Albanian Antagonists

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Gjerg and Tom debating fiercely at a political meeting in Thethi valley, northern Albania.

The socialist party won the elections a couple of weeks later and Gjerg Harusha (to the left) had to step down from his local power position.

Working the land in Thethi valley

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An estimated 60% of Albanian economy depends on agriculture. This is Europe June 10, 2013.

Picture shot at Thethi National Park in northern Albania

(More of this.. category “Albania” or

Where the eagles fly 2

We had experienced three fantastic days in Thethi with adventures and surprises more than we could expect but we were open for more.  Heading back to Tirana partly by walking the 16 kilometers over the impressive mountains to Valbona valley was a very tempting idea..

The doubt presented itself the night before our supposed crossing via three Polish alpinists that arrived the opposite direction from the same trail.

They looked exhausted and haunted. The man was injured in the foot and described three dangerous sections with very steep snow-sections.

Yesterdays post explains what made us go anyway:

Led by Marash, our local guide we set off June 11 at around ten in the morning . Thethi valley has an altitude of more than 800m and in about 4-5 hours we would climb another 1000 meters before reaching the summit and then start to descend towards Valbona.

The climb was breathtaking both physically and esthetically but not dangerous…. so far!

In these sparsely populated parts of Albania the habitat is ideal for bear, wolf, mountain goat and of course the national bird the eagle.. as a surprise for me also for the schakal… I could definitely feel the presence of one during the entire walk.

An hour or so before the top we took a break and admired the mountain cliffs around us…. suddenly I saw them.. two eagles, majestically gliding around in the sky at about 300 meters distance . My long lens was clearly not long enough for a decent picture but it´s an eagle in one of the images.

After a short sleep we reached the top between the two valleys (panorama pic).

The descend resulted much more difficult especially with our not so professional equipment.

Several very steep snow-cowered passages demanded complete concentration. Luckily Marash knew the best places to put our feet and without his experience it would have been hard to get to Valbona. But after almost 9 hours we were installed at our destination in a guesthouse eating a well deserved dinner.

Thank you Erisa Cakalli and Marash. I would say you were ideal walking-companions..

Where the eagles fly..

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Looking at the picture it might seem like a walk in the park.. and actually it was in the beginning, this is Thethi National Park in northern Albania,  after a couple of hours though, the snowy precipices at altitudes close to 2000m, started to challenge us!!!

We had been playing with the idea of returning to Albania’s capital Tirana via a 16km walk over the mountains from Thethi to Valbona valley

It´s a tough trail and neither me or Erisa, my Albanian friend have got a lot of experience in mountaineering..

Furthermore the night before our adventure we received a warning sign that almost made us change our minds!  Three Polish alpinists arrived from the same path exhausted, injured and with pale faces. They told us about the very difficult conditions up there….

What made us finally decide to climb anyway was the confident face of Marash, our local guide who had made the route many times.

I´ll post the rest of the photos from this mountain crossing tomorrow. Picture above taken June 11.

(Se also:

Albanias next prime minister?


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Edi Rama the leader of the socialist party seems to be the winner of yesterdays elections in Albania.

The country needs a change in power. Lets hope that Edi keeps the house clean from corrupt thugs.

Congratulations Erisa.. I know you have been working hard for this!