Recommended behaviour in Albanian Alps
“These mountains are a real challenge. Responsibility is the key!”
Mountains of Albania are not only beautiful and majestic – they are often also dangerous and abandoned. Every tourist has to be prepared accordingly. We’ve gathered a few recommendations and some advice that you should follow every time you visit.
Don't overestimate yourself
Plan your trip so that you always travel during daytime. For example – the journey from Curraj i Poshtëm to Curraj i Epërm takes about 4 hours for local people, although for most of us, it took 6 hours or more. If you are not in an extremely good physical state and trained for mountaineous terrain, you always have to calculate a time reserve in a similiar ratio.
Always carry enough food and water
While it might be true that the chance to stumble upon a stream or other source of water is quite high in this environment, it might happen (especially during summer!) that the water source will be dry. If you are not 100 % sure that there is a water source on your route, always carry enough with you, the same applies for basic food.
Get a map and a GPS unit
To bring your own tourist map is definitely an advantage. Print our map with tourist trails for free. The only map being sold while being at least semi-useable at the same time is “Wanderkarte Thethi und Kelmend”, made by Huber Verlag – it is quite likely though that you will not be able to find it for sale anywhere. A GPS unit provides you the luxury of knowing where you actually are.
Carry a fully charged mobile phone and a contact to reach emergency service
Eventually, also a number to contact our helpdesk – it only works during our stay in Albania during summer. You can find the contacts here. At some places, there is no signal available.
Do not leave the official trails
Mountainous environment can sometimes be confusing and harsh. Try to stick to our trails, NEVER LEAVE THESE WITHOUT GPS AND A SUFFICIENT AMOUNT OF SUPPLIES!
Learn a few words in Albanian
Local people are usually very open towards tourists and their hospitality is incredible, it is however fitting to mention that most of them don’t speak any foreign language. It might come handy to know (or at least carry on a piece of paper) at least a few basic words and phrases in Albanian.
Deal with the locals and the moutains with respect
When you meet someone, greet them! Albanian hospitality is unbelievable and they will gladly invite you to their home. Accept the invititation, but please, do not abuse it! The income of local people is usually much lower than the income of most people, who come from other european countries. If you feel that you’ve already accepted too much without contributing, it is suitable to pay a sum accordingly – even if the locals insist that they cannot accept the money (as they usually do). Show your respect and you will be respected. Carry your garbage away out of the mountains with you or burn it, if possible. If you visit a cave, don’t damage the stalagmites and stalactites!
Let someone know about your intentions
It is crucial that you leave some information about your plans in every destination on the way (where you are headed, how long do you plan to stay, how many of you are there, your phone number). In case you make an error or something unpredictable happens, it is important that somebody else knows about your trip. Even if you go just for a short walk, make an entry in the nearest evidence book, or let know one of the locals – be it an owner of a guesthouse, or a man who invited you to taste some raki and cheese.
Bears and other animals
Yes, there are bears, wolves, wild pigs and vipers in these mountains. Although none of us has ever met a bear or any other of these animals yet here, it is always good to modify your behaviour accordingly.
Choose adequate equipment
Never forget to choose your shoes and clothes accordingly to the time of year and terrain. It rains here during summer too. Always carry a sleeping bag, a tent or other equipment that can be made into a shelter. Albanians are used to local conditions and their style of clothing reflects it, therefore, we advise you never to get inspired by them in this matter.
Don't swim naked
The crystal clear waters of local mountain rivers might tempt you to swim without any appropriate clothes on – it is however considered extremely rude by most of the local people and as such, it is absolutely not advised.