Theth National Park combines the beauty of mountains with majestic rivers, stunning waterfalls and lagoons as blue as one could ever imagine. No mere picture will do justice to its true beauty, you must experience Theth in the flesh!
“Paradise is here, my good man. God, give me no other paradise!” This passage, from Nikos Kazantzakis’ Freedom and Death, rings particularly true when you find yourself in the midst of Theth National Park. Surrounded by rugged mountains, enwreathed with nature of the highest magnificence, Theth may resemble a postcard but this is as real as it gets!
Your Journey to Theth
Nestled amongst the Albanian Alps, Theth National Park covers a vast and sprawling area of 26.3km2. It must be said that Theth is not for the weak-hearted, and we do mean that! Getting there is the trick and any enthusiastic tourist can choose one of two quite varied journeys. The first is the most comfortable, this route is by car and takes you through Shkodra. You do get the views from your vehicle but it’s not exactly the full Theth experience. That brings us to the second journey, this one is by foot, it’s much more demanding but unquestionably more rewarding. This 6 to 7-hour journey involves climbing the Valbona Pass by foot, and do not take it lightly when we tell you, it takes you mountain high (literally and figuratively).
You’ve arrived, and here begins the part where you may need to pinch yourself. Two spectacular peaks loom above Theth National Park: Jezerca and the Accursed Mountains. Once upon a time the latter was famed for housing nymphs, goddesses and other mythical beings. To the more cynical minded traveller these myths might seem farcical, but what cannot be denied is the magical and otherworldly views that inhabit Theth National Park.
What Awaits You?
The gorgeous spectacle of the Shala River flowing and meandering through the area, is truly something to behold. You’ll find water features aplenty in the vicinity and it goes without saying that the Waterfall of Grunas (or Theth) is an impressive sight with a 30m high cascade of plunging water. The rugged and narrow canyon of Grunas in close proximity adds to the magical atmosphere, with crystalline waters running through it for more than a kilometre. Upon crossing the canyon, a 30 to 40-minute hike will take you into the heart of the village Ndërlys. It’s in this village that you will discover Vaskat e Gurit (literally ‘Stone Bathtubs’), awe-inspiring rock formations carved out by the Black River set amongst crystal-clear turquoise waters. Post-hike, there is no better place to take a refreshing dip!
The Black River descending from the village of Kaprre, creates yet another majestic pool: The Blue Eye of Theth. With a rich-blue hue and surrounded by lush greenery, it’s a magical sight. A calm stream descends from the mountains above, an abandoned tower adds a finishing touch to this gorgeous and remarkable location. Do not fear, there are plenty of rest spots along your journey where you can relax and recuperate some energy. Roast lamb, warm homemade bread, cheese, yogurt, butter, honey and all manner of homegrown fruits and vegetables are there for your mid-hike cravings, masterfully prepared and served by the families of the nearby guesthouses. This is feel-good Albanian food & hospitality, of which you will never forget.
An Inspiration to All Who Visit
Other noteworthy destinations to visit when in Theth National Park include the Church of Theth, the Prison Tower (Kulla e Ngujimit), the Cave of Theth, the Waterfall of Gjeçaj, and the Lake of the Peja Pass, to name but a few. Ismail Kadare, the renowned Albanian author, dedicated his poem “Accursed Mountains” to this exact place, and indeed to Albania for possessing such “unknown” miracles:
These narrow towers,
How they squint their eyes from this endless space.
Why ever, would you watch with such small eyes,
the great world, o country of mine?
Perhaps, Kadare predicted the fate of this beautiful place. Now, people from all corners of the great world come to see Theth with their own eyes. To believe it!
Kadare shrewdly envisioned the destiny of this transcendent place. As now, people from all corners of the globe travel to see and experience Theth. Pinch yourself upon arrival, take a deep breath, and enjoy the views, because this is just about as beautiful as reality can be.
1) Follow the itinerary Shkoder-Koplik-Bogë-Theth. This road through Bogë, is newly paved and lasts for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Shkodra.
2) Follow the itinerary Shkoder-Mes-Prekal-Kir-Shosh-Breg Lumi-Theth. This route is not yet paved, the road to Prekal requires a 4X4 vehicle, patience and more time.
Where to stay:
For more information about places to stay, click here.