Another early start and another huge packed breakfast that was enough for lunch too. Took the 7am minivan from Shkoder to Theth in the Albanian Alps. It took 3 hours but we had many stops for the driver to pick up laundry, bread and the biggest roll of kitchen paper, then deliver them and have a coffee break! At least there is a new tarmac road, it must have been an awful journey before, up over the mountains and down into a valley. Much cooler here, pleasant.
This is clearly a new and expanding settlement full of guest houses and restaurants for the passing trade of people coming to do the hikes that radiate from here. The most popular is over a pass to Valbona. It's possible to carry on by car from there to the ferry that we were on yesterday. We will base ourselves here for 4 days. Today we just looked around town, lots of pretty views. Staying at Shpella guesthouse which is a converted traditional house, kulla, very pleasant place to stay with a big garden and great views.
After a good breakfast set off for the main hike that people come
to Theth to do, the route from here to Vallbona over a high pass
. We were not sure how far we would get as we planned to turn around and come back. Although it was a steep walk up through mostly beechwood it was not too hard, with several cafes on the way! Once we reached the pass, about a 1,000m climb, after about 2.5 hours the views were so stunning we could see no point in going further, so had a picnic and enjoyed the scenery. From the pass you are surrounded by mountains and can see all the way down the valley with Valbona sitting at the bottom. There were a surprising number of people at the top as there didn't seem so many on the route up or fown. We were lucky with the weather it was a beautiful sunny day.
Once we reaced Theth again and had a recuperating ice-cream, we continued through the village to see the waterfall in the afternoon sun. This is on the route to the Blue Eye but off to one side after passing through the village, it was a long day but very picturesque.
the Blue Eye beaty spot today again set off after breakfast. It was a lovely walk there following the river for most of the way, very clear water rushing along over huge boulders. The last part was busy as there's a road there and cafes, the final climb up was quite steep along the river valley. Very pretty with crystal clear water at the final pool, no one was swimming while we were there, very cold water. As we turned round to come back after a soda from a rickety view point, the heavens opened with a big thunderstorm! We had a very wet 2.5 hour walk back. We gratefully stoped at a restaurant in Theth for hot soup and coffee and dripped a big pool under our table, we were very wet! It stopped raining soon after we arrived at the restaurant and didn't rain again, we should have waited it out!
Rest day today, the forecast had been for rain all day, however it didn't rain at all.
Another beautiful day for weather. Today we hiked up to Daneli, a high alpine meadow. Another steep climb up from the guesthouse, again around 1,000m, quickly leaving the village behind. Less woodland and more views on this route up, views along the valley towards the blue eye. The path was wa easy to follow but not as well used as the previous walk, we only met a few people on the route. The valley at the top is a lovely high meadow full of lush grass and alpine flowers, a big pond full of frogs and tadpoles. There were also remains of a summer farmstead, although it looked quite abandoned.
At the end of the trek back down we stopped in the ethnographic museum, housed in an old "kulla" (traditional house), built on a rock. The lady from the neighbouring home was the custodian and gave us an informative and entertaining guided tour, she spoke no English but communicated very clearly with gestures.
Enjoyed a final wholesome meal at the guesthouse.
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