Peaks of the Balkans – an adventure without boundaries
August 12, 2019 || views
“The Open Regional Fund for Southeast Europe”, and “Promotion of Foreign Trade”, GIZ, organized a mountain walking trip “Around the peaks of the Balkans“. from 15-th to 19-th of June 2011, with the participation of border states and groups of three countries, Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania. The purpose of this journey was to promote a new walking path boundary for mountain tourism. I chill to participate in this mountain walking from the GIZ coordinator, Shpresa Smajli, from Shkodra. Landscapes, route and spirit of cooperation to each member of the group were the reason that this trip was so beautiful and successful. I was captivated by the beauty of these mountains during this pilgrimage, from friendly behavior and generosity of the people through all the places we passed. This made this trip being one of the most beautiful that I had in my life. It is impossible to fully bring what I’ve experienced on this journey, but some details of this experience, the more fun you I can describe somehow…
We left with a van from Shkodra, tooked quickly a morning coffee, using as a pretext to introduce the adventure with friends. From before I knew Roze Rupa and the owner of “Tradita” restaurant Gjon Dukgilaj. One of the boys from Tirana flashed a picture of Rozafa Castle as a background. As we use to prepare for the shot, over the Drini Bridge, Shpresa called us time after time – she was in another vehicle, along with the rest of the group, where was also Tina, a pretty German girl, The project leader based in Bosnia Herzegovina. The trip has started, while the left side of the road show us one by one to three bridges of the River Mat, which convenes once and once opened his bottom. Kreshnik, one of the boys, from Shkodra bur part of Tirana group, with its craft engineer speaks to us of the Bridge of King Zog. It was built by the Italians with the most modern technique of that time, as an experiment to resist the time he says. Milot-Morine Highway, offers a wonderful view from both sides of it. The purity of theblack asphalt and white signs decorations, provide an aesthetic landscape where every shooting camera would produce a good photo. Once we leave the Morina customs we are now in the newest state of Europe, in Kosovo, where we meet the rest of the group from Tirana. After arriving in Peja, we take the road to Rugova. And of course the first stop is to the waterfalls. We go further, to attend the opening ceremony in the bar “Mulliri”. It is attended by the local authorities, who have also raised a lunch for this event, making us enjoy the tasteful products of the area. Shortly after lunch at around 16:15 we start walking and walk about two hours, covering the distance of 4.2 km on the rise, up to complex “Red Stone” or “Liqenaku”. I get the data from Endrit Shima, from Tirana, who has taken with him a GPS device.
It’s 7:15 am and our mixed group not only by nationality and gender, starts the journey of the second day to Babino Polje, Montenegro. Gjemajl Kelmendi, part of the Kosovo group, and also vice president of the Federation of Kosovo Highland of climbers, informes us that the terrain will be very rugged, as it will go up over 1000 meters from the current height, then descended to about 500 meters. The first rest stop is a source not far from two lakes in the vicinity of Roshkodoli Mountains. Shkodra Path has received this name because there were the way tie between Peja and Thethi of Shkodra. At the place called Zavojë becomes the difference between those who experience for the first time this trip and the professionals who “leaves the shade to us” by capturing the former border with Montenegro. According to Endrit, the GPS shows that the height at the crossing point between Kosovo and Montenegro is 2470 meters. At 16:15 arriving in Babino Polje, where Stanica, GIZ representative in Montenegro who introduces us with the police forces making the casual geetings, in a friendly Serbo-Croatian. Since the passage is not in the official border crossing points in the three states, the police forces have offered us this extra service, after a request of the GIZ to all countries where will pass our pilgrimage. In Babino Polje, we get accommodation in a two-storey wooden lodge, which is newly built, owned from Vasvije Alija, 61 years old. All her family welcomed us very warmly and spend the night there, relaxing to get ready for tomorrow.
Vasvija, the lady of the house has prepared for us breakfast grits, as is a traditional cooking, with nutritional values, which longs during all day, she says, because you have too much walk to do. Our destination today is the town of Plava, positioned on the lake that bears the same name. The organizers have taken the things easier for today, seing that the travelers are alittle bit tired by walking on the previous day, in the distance of 16 km, covered for about 8 hours. Depart at 10:30 down on the road with asphalt , which is entirely under the shade of high trees on both sides of the road. After we walked about 40 minutes, up to a bifurcation in the left arm, leaving the asphalt and walking into a dirt road, but still among the greenery of the trees. Arriving at 13.00 in Plava, we get accomodation in the “Aqua” complex, at Plava Lake, a glacial lake, which lies 901 meters above sea level. Here, just as in Peja, came to greet us the mayor, Mr. Skender Šarkinović, and other authorities of Plava and government of Montenegro. Afternoon we visited the Ali Pashe Gucia springs, a natural majestic source about 5 km from the town of Plava. The crystalline water resource stands in synthony with the two farms and the buildings built since the former Yugoslavia. They are out of order, which makes me think that still have not passed the process of privatization. Near of, a new business has taken shape, it is the restaurant named “Krojet” (Springs), a very grand building, built half a glass and a half stone.
Our adventure continues, this time the organizers have booked two military vehicles with civilian plates that make our transport towards the village Vuthaj. Make the first stop street at the Crkos waterfall in Vuthaj and then in the Blue Eye. It seemed to be almost the same as our Blue Eye in Saranda, but the ground around it was paved. Our car trip ends exactly where it is impossible to use it, because the road is damaged by numerous winter waters that have left behind. After a photo, the group resumes the journey toward the border between Montenegro and Albania. After about an hour’s journey, we arrive at the pyramid 16 / 8, a sign that tells us that we have already entered the territory of the Republic of Albania. Anduela, the girl from Tirana originated form Dibra poses for me, climbing the pyramid. After a collective photo there, we continue to go up in a rugged shade of high trees, where singing birds accompany us to the forest for about 30 minutes, as long as our walking under the shade of trees. Then we displayed a beautiful mountain valley with the small holes, caused by snow and filled with colorful flowers. Somewhere in her skirt, we sow the silent sheep shelters since it seems they have not yet received their residents this year. Continue to walk in the company of Pr. Osja Ahmet, who stopped in every flower, making them the picture by explaining more about plants in each state, which are differs not only from state to state, but also from area to area. To remember us how high we were walking we use to see in front of us withered stumps of the burned remains of trees in his once magnificent, mostly Pines hited by lightning discharges in the rainy days. Mythic Silence and tranquility
of these peaks, broken here and there from the engine noise of aircraft flying over the ridges, leaving behind white strips on the cloudless sky of June. About 12.30 pm finally we caught on bunker first sight, which once again ensures that that we are on the Albanian land. Some friends of mine who visited our
place a few days ago said that is not good for bunkers to be destroyed, after they heard that the Albanian government paid about 140 Euros to destroy one of them. Just a few meters of climbing, we look beyond the ruins of the border post, which had functioned only during the summer. The Arapi height Peak 2217 meters, appeared more magnificent, while in the valley in front of, four tents were fitted with three different colors, which were closed. Surely their residents had to bein the expedition now . After many steps laid carefully on the descent of the Gorge of Peja, comes a point where we should be more careful in its reduction, in our journey, while enjoy the amazing panorama of Thethi, final destination for the most of our group.
And tomorrow will mark the final dissolution for our group of 34 people, after a small group has decided to continue the challenge to Valbona. Me and a large part of the group will stop the adventure here, with a visit to the tower of isolation and Theth Waterfall, after tomorrow I have to go back to the normal life. After the van ride to Shkodra, my friend Gjon Dukgilaj, of the “Tradition” restaurant, had prepared a surprise dinner for us all, (the group of boys from Tirana and Kosovo) in his restaurant. It was there that ends my adventure in the peaks of the Balkan border pilgrimage …
And hope that is not the only one ….