Albanian Alps


Albania, situated in the Balkans, is probably still one of the most isolated, underdeveloped, impoverished and, until recently, the most repressed country in Europe. Only recently following several decades of strict communist rule, is it beginning to open up its frontiers to the develop tourist world since the fall of communism there in 1992.

The Albanian Alps is a long range of mountains stretching from Northern Albania into Kosovo and Montenegro and reaching up to 2500 metres in altitude. This range is part of the 1,000 kilometre long Dinaric Alps. These steep mountains were formed when what is known as the African plate, which lies  beneath the Europe plate, folded during the Ice Age and caused the upheaval of the upper plate.  Later through the activity of glaciers there were deep valley cut through the range leaving high peaks  with steep sides up to 2,000 metres and overhanging rock. Some of these were trough valleys which were thus formed into lakes which still remain. Many of the passes formed by these glaciers still remain inaccessible today and there are at least still five or more active glaciers.

It is rather difficult to reach the Albanian Alps. You can go in from the north and go through Thethi. Or you can go in from the south.  But there are very few roads going all the way into the Alps and it is about 25 kilometres walking distance on narrow roads with much traffic and many hairpin bends. There are minibuses on which you can travel but not many. It is best to bring  your own car and a bicycle for getting around when you reach your destination because there is very little public transport.

The scenery is magnificent, providing marvellous panoramic views. You will see traditional Albanian homes and villages. You will find great places for fishing or hiking. In some walking places you will be better to have a guide to avoid getting lost as there are few inhabitants  in the more remote areas. You can rent a horse from some of the villagers and if you are really expert you can find your way by looking out for and following horse droppings along the way! While you are out in the wilds you will be ble to buy food from the local people and drink their strong coffee.

You can find hotels and guest houses but be sure to fix the cost before you decide to stay as later it might be difficult.  You can stay with a family or you can camp in their yard but never in isolated areas. It is always wise to consult some of the local people about where it is unsafe to travel.