The Valbona River Valley lies in the eastern part of the Albanian Alps. A national park of 8,000 hectares, it is one of the most beautiful natural areas in Albania. The park lies about 22 km from the alpine city of Bajram Curri. Before entering the valley you will find the spring of Shoshan, located only 3 km away from Bajram Curri. This spring rushes throught limestone fissures on its way to the Valbona River creating an attractive canyon 2-3 km wide and 50m deep. After entering the valley you will pass several picturesque villages. The first with alpine style houses, is called Dragobia, and it is where the valley narrows. Past Dragobia at the foot of the mountain where the Cerremi stream joins the Valbona River is the famous cave where the national hero Bajram Curri was besieged and killed. It was after this event that the city took his name. Valbona (or Selimaj) is located 25 km away from the city of Bajram Curri and is the most important inhabited center of the valley. It is full of traditional houses that create a picturesque view in symmetry with the natural wonders of the valley, which widens again at the point. In Selimaj there is a comfortable and traditional hotel, or you may have the opportunity to stay at a village house, which generosity and hospitality of locals are well known. The zone is also know fort its characteristic regional cooking, with specialties such as “ mazja “, “flija “ (a many layered pacanke –like dish cooked outdoors over open coals and steamed, often served with local honey) and “pitja “.
Beyond Selimaj the road continues through the valley, among marvelous views of nature with rich colors of both spring time and of the snow that covers mountains. The final village before you arrive at the Valbona River is Rrogam. Rrogam is a remote village surrounded by virgin and intact nature. The entire valley is resplendent with rare colors and beauty. On one side you see the crystal-clear waters of the Valbona, and on the other the sharp but verdant mountain edges. Until May you can enjoy the contrast of the clean white snow on the treetops against the blue sky. The rest consist of beech woods, arnen, walnuts, chestnuts, and wild apple trees. There are also many forest fruits such as blueberries and strawberries. The animals in the park include bears, wolves, wild cats, and even herdes or wild goats climbing on the rocks. In the river can be found marble trout, a rare fish found in the crystal – clear waters of the Valbona with a special and exquisite taste. The valley, the park, and all the surroundings are know for heavy snowfall, which starst in early November and last almost until May. The average amount of snow in the region during the year is 100 cm. There are many outdoor activities in the national park, such as skiing, fishing, and trekking throughout the valley and streams (Cerremi, Kukaj) and canoeing along certain parts of the river. Valbona is the point if you wish to climb the Jezerca Mountain, the second highest mountain in Albania and the highest mountain of Dinaric Alps.
Another interesting spot of the Western Alps is Vermoshi part of the northern – most mouintains of the country located 95 km from Shkodra in the region of Kelmendi ( from the Roman word “Clemens” meaning gentle simple, and good). The first thing to catch the eye along the journey is Qafa e Rrapshit, where you can see the crystal –clear waters of the Cemi River creating a beautiful contrast with the surrounding contrast landscape. During summer the ponds of the river are perfect for sunbathing, and many visitors stop to lounge in the sun and enjoy themselves. Vermoshi stands in an alpine field 1,000 m above sea level surrounded by high slopes. You can entertain yourself by trekking, mountain climbing, skiing, or fishing for mountain trout. The locals pride themselves that their cuisine is only truly enjoyable for visitors when accented by their own dairy products, so be sure to indulge. The full journey among the people of this region will give you not only the change to live between a mythical atmosphere and the contemporary world, but will also let you enjoy the renowned hospitality mentioned by almost every foreigner who has been fortunate enough to visit.
Located 70 km from Shkodra, you must pass Qafa e Terthores at 2000 m above sea level before descending to “Gropa e Thethtit” by crossing a stream bearing the same name. It is a journey you will want to have your camera ready, for full of long views from the mountains, with water cascading down craggy hillsides and trees struggling for sunlight on rocky slopes. The area is rich in attractive sights like the waterfall of Grunas 30m high, the amazing cold-water sources of Okol, and the caves of Birrat me Rrathe (Round Holes) and Arapi. In the park people often amuse themselves by hiking, mountain climbing, skiing (especially on the eastern slope), fishing, even mountain biking and spelunking. Almost 90% of the park area is covered by beech tress, providing shade for many different types of flowers such as the Wulfenia Baldacci, discovered by the Italian botanist Baldacci. Fascinatingly this flower is found only in Thethi. Fauna is just as rich as flora, distinguished by the famed Golden Eagle and Rrisqebulli. In the waters of the Stream of Thethi you can stay in local hostels designed to display traditional alpine architecture. The characteristic dish of the area is ferliku (baked meat) or sample one of a large varieties of local trout. If you have enough time many travelers enjoy a short excursion, to the valley of the Shala River which brings them close to the heart of the Alps.
Boga and Razma
An alpine tour of Albania isn’t complete without a stop in the famed Western Alps. Here you will enjoy the unique opportunity to walk, breath, sleep, and eat amidst the legends dating from Homer and through madern tales of our majestic mystery and intrigue. This tour gives you the rare chance, to enjoy the heart of the Albanian Alps Gropa e Thethit .The journey begins from the cultural capital of Shkodra and wanders 41 km away to village of Razma. Situated on a blackberry hill at the feet of the Velecik Mountain, Razma stands amid lush forests of pine and birch trees. Meadows and amazing alpine pastures abound, drenching any visitors with a keen eye in the beauty of the Balkans. Even in the depths of winter when the snow drifts to its highest level of the season, adventure tourists visit Razma. Several hotels already exist and others are being completed. Common activities on the excursions are mountain climbing, skiing and camping. The road turns from Razma to the village of Dedaj and then onto Boga, a village surrounded by Edith Durham in her book, “ The Burden of the Balkans ”. It is here that the wealthy families of Shkodra built their houses and villas to rest and escape the city before the Second World War. Boga is the perfect place for mountain climbing, skiing and cave spelunking. Among the most famous caves, visitors often delve into the Cave of Mulliri (Mill), Akullore (Ice Cream) and wet people. The Cave of Puci is one of the most attractive situaded 1087 m above sea level and 5 km deep. This cave is rich in stalactites, stalamites, and wall veils, and branches into many different levels, five alone at the center. Passing through its curved galleries you can walk into the next cave, the Cave of Husi.