images: Alek Veljokovic (Rustika travel)
A 4WD and campers paradise, Albania is located in the south-western part of the Balkans, bordered by the Adriatic and Ionian Sea. With a population of close to 3 million inhabitants Albania has a deep cultural history having been part of Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire until its first declaration of independence in 1912.Albania is divided into three regions that include the Coastal, North-eastern and South/Eastern part of the country. In the North Eastern part of Albania the inland region to the north of the Shkumbin River, borders Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia where as in the south eastern part the inland region to the south of the Shkumbin River borders Macedonia and Greece, this region includes the great border lakes, Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa.The Coastal Region borders both the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea.
The country is located between latitudes 42° and 39° N, and longitudes 21° and 19° E. The highest point of the country is Mount Korab at 2,764 metres (9,068.24 ft) above the Adriatic.
The lowest point is the Adriatic Sea at 0 metres (0.00 ft). Size wise, Albania is a small country with the distance from the east to west measuring a short 148 kilometres (92 mi), while from the north to south about 340 kilometres (211 mi).
The climate is generally warm and dry, with its coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas. The coastal lowlands have typically Mediterranean weather; the highlands have a Mediterranean continental climate and in the lowlands and the interior the weather varies significantly from north to south.
Terrain is mostly made up of rugged, rocky mountains, with very steep slopes, divided by deep canyons. When tackling the tracks in Albania you will be mostly confined to the existing network of dirt tracks that that can be technically challenging that lead to remote mountain villages.
Landslides and water damage can dramatically change these tracks from one season to the next, so you can never be sure about what to expect. In recent years a number of tarmac roads have replaced the dirt tracks but despite this they are still worth taking as they offer spectacular scenery. The long, alpine like valleys often can be accessed only from one side, so you simply have to go follow the same tracks going in and coming out.
The highest point that can be accessed in a 4WD in Albania is the southern peak of the sacred Tomorri Mountain, where a dirt track reaches almost 2400m and on a clear day the views are spectacular. At the Tomorri peak the shrine of Ali Tomorri (aka. Baba Tomorri) lies, where every year worshipers climb and bring sacrificial lambs to the shrine, slaughtering them in a semi-pagan ritual at the peak.
Another attraction for off road enthusiasts in Albania are the dry riverbeds. These river beds are often used as roads starting from early summer until late into the autumn. River crossings of the bigger rivers are always risky, especially for vehicles not equipped with a snorkel. So it’s generally advised to avoid the riverbed trails in the springtime, as the riverbeds are quite flooded from the melting snow coming from the mountains.
On the west coast the Albanian sandy beaches are also very attractive and a must see, not only because of their beauty, but also because Albania is one of the few Mediterranean countries where wild camping on the beaches is actually allowed. A special attraction is the famous Gjipe beach in southern Albania, where an extremely rocky trail, accessible only to pedestrians and 4×4 vehicles, takes you down to the beach which is situated at the end of an attractive canyon and surrounded by cliffs. You can experience some great sunsets there!
All up, Albania is a 4WD touring paradise with a never ending network of dirt tracks, some spectacular wild camping and a freedom to roam that is hard to find in many European countries.
Getting there by Ferry
Ferries to Durrës arrive from Bari (9h, €50) and Ancona (19h, €70). A high-speed service operates from Bari (3h, €60).There are also two reliable overnight ferry services operated by Skenderbeg Lines and European Seaways from Brindisi to Vlore.
Ferries from Corfu to Saranda every day.
Ferry between Brindisi and Shengjin by European Seaways operating twice a week in the summer (2015).
By 4WD/Touring Vehicle/Car
You can reach Albania by car from anywhere crossing through major cities of the neighbouring countries such as:Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Greece.
To enter the country, ensure that your International Motor Insurance Card is valid for Albania (AL) along with the Vehicle Registration and a Power of Attorney from the owner if the car is not yours. The border guards are very strict about allowing cars through without these documents.
Navigation is pretty easy although some maps of the country are out of date or contain errors. It is strongly recommended to have an up to date GPS, as new roads are being constantly added to the Albanian road network. In case the GPS does not work, it’s good to have an alternative good paper or internet-based map.
Rustika Tours are not only very knowledgeable off roaders, but also guides with extensive experience in organizing 4×4 adventures for outdoor enthusiasts from all over Europe. They have huge collection of GPS mapped tracks covering remote parts of Albania and are well known for guiding 4WD enthusiasts on magical 4WD adventures.
Rustika Travel also provides a complete range of services examples include travel consultation, pre-arranged tours, custom packages, standard travel agency goods and services, including accommodation, tour and travel packages, and all types of transport.
Apart from tailor-made voyages for groups, we can also arrange individual travel arrangement tailored to the request by individuals.