Albania

The Thethi  trek, Albania 2011

Net zoals vorig jaar gaan we terug stappen. Ditmaal niet naar het noorden, westen of oosten, maar pal zuid. De Albanese alpen. Grenzend in het zuiden aan Griekenland,in het westen aan de Adriatische zee en aan de andere kant Macedonië, Kosovo en Montenegro. Een relatief onbekend land. Het is het land van 45 jaar overdreven communistisch bewind. Wij gaan hoofdzakelijk het noorden van Albanië verkennen. Thethi is een van de hoogtepunten van onze trekking. Overnachten doen we in guesthouses gelegen in de Albanese alpen. Eerst zullen we een 200 tal km overbruggen met gemotoriseerd vervoer om vervolgens te voet de bergen in te trekken. Samen met een gids, Patrick, Jan en Geert verkennen we de onherbergzame bergen van Noord-Albanië. Op donderdag 2 juni vliegen we eerst naar Munchen om aldaar het vliegtuig te nemen naar de hoofdstad van Albanië, Tirana.  Een ganse week worden we één met de natuur en passen ons aan,  aan de levenswijze van de Albanezen. Albanië, het land van de adelaars.

De Albanese vlag anno 1944 en 1999

Map of Albania

8 days scenic hiking in Northern Albania

Trip for Hein, Patrick, Geert en Jan

(2 juni tot 9 juni 2011)

Day-1 Kruja

Arrival at Tirana international airport, transfer to Kruja. We will visit the Kruja Bazar and the Kruja castle, epicenter of the legendary Albanian resistance against the Ottomans led by Scanderbeg in the 14th century.

Day- 2 The Holy mountain of Sarisalltik

Today we will hike up the holy mountain of Sarisalltik and visit the Bectasci Teqe (Sufi Dervishes Sanctuary) located at 1900m . After the descent, we will start driving north (100km), and have lunch on the way to Shkodra. At the entrance of the largest city of the north, we will visit the Rozafa Castle and admire the superb view of the Shkodra Lake surrounded by mountains.

In the evening, we will relax at the Shkodra lake and walk about in town, until dinner. 

Day 3 - The lake of Koman and the canyon of Drin.

In the early morning, we will drive to the ferry, which goes through the spectacular canyon of river Drin. The lake is man-made, after the construction of the dam of Koman, in the 80s.

The transfer will continue along the beautiful valley of river Valbona, until reaching the picturesque location of Dunishë where we will stay overnight. 

Dinner and accommodation: Guesthouse Valbona (max 6 persons per room, the house has 2 bathrooms)

Day 4 - Qafa e Rosit

The hike  will start from the house in direction of the village of Kukaj. From there, a shepherd’s path will bring us to remote landscapes of the eastern Alps of Albania until reaching Qafa e Rosit. The path climbs smoothly in the middle of green meadows, with gorgeous views of Jezerca Mountain and Rrethi i Bardhë - The White Circle. At the end of the day, we arrive in the village Rrogam, where we will overnight in a mountain hotel.

Dinner and accommodation: Mountain hotel Rrogam

Hike 'The White Circle': 750m – 1600m (optional hike to 2000m / additional 2 hrs) – 900m /6hrs.

Day 5- The Pass of Valbona

Today we will hike the classic pass of the Albanian Alps that for centuries linked the two most known valleys of the area, Valbona (Valnona pass; 1966m a.s.l) and Thethi. We will use mules to carry the luggage to the next house. Highlanders use the path commonly, from late spring until the first snow of winter. Several springs of water will make the stops pleasant and refreshing, while admiring the steep and jagged surrounding peaks of Jezerca, Radohima, etc. From there the group will start the descent towards the village of Thethi (800m a.s.l), where we will stay overnight after up to 8 hrs of walking. Thethi is the best-preserved alpine village in Albania. It has typical houses still roofed with wooden tiles and its location is spectacular.

We will stay overnight  and have dinner in one of these houses and experience the unforgettable hospitality of the place.

Dinner and accommodation: Guesthouse  Thethi (max 6 persons per room, the house has 2 bathrooms)

Hike 'The Valbona Pass': 900m – 1966m – 800m / 8hrs

Day 6- Thethi's attractions

Today we will have a nice day going around in the surroundings of Thethi, one of the most known charming villages of northern Albania, because of its stunning nature and traditional wooden-tiled houses.

We will start walking downhill from the house, and visit the attractions near by the village, like: the Church, the Kulla e Ngujimit (a tower house used in the past by men as a shelter against on-going vendetta), the Thethi Waterfall, Grunasi  Canyon, and the 2007 revelation: cyclopean stone walled terraces dating from the late bronze era.

We will stay overnight at the same house as the night before.

Day-7 The Valey of Boga

We will leave Thethi (800m a.s.l) to start another day of spectacular trekking in direction of the village of Boga. During this day we will walk along Shtegu i Dheneve - the Path of the Sheep, which is another classic path of the Albanian Alps that connects the villages of Thethi and Boga. After Pass (1830m a.s.l) and the stunning views it offers of Bjeshket e Namuna – The Accursed Mountains, the walk will continue downhill along the side Radohima mountain range until we reach the village of Boga (900m a.s.l). 

We will have lunch in this picturesque village surrounded by vertical slopes with peaks above 2000m high, and than leave through the Boga valley towards Shkodra and then Tirana (120km – 3hrs).

Hike: 800m – 1830m – 900m / 8hrs

Day- 8 Tirana

If you leave in the afternoon you will have some time to spend in Tirana where you can walk, passing the important buildings of the capital – the Italian buildings, The Mosque of Ethem Bej and/or the National Museum of History. Alternatively, you can enjoy your free time to visit the museum in Tirana or one of the many markets.

Additional info:

Public transport experience!

For people who like hiking, but are not capable of doing the ”big 8 hour hike” between Valbona and Thethi, we offer a “public transport experience”.

Instead of hiking to Thethi, we will organize you a taxi early in the morning, to be dropped of at the ferry. At the other side of the ferry ride, there will be a taxi waiting, to bring you to Thethi (5 hours drive). Your driver might pick up some locals on the way, so it will be a great experience to meet the local people!

We use a network of trusted taxi drivers, who are experienced with the roads and the OA tours.

The price of the “public transport is not included the price and will have to be paid directly to the locals”.

In case of:

1 person the price is 8000 Lek (66 euro)

2 persons the price is 4000 Lek (33 euro)

3 persons the price is 2700 Lek (23 euro) etc.etc. (Payment should be given in LEK)

Hiking test

The 2nd day of the tour, the “hiking test” will be at the Holy mountain of Kruja. The guide will look at your walking style and your level of hiking. Together with the guide, you decide if you are ready for the big hike to Thethi, or if it is better to take public transport.

Terrain during the hikes

This trail is saturated with lots of descents and ascents.  The route passes over engraved relief representing alpine terrain with steep slopes, mountain river valleys incised on the mounts, rocky peaks, belts of mountain pine, etc. However, the chosen paths are mostly well trodden underfoot and safe.   

Equipment and clothing:

You should remember that you must try to keep the weight of your clothing equipment down to a minimum. Your packed rucksack should weigh no more than 10-15 kilograms.

Recommended equipment: 

Breathable light weight waterproof gear(gore-tex, sympatex, etc), fleece/wool pullovers/wind-stopper jackets and gloves, small back-pack with rain coverage, cap, sun-block, mosquito repellent, head-lamp, hiking poles, water bottle, sun glasses/block.    

Weather:

Temperatures expected for this period are between + 10 and +35C. Noontime could be quite exhausting for trekking or simple walking over open territories. Rainfalls or short but heavy showers are possible, being a bit prolonged during spring and late autumn.

Luggage transport

The hike from Valbona to Thethi, is accompanied by a mule/horse, which carries the luggage. You will carry your own day backpack. From Thethi to Boga, there will be a vehicle, which will transport the luggage to Boga, from where we drive back to Tirana.

Early rising

As Albania knows high temperatures, you need to be willing to rise early in the mornings, as later in the day it might be too hot for hiking. Especially in the summer months, it can get up to 35 degrees during daytime.

Reisroute Thethi trek 2011

Hieronder enkele impressies van het

"Land van de adelaars"

Copyright Hein Barbe 2016