Albania. The trip to the mountain village Theth was the first stage of our road trip in Albania with our Iveco camper. The village with only 4.000 inhabitants is situated in the Albanian Alps at an altitude of 742 meters and can only be reached via an unpaved road. The landscape resembles our Alps and the peaks reach up to 2,600 meters high. In my following article you will learn what to see and do on the way. You will also get tips for your roadtrip and recommendations for parking lots for the night.
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Table of Contents and Quick Navigation
Here you can read my main article about our Road Trip Albania - 15 Highlights & Tips and Route.
Drive from the City of Koplik to Theth
From Koplik to Theth it is about 59 kilometres. The route can be roughly divided into three sections:
- Asphalt road over land about 35 km
- Narrow asphalt road uphill to the Terthorja Pass about 15 km
- Terthorja Pass in the Albanian Alps to Theth about 9 km
As soon as the first hairpin bend is reached, it actually only really starts. Now the narrow asphalt road leads us in 28 hairpin bends uphill to the Terthorja Pass at 1,630 meters altitude. I constantly change back and forth between second and first gear and am glad that no other vehicle meets me in the hairpin bends. On the way there are great views of the valley. Shortly after the pass, an inn invites you to linger. We enjoy the view of the Cem valley and fortify ourselves here before descending again on a dirt road. Welcome to the Albanian Alps!
With our 4x4 camper the road to Theth through the Albanian Alps is a real pleasure. Potholes are no problem and even if the loose gravel causes a tire to spin, three others will grab it. But we especially learned to appreciate the four-wheel drive on the way back: it was raining cats and dogs and the road was muddy and smooth. Sometimes it also means keeping your nerve. Namely when one of the big orange construction site trucks comes along. One of them then has to reverse until the next possible way around allows the truck to drive past. The trucks bring earth and gravel to fill the potholes. In this way they prepare the track for the expansion. Soon there will be one less gravel road in Albania.
Somewhat different oncoming Traffic
But it wasn't just trucks that came to meet us here. Even a stray carriage suddenly blocked our way. Good that we were two of us. After I had turned the pony with the carriage around and led it to an alternative place, our camper could pass. Then I turned the carriage around again and sent the pony on its way to the village. We had seen the pony carriage before and watched how two half strong boys drove the animal energetically uphill. That was quite right for them, that their pony has run away.
Ideas for your next Road Trip
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Theth - Tradition and Tourism
The Theth National Park was founded in 1976. It is a beautiful example of a rural, ancient cultural landscape that stretches through the valley. The valley is surrounded by high mountains, mountain forests and pastures. The jagged peaks of several two-thousand-metre peaks also add a crown of dolomite and limestone to the alpine landscape.
In the village itself, the large grey stone houses lie far apart. In between there are vegetable gardens and meadows. A rural idyll, where you can simply let yourself drift during a walk.
Tourism in Theth is still within acceptable limits. There are programmes that promote the development of sustainable tourism and open up new income opportunities for the inhabitants. This is the reason why there is a small tourist information centre and also numerous overnight accommodation and camping facilities. We have therefore renounced wild camping and placed ourselves on the meadow of a guesthouse. Our camper immediately became a popular attraction for the boss's little children.
What is there to see and do?
- Idyllically situated old church from 1892. The church tower was removed during communism and the building was used as a health centre.
- Blood revenge tower Kulla e Ngujimit: here defendants were able to escape blood revenge for up to 15 days - until the verdict was passed.
- Museum in the old weir house
- Corn mill at the river at the village entrance
- Which we missed, I'm afraid: There are several caves in the Albanian Alps. You can organize a local guide in Theth.
- There are several hiking possibilities on well marked paths. It is even possible to hike to the Valbona valley. From there you can continue by bus and then take the ferry across Lake Komani. From there you can take the bus back to the starting point. We walked this distance from Theth to the Valbona Pass (1.812 m) and back to Theth and were thrilled by the beauty and seclusion.
Further information about the Albanian Alps can be found here.
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Tips for your Road Trip to Theth
Getting there: The trip to Theth over the Terthorja Pass and the dirt road is only safe during the snow-free period, i.e. between mid-May and the end of September. It is slowly accessible by car. However, neither the vehicle nor the drivers enjoy this, as we were told by two Swedes who drove the track in their snow-white Volvo station wagons.
Refuelling: Fill up first, because there is no petrol station in Theth or on the piste. The last petrol station before Theth is about 13 kilometres behind Koplik.
Drinking Water: There are several springs along the piste where you can get water. We drank it without having to regret it later. Also down in the valley shortly before the hairpin bends there is a larger spring on the left side of the road.
Pitches for the Night: In Theth itself you can stand at the guesthouses and thus support something for the inhabitants. The season is short, so every guest counts.
There is another nice parking place on top of the parking lot at the Terthorja Pass. If you drive through the parking lot to the end, you can stand relatively unseen.
In addition, several slopes branch off from the asphalt road in the valley towards the northwest. Here you can also find nice places.
Food: There is a small shop in Theth where you can buy food. There are also restaurants and several guesthouses offering food.
What else?If your camper is a bit higher, you should pay attention to low hanging cables in the village.
Book Recommendations for Albania
Do you want to know where the journey is going? Then I can recommend this travel guides* to you.
Have you ever been on a road trip in Albania? How did you like it and what were your highlights? Do you have any questions about my article? If yes, then write me a comment!
Recommendations for further Reading
Do you love road trips as much as I do? Then you might also be interested in my articles about a Road trip with Lada Niva and roof tent in Georgia or about a Road Trip with Land Rover Series II to Iceland.