ALBANIA ALPS

 

Day 1:Airport – Shkoder

Meet at airport with our guide and drive for about 1hour 45 minutes to Shkodra the most important town in the North of Albania. Shkodra was the capital of an important Illyrian Kingdom in the 3rd century BC, with its centre where the Rozafa fortress is situated today upon entry into the modern city. Shkodra was also the centre of the Roman Catholic minority in Albania due to its traditional centuries old ties with Venice. In fact Italian architecture is present also in the buildings of the beginning of the 20th century. We will take a walk in the newly renovated pedestrian area of Italian and Austrian architecture influences, testimony to this town historic links with both these countries. Overnight at traditional hotel (dinner can be had at its wonderful traditional stone restaurant).

 

Day 2: Shkoder – Theth

After early breakfast we drive towards Lake Shkoder in Koplik and then turn to the right through lavender fields before starting to climb through stunning limestone mountains . Once the road reaches Boga village, we twist and turn past breathtaking scenery and arrive at the mountain village of Theth in the middle of the Thethi National Park, passing through the neck of Thore. After unloading our discovery equipment we will take a familiarization tour of the village lasting between 3-5 hours, staring with the church of Thethi originally built in 1892, rebuilt and reroofed in 2005. Roughly opposite the church across a field is the “Kulla e ngujimit” or “Lock-in Tower” which can be seen only from outside, testimony to a system of rigid and cruel codes to the modern visitors, but which has regulated an isolated lifestyle in these far away mountains, for centuries. Another inaccessible monument inside, the old water-mill, situated just below the tower was used by the locals to grind corn. Then we walk up the mill, following a footpath leading to the bridge of Gerla which hangs more than 30metres above Thethi canyon which is wide only 2 metres providing a spectacular site. At the wonderful Grunasi waterfall the waters plunges tens of metres into a deep pool, and its crystal clear water is so cold that any thoughts of a swim will be quickly dispelled, the moment it reaches your ankles. Overnight at local guest house in Theth village.

 

Day 3: Theth – Valbona

Walk to Valbona through some of the wildest scenery into the Tropoje District, known as the home of Albanian folk culture. We walk for about 8 hours through forests and alpine pastures and from Valbona pass (1950m), we take a few moments to enjoy the spectacular views down Valbona and Theth Valley. As we pass Valbona River, some beautiful waterfalls and the quaint village of Rragam, our luggage is transported by horse to the next guesthouse. The National Park of Valbona valley is situated 30 kilometres north-west of the town of Bajram Curri. It has a surface of about 8,000 hectares. This park is considered a miracle of the Albanian Alps offering an amazing diversity in shapes, forms, colours, flora and fauna. The forests and pastures, the rivers and alpine lakes, the miscellaneous flowers, the characteristic houses and the hospitality of the inhabitants altogether create a unique place which can be explored on different levels. Our journey of today will provide you with plenty of material to satisfy your senses and brag about to friends and family. During the communism period , only members of the government, locals and authorized forest technicians and a handful of important visitors from foreign countries with which Albania had political relations – such as Russia, Bulgaria, Poland – were allowed to enter this region needed a special authorization from the government. Luckily the beauty of Valbona is nowadays available for all to explore and respect. Overnight at local guest house.

 

Day 4: Valbona

Our route today takes us through beech and pine forests down Rosi Peak and leads us onto the “White Circle”, where we enjoy panoramic views across the peaks and valleys of the Albanian Alps (approx. 6 hours walk). Valbona Valley is part of Tropoja district which in turn falls under the Albanian Alps with numerous mountains reaching a height of above 2,000 meters. There are mountainous massifs like the Eastern Block of Jezerca (its peak is 2,694 meters high). The Block of Maja e Hekurave (2,561 m) is distinguished for its asymmetric slopes and the peak which has a conical form. Shkelzeni peak (2,407 m) lies among the tectonic formations and has a pyramidal shape. The ridge is covered with forests of oaks, beech wood and some conifers up to the carbonic slopes whereas on the top there are some alpine pastures. Overnight at local guest house.

 

Day 5: Valbona – Koman Lake- Kruja – Tirana

An early morning departure to take the Koman Lake ferry. A spectacular boat trip through the artificial lake created by the hydropower stations built on Drin River. The depth of the lake has given it an opal green colour while the surrounding mountains have created the magnificent effect of a fjord. After the trip ends we drive toward Kruja, the Albanian centre of resistance against the Ottoman invasion led by the Albanian National Hero, Scanderbeg. He kept the Ottomans engaged in Albanian territories for 25 years during the 15th century, thus hampering their progress north into Western Europe. This was recognized by the pope of the time who named Scanderbeg “Athleta Christi” translated Champion of Christ. Visits the Scanderbeg museum where we gain an incredible amount of knowledge about Albanian history, and also Kruja’s Ottoman bazaar, the best place in Albania to find handmade, traditional crafts. After visits depart to the capital Tirana for overnight.