It started with a friend suggesting Georgia as an out of the beaten track destination that got me researching the most eastern reaches of Europe. I am not sure how I crossed the Black Sea and ended up in the Dinaric Alps instead of the Caucasus, but I discovered Via Dinarica, a 2,000 km walk winding through seven Balkan countries. Through viadinarica.org- an online organisation that links hiking across via Dinarica, I got in touch with Outdoor Albania, the company doing the hike
The Dinaric Alps are a mountain range in Southern and South-eastern Europe, separating the continental Balkan Peninsula from the Adriatic Sea. They stretch from Italy in the northwest through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, to Albania in the southeast.
I reached Tirana, the capital of Albania on 26 July, and the next day, along with Adnan, my guide, and three co-travellers, set out towards Shkodra, northern Albania’s largest and oldest town. The Adriatic Sea gleamed to our left while the mountains grew to our right.
We reached the Qafe Thore, the Diagonal Pass, where we enjoyed majestic 360 degree views, an introduction to what was to come. A downhill (bit bumpy) ride brought us into the village of Theth, where we would last ride a car for the next five days.
29 July saw us on what was to be our iconic trail – Theth to Valbona, through the Valbona Pass. In fact, if anyone wants to do a single day hike, both Theth and Valbona have transport and shared cars to do a full multi day guided trip. You can send your bags with horses to the next guest house, and trek through a very well-marked trail. And this was where we met multiple hikers.
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