I think September is the best time to visit, you can still go to the mountains and still take a bath in the amazing blue waters without the crowds.
Albania is an amazing country, with amazing natural exhibits. The most striking thing that flowed me around the country was the blue waters. Either deep transparent blue or thick whitish-blue, or the mottled view of the sea with different depths. Also I have to mention that the hole county is a big mountain. Anywhere you will go you will be in the mountains, in the north, in the capital or at the sea, the edges will be everywhere. The north of the country, the Albanian Alps are the most amazing mountains of all. The tour focuses on natural wonders of Albania, but it takes you also to the capital (Tirana) and to the 3 UNESCO Heritage monuments in the country: Berat, Gjirokastra and Butrin. As warnings: - don't drive at night - be ware of possible animals crossing the road: goats, sheep, donkeys. In this itinerary in Albania I would not give up: Theti Village, Komani Lake ferry and Llogara Pass. Itinerary: Day 1,2 cross Romania and Serbia, arrive in Albania. Day 3: drive on SH 20 and 21 and Mountain Pass: Leqet e Hotit and Qafe e Terthores, arrive in Thethi Village. Day 4: visit Thethi surroundings to the Blue Eye Watefall. Day 5: go to Komani Ferry starting point. Day 6: Komani Lake arrive in Valbone. Day 7: visit Kruje and arrive in Tirana. Day 8: visit Tirana. Day 9: Berat. Day 10: Osumi Canyon. Day 11: Gjirokaster Castle. Day 12: arrive at the Adriatic sea and visit Butrint. Day 13, 14: enjoy the sea and cross the mountains on Llogara Pass. Day 15, 16, 17: return to Romania through Montenegro and Serbia.
SH 20 is a newly asphalted mountain road. The views are amazing. It is included in the most dangerous roads because it was a one lane dirt road that was doable only with a 4x4 car or motorcycle. Now is a smooth and safe road. It has some steep portions, but nothing to worry about. The trip itself and the view are amazing. Also there is very little traffic because people don't know about it. It was hard to find on internet information about the road state, if it is asphalted, etc. But now I can confirm it is brand new and finished and i will take you to Hani i Hotit and national road 1 (SH1).
- don't drive at night - be ware of the animals on the road (sheep, donkeys) - beware of the falling rocks - the lanes are really narrow, so you have to slow down when you meet another car. - if it is winter, the road might get closed due to heavy snow
The road is taking you in the hearth of the mountains
one lane for both directions. The road is asphalted in the beginning but in the end there are 16 km unpaved road. - don't g if it is raining or if it is snowing. - don't go unless you still have 2 hours of light. It is not a road you want to make by night.
The road from here it is an unpaved single lane road that requires a 4x4 car. We did it with a Volkswagen Golf, so it is possible to do it with a street car, but you have to be very careful at the road, at the rocks and at the crazy local drivers. If you are not sure, you can leave your car here and take a car that transports people to the village of Theth.
As you pass Qafe e Terthores you start to see the Albanian Alps in all their splendor. There magnificent mountains are called Prokletije, which means cursed. I don't know why people perceive them like this, but to me they are heavenly. The mountains are on Albania, Serbia, and Kosovo territory , but the highest peak is in Albania: Maja Jezerce at 2694 m.
One of the most breathtaking places. You wake up in the morning with a 360 panorama and you can not decide where to look. The village is situates at 850 meters above sea level and is surrounded by the high peak of the Albanian Alps. I think the description of Edith Durham (who visited Thethi in 1908) captures the feeling you get: I think no place where human beings live has given me such an impression of majestic isolation from all the world. You feel surrounded by imposing nature and totally disconnected from civilization. The village dates back 300 years ago when Catholic Christians retreat here in order to preserve their faith from conversion to Islam. You can read more about this place on their page: https://thethi-guide.com/
We loved this place. Is family run complex with great accommodation and great food. The design is interesting and appropriate for the region. The views from here are amazing. The family promotes tourism to Theth Valley with their website: http://thethi-guide.com/ You can find out more abou this place here: https://www.facebook.com/VillaGjecajTheth/
Make sure you get up early as you have a 26 km walk next day
Road to Blue Eye Theth
This road will take you to the Blue Eye. This is the only road accessible with a car for all the people living in this area. So you will meet from time to time some cars. But we went there walking, a delight for the eye.
One of the most amazing places you will see in this journey it is this lake formed by a small waterfall. The water is purely blue and very cold (you cannot stay 10 seconds with your feet in the water cold). This lake is formed by the Black River (weird ey?) formed only from the melting snow in the Albanian Alps. the lake is about 100 m2 and about 3 to 5 meters of depth. It is quite big, the pictures don't do it justice. To avoid confusions, there are 2 Blue Eyes in Albania: There is this Blue Eye of Theth - a lake formed by a waterfall, and there is the Blue Eye near Sarandë in Vlorë County, which is more accessible and more popular. The second one is a water spring (a different phenomena) and this tour will take you there.
On the right side you will see the Grunas Waterfall. Because it was late, we decided not to make this 30 minutes detour to the waterfall. But if you have the time, we recommend you to go. This waterfall is best in the spring when if gathers the water from melting snow
Koman Hydroelectric Power Station is a large hydroelectric power station built on the Drin River. The dam is 130m tall and was completed in 1985, but the reservoir was filled with water at full capacity in 1986. On Drin River there are 3 Power Station. First one is Vau i Dejës Hydroelectric Power Station back near Skhoder, the Koman Power Station is the second, and there is another one at Fierza Hydroelectric Power Station. A masterpiece of the communism regime.
This is a place where we don't recommend you to stay. You can spend the night in Shkodër and wake up early to catch the 9 am ferry. Be aware that before reaching this place you will have to go up and then enter the carved mountain so you can arrive above the hydro power.
End of day 5
Berisha Ferry for Komani Lake
Yo have to make a reservation at https://komanilakeferry.com/en/timetables-and-prices/. You will pay for number of people (5 euro/person) and for the car (5 euro / square meter)
The trip on this lake take around 2 and a half hours, but there won't be any dull moments. Every turn will provide new and new surprises. This point is at the peak of this experience, where the view is incredible. A funny feeling about it is that is so winding that you can no see where you came from or where you are going. The rocks overlap in such a way that you can imagine coming from there. I can definitely say that this was the best experience and view from our 2 week Albanian tour. In reality this is a man made lake that flooded the area when the Koman Hydroelectric Power Station was build.
River from Theth
The river you see here is the one that comes from Theth, the one you have been hiking 2 days ago. It offers a new perspective.
The Albania–Kosovo Highway (Rruga e Kombit in Albanian ), is a four-lane highway constructed from 2006. It is a great road, cutting mountains. It is very spectacular. It i Albania most ambitious project in decades and it cost over one billion euros.
The meeting point is at the Opera House. The tour starts everyday at 10:00 am and it will take you on a 2h trip along the controversial and weird history of Albanian Country. Our guide, Gaza, will take you to his brutal and honest memories of his childhood and youth. One of the most memorable thing he said is about his mom, in 1992 after the communism felt, that they had bananas imported in the country and they saw them for the first time. His mother didn't want to eat them because she didn't trust bananas. His stories will make you understand and relive those days of terror and fear. For more information check out their site: http://www.tiranafreetour.com/free-tour.html
This was design to become the bunker for the leader and official member to retreat in case of bombing. From here the operations would have been coordinated. The dictator had a real obsession about being attacked and he developed all measure to prevent this from happening. There are around 170 000 bunkers build in Albania during that time, some simple but some complex as this one. Also there are some theories that they build the highways very winding so military planes could not land on them. Visiting this place that is now transformed into a museum helps you understand the extent of which the ruling communist party developed their conspiratorial ideas. Also it is an interesting places, as you don't see anything from the outside, and as you go in, your ming is blown away.