The itinerary covers Albania from the capital Tirana to much more relaxed Shkoder and two of the most remarkable valleys in the Dinaric Alps: Thethi and Valbona, both dominated by towering mountains and traditional alpine houses. On our way back we will also enjoy a scenic ferry ride across the Koman Lake.
After our rendezvous at the airport we continue straight away to Shkoder, the North’s dynamic hub to the mountains. Here we can go for a swim, visit several sites, like the Rozafa castle or the Marubi photo library and enjoy a traditional meal.
Leaving the city behind on the next day our transfer continues along Shkoder Lake in direction of Montenegro until we turn off the highway to enter Shkrel Valley, where to both sides mountains above 2000m start rising up from the river canyon. To get to Shala Valley we cross the Buni i Thores pass at 1685m on a dramatic road and stop to walk to the top of Maja e Zorzit for the best panoramic views. From here we continue down to the bottom of the valley, nestled into which lie the traditional stone houses of Theth.
The next day we venture along the river to the famous “Blue Eye”, a karst spring, and the almost deserted Kapreja Valley.
Our third day consist of a hike to the canyon and waterfall in Grunas, as well as the blood feud lock-in tower and the church in the center of the village.
The highlight of many who visit is the transfer hike from Theth to Valbona Valley, where at 1966m you are on par with the surrounding peaks and able to enjoy the marvelous sights of the Malet e Zhapores Range in front of and Radohimes Massif behind you.
In more dramatic and inaccessible Valbona Valley we ascend along a glacial valley perched between the Jezerca Massif and Mt Bjelic with Rosni as its highest peak. Especially in June the meadows host countless flowers which we can enjoy on our way to a summer pasture.
After our early morning start we board a modified bus transformed into a boat for a fabulous ferry ride over the artificial Lake Koman through a narrow flooded gorge that drives hydropower plants. Subsequently we drive to Tirana to visit the National History Museum or to get an overview by taking the cable car to Mt Dajti. Afterwards we disembark for a walking tour of the colorful city, the evening is reserved for dinner in the nightlife Blloku district.
* meeting at Tirana airport and transfer to Shkodër (150km – 2h), Northern Albania’s oldest and most lively city with distinct Italian flair, an upbeat destination
* check-in at hotel, afterwards we drive ton earby village Shiroke for a refreshing swim at the at the shores of Lake Shokdër
* visit of Rozafa Castle with fabulous views over the surrounding area as far as to the Albanian Alps
* walking tour of the Shokdër’s Old Town in the evening
* dinner in a traditional Ottoman restaurant
* overnight in a hotel in Shkodër
* transfer along Lake Shkoder to Koplik into the mountain framed valley of Shkrel and across the pass of Buni i Thores (1685m), total duration is about 2:15h (80km)
* on the way we take a break for degustation of local wine and cheese in Boga village
* short but scenic hike to Maja e Zorzit (1663m), the perfect lookout mountain in the center of the valley with breathtaking views of the Jezerca and Radohimes Massifs, at the feet of which we can catch the first glimpse of Thethi
* during the transfer to the bottom of Shala Valley, we pass the center of Theth and drive further to the Southern end of the valley
* arrival at our overnight accommodation in Nderlysa, a traditional family run guest house
Effective walking: 3.5 h
Distance: 6.5 km
Ascending: 500 m
Descending: 500 m
* from our guesthouse we hike through a canyon to the semi-deserted village of Kapre to visit the last remaining inhabitants and the corn mill
* visit of the Syri i Kalter (“Blue Eye”, 612m), a beautiful karst spring fed by melting snow, surrounded by butterflies in summer
* return to Nderlysa canyon to examine the bizarre glacial mill rock formations (509m)
* in the afternoon we have the opportunity to a enjoy a refreshing splash into a basin called the ‘black well’, can walk through the village or to the conflux of the rivers and even better experience local authentic farm work
Effective walking: 4 h
Distance: 12 km
Ascending: 325 m
Descending: 325 m
* walk along the Thethi River on a well-worn historic bridle path that connects the Kiri valley, also known as Dukagjin, to Thethi village
* on the way we can see the hydropower plant, pass the remains of the oldest bridge of Shala and 50m deep and only a few meter wide Grunas Canyon
* we take a break before we continue our hike to visit the waterfall (898m), at the base of which one often finds a rainbow
* arriving in Theth we visit the blood feud tower (known as the Kula) to discuss the ancient unwritten law called Kanun, nearby located are the ethnographic museum, church and our guest house
* possibility to embark on additional walks through the different neighborhoods of Theth
Effective walking: 3 h
Distance: 9 km
Ascending: 375 m
Descending: 100 m
* initial hike through the village until we reach the upmost houses in Gjelaj
* the trail to Rragam follows a ridge through beech forest which offers protection from the sun until we reach the tree line at about 1650m
* lunch on top of Valbona pass (1815m) at a lookout rock or a shady protected spot nearby
* descend to Rragam with amazing views of the mountains forming Valbona valley
* break for some cold beverages at a small local ‘cafe’
* short transfer to our guest house for the next two nights
Effective walking: 7 h
Distance: 12 km
Ascending: 1125 m
Descending: 725 m
* easy hike to the secluded hamlet of Kukaj (1115m) from where we continue to a summer pasture (1650m) with the opportunity to meet the shepherds at Stanet e Plan
* picnic on a meadow with an awe-inspiring panorama of plenty of peaks way above 2000m
* return to our previous night’s accommodation
There is the option for an extension of the hike to Qafa e Roshit, a mountain pass at 2060m.
Effective walking: 5 h
Distance: 10.5 km
Ascending: 700 m
Descending: 700 m
* early morning departure for Bajram Curri and the ferry dock near Fierze (43km – 2h)
* boarding of the ferry at 6:15am, the scenic trip on Lake Koman takes around 2.5h
* transfer via Shkoder towards Tirana (150km – 4h)
* opportunity to visit the National History Museum
* guided walking tour of Tirana
* dinner in the ‘Blloku’ district, previously a secluded area of the Albanian politburo members, now the upmarket and most trendy neighborhood of the capital
* Transfer to Rinas Airport
* Farewell coffee
The local infrastructure (in particular road conditions) might not be up to Western European standards in all places. Please come with adequate expectations, and respect and enjoy the local circumstances.
Visitors are expected to respect the wildlife, leave what they find, dispose of their waste properly and to be considerate with locals.