First time I’ve been to Theth was back in 2010. Driving was quite challenging as the road was long and bad, but after all we really enjoyed the hike, and since than I’ve always wanted to go back.
I finally went back last year with my fellow blogger Ejona (Mandarina-yum) and a group of friends. We decided to try the path from Valbona to Theth through the mountain (and the way back), which is a great hiking experience. We arranged everything by ourselves including transportation and guide. We left our cars in Valbonë and hiked through the partially marked Valbonë-Theth path.
We arrived in Theth after a 6.5 hours walk through the mountains. The hike was not very difficult but it also depends on how fit you feel at that moment.
In Theth we stayed at Bujtina Harusha. We rented rooms for 3500 Leke/per person/per night including breakfast and dinner. If you have your own tent to put in the front yard of the guest house the price is 500 Leke and and additional 1200 Leke for the breakfast and dinner. The breakfast and dinner are prepared by the host which it’s convenient.
Our breakfast was fresh and tasty. Homemade butter, cheese, honey and the classic Albanian mountain tea, also known as Red oregano (an herbal infusion).
Even though it’s becoming more popular and there are visitors that expect more comfort and lush, Theth has maintained the same approach to tourism: it’s basic, affordable and it’s all about the hike and the nature.
When in Theth all the itinerary and paths are marked so there is no chance to miss:
Ujëvara e Grunasit (Grunas Waterfall): The marked path is easy and it’s the closest spot you can visit from the church.
Ndërlysaj (also referred to as “the tanks”) is about 7km away or about 2 hours of walk. The path through the main road is dusty and a lot of trucks and SUVs pass by that same road. These trucks and SUVs are generally arranged by travel agencies to transport their guests from one spot to another to avoid the walking and the hiking. I have no idea how much as this could cost, as we walked our way.
Syri i kaltër (Blue Eye of Theth or Kapre): it’s about another hour hike from the tanks. There are plenty of pictures in Instagram as there are plenty of tourists. Obviously you can’t possibly get the feeling of this beautiful spot by looking at the pictures and neither what these tourists leave behind after finishing their fancy photoshoots 🙁
As I get a lot of questions regarding the hike from Valbona, I am listing a few tips that I wished someone had given to me the very first time.
The outfit: Forget about the cool celebrities ‘sport looking’ clothes. Here you really need sports clothing. The outfit is so important because it can improve the entire experience. As we only had our backpack it’s essential that you have everything you need with you, considering that during the day can be very hot and during the night cool. The shoes are extremely important as you will have to walk and hike for extremely long hours. Everything else has to be sportive. Do yourselves a favour, not wear cotton shirt or pants.
Mindset: You need to be prepared that is not going to be easy, unless you are an experienced hiker. It’s going to be hot and your feet will hurt but it’s worthy. This is the only motivation you need.
Food: My favorite part. Of course you need a lot of water, but you cannot carry many littles in your backpack so take in mind that there are only two spots where you can refill. As weight is a problem (either in your bag or in your stomach) everything has to be not bulky or heavy but with a lot of calories. Dried fruits of nuts are ideal or energy bars such as these that Mandarina prepared for us. Well, hiking with food bloggers is not that bad, i guess. 🙂
The way back is more difficult. The hike from Theth to Valbona is more challenging because the climb is longer and harder. I was’t prepared, and for the first part of the hike I was out of breath and in really bad shape. I am sure that my well trained friends hated me for making them stop 4 times. 🙂
I am sure that if you are stronger the entire experience is better. But if you are not, it’s OK, just take it seriously and you need to push yourself a bit out of your comfort zone. And when you are there nothing will really matter beside your breathing, your muscles and the thirst. And as you are striving to get to the top, finally a small bar appears where you can finally rest, have your water or a cool drink, a Turkish coffee or even the Fli but not salted as it usually is, but sweet. This will help with the energy.
Last, but not least: choosing the right people. I think we all have, at some point in life, travelled with the wrong people. Well, in this case is even more important to have a ‘team’ because the walk is long and somewhat challenging. If you don’t have the same timing, the same will, the same preparation, the entire experience can be more difficult and you will not be able to fully enjoy it. This time I was lucky. I met a lovely bunch of nature and sport aficionados, and spent 48 hours of pure joy.