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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Autumn & bedbugs in the Albanian Mountains

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Albania is home to its own Alps and a stunning Riviera coastline... plus, it's much cheaper by comparison to more traditional European destinations. Perfect for those on a budget which is why The Boyfriend and I decided to adventure into Northern Albania to trek through the Valbona Pass.

We stayed in a cheap backpackers hostel in Skhoder with bedbugs thrown in for free. This did result in a room upgrade the following night (bugs not included) so all's well that ends bitten.

The journey from Shkoder to Valbona

At 6.30am, we were picked up by a minibus and driven the 30 miles to Komani Lake port - organised by the hostel. This journey took 3 hours because the driver stopped every 5-7 minutes, not to pick up people but to do his daily chores.

We all waited while he went to the butchers, a coffee shop, a veg stall and dropped off some friends. I looked out of the window bleary-eyed as we lingered in a deserted area by the side of the road for half an eternity.

Eventually we arrived at the port and boarded the ferry in the chilly morning haze. The waters of Kobani lake were so incredibly calm it was like gliding across a mirror.

At Fierzë port, we took another minibus to our accommodation in Valbona where we ate lunch with 2 fellow Brits, also doing the same route as us. We all ordered fish and then watched as the Mama of the place walked up to the stream and pulled out the poor fishies for our meal.

I bet these guys were glad we didn't order lamb for lunch...
From Valbona to Theth

The following day, saw us start the 15 mile hike through the Valbona Pass to Theth village. This is not a hike for the faint-legged as it is basically up, up, UP for the first 3 hours to reach the 1795m peak.

The dead legs were well-worth it though as the autumnal colours were utterly stunning.

Exhausted, it was bed before 9pm so we awoke refreshed the following morning which was greatly needed for the jarring 4 hour mission back to Shkoder in a van as old as Albania herself.

I've never really appreciated quite how breathtaking Autumn's colours were until these Balkans travels. Having spent much of this trip hiking through National Parks or getting lost on back roads in a hire car, it's been a pleasure to be able to enjoy nature changing along with its seasons.

Next post (An ode to traffic in the Balkans)

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