Ive heard its busier in August.
Or worse.. The trail winds beside the rocky dome of Harapit Peak, which dominates the valley end and continues sided by the spectacular massive of Langoj-Karanfil peaks on the right and Jezerca the highest summit of the Albanian Alps on the left. We want to support locals by staying with them but as we are not sure of our dates, we are not able to book ahead and may have to use our tent.
The end of my hike comes in the village of Rek e Allags, and the home of Mustafa and Fethiye Nikqi. here. The trails are a continuum of steady ascends and descends. My communist tour guide in Bulgaria told me that visiting Albania is for hipsters because its not cool yet. The Southern Dinaric Alps / The Accursed Mountains: a spectacular massif that connects naturally Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo. Of course, Romania and Albania are far apart. Rakia is a liquor made from fruit in a process that sounds similar to making moonshine. One night I splurged on a big meal at a highly recommended place and it was still only $5. Other travelers summed it up by saying, Albania is weird. We arrived at Blue Eye, which was a pretty destination. Your information is so useful for my next trip. Our hosts gave us packed lunches and sent us on our way. Follow the road along the river to the village of Nikgjonaj. The tomato, feta cheese, bread, and grapes are every households appetizers.
The OA tours are Land Only; the prices do not include flights, nor transport* to and from the airport to the hotel (*unless requested separately). If youre hiking solo (like me), its probably polite to return well before dark so you dont cause too much worry. The ethnic mix has been combustible in the past. Today you will hike on a classic trail of the Albanian Alps that for centuries connected the glacier valleys of Valbona and Theth via the 1860m high Valbona Pass. Land only My hosts seemed happy that I was safely back. It means he has to make repeat visits to the border police to bring them home. The main luggage will be transported by Outdoor Albania. It also meant navigating sensitive politics Pavlin worked hard to persuade police chiefs from Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo to waive passport checks for the first time.
During the hikes, you should carry your small rucksack, while the main luggage gets transported by vehicle and/or horse. When one thinks about traveling to Rome, the first attractions that may come to mind are historical jewels such as the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and. I am sorry to hear about the guys being creepy- even when I go back, I forget how they act. Pick-up location Central Shkoder, to be specified at booking confirmation. Also whats your thoughts on travelling there on mid November? Guest houses in Theth were 2700 lek ($24) for a bed, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Central Shkoder, to be specified at booking confirmation, Drop-off location
Other countries in Balkans are very much or completly a different feel . I helped make the salad too.
Terrain during the hikes: It seemed to me the difference was that they were educated, had traveled out of their own country before, and/or were somewhat used to being around foreigners. In small ways, he says, the Peaks of the Balkans trail encourages understanding across frontiers. Hello, Thanks for the input. The trail is obvious the entire way. They set me up on the shuttle to Theth for the next morning and even packed me a sandwich to take along. In general the walks last between six to eight hours a day. Still today, most of the houses or kulla are built in grey stone and roofed with wooden planks. Today, most look to the path ahead. He would have scored deep ravines with his pointy tail. They are scammers everywhere in the world. I paid $12 to get to Theth, and $17 to get from Valbona to Shkoder (for a shuttle to the ferry, the ferry itself, and another shuttle to Shkoder). Read more about how we work and what we believe in Eventually you will see a sign that points you in the direction of Valbona. There will be a few cafes along the way and a small stream of hikers headed to Theth. To stay the night here means experiencing a happy sense of cultural disorientation. Do you remember the name of The Best Guesthouse Ever in Valbona?
The way is marked following the Shala River. Hearing Svalbard's call of the ArcticInside North Korea with Miss KimThe lost stories of Damascus. A journey of a thousand miles may begin, as the Taoist proverb goes, with a single step. In one part of the Rugova Valley, you might stop inside the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Peja, and squint to see frescoed saints in the shadowy heights. The beach might lure you to Montenegro, but you also will discover a land full of culture, history and natural wonders, not to mention delicious food.
melting pot for most of the treks to the highest peaks and passes of the Albanian Alps and beyond. Most of the time, there are few hikers. From rafting and climbing to diving and camping, the best way to explore the remarkable little country of Montenegro is to get out and about in nature.
I asked other female travelers about their own experiences and got mixed reviews. In another, you can hear the thin call to prayer from the village mosques, whose minarets inch above the treetops. An adult needs to accompany children under 18. Vertical peaks lapse into gently contoured hills and broadleaf forests where wild strawberries and apricots grow by the trail. Ive heard its a bit busier in August. While on tour, you will only need to carry the personal day-pack. Yet another great story I really enjoyed reading! Children joining this tour should have experience with hiking.
I moved through Tirana and Shkoder pretty quickly. Finally, I said goodbye to my new friends and finished the walk to the lake. Breathable lightweight waterproof jacket and pants , fleece/wool pullovers/wind-stopper jackets and gloves, small back-pack with rain coverage, hat, mosquito repellent, head-lamp, hiking poles, water bottle, sunglasses/block.
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Its far too strong. My French hiking guide friend had recommended a guest house to me, and that was where I was headed. 2022 Lonely Planet. These protected areas offer some of the most beautiful mountains and hiking regions in the country. If you need a water source, theres a spring just after the last cafe out of Nikgjonaj. For safety reasons, we reserve the right to modify the agreed hiking route in the remote case of severe weather conditions, and do our best to minimize any extra costs that might rise because of it. Wherever you walk in the Accursed Mountains, borders are a constant companion. Everything I had read about Albania (and the Balkans in general) before arriving was that, Its totally safe for women! Thats only partially true. Walk down from the house (850m) and visit the attractions of the village, including the Church, Kulla e Ngujimit (a tower house used in the past by men as a shelter against ongoing vendettas), the Waterfall of Thethi, and peer at the rocky narrows of the Grunasi Canyon from the wooden bridge of Grela. My walk starts in the village of Vusanje, Montenegro, near a timber minaret carved with crescent moons and petals.
As the Peaks of the Balkans trail enters Kosovo, the landscape subtly changes character. Hike info: 14km/7-8hrs / +920m/-1100m / Highest Point: 1760m. A self discovery trek through the region of Kelmend, rustic valleys of Montenegro and the Valley of Theth. Personally, after getting followed by a man in Tirana, I chose to be back at my hostel by 9 every night when I was alone. "If you spend time here then you will grow a beard to your waist, and probably live to be 120 years old. Over coffee in his guesthouse in Theth, Pavlin tells me about escape attempts the 70-strong family who sneaked over the frontier on Hoxhas birthday, when the border guards were partying and looking the other way. Hi, Megan! They also organized my shuttle for me. In this piece from 2019, Oliver Smith travels to the remote borders of Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo to set foot in a once-forbidden mountain wilderness where, today, walkers are warmly welcomed. Very occasionally it ambushes you with a weather-beaten sign proclaiming something like "Welcome to MO TE EGRO." Yes, it will be safe. Plus, Ive been doing day hikes for my entire time in the Balkans and this was the first time I set out with all of my belongings in my pack.
The habitat itself is under critical threat.
The OA tours are Land Only; the prices do not include flights, nor transport* to and from the airport to the hotel (*unless requested separately). But, more often than not, it slips past undetected, a text message saying "Vodafone welcomes youto Albania, receive calls from 36p per minute" the only sign of an international boundary. Private guided tour, Be a hipster and go before theyre cool. I had a feeling she was showing us the way with the hopes of getting money afterwards. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! A country whose painful birth still reverberates across the Balkans, Kosovo is a land rich in natural and cultural highlights. Our guides are 100% impartial and are written by independent, professional travel journalists. "We have to fight a battle to protect this place. Head inland in Montenegro and immerse yourself in this fascinating little countrys wild side, showcased in its five vastly different national parks.
It wont be long until Theth and Valbona are standard stops on the Balkans tourist track. An hour into my road walk, yet another van pulled over.
Just use our list of the city's best parks! Breathable lightweight waterproof jacket and pants , fleece/wool pullovers/wind-stopper jackets and gloves, small back-pack with rain coverage, hat, mosquito repellent, head-lamp, hiking poles, water bottle, sunglasses/block.
Shivering cold mountain streams flowing under humpbacked Ottoman bridges. Then I went a took a hot shower, a perfect remedy to the chill in my bones from the dreary day. Somewhere on the ranges below live wolves and brown bears. The country sits about midway between Rome and Athens, but spent the late 20th century as a European North Korea neither a member of NATO, the Eastern Bloc nor the Non-Aligned Movement it didnt even enter the Eurovision Song Contest until fairly recently.
"Life here is beautiful," he says, chopping white pine, as I cross into Kosovo. Call it the Instagram effect: some sites are more impressive in person than they seem to be in pics, and others fail to live up to their billing. That could be an option for you too. On the way out of town, we bumped into yet another group of Germans, one of who was German-Albanian and could speak the language. She brought us little espresso shots in dainty tea cups. No worries though, because my guest house was a one stop shop. The drive back will initially follow the taller mountains of the Valleys ofKelmend as the road winds through remote glacier valley debris of limestone until the shores of Lake Shkodra. At the end of the navigation, step out of the boat with your luggage in the dock of Fierza, find a local van parked outside and sit in to drive for about one hour through the narrow valley of Valbona one of the most beautiful valleys of the Albanian Alps,where you will be hosted in a comfortable local guesthouse. There are clues as to why. Since we only had a half day to do a hike, we walked to a lake called the Blue Eye. Having hiking alone, what would you advice woman who are planning solo trips, in the sake of safety and having a good time?
Stretching across northern Albania and into Kosovo and Montenegro, the range comprises no fewer than 19 peaks that reach higher than 2,400m, with Maja Jezerc standing as the second tallest mountain in Albania. If you want to see it before the boom in tourism, now is the time. Its fictional children include Borat (though he later switched to Kazakh), and the baddies from Taken films, who bear the brunt of Liam Neesons particular set of skills.
Pavlin is a mountain guide and guesthouse owner in Theth, where he was born in the nave of its tiny Catholic church. I have done it three times already and i think it wont be difficult to find the path and organise the trip by myselfThe only thing I struggle with is that Im not used to solo hikes Im a girl from Albania and I know how strange some man can be, and this is another reason that is holding me back Im happy I found you article, it gave me some courage. The small village has been described by several well-known writers, which were impressed by its stunning and rather inaccessible location in the middle of vertical mountains. Thanks so much for all this great info. I didnt want to take everything I owned hiking into the Accursed Mountains. Theth is a popular base for hikers and has a rich history there still stands one of the last 'lock-in' towers, a place of safety for those targeted by ancient rivalries. At the top, we met a third girl who was hiking solo. Communism may be a memory, but only in the past few years have geopolitical developments allowed these mountains to open up to hikers. When he was a youngster, Theth was part of Communist Albania, a regime unrivalled in Europe for brutal oppression and crippling poverty.
9/1, Sh.2, Ap.4, Tirana, Albania, The Best of Via Dinarica: An 8-Day Hiking Adventure, Journey in to the Accursed Mountains (8 Days), Hiking in scenic Southern Albania (8 Days), Self Guided Local Village House Trek (5 days), Into the heart of the Accursed Mountains/, Self Guided Majestic Mountain Trek from Valbona to Thethi (3 Days), Sea-kayaking at the Albanian riviera (4 Days), Sea-kayaking along the beautiful Ionian coast (7 Days), Hike to the village and cave of Pellumbas (Day Trip), Majestic Mountain Trek from Valbona to Thethi (3 Days). Early in the morning you will depart on a scenic drive from Shkoder, to reach the docks in the dam of Koman. God took six days to create the earth, the sea and the sky. Many girls had no issues whatsoever. Having a little bit of a buzz from one drink, we began the long walk back to Theth. Rruga Gjin Bue Shpata Nr. It has a few homes and a few options for guest houses. He would have sculpted spires of rock with his evil little claws. The greetings of shepherds taking their flocks out to pasture. Follow a spectacular walking trail in Montenegros northern National Parks: Durmitor, Biogradska Gora and the very eastern frontier of Prokletije mountains. Apparently a coffee followed by a rakia is a morning ritual for many older generation Albanians.
It turned out that she was a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker, so we had lots to talk about as we continued up to the pass. The area is home to the largest population of grey wolves and brown bears in Europe. Make sure you're ready for anything withtravel insurancefrom our trusted partners.
It looks like a picture of timeless serenity but, here again, the Accursed Mountains are deceptive.
vehicle. I seem to be on a roll with visiting countries that are not popular tourist stops (first Romania, now Albania). The Valbona River, which winds its way through The Valbon Valley National Park, is a popular kayaking spot as well as showcasing a wide variety of birds, trees and mammals. And, of course, the critically endangered Balkan lynx, barely a few dozen of which roam the rocky plateaus, their whiskers twitching in the highland wind. I was eager to see the Accursed Mountains, and Im not much of a city person anyway. But when it comes to walking holidays in Europe, that first step comes well before you set foot on a trail. The Accursed Mountains (also known, less dramatically, as the Albanian Alps) feel a world away from the rest of Europe. He has a wolf tattooed on his calf, and an eagle on his bicep. You will first reach the rocky plateau of Runica, later the alpine lake of Gjeshtar reaching at the end the valley of Ropojana. Experience scenic diversity and warm hospitality while trekking beautiful panoramic trails, past dazzling mountain lakes and rugged rock landscapes.
Soon an old Albanian woman joined us, offering to show the way. The first was a guy who seemed to be on drugs harassing me on the train in Bulgaria. Four hours walk from Vusanje, I cross the Montenegro-Albania border, where derelict military bunkers watch from above. The espresso was immediately followed by an Albanian tradition, rakia. The pass becomes possible to cross on foot from the end of May, when the snow melts enough to let people and animals through. It is an unhappy relic of the Yugoslav wars. From the highest point of the pass, you see clearly how the Accursed Mountains are one of the last redoubts of wilderness in the Balkans. It is a two-week-long odyssey of which the Vusanje to Theth hike is just one leg.
My guest house in Valbona arranged my transport back to Shkoder.
Mustafa waxes lyrical about Fethiyes homemade Ramadan cheese, and also the wild boar he sometimes hunts whose meat tastes like onions in autumn and pine cones in winter.
Once youre in the Accursed Mountains prices are even lower.
Its paranoid dictator, Enver Hoxha, built more than 170,000 of his bunkers across the country, partly to repel enemies but as much to make sure citizens stayed put. And just so, how do we book? It has a language with no close relatives, full of words made of Qs and Xs that look purpose-built for high Scrabble scores. Hike across remote borders in the undiscovered Balkans on this walking and cultural holiday through Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania the famed Peaks of the Balkans trail.
Just take extra precautions. The selected paths are mostly well trod underfoot and safe (rarely exposed). The trails are a continuum of steady ascends and descends. Youre supposed to sip it. All of the Theth trails are on it, and the Blue Eye is specifically marked. The morning thrum of beehives, the taste of honey on freshly baked bread. You dont take rakia as a shot. Please let us know while booking if you would like us to arrange an airport transfer. The hike itself was not difficult. After the village, follow the road until it breaks off into a trail. Theth is essentially a small village in the Accursed Mountains.
And theres nothing else to spend money on in the mountains, so you literally are only spending $24 a day. Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with ourweekly newsletter.
Locals should know what you mean. Read more about Outdoor Albania , Self-guided tours, Small group departures, Tailor-made tours, Sharing the Via Dinarica story at the Dutch Enterprise Agency in Holland :-), 2019 Outdoor Albania All Rights Reserved. Leave Greabaje on foot (between 08:00-08:30hrs) and walk on a fine beech forest trail, climbing through the meadows toward the panoramic spot of Volusnica to the ridge that leads to the peak of Taljanka, from where you can gaze at Albaniass wildest alpine landscape: The Massive of the Accursed Mountains. "You wouldnt put them in a backpack and set out into the mountains.". For safety reasons, we reserve the right to modify the agreed hiking route in the remote case of severe weather conditions, and do our best to minimize any extra costs that might rise because of it. I think its a from of flirting as they mountain people and thats how they usually pick up women (my dad had to beg my mom for her name for 3 years at the waterfountain line before he was worthy of her attention). Climbing higher, the view soon expands into IMAX mode: giant citadels of rock, meadows tinged blue in the heat haze, eagles riding thermals from the Adriatic.
As always, I recommend using the maps.me app. Once again, my host gave me a packed lunch and sent me on my way. "These mountains are probably the last truly wild place in Europe," says Besi Ismajli, a guide I meet after descending the pass. The hike was a steady uphill for a few hours followed by a steady downhill. "The Peaks of the Balkans trail is, in some ways, like a stitch in a wound.". Its a popular destination for tourists in the Theth area. If youre doing this hike as a half day, take the road back to Theth. The road is on the opposite side of the river from where you came in.
Do you happen to know if one can purchase food from locals if camping rather than guesthousing? In the afternoon you will relax in Thethi, the best-preserved alpine village of Albania, overnight in one of the traditional houses in the valley and enjoy the extraordinary hospitality. Thanks so much! Children policy: After departing from Romania, the next destination I planned to visit was Albanias Accursed Mountains. While on tour, you will only need to carry the personal day-pack.
Sitemap, Privacy At the time of my visit its status is set to be resolved by politicians who have likely never set foot here. Its a well-trodden path and will be obvious. In the morning, I needed to get back to Skhoder. Planning deciding your destination and route, scheduling your departure, choosing your preferred kind of accommodation and level of support, packing the right kit, and many more factors besides is key to ensuring that your hiking trip is safe, successful and enjoyableread more. She taught me how to make burec, a traditional Balkans dish. Nature lovers can spot golden eagles and look out for the rare chamois. The couple invited me to go hiking with them for the afternoon, my first experience in the Accursed Mountains. A staunch stronghold of Albanian traditions, its mountains and valleys are blanketed with dense forests that are home to wolves, bears, lynx and golden eagles.
Mustafa rebuilt his Rugova farmhouse after it was destroyed in the war, and more recently opened it as Ariu ("Bear") Guesthouse, named after the creatures that harass his dog, Dora, in the small hours. I wouldnt let this discourage you from traveling to the Balkans (even solo). Meals in restaurant were $2-3.
It was a full days work. Because, with devilish deception, it is a place of radiant, intense loveliness. Photos are breathtaking, so I can tell that it`s totally worth it. Now that you point it out, it was only in Albania that I got that impression. This way you wont get lost if it gets dark before you get back. The clink of antique china cups filled with strong Turkish coffee. Hi, will I need to book ahead to get a bed at night while on the Accursed Mountain trail? into pure alpine terrain of great beauty. I ended up choosing the guest house where the shuttle stopped to drop off a German couple. But, so a local legend goes, the devil took only 24 hours to create the Accursed Mountains. This sounded like a complicated process because I would need to catch a shuttle to the ferry, take a ferry ride, then catch another shuttle into Skhoder. The lunch was half a loaf of fresh bread, cured meat, cheese, a whole tomato, a hard boiled egg, and grapes. Having spent so much time hanging out with the two girls I had met, it was almost dark by the time I returned. Helpful.thanks.
It was only 2 pm and I wasnt tired, so I walked away without attempting to haggle and started down the road. Regardless, Albanias Accursed Mountains are a must for any hiking enthusiast. I also passed more hikers on this path than I had the previous two days combined. You can easily stay under $30 a day in Albania. For decades, the Accursed Mountains served as Hoxhas giant geological Berlin Wall (one that conveniently brewed its own thunderstorms). Besides been very well written, it`s also very informative and detailed, so I hope it will take a stigma out trails like this, hipster ones.
The trail will exit in the main road, where a vehicle is instructed to reach you and take you in Vuthaj for dinner and accommodation. It will be to the right of the path. And theyre getting more popular every year. The trail will descent in the valley of Lepusha, where your driver will be waiting to take you back to the city of Shkodra. Its treacherous passes became the ultimate hurdle for anyone escaping Albania to reach the relative freedom of Montenegro, then part of Yugoslavia. Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the worlds best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book. Thanks, Rosa. Previous trekking experience is an advantage, but not a must for those who are reasonably fit and comfortable in their hiking shoes. He was headed to town anyway and I think was offering me a free ride, but after his exorbitant original offer I was mistrustful and declined the ride. Today he welcomes a fraternity of hikers, united in the love of roaming this landscape.
It is roughly 14 miles from Vusanje but, until 1991, it might as well have been the far side of the moon. Stay on the path and dont cross the river until you are almost to Nderlysaj.
In Theth, ask for the phone number of the guesthouse with the red van. Self-guided tour, Family, Adventure, Hiking & Trekking, Active, Walking, Nature & Wildlife, National Parks, Culture, Cities, History, Culinary, Food, Wine, Solo Travel, Family, Adventure, Backpacking, Hiking & Trekking, Active, Walking, Camping, Cycling, Nature & Wildlife, Photography, Birdwatching, National Parks, Culture, History, Culinary, Food, Wine, Solo Travel, Beach, Family, Adventure, Backpacking, Hiking & Trekking, Active, Walking, Horseback Riding, Nature & Wildlife, Photography, Birdwatching, National Parks, Culture, Archaeology, Museums & Galleries, History, Culinary, Food, Wine, Solo Travel. I will be staying overnight in a guesthouse in Valbone and wondered whether this would be safe. Guides from all countries intermingle; guesthouses call lodges over the border to let them know a hiking group is on their way. And there are stories, too: the old caravans Mustafa remembers from pre-Communist days, when he was young when merchants in flowing white robes would walk for days to sell sheepskins on the Adriatic coast, huddled together for safe passage over the range.