Tomek & the team at Land4Travel bring us on another overland adventure , in Albania, a country in Southeastern Europe. It is located on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas within the Mediterranean Sea and shares land borders with Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south.
In 2022 we went to Albania – in 7 cars – mostly Land Rovers and one Toyota. We all live in different Polish cities, so we chose Cieszyn for the meeting up location.
We drove through Slovakia, Hungary and Serbia in two days – the group was so disciplined that each morning it was ready to leave a few minutes earlier than the previous day. We arrived at the crossing with Albania in Hania and Hotit – and very friendly service,the border check looks exactly the same as in any civilized country – we give passports, car documents, the border guard checks if we have a green card and … we are already in Albania.
Our first night in Albania falls on the charming and warm Skadar Lake – and on one of the best campsites we have ever been to – beautifully situated, with a good restaurant, clean toilets and tidy camping spots. We enjoy these conditions, because very soon, – our accommodation will look completely different.
The next item on the agenda is the National Park near the town of Teth. We are going along on a beautiful mountain road, and stop at the pass, 1650m above sea level. In Teth we were welcomed by local kids, very cool kids, fluent in English. They invite us to use an agritourism facility run by their parents – they will be great businesspeople one day. We take up an invitation to dinner – broth with a piece of mutton, french fries, sheep cheese, yoghurt, cucumber and tomato salad – everything tastes great!
We organize the night next to visit the ruins of a farm, right next to a small hydroelectric power plant. An unannounced Albanian person visits us for dinner, and we learn pretty quickly that he is a conservator of the power plant. It looks like he will stay with us until the morning 😉 We had heard that there is such a custom here. The girls are a bit surprised, but we felt that this should be considered a local attraction. You don’t know any of the language, so we sit and exchange a few known words: Enver Hoxha, Lewandowski, AC Milan, etc.
The next day starts with a swim in an icy mountain river, a visit to the Grunas waterfall and the amazingly charming Blue Eye. We stop for the night in a large clearing overlooking a narrow road leading along a mountain ledge. In the evening, sitting by the fire, we see the lights of cars moving along this road – the drivers here are very efficient.
The next day we head towards Shkodra. The locals laugh at us terribly when we say that we prefer to wild camp and drive to more remote locations. The road is relatively safe, although we pass many crosses and even chapels with the names of many accident victims. The lower down we get , the more we see that the neighborhoods are better developed for agriculture and clearly also richer.
We enter Shkodra – the first association for me is the similarity with Kyrgyz cities, similar style of streets, buildings, shops, similar driving style of drivers. We drive around the city, refuel our cars and go to Koman. There we spend the night in the wild in an old, abandoned apiary.
In the morning we queue up for the ferry to Fierz. Get oour ferry tickets and then retire to a long tale for an evening by the fire. We set up cars next to tourists from France – they are travelling in a huge off-road MAN, which can barely fit on the ferry. The views from the ferry are unforgettable – the route runs along a dammed river with a hydroelectric power plant at the end.
We land near Fira and head to the Valbone valley to look for accommodation. We choose a meadow near the buildings – and go to ask the hosts if we can stay there overnight. We meet very hospitable people – and they insist that we sleep instead at their house. They invite us to the garden for great coffee and rakija, they just don’t want to let us go, but eventually we somehow get back to the rest of the crew. We are making dinner and now we invite the Albanians over for some food – we spend a very nice evening in their company. Tonight we sleep in the open air.
The next morning, it turns out that in the evening their women invited our women over for their morning coffee. The Albanians welcomed us in a modest but very tidy house. His daughters treat us to traditional Turkish coffee (they call it ‘turka coffee’ *). After the coffee, the youngest of the family takes us for a swim in a beautiful mountain river. We say goodbye and move on.
The next stop is Berat – a beautiful historic city with a fortress towering over it. We stop at a local campsite, right by the river. It is late, but we still go out for a night walk around the city – the streets are full of people, we feel very safe. In the morning we visit the city and the fortress , though the heat is terrible. We move through the Osum canyon, we plan to spend the night in the canyon, and the next day – a trip through the mountains to the hot springs in Permet.
The next city on the route is Gijokaster – we visit a monumental fortress built by the Turks and walk around the beautiful city. Many Greeks live here, there is even a Greek consulate. We continue our journey through Saranda (a modern seaside resort) from where, after eating delicious seafood, we set off for a camping on the beach, which we call “Dominican Republic”
Our next destination is the wild Gijpe Beach, which is reached by a narrow, steep road leading along the mountain side, accessible only to 4×4 vehicles. We spend two days there, and we sleep in tents or in the open air. In addition to us, in the bay there are also some French people in a motorhome built on the Toyota LJ80 and three other SUVs – Land Rover Defender, Toyota Land Cruiser J5 and Nissan Patrol.
They are quite a team, with them Kasia, a Pole, a robotics student from Berlin, and Jan, whose grandfather fought in the Battle of Britain.
After two days of lazing andsunbathing, we leave the paradise beach. We go to “Albanici” – a vineyard in central Albania – where we spend the night among the grape bushes and eat dinner, during which the host serves us a dish of Albanian cuisine.
In the morning we break the camp and take the SH21 road to the border with Montenegro, their border guard apologizes to us for having to wait 5 minutes. We pass through Montenegro, Serbia (with accommodation), Hungary and Slovakia.
We have the last night in a charming hill in Slovakia, the next day we wake up, joke, breakfast, say goodbye to the other participants, and at 8pm we are already in Piła.
Land4Travel is a group of friends fascinated by travel. With its trips, the group wants to spark the desire to see new places and curiosity about the world. They drive away from the usual tourist routes. Their passion is adventure-like travel and they want to share this passion with people who travel with them. They will not take you to the beaches of Hurghada, but with them you will see the Caucasus Mountains, shipwrecks in the Aral Sea or penguins on the shores of Patagonia. Land4travel is not a tourist office. It is a project for those who want to get in contact with nature, local culture, and want to feel the atmosphere of the Camel Trophy while traveling in legendary Land Rover Discovery SUVs. Go with them and experience the charm of Asian hotels and what the end of the world looks like at Cape Horn.