5-day trek and village houses in Valbona and Thethi

Outdoor Albania

Despite their extreme isolation (or maybe because of it) the northernmost villages of Albania are growing in popularity. This region is well worth the hours of rocky commute required to get there. The landscape is a three dimensional postcard of jagged alpine peaks, thickly vegetated valleys, and the idyllic wood-shingled dwellings of the scant population.

Because of the travel time involved in reaching this remote area, there’s no fast way to do it. Outdoor Albania’s five-day trek is great span of time to see enough of the region and even absorb some its local culture and flavor. The first day was dedicated to reaching Valbona via a furgon (minibus) to the ferry that passes through the dramatic Drin canyon. Accommodations were welcoming village guesthouses, where a local family cooked simple, traditional dishes using the fresh ingredients from the land.

The next three days were all strenuous days of mountain trekking. The group of 9 followed shepards’ paths through alpine meadows carpeted with wildflowers. Day three was the on-foot passage from Valbona to Thethi, with mountain horses to carry our packs. Day four was spent in and around Thethi, where a well-marked riverside path leads to a gushing waterfall.

Day five was spent in transit from Thethi back to Tirana via Shkoder, a northern city with a lunch stop at Tradita restaurant. Trip highlight: the hammock at the Carku guesthouse in Thethi, where the family’s kids thought it was fun for some reason to rock me as I relaxed after three days of serious hiking.