What's Curraj i Epërm?

Curraj i Epërm is a village located in mountains of the northern Albania, which is deeply affected by a loss of its hydroelectric power station and bad economic conditions, which made most of it’s inhabitants leave. Mountainous terrain that surrounds it only accelerates this phenomenon (the village was practically cut off from civilization until basic trails were marked). Our project was made to eliminate this trend – there are good examples of other villages in the vicinity, which were in almost the same state before and now thrive (Theth, Valbonë).

Why don't they mark tourist trails by themselves? Why don't they build a bridge?

The number of inhabitants of the village dropped so dramatically in the recent years, that the village is now on a verge of extinction. The few remaining locals cannot eliminate the trend by themselves. Without basic infrastructure (marked trails, basic electricity) and without a way to sustain themselves economically, even those who still remain would leave.

Another important fact to mention is, that in Albania as a whole, tourist trails do not have a tradition of being marked, in contrary to many other European states. It is a relatively new phenomenon and we want to help estabilish it using experience from one of the best and biggest tourist trails networks in the world – that is, the Czech one.

Do the locals support you in what you do?

Most of them know about our plans and fully support us, they even supply food and other articles from their farms and other business – and we pay them adequately. We are also supported in our efforts by the Czech embassy in Tirana.

What if you make this place become too touristy and what if it loses it's charm?

We are absolutely not afraid that tourists could arrive in huge numbers. The “natural filter” (practically the whole route to the village) ensures that you have to sail 45 kilometers on a ferry and walk at least half a day through demanding terrain of Albanian Alps in order to get there (not passable for anything except a mule or a human being). A modest number of tourists, who will arrive every year, will help locals by utilizing services they provide (accommodation, food, guides).

How can I support the project?

There are many ways:

  • Tell your friends about us, like & share our Facebook page
  • Support us financially
  • And last but not least, come visit us as a tourist or join us! 🙂

Who are you, actually?

We are young people (students for the most part) who want to spend their free time actively and to achieve something that nobody else has ever achieved before. We are neither a commercial company, nor a humanitarian organization. To give our project an official frame, we created the official subject of Albanian Challenge z.s. Although most of us come from Czech Republic, we aim to attract anyone who is interested, no matter from where he or she is from (any nation or state in the world).

Where did the activities take place / will take place?

Albanian Challenge is a whole portfolio of projects. The main center for the years to come is the village of Curraj i Epërm, in Tropojë region, nothern Albania, but also we organize trips, social events, survival trainings and presentations in Czech Repulic, Slovakia and Poland.

When will the project take place again?

During the year 2016, we will be in Curraj i Epërm from 26th June to 13th August, our stay will be split into 7 weeks.

How long can I stay, if I come with you?

In 2015 we spent more than 3 weeks in the village. The lenght of your stay depends solely on you and your desire to enjoy this marvelous corner of our planet.  

How much does it cost?

During the first year, the price was fixed, no matter how long did you stay – we don’t want money to stand in anyone’s way. Price for participants is € 95, per stay (you always pay € 95, no matter if you stay for 2 or 7 weeks). Price for tourists is approx. € 15/day and depends on services used.

We also arrange transportation from Brno to Curraj i Epërm and back for € 130 by buses and cars. If you have a car, you can offer its capacity and we will provide you with other travelers and pay you for transporting them. Transportation by boat is also included in the price.

Is there any difference, if I come as a tourist or as a participant?

  • Participants are provided with accommodation, food, workshops, expeditions and a whole programme. Price for the stay is fixed and does not depend on it’s lenght. Volunteers are expected to help with our projects and the development of Curraj i Epërm. We are providing trasportation and insurance for particpants who are insterrested.The minimal lenght of stay is 1 week, maximum has no limits.
  • Tourists can utilize our transport and services for a price that is only a little higher than a volunteer would pay – this is because you don’t have to engage in our activities and you are free to spend your holiday any way you want to. Of course, you can also come independently and meet with us either way 🙂

Why should I let you know, even if I plan to come independently?

There is not a single shop on the route from Koman Lake to Theth. For every person, who comes to Curraj i Epërm, it is necessary to bring approx. 2 kg of food and other supplies, a day. There is no connection for cars and everything has to be transported into the village by mules. It is necessary to arrange them in advance, therefore, we need to know how many people to expect in Curraj i Epërm and its surroundings and how much supplies do we have to bring. Please let us know at jan.balak@albanianchallenge.org.

How will you organize the transport to Albania?

The transport next year will be provided by buses, cars, vans and ferry. In 2016, we will only send the buses through Croatia, not Serbia.

Example from the first year:
The route there: cars leave Brno on Saturday at 8 P.M., 1 day trip through the Balkans to Shkodër and then Koman. 1 night of camping in Koman from Sunday to Monday. Trip by ferry to Lekbibaj on Monday morning, arrival to Curraj i Epërm at dusk.

The route back: departure from C.E. on Sunday before noon. Ferry leaves from Lekbibaj at 6 P.M., arrival to Koman at 9 P.M. Camping in Koman. On Monday, departure at 8 A.M. Arrival to Brno on Tuesday, early morning.

Is there any maximum age for tourists and participants?

There is recommended maximum age for participants 30. There are no age limits for tourists. The youngest participant from the Czech Republic was 3 years old and the oldest was 67 years old in 2015. 

Do you have helpdesk?

There is no celluar phone signal i Curraj i Epërm, but we have non-stop satellite service in our base camp No.: +870 776 470 838. Check the contact us page for more info.