Albania – hiking in the Valbona valley

The friendly guest house in Valbona

We sleep quietly in this small hut belonging to the Kol Gjoni guesthouse.

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The breakfast is delicious. Pancakes with home made honey and marmelade, eggs freshly collected from the hens and a Turkish coffee.
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Walking in the Valbona river bed

We leave around nine o’clock and get some drinking water at this well.

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We turn to the marked hiking path,

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… and walk on the paved road and then in the stony bed of the Valbona river – ahead of us we see our target, the pass that connects Valbona and Teth.

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Upwards to the pass, with a surprise… Simoni’s bar

After about one and a half hours, our ascent starts on a narrow path.

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After another half hour, Ben whistles loudly to announce to Qsimoni that we are arriving. Qsimoni runs a coffee bar on a meadow in the middle of nowhere.

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Simoni’s Turkish coffee is delicious. He spends the summer here serving hikers. Why here? “Oh”, he says, “I once had a dream that I want to serve the public here. My elder brother helped me build the bar. And now I am here.” We love the place, chat with a Dutch couple, and then continue upwards.
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On the pass to Thet

Around one o’clock we reach the pass (Ben calls it “the neck”). There is a lot of activity here. Quite a few hikers came from Teth and now have lunch here. One group came with horses that carry their luggage. Brave animals. We climb to the highest point above the “neck”.

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We eat our picnic (generous and delicious from our guesthouse) and enjoy the view down to the Teth valley and to the Valbona valley.

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Same way back to Valbona

We go back down, following the group with the horses.
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Simoni’s bar is now busy. It is just the right place for a stop. I am astonsihed that so many people cross the mountains from Thet to Valbona. This is a secret to be passed on, when I am back home.
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I have another Turkish coffee and now I also take a Raki. Qsimoni is happy. It has been a good summer for him and he might look for a volunteer to help him next year, he says.

Around four o’clock we are back in our little hut. The farmer offers two large bowls of fresh yoghurt to us, and she spreads a blanket on the ground. Ben sits down legs crossed – this is how they do it here.

This has been a wonderful day walking for about five hours. Valbona is at 1000m and the pass at around 1800m.

Tomorrow, we will continue to Kosovo.

 

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