Category: Discover

HOW TO REACH THETH FROM SHKODËR ?

Posted By : Choose Balkans/ 504

Albania is a small country in square meters terms, however, Albania’s territory offer a wide variety of landscapes, wild rivers, rough mountainous areas, hidden natural wonders and rich history and customs. Not by chance Albania is said to be Europe’s Last Secret. Most travelers visiting Albania travel to Tirana, and the Albanian Riviera, which is indeed very beautiful. Nevertheless, if you are looking for wild nature, rural areas, local customs, astonishing ferry rides through the Alps, trekking and hiking through the mountains you should definitely visit North Albania. This short article aims to offer you some brief information on how you can travel from Tirana to Koman Lake, Valbona Valley, Theth and the rest of the Albanian Alps:

If you were traveling from Tirana to Valbona, through Koman Lake, you would probably have to wake up early in the morning. Usually you need to leave Tirana at 05:00 am, as you need to get on time at Koman Lake for the Ferry. The majority of the road from Tirana to Vau Dejës is pretty good and most of the views are flat landscapes. Ones we pas Vau i Dejës town, the road becomes more bumpy; landscapes become wilder, with mountains, lakes and forests. Most ferries leave Koman Lake Dam at 09:00 am to Fierza (Fierzë) dam. The ferry ride through Lake Koman is said to be one of the best experiences while visiting Albania and the Balkans. Through this ride you would be able to experience some astonishing views of wild Rocky Mountains, waterfalls forests and rural villages. If you take any of the small boats (which usually take longer to get to Fierza) you would travel like a local. Most likely the boat will stop from one village to the other and the locals will get off the boat together with their food supplies or local farming products.  The ferry ride through Lake Koman passes through some very remote areas and rural villages. The majority of these villages have these small boats as they only mean of transport that connects them to the rest of Albania. Fierza Dam will be reached at about 12:00 noontime.

Before entering the national park of Valbona Valley you would visit the small city of Bajram Curri or locally know also as the city of Tropoja, which is the Northeast city in Albania, next to the border with Kosovo.

Ten minutes from the city of Bajram Curri you will enter the National Park of Valbona Valley. Wile riding aside Valbona River you will definitely notice the clarity and the unique color of its waters that run through the valley. You can even swim in the river during summer time, however, be advised that the water is very cold as its usually melted snow from the Alps Crown surrounding Valbona Valley.

Most visitors travel to Valbona Valley, Theth and the Albanian Alps, part of the Balkan Peaks so they can get in touch with nature and mountainous rural areas. Valbona Valley has become a major destination for most tourists visiting Albania or neighboring countries. However, few people know that this area was one of the most remote and unvisited areas just 10 years ago. Most of the Guesthouses that offer accommodation services in Valbona Valley are mostly old houses from the villages around which were adopted into guesthouses due to the increasing request from western European travelers looking for hiking adventures in this hidden part of Europe. These guesthouses usually offer basic accommodating and food services, however they offer amazing views of the crown of the Albanian Alps, part of the Balkan Peaks.

Most of travelers prefer to do some trekking and hiking in the surrounding natural attractions like “Rogami’s Mountain” ( 2478 m ), tops of Mount Jezerca (2642 m), tops of “Lapuka’s Mountains” (2575 m), tops of “Valbona’s Mountain” (1966 m), tops of Bolsh ‘s Mountain ” (2414 m) , tops of Zhapora’s Mountains (2516 m) tops of “Band of the Bear Mountain ” (2468 m).

Trekking from Valbona to Theth is one of the best walking adventures you can experience while visiting northern Albania. Even though the distance between Valbona and Theth is just 13 kilometers (about 8 miles) the trekking lasts about 6 – 8 hours, depending on your physical condition. Local tour guides or professional hikers can even manage to do the path for less then 4 hours. If you are traveling with heavy luggage, no problem, local guides can also bring along caravan horses or mules that will carry your luggage throughout the whole path. Trekking from Valbona to Theth is considered a medium level difficulty, so you can easily manage it even if you are not a professional hiker. You would need proper trekking shoes, water supply and some jacket or jumper when getting on the top of Qafa e Valbonës. Ones you get on the top of Qafa e Valbones you will understand everything was worth doing. From this point you will be able to enjoy the astonishing panoramic view of Valbona Valley, Theth Valley, the crown of the Albanian Alps and most of Balkan Peaks. It is worth spending some time enjoying the view from this point. From now on the trekking becomes easier as we follow a descending slope towards the village of Thethi. It will take us two and a half to three hours until we arrive in Theth. However, the trekking follows a beautiful path through the forest and the alps that will make these three hours pass like a fingers clap.

Most of people that love the mountains and the Albanian Alps consider Theth as one of the most beautiful villages in Northern Albania. Theth has it all, it offers a combined variety of historical buildings, legendary stories of strongman, blood feuds stories, religious monuments, natural wonders, mountainous relief, river valleys, waterfalls, water springs, wild life, interesting people, culture and traditions.  If you are spending some time in the Balkan region it is usually worth spending at least two nights in Theth, to manage to visit some of its natural wanders. Theth is also a starting point for people who trek toward Montenegro in Plav region, or towards Kosovo in Boga and Gryka e Rugoves. Theth is one of the main destinations for all travelers doing the Balkan Peaks and Via Dinarica.

There are two main ways to arrive in Theth, the one from Valbona Valley (described above) which is only reachable on foot, and the other one is from Shkoder through Qafa e Thores. Most visitors traveling with a rented car, with a tour or with their own cars travel from Tirana or from Shkoder to Theth via Qafa e Thores. The ride from Shkoder to Theth lasts at least three hours drive. The road from Shkoder to Qafa e Thores is quite ok and with asphalt. It passes through some beautiful villages such as Boga (Bogë in Albanian) and mountainous landscapes. However the road from Qafa e Thores to Theth is quite bumpy, with a lot of curves and abyss on one side of the road. The view on this road is astonishing, however we recommend you to focus on the road rather than the view, unless you choose to find a safe place to safely park the car and enjoy the panorama of the Alps. Ones in Theth you could either stay at one of the typical guesthouses of the village or you could choose to camp in the nature. Some of the main attractions you can visit in Theth are: Ujvara e Grunasit (Grunas Waterfall), Kulla e Ngujimit (Lock-in Tower), Syri i Kaltër (Blue Eye), Muzeu Etnografik  (Ethnographic Museum), Shpella e Zezë (The Black Cave) etc.. Most recommended physical activities you can do in Theth National Park are: Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Swimming, Camping, Free style snowboarding or skiing etc…

The aim of this short article is to offer you a small flavor of the Albanian National Parks of Valbona Valley, and Theth National Park. Nevertheless you can only get experience best of these emotions and beauties by visiting Albania yourselves.

 

For detailed information & Tours please Contact Us

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THE COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO TRAVELING BETWEEN KOSOVO AND SERBIA – BY VALERIE HOPKINS

Posted By : Choose Balkans/ 154 0

Whether you’ve got the Balkan bug or you just want to plan a weekend partying all night on Belgrade’s splavs, one of the city’s unique diversions, especially for those of us living in this city without a river, you might have questions about how to travel from Kosovo to Serbia. Here in the Balkans many of us expats love the region’s idiosyncrasies, but there is just one that is infinitely frustrating and — dare I say — downright detestable.

As an expat who’s been working in the Balkans for more than seven years now, I’ve fielded my share of questions about bus schedules (which are more often than not still not published on the internet), phone plans and, most confounding of all, the logistics of traveling from Kosovo to and through Serbia, which for many still remains an odyssey. I’ve always wanted to find a link to send these curious, mobile folk and as the old adage goes, if you want a thing done well, do it yourself. So here goes.

If you’re from Kosovo, you have no problem getting to Serbia. Most of the countries of Europe may be closed to you if you don’t have a visa, but neighboring Serbia beckons! A 2011 deal on free movement between Belgrade and Prishtina means all you need is your ID card. You will receive a temporary paper visa that you MUST have when you leave Serbia and return to Kosovo. If you’re traveling with Kosovo number plates, you can buy a temporary license plate at the border and your insurance is now recognized by Serbia, which will save you at least one hundred euros.

You can stop reading here if you are from one of the other former Yugoslav countries (you probably have anyway) besides Bosnia, since Kosovo has applied a visa regime due to non-recognition, which likely includes the precise crossing where you can enter and exit Kosovo. If you’re from a European country that issues national identity cards to its citizens, then you can cross at any border between Kosovo and Serbia by using only your ID card!

But if you’re like me and other nationals of countries that don’t make national IDs, a group of people who are used to their passports opening a lot of doors, or, erm, borders for them,* you can only enter Serbia from Kosovo if you originally entered Kosovo from Serbia and don’t have proof that you went elsewhere. You need to have a Serbian entry stamp that was issued less than three months before your attempted (re)entry.

There are several borders you can use – the most direct trip to Belgrade, for instance, is Merdare, near Podujevo. You can also cross north of Leposavic at Jarinje and west of Mitrovica at Brnjak. To the east, you can cross at Konculj (Dheu e Bardhe or Bela Zemlja), which goes towards Bujanovac and at – my personal favorite name – Mucibaba, which goes towards Presevo. There is a tiny border north of Prapashtica called Mutivoda, which goes in the direction of Medvedja.

 

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Valbona Valley, in the Alps north Albania

CHEAPEST WAY TO GET FROM FIERZA TO VALBONA.

Posted By : Choose Balkans/ 152 0

Traveling toward the Albanian North is not always easy. Public transport does not cover direct lines to some of the most popular tourist destinations like Valbona Valley, Theth and Koman Lake. However, this does not mean that you can not visit these Natural Beauties of Albania.

Choose Balkans Incoming Tour Operator offers shuttle services from Tirana or Shkodra towards Koman Lake, Valbona Valley and Theth.

 

 

 

For booking a shuttle service you can get in touch with Choose Balkans and book a seat for your journey: [email protected], +355698801181

 

One Bonus Tip for our Visitors!

It’s always cheaper booking a full package. Consider the fact that during high season most of the Guesthouses are full. You will hardly find a bed and most likely pay double of the normal price for a last minute deal!

For booking a full package tour please feel free to have a quick look at our tour programs. 

 

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HOW TO GET FROM VALBONA TO ÇEREM ?

Posted By : Choose Balkans/ 175 0

Çerem is an authentic alpine village surrounded by the crown of mountains in a soft hill, famous for it’s blackberries. Almost 4 hours far from Valbona, Çerem is the last stop for the hikers who want to pass in Plava, Montenegro.

For booking a walking guide you can get in touch with Choose Balkans and book a local guide for your journey: [email protected] +355698801181

 

 

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HOW TO GET FROM TIRANA TO THETH ?

Posted By : Choose Balkans/ 1090 0

Theth is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages right at the heart of the Albanian Alps. Traveling from Tirana to Thethi village is quite an adventure. This article aims to offer you some tips on how to get to Theth and what you should expect during this journey.

There would be three main ways to get from Tirana to Theth;

1) By car,

2) By public transport and

3) By organized tour.

So lets take a virtual tour to Theth for any of the options:

 

Traveling by car. If you plan to travel with your own car from Tirana to Theth, that is a great choice. However, we have some recommendations; you need to have a big 4×4 wheel drive. Why? Well the road from Tirana to Shkodër is fine with any car (about two hours drive). Even the road from Shkodër to Qafa e Thores is ok, a bit more rural as it goes through some villages such as Dedaj and Bogë. Qafa e Thores is on the top of the mountain and is a great balcony of the Albanian Alps. Here is when the road gets dodgy. The distance from Qafa e Thores to Theth is only 15 km, however, it will take you about 1 h 20 minutes to get to Theth. The ride offers a specular view of the the Albanian Alps, however, it is very narrowed and bumpy (its quite a mission for two cars to swap). So, unless you are on the passengers’ seat, we recommend you better focus on the road. The wild beauty of Thethi village will be your reward of this long but unforgettable journey.

Traveling by public transportation. Lets begin by being honest, there is not such a thing as an official public line that gets you from Tirana to Thethi.However, it is possible and quite an adventure :). You need to go to the Northern Albania bus station (at Rruga Dritan Hoxha) where you can get the bus to Shkoder. The buses run almost every one hour from 8:00 am until 4 pm. You can not book your bus tickets online, however, there is no need. You can book your seats when you show at the bus station. Most likely the bus driver wont speak English, however, with the international body language you would be able to reserve your seats. The price for the bus ticket would be around 5  Euros per person. I would recommend you get an early bus or minivan as the ride from Shkodër to Theth will last at least 3 – 4 hours more.

Geting a ride from Shkodra to Thethi would be a bit more difficult. Why? Well there is no bus or minibus that officially runs every day. The only transport that goes toward Theth from Shkoder are either random tourist visiting the Alps, or inhabitants of Theth who come to Shkoder early in the morning to buy grocery or other goods they need for their guesthouses or won consumption. I highly recommend you get in touch with a local from Theth so you have a secure seat on their car, so they can give you a ride from Shkoder on their way back. Little warning :), most of the locals drive a bit creasy on the dangerous road from Qafa e Thores to Theth. They are used to this bumpy road and feel a bit more comfortable than they should :). They normally charge at least 40 Euros for a 4 seats car, no matter weather there is one or 4 passengers. This is however somehow justified considering the difficult road.

Similarly to Valbona, in Theth you can find different categories of guesthouses. The majority of them are old Kulla’s (Traditional Stone Houses typical of Northern Albania), which have been recently adopted into guesthouses. Locals are very friendly, they offer basic tourisms services, however their are very welcoming and try to offer everything they can. They normally function first comes first served. Only a few guesthouses are exposed for online bookings. We recommend you book your guesthouse before you get to Theth as some days might be booked prior to your arrival. The prices per person vary from one guesthouse to the other. A normal price for guesthouse accommodation would be between 25 – 50 Euros per night FB (including breakfast, lunch and dinner).

 

 

 

By getting an organized tour. Sometimes it is smarter to book a dedicated tour as it saves you time, efforts and money.

Traveling in small groups is always more fun 🙂  !

 

For detailed information & Tours please Contact Us

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Book an Apartment in Tirana

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HIKING IN THE ALBANIAN NORTH ALPS

Posted By : Choose Balkans/ 245 0

Albania is a small country in square meters terms, however, Albania’s territory offer a wide variety of landscapes, wild rivers, rough mountainous areas, hidden natural wonders and rich history and customs. Not by chance Albania is said to be Europe’s Last Secret. Most travelers visiting Albania travel to Tirana, and the Albanian Riviera, which is indeed very beautiful. Nevertheless, if you are looking for wild nature, rural areas, local customs, astonishing ferry rides through the Alps, trekking and hiking through the mountains you should definitely visit North Albania. This short article aims to offer you some brief information on how you can travel from Tirana to Koman Lake, Valbona Valley, Theth and the rest of the Albanian Alps:

If you were traveling from Tirana to Valbona, through Koman Lake, you would probably have to wake up early in the morning. Usually you need to leave Tirana at 05:00 am, as you need to get on time at Koman Lake for the Ferry. The majority of the road from Tirana to Vau Dejës is pretty good and most of the views are flat landscapes. Ones we pas Vau i Dejës town, the road becomes more bumpy; landscapes become wilder, with mountains, lakes and forests. Most ferries leave Koman Lake Dam at 09:00 am to Fierza (Fierzë) dam. The ferry ride through Lake Koman is said to be one of the best experiences while visiting Albania and the Balkans. Through this ride you would be able to experience some astonishing views of wild Rocky Mountains, waterfalls forests and rural villages. If you take any of the small boats (which usually take longer to get to Fierza) you would travel like a local. Most likely the boat will stop from one village to the other and the locals will get off the boat together with their food supplies or local farming products.  The ferry ride through Lake Koman passes through some very remote areas and rural villages. The majority of these villages have these small boats as they only mean of transport that connects them to the rest of Albania. Fierza Dam will be reached at about 12:00 noontime.

Before entering the national park of Valbona Valley you would visit the small city of Bajram Curri or locally know also as the city of Tropoja, which is the Northeast city in Albania, next to the border with Kosovo.

Ten minutes from the city of Bajram Curri you will enter the National Park of Valbona Valley. Wile riding aside Valbona River you will definitely notice the clarity and the unique color of its waters that run through the valley. You can even swim in the river during summer time, however, be advised that the water is very cold as its usually melted snow from the Alps Crown surrounding Valbona Valley.

Most visitors travel to Valbona Valley, Theth and the Albanian Alps, part of the Balkan Peaks so they can get in touch with nature and mountainous rural areas. Valbona Valley has become a major destination for most tourists visiting Albania or neighboring countries. However, few people know that this area was one of the most remote and unvisited areas just 10 years ago. Most of the Guesthouses that offer accommodation services in Valbona Valley are mostly old houses from the villages around which were adopted into guesthouses due to the increasing request from western European travelers looking for hiking adventures in this hidden part of Europe. These guesthouses usually offer basic accommodating and food services, however they offer amazing views of the crown of the Albanian Alps, part of the Balkan Peaks.

Most of travelers prefer to do some trekking and hiking in the surrounding natural attractions like “Rogami’s Mountain” ( 2478 m ), tops of Mount Jezerca (2642 m), tops of “Lapuka’s Mountains” (2575 m), tops of “Valbona’s Mountain” (1966 m), tops of Bolsh ‘s Mountain ” (2414 m) , tops of Zhapora’s Mountains (2516 m) tops of “Band of the Bear Mountain ” (2468 m).

Trekking from Valbona to Theth is one of the best walking adventures you can experience while visiting northern Albania. Even though the distance between Valbona and Theth is just 13 kilometers (about 8 miles) the trekking lasts about 6 – 8 hours, depending on your physical condition. Local tour guides or professional hikers can even manage to do the path for less then 4 hours. If you are traveling with heavy luggage, no problem, local guides can also bring along caravan horses or mules that will carry your luggage throughout the whole path. Trekking from Valbona to Theth is considered a medium level difficulty, so you can easily manage it even if you are not a professional hiker. You would need proper trekking shoes, water supply and some jacket or jumper when getting on the top of Qafa e Valbonës. Ones you get on the top of Qafa e Valbones you will understand everything was worth doing. From this point you will be able to enjoy the astonishing panoramic view of Valbona Valley, Theth Valley, the crown of the Albanian Alps and most of Balkan Peaks. It is worth spending some time enjoying the view from this point. From now on the trekking becomes easier as we follow a descending slope towards the village of Thethi. It will take us two and a half to three hours until we arrive in Theth. However, the trekking follows a beautiful path through the forest and the alps that will make these three hours pass like a fingers clap.

Most of people that love the mountains and the Albanian Alps consider Theth as one of the most beautiful villages in Northern Albania. Theth has it all, it offers a combined variety of historical buildings, legendary stories of strongman, blood feuds stories, religious monuments, natural wonders, mountainous relief, river valleys, waterfalls, water springs, wild life, interesting people, culture and traditions.  If you are spending some time in the Balkan region it is usually worth spending at least two nights in Theth, to manage to visit some of its natural wanders. Theth is also a starting point for people who trek toward Montenegro in Plav region, or towards Kosovo in Boga and Gryka e Rugoves. Theth is one of the main destinations for all travelers doing the Balkan Peaks and Via Dinarica.

There are two main ways to arrive in Theth, the one from Valbona Valley (described above) which is only reachable on foot, and the other one is from Shkoder through Qafa e Thores. Most visitors traveling with a rented car, with a tour or with their own cars travel from Tirana or from Shkoder to Theth via Qafa e Thores. The ride from Shkoder to Theth lasts at least three hours drive. The road from Shkoder to Qafa e Thores is quite ok and with asphalt. It passes through some beautiful villages such as Boga (Bogë in Albanian) and mountainous landscapes. However the road from Qafa e Thores to Theth is quite bumpy, with a lot of curves and abyss on one side of the road. The view on this road is astonishing, however we recommend you to focus on the road rather than the view, unless you choose to find a safe place to safely park the car and enjoy the panorama of the Alps. Ones in Theth you could either stay at one of the typical guesthouses of the village or you could choose to camp in the nature. Some of the main attractions you can visit in Theth are: Ujvara e Grunasit (Grunas Waterfall), Kulla e Ngujimit (Lock-in Tower), Syri i Kaltër (Blue Eye), Muzeu Etnografik  (Ethnographic Museum), Shpella e Zezë (The Black Cave) etc.. Most recommended physical activities you can do in Theth National Park are: Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Swimming, Camping, Free style snowboarding or skiing etc…

The aim of this short article is to offer you a small flavor of the Albanian National Parks of Valbona Valley, and Theth National Park. Nevertheless you can only get experience best of these emotions and beauties by visiting Albania yourselves.

 

 

For detailed information & Tours please Contact Us

Book a Tour 

Book an Apartment in Tirana

Book an Airpot Shuttle 

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HOW TO GET FROM TIRANA TO VALBONA ?

Posted By : Choose Balkans/ 191 0

Valbona Valley is one of the best known hiking attraction in Albania and the Balkan Peninsula. Part of the Balkan Peaks Valbona Valley is a National Park in Northern Albania.

The adventure for this tour begins from the moment you start planing it. There is not such a thing as a fixed line toward Valbona Valley. This is when it starts getting interesting ;).

If traveling through Koman Lake, you would need to wake up early in the morning, as the ferry from Koman to Fierza leaves at 9:00 am. If you want to travel independently you can get a minivan that runs most of the days from Zogu i Zi round abound ( Tirana) towards Koman Lake. The ticket per person cost about 20 Euros. Even though the distance from Vau i Dejës to Koman Lake is only 32 minutes, it will take you about 1 h 30 minutes to get to the Koman Dam.

The ride offers a specular view of the the Vau i Dejës Lake and the Albanian Alps, however, it is very narrowed and bumpy. So, unless you are on the passengers’ seat, we recommend you better focus on the road.

When you arrive at Koman Lake you can get one of the ferries which both leave around 9:00. The price for the ferry is 5 Euros per person and the ferry rides through the amazing Albanian Alps lasts about 3 hours. If you are traveling with your won car you can get the car on the boat. The price for a normal 5 seats car is about 30 – 40 Euros per car. We recommend you reserve your place for the car at least 1 week in advance, during the high season (June – September),  and reconfirm your reservation the day prior to your trip. 

When you arrive on the other side of the lake at Fierza Dam, most of the times you would be able to find locals that offer transport from Fierza to Valbona Valley. It would cost you about 5 – 7 Euros per person if they are full. Otherwise, if they have only a few passengers, the local taxies will charge 30 euros per vehicle. The ride is 45 minutes to 1 hour. Ones you enter the Valbona Valley National Park you will agree that it was all worthy. The valley is surrounded with the so called “The Crown of the Albanian Alps” and the view in front of you is breathtaking.

You think this was it with the adventure? Wrong! Now the mission is to find a guesthouse :).

There are several guesthouses in Valbona Valley. The majority of them are old Kulla (Traditional Stone Houses typical of Northern Albania), which have been recently adopted into guesthouses. Locals are very friendly, they offer basic tourisms services, however, they are very welcoming and try to offer everything they can. They normally function first comes first served. So, it may take you couple of tries sometimes to find a bed.

We recommend you spend at least 2 days in Valbona Valley to be able to enjoy it. Travelers that stay longer in Valbona Valley hike to Theth, to Plave in Montenegro, toward Rugova Valley in Kosovo or other Balkan Peaks.

If you have limited time in visiting Albania and the above is too much of a stress for you when on holiday we are here to help you organize everything. Sometimes it is smarter to book a dedicated tour as it saves you time, efforts and money . Traveling in small groups is always more fun !

 

 

For detailed information & Tours please Contact Us

Book a Tour 

Book an Apartment in Tirana

Book an Airpot Shuttle 

Rent a Car