The weekend before school started Randy and I and our friends, Edlira and Aldo, took a big hike in northern Albania. This part of the country is often referred to as the Albanian Alps. We hiked between the small villages of Valbona and Theth. We had heard about this hike for a year and were anxious to try it but the whole trip takes three full days so we could not do it as a weekend trip. Also the hike can only be completed between June and October because of all the snow in the mountains during the rest of the year. We were so glad we had the time to go before school started!
We took the trip with a tour group of 13 people, 10 Albanians, a man from Dubai and Randy and I. We met the bus in Tirana at 5:00AM and drove north for three hours where we walked through this tunnel to Komani Lake to board a ferry.
Trying to figure out which ferry is ours…
We were on the ferry for not quite 3 hours and the whole time we were treated to one beautiful scene after another, an absolutely gorgeous ride!
After getting off the ferry we took a two hour bus ride to Valbona where we ate lunch at this charming farm. All the food was either grown or made here.
After lunch we took an hour long walk to our guesthouse.
We even walked with some cows at times, loved it! Do you see the backpack I am carrying? We each carried everything we would need for three days because after we got off the bus for the ferry there would be no cars or buses available until after we made the hike to Theth.
Look at this charming old mill we passed by during our walk.
Putting our feet in the VERY cold, clear, beautiful mountain water.
Randy and Aldo kept us well supplied with fresh wild berries during our trip, yum!
Even though there does not appear to be much going on with recycling in Albania we were glad to at least see they are making an attempt.
On the final road to, and then arriving at our guesthouse.
After we settled into our guesthouse, the four of us went for coffee (or Lemon Soda for Randy and I).
The next morning we were provided with all of this food which we used to pack ourselves a lunch for the hike.
We are at the trailhead and ready to hike!
If you know Randy, you know he NEVER wears shorts no matter how hot it gets. Here he is showing us that he broke down and wore shorts on our hike because of the heat. 🙂
We are headed over the pass you can see in the distance.
Can you see the permanent snow in the distance?
Yay, we made it to the top of the pass!!!
On our way back down the other side of the pass.
Believe it or not there were three coffee shops along the hiking trail!
Remember when I said you had to carry everything you needed with you for three days for this hike? If you did not want to carry your things or if you had too much stuff, you could hire a horse or mule to carry your things for a cost of 50 euros. I was really intrigued with the horses so the man leading the horse let me hold the horse’s lead. 🙂
Continuing down the mountain…
These are some of the people we hiked with, such delightful people! The young man in the foreground is our guide, Endri. He is 18 years old and headed to the University of Tirana to study civil engineering starting this month. Endri leads hiking groups on weekends as a part time job and seemed super responsible considering his age.
Look what we came across near the end of the hike.
Almost to Theth…
One of the people we hiked with sent this screenshot of our trip. We were exhausted by the end of the hike but so glad we made it!
That evening we hiked outside of the village of Theth for about an hour to the Grunas Waterfall.
On the way back from the waterfall we stopped at the Defense Tower and heard this man tell us about the history of northern Albania including blood feuds, the Kanun and his family’s ownership of the Defense Tower.
Before we left he played this tune using a simple green leaf from a tree. The tune is one of the very first traditional Albanian songs.
The next day we took a very bumpy, twisty-turny ride from Theth as we headed for Tirana. One more stunning picture of the four of us overlooking the Albanian Alps. This trip was tiring but so very worth it especially since we could travel with two of our very good friends!