Albanian Alps Explorer
Journey into the Accursed Mountains Tranquil Ferry Ride & Walk in the Valbona National Park
You rise early for the transfer through a scenic gorge to the Koman Dam (55km/1:30h). The picturesque reservoir loops similar to a Norwegian fjord through sheer rock walls and is considered a highlight of the Albanian Alps. The custom made ferry stops at several points to pick up locals from remote villages before arriving at Fierze (46km/3h). After lunch you travel by minibus past traditional villages, composed of wooden shingle covered stone houses, into the highlands and the Valbona National Park (35km/1:15h). To warm-up for the anticipated trek you continue on foot along the crystal clean stream and on quiet berry-lined trails through the forest to the secluded Xhemes Lake for a swimming break. The walk ends at our cozy guesthouse in a small hamlet. You will have itchy feed when you see the jagged peaks from the terrace, tomorrow will be the day.
Valbona â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Queen of the Mountains Hamlet Kukaj, colorful Meadows and hospitable Shepherds
Refreshed you start your hike to Kukaj, an isolated hamlet where only two families reside, below the trail bunkers that once protected the border are now scattered in the riverbed. The windy path takes you over lush meadows ablaze with the colors of a wide variety of spring flowers to a shepherd hut on 1.650m. In the communist period this was a no-go area and the building used as a military barrack. Admire the wild and romantic jagged mountain scenery, sample fresh milk products and opt to climb higher to an ancient crossing at the Montenegrin border or to stay and enjoy the views. At 2.040m a weathered border pyramid remains as a reminder of the isolation Albania once endured, from here views reach to the most dramatic parts of Montenegrin Prokletije. Catching a last glimpse at the Alps highest peak Jezerca (2.694m) you descent on a different path to another guesthouse. When daylight fades you can watch the alpine glow over dinner in the idyllic garden, no surprise many women are named after the beautiful valley.
The Grand Crossing: Hike from Valbona to Theth On par with the Mountains on Valbona Pass (1.811m)
Accompanied by a mule that carries your luggage you set out for the transfer hike across the Valbona Pass (1.815m) â&#x20AC;&#x201C; another highlight of this journey. After the village Rragam few steep segments have to be tackled, you can pause regularly near springs and on colorful meadows to take a breath and enjoy the splendid views. On the pass the surrounding peaks appear on par with you and sweeping views of both valleys fascinate even the seasoned traveler. Fully take in the picturesque landscape during a lunch break ahead of the descent to Theth. The fairy-tale beech forest provides cover from the sun in the afternoon, by the time the woods thin out the majestic silhouette of Mt. Arapi (2.217m) becomes visible and soon the upmost houses of the village are reached. Below lie scattered the hamlets of Theth, their houses are built from stones of the riverbed and are covered with wooden shingles. You make your way through the outskirts and reach another inviting guesthouse in the center.
The Caravan Trail and Peja Pass Mt. Arapi (2.217m) – The Matterhorn of Albania
For the hike up the Peja Pass we recommend an early start and using transport to and/or from the trailhead, otherwise add 4km or 1h walking time each way (one-way transfer is 20€, return 30€). The names derives from a city in Kosovo that used to be an important trade center. The initial approach follows an un-made road through the village, past colorful meadows, decorated cows and stone houses. The ascent starts near the source of the Thethi River and follows an ancient caravan path hidden in the sheer wall of Mt. Arapi, which from afar looks impenetrable. It is the main connection to Kosovo and used to climb the highest peak of the Alps, Jezerca. Shepherds reside on several points nearby that you could extent your walk to. Return on the same way to the previous night’s guesthouse. The circular route around or climb of Arapi (2.217m) is recommended only with a guide as they are of higher difficulty degree.
Theth – In the Heart of the Albanian Alps Grunas Waterfall & Canyon | Kanun & Blood Feud
Visit the iconic church, well-kept fields and the lock-in tower that offered protection for men threatened by blood feud. It is the perfect place to dive into the history of the “kanun” and learn more about highland law code of Leke Dukagjini, its origins, impact and present day relevance. Onward along the water channels you ascend the plateau of the famed waterfall at which’s base often a rainbow appears. On a cliff above the river archeologists discovered stone-aged terraces: Rest, enjoy the picnic lunch and gaze into the adjacent 50m deep Grunas Canyon. After lunch at the guesthouse the local minibus waits already for the transfer across the scenic Thores Pass into Boga Valley. The route passes the Edith Durham Memorial where you can joyfully take in the last views of the dramatic mountains you just discovered. Expect to arrive in Shkodra about 4-5pm, we are glad to help with accommodation or onward transfer arrangements throughout Albania and into the neighboring countries.