jezerce is a true hidden gem nestled in the Albanian Alps. 

As we made sure to include Buni Jezerce on our trek along the Peaks of the Balkans Trek this past October, we took all the notes in order to create this Buni Jezerce Lakes Hiking Guide. So grab your boots and your backpack, and get ready to take on one of the most beautiful hikes in the Balkans.

Why Hike to Buni Jezerce?

Buni Jezerce, Great Valley of Lakes, Peaks of the Balkans, Accursed Mountains, Albania

Straddling the border of Albania and Montenegro, Buni Jezerce has remained a well-kept secret over the years. 

Strewn about the Great Valley of Lakes are six crystal-blue alpine pools, the largest of which is The Great Lake of Buni Jezerce. 

That said, late-season visits such as ours in mid-October will yield all but a couple of the lakes void of water, evaporated for the season. Not to worry, if you do choose to visit late as we did, Buni Jezerce is still absolutely stunning.

The Great Valley of Lakes, nestled in the Albanian Alps, sits at an altitude of 1,792 meters above sea level. 

Surrounding these serene waters are some of the region’s loftiest peaks, with Maja Jezerce at 2,694 meters and Maja Bojs at 2,461 meters being among the most prominent.

Buni Jezerce’s remote location, sat in an amphitheater of jagged peaks lends an otherworldly feel to the scene.

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How to get to Buni Jezerce

Buni Jezerce, Great Valley of Lakes, Peaks of the Balkans, Accursed Mountains, Albania

The quickest and most direct approach to Buni Jezerce is from the village of Vusanje on the Montenegro side of the border. Not to worry if you are planning to stay in Albania for the entirety of your trek, there is a slightly longer approach from the village of Theth. 

Getting to Vusanje

Vusanje is located roughly 17.5 km from the town of Plav, Montenegro. If you’re taking on the Peaks of the Balkans Trail, you will likely be trekking from Plav to Vusanje anyway. That said, there is a road that connects Plav and Vusanje if you’re looking to just make a day hike to Buni Jezerce.

Where to Stay in Vusanje

Vusanje, Peaks of the Balkans, Accursed Mountains, Albania
Views from the Dedushi Guesthouse Cabins

We opted to stay at the Dedushi Guesthouse Cabins which were perfect and offered stunning views of the Ropojana Valley and delicious home-cooked meals on request.

Another option in Vusanje that we had heard good reviews of from other trekkers along our Peaks of the Balkans Hikes was the Lola Guesthouse.

Getting to Theth

Theth is a popular jumping-off point for those starting the Peaks of the Balkans Trail. The easiest city to reach Theth from is Shkodër.

At 7 am every day there is a furgon (minibus) that departs Shkodër, arriving in Theth at roughly 9 am. Tickets cost 10€ per person.

If you plan to go to Theth from Tirana it’s best to either have your own vehicle or hire a taxi if you want to do the journey in a single day. Traveling from Tirana to Theth by bus will require an overnight in Shkodër.

Where to Stay in Theth

Theth offers an array of guesthouses and hotels. Some of the best include the Guesthouse Rrashkadoli and the Bujtina Tinari Theth.

Buni Jezerce Trek from Vusanje

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Distance
11 km one way
22 km return

Time
4 hours one way
8 hours return

Elevation Gain
+ 1,677 meters
– 1,677 meters

To reach Buni Jezerce from Vusanje, you’ll need to follow the course of the Ropojana Valley to Katun Zastan. 

While you can walk along the tracks between Vusanje and Katun Zastan, you can also opt to arrange a 4WD to take you to Katun Zastan to save some time (we were quoted 60€ one way and 100€ return for the journey). 

Katun Zastan, Peaks of the Balkans, Accursed Mountains, Albania
Katun Zastan

Along the route between Vusanje and Katun Zastan, you will need to stop at the booth along the road and pay the 3€ per person national park fee. This ticket is good for 24 hours.

From Katun Zastan, you’ll follow a well-marked trail that meanders through a steep forest. Eventually, you will emerge from the forest, and shortly, cross the border into Albania (there is no official border crossing here).

Buni Jezerce, Great Valley of Lakes, Peaks of the Balkans, Accursed Mountains, Albania
Buni Jezerce, Great Valley of Lakes, Peaks of the Balkans, Accursed Mountains, Albania

Shortly after you’ve crossed into Montenegro, the first dazzling lakes of Buni Jezerce should come into view.

If you do plan to visit the Great Valley of Lakes as a day trip I would recommend opting for the above-mentioned jeep ride to Katun Zastan as it will save you roughly 4 hours, leaving you with more opportunities to explore the Buni Jezerce’s beauty. 

Buni Jezerce, Great Valley of Lakes, Peaks of the Balkans, Accursed Mountains, Albania

To arrange a ride, you can usually make arrangements with your guesthouse in Vusanje who will call a local driver and agree on a departure time for you.

Peaks of the Balkans Permit

If you plan to visit Buni Jezerce from Vusanje, you will technically be crossing the border between Albania and Montenegro at a point where there are no official border formalities. 

Technically speaking, you should have a Peaks of the Balkans Permit with all of the borders you plan to cross listed on it, along with the dates you plan to cross each border. 

We had planned to arrange all of the permits ourselves (you need to file with the police in each country you plan your route through and in our case, this was Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro) but after doing some research we found that it was a giant ass pain and would cost about the same as it would if we had someone make the arrangements for us. 

In the end, we secured our Peaks of the Balkans Permit with Zbulo who was able to attain all the documents within a week. We 100% recommend arranging your documents with their help.

Many visitors do the trek to Buni Jezerce without this permit but know that there is a risk of a 300€ fine per person if caught without one. Full disclosure: we did not run into a single official along the entire Peaks of the Balkans route or going to Buni Jezerce.

Buni Jezerce Trek from Theth

Koman Lake Ferry, Berisha Ferry, Albania, Balkans

Starting from Theth, the trail to Buni Jezerce heads north toward the border with Montenegro. 

Once you reach the green alpine lake at Qafa e Pejes, proceed further into the valley until you reach the old communist-era bunkers. 

From the bunkers, veer onto the trail to your right, which will bring you to Buni Jezerce’s southern end.

Similarly, you can trek to Buni Jezerce from Valbonë, located northeast of Theth.

Have Any Questions About the Hike to Buni Jezerce?

Ask in the comments section below.

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