Five Days in the North: Guided Tour to a Bit of Everything
This is a nice basic tour with an English Speaking Guide provided each day, as well as all transport, meals & accommodation included. Along the way, you take in a bit of culture, quite a bit of walking, some great restaurants and experience the best hotels in the area, as well as one night in a traditional mountain farmhouse.
Day 2: Valbona Valley, Kukaj
Day 3: Valbona to Theth
Day 4: Theth to Kruja
Day 5: Departure (or onwards)
2-3 people: 550€ per person (to be honest, this was planned for larger groups, so ask us for specific pricing as some major costs may not be necessary – like a private boat!)
4-6 people: 350€ per person
7-10 people: 300€ per person
10-14 people: 250€ per person
Day 1: Mire se Vini! Pick up from Rinas airport in Tirana (or wherever) by your English speaking Malësori (Highlander) guide. Transfer by taxi or minibus to Koman. In Koman, board your private boat for “one of the great boat trips of the world” (Bradt Guide) along the Komani Hidroelectric Lake, in which you float along the narrow Drin River Valley on a mirror of blue, past silent mountain tops. Depending on start time in the morning, a packed lunch or restaurant lunch can be provided. Pickup in Fierze for Transport to Valbona Valley, with a quick stop to visit the Kulla of Mic Sokoli, a lovingly restored 200 year old Kuvendi (council) tower. Once in Valbona Valley you have the option of leaving the bus in Dragobi for a 2 hour hike along the Valbona River banks, to arrive at Rilindja in Quku i Valbones in old style (on foot!). Dinner at Rilindja (“the best restaurant in Valbona”) and accommodation in the luxury guestrooms of Quku i Valbones’ Rezidenca building.
- Bus from Rinas to Koman: 2 hours
- Boat Trip from Koman to Fierze: 2.5 hours
- Bus from Fierze to Valbona: 1 hour
- Optional Hike: 2 hours
Day 2: Valbona Valley. After an early breakfast in the family farmhouse next to Rezidenca, a quick transport (or you can walk the half hour) to the Lugu i Persllopit Trailhead. A beautiful hike (4 hours) takes you up towards the pass to Montenegro at Qafa e Persllopit, and then cuts west from Gropa e Shkrelit to descend to the small hamlet of Kukaj (in fact 2 houses). Alternately, more adventurous guests may choose to follow their bags directly to Kukaj and then follow the marked path to any of the 3 passes to look over into Montengro, with stunning views of an ocean of mountain tops receding as far as the eye can see (5 hours hiking). A packed lunch is provided. Dinner and accommodation (basic, with all guests in one room) in the traditional mountain home of Tahir Avdylit.
- Bus to Lugu i Persllopit Trailhead: 10 minutes
- or Bus to Kukaj: 40 minutes
- Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Day 3: Crossing to Theth. After breakfast, it’s into the minibus for a 45 minute transfer to the Trailhead in Gjelaj (Rrogam). Here you load your bags onto mules, for the 6 hour famous walk to Thethi village. There is the option for a slight detour at the beginning of the hike, to visit the waterfall source of Valbona River. With a 2.5 hour, 800m rise at the start of the hike, the hard part is over by noon. Don’t forget that chances are good that in mid-May there may still be snow in the pass, so hikers should be prepared. On the far side of the pass, it’s a gentle 3.5 hour descent of 1000m. Packed Lunch is provided. Arrive in the historic village of Theth where dinner and accommodation are provided at Villa Gjecaj (best food in Theth!).
- Bus to Gjelaj: 45 minutes
- Hiking Time: 6 hours
Day 4: Morning in Theth and transfer to historic Kruja. You have plenty of time in the morning to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and walk to the old Catholic church of Theth, visited by Edith Durham and Rose Wilder Lane (yes, of Little House on the Prairie fame). An additional 45 minutes takes you to the lovely Grunas Waterfall. Return to the guesthouse for a quick/late lunch, and then into the bus for transport to historic Kruja. Along the way we stop for dinner in the wine country around Kallmet, at the world class restaurant Mrizi i Zaneve, one of the world’s great slow-food restaurants (the name means “Fairy’s Shade” and is taken from a line of Gjergj Fishta poetry). Accommodation at the Hotel Panorama in Kruja, home of Albanian national hero Skenderbeg .
- Morning walks: up to 5 hours
- Bus to Kallmet: 3.5 hours
- Bus to Kruja: 1 hour
Day 5: Morning in Kruja and Transfer to Tirana. The town of Kruja is perched on a mountain top and is home to the restored Castle and museum of 15th century hero Skenderbeg. There is also a very nice restored traditional Pazaar or street of shops where you can buy traditional handicrafts, antiques and a really odd assortment of flotsam from Albania’s history (including for some reason WWI dough boy helmets). Depending on departure time, a lunch can be provided at the aptly named Hotel Panorama, with its gorgeous balcony views of the valley. Transport to the airport, and fond farewells!
- Morning walks: time permitting
- Bus to Rinas: 1 hour
a Note on Accommodation: Accommodation is assumed at referenced hotels, but can only be confirmed at time of booking. If not available, accommodation will be provided at the next best option, and any difference in price refunded.