In the wild north of Albania, the Valbona National Park is now a well-known tourist attraction, especially for the incredible biodiversity that characterizes it. This gigantic valley, crossed by the river Valbona (from which it takes its name), offers an incredibly varied fauna and flora, still little affected by the tourism that moves around this area.
If you are not afraid of the fatigue of walking, you can discover the area by following one of the many marked trails in the area, all differentiated according to the needs and abilities of visitors: they range from short walks of just a couple of hours to real climbing on the highest peaks of the area, from which you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view. Five peaks here exceed 2000 meters in height: Maja and Kolates, Gryka and Hapet, Rragami, Maja and Gjarprit, and Jezerca. These are added hundreds of hectares of forests of oaks, conifers, beeches, and pines, inhabited by wolves, wild boars, bears, wild cats, and many other species. It will be a pleasure to walk along the winding paths and admire the animals moving among the trees, totally oblivious to visitors’ passage.
In fact, in the National Park of Valbona, everything has remained perfectly intact and untouched, without any way that tourism could change the environment. A perfect demonstration of this is the small village of Valbona, where it is really worth stopping, if only for the pleasure of admiring this village surrounded by nature, where there are very few possibilities of accommodation for tourists and where there are virtually no stores, post offices, and similar services. Equally fascinating is the small village of Theth, just 15 kilometers away from Valbona, which can be reached via a signposted path through most of this beautiful valley, leading you directly to Theth National Park.
How to get to Valbona Valley
Reaching Valbona is not at all difficult if you have a car or any other means. It is a seven-hour journey from the capital Tirana, crossing a large part of the country practically. If you prefer a shorter journey, you can leave from Shkodra and move directly towards Albania. If you don’t have a vehicle, you can think about the bus trip, starting from Shkodra and with the first stop at Lake Koman, from where you will have to embark for Fierze, and then continue again by bus in the direction of Valbona. It is a rather long trip (in terms of time), but relatively inexpensive if you think that the total cost of the tickets is only 20 €. A good reason to save money and, at the same time, enjoy the wonderful landscape of the area without having to worry about driving.
The Valbona River
Valbona originates from the slopes of the mountain of Jezerce, the highest peak of the Albanian Alps (2693.5 m), and it is the most important river of the Alps that later flows into the river Drin. The Valbona river descends roaring and frothy from Ragan and Çerem and then continues slower towards Valbona and Dragobia. Its waters, even one meter deep, are clean and clear. The variety of nature offers tourists the possibility to practice many sports and have fun in many ways: swimming, fishing, rowing, and kayaking. Most of the time you can find snow, and in summer there are many waterfalls such as Rragam.
The village of Valbona
The village of Valbona is located about 1000 meters above sea level. To reach it you have to drive from the capital for about 7 hours. Every visitor has the possibility to take the ferry in Koman Lake. You should not miss a visit to the village of Dragobia, the oldest village in the area, with stone towers 100 and 200 years old. During the entire trip, you will be accompanied by the clear water of the Valbona River.
Natural monuments to see
The Cave of Dragobia
The Sources of Valbona
The Pines of Valbona
The frozen valleys of Kukaj
Where to stay in Valbona
In the Valbona Valley, there are different varieties of accommodation, including Hotel Dini, Hotel Margjeka, hostels such as Jezerca Guesthouse.