On the way, an oncoming car with headlight flasher stops us. Again a driver draws our attention to our rubbing plastic part on the substructure. So nice, these Albanians. We reach the Valbona Valley at midday and immediately realize that we are entering a hidden fairytale realm.
The mountain peaks form a wild pattern, the forests radiate idyll, a stream with a wide pebble bank meanders through the middle and alternately narrow gorges, over which small bridges lead. The bright sun made all the colors shine in full saturation and all in all this picture looks to us as if Bob Ross has just set his brush down.
We met some hikers because this is where the “Peaks of the Balkans” pass, a trail that crosses the highest mountains of the Balkans through Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia and Kosovo.
From a few Germans we can take a photo of their hiking maps for our day trips.
I can finally persuade Chris and Uwe to do something really daring: wild camping!
We find a wonderful place near a sparse forest and a dry river bed. We do not fear any bear visits, because with Uwe’s snoring we have an extremely effective defense system to keep any form of life that has acoustic sensory organs at a distance.
We set up our tents and start the first day tour. As it turns out, the route leads vertically up the mountain to a large boulder, where we pause and enjoy the view of the valley to the fullest.
The afternoon progresses and the warmth of the light increases. We still want to do another hike. Thanks to the hikers, we find another suitable route on the photographed map. It leads us through the forest and to a small pond, which has dried up.
We treat ourselves to a good dinner in a wooden hut with cold beer, gratinated goat cheese and goose foot pie. What more do you want?
Back at the tents we lie on our picnic blanket and gaze at the unfiltered Milky Way for hours.
In the morning we are awakened by young rays of light making their way through the crags to the valley floor.
We pack our things and decide that it’s not too late for another hike before we head von to Kosovo.