Northern Albania/FYRO Macedonia - "The Accursed Mountains"
This tour loops around the Southern end of Lake Ohrid into FYRO Macedonia before heading North into the the "Accursed Mountains" of Northern Albania which Robert Carver wrote about in his classic travel book. On our tour though, they are accursed not for the Reasons Robert Carver wrote about in his book, they are accursed because they are challenging to ride a bike on.
Carver wrote about his journeys in the early 90's, right after the collapse of communism and when political divisions, economic collapse and just plain fear made Albania a tough place to travel. A lot has changed since then. Now, it is a welcoming place with people upbeat, looking forward to the future and with natural beauty and lots of history to boot. Our kind of place.
We start in Tirana, loop around Lake Ohrid on the Macedonian side and then head North ending in Shkoder. We see parts of Albania that most people never do. The end the tour with a picturesque and necessary (it's the only it can be done) ferry boat ride on Lake Komani. This tour is structured so you have the option of heading back to Tirana for a flight out or continuing on to our next tour in Montenegro.
Day 1 - Tirana, Albania
We meet in Tirana. Depending on when you arrive, hopefully you can check out the town. There is plenty to see. If you arrive late, think about adding a few days after the tour.
Day 2 - Pogradec, Albania
We will transfer out of Tirana to avoid a busy road and then bike the descent towards the northern end of Lake Ohrid. We descend to the shores of Lake Ohrid and bike to Pogradec at the southern end of Lake Ohrid.
Day 3 - Stenje, FYRO MacedoniaWe will take some back roads through a patchwork of fields towards Korce before making our way across the Albania- FYRO Macedonian border and through Prespa National Park to the picturesque lakeside hamlet of Stenje. Stenje is on Greater Prespa Lake (the nearby Small Prespa Lake is actually in Greece). The Greater Prespa Lake is the highest tectonic lake in the Balkans at 850 meters. It is 150 meters higher than Lake Ohrid and water flows from it underground about 6 miles into Lake Ohrid. The border between Albania and the FYRO Macedonia cuts though both Lake Ohrid and Greater Prespa Lake so both lakes are shared by these two countries. Both Albania and the FYRO Macedonia are blessed with seemingly endless fresh water.
Day 4 - Ohrid, FYRO Macedonia
From Stenje, we head North through the Park and the plateau before descending down to Ohrid on the shores of Lake Ohrid. Ohrid is a larger town with a a lot of history and we will arrive early enough to check out the town.
Day 5 - Peshkopi, Albania
Today we head North along the shores of Lake Ohrid behind and continue North in the FYRO Macedonia past Lake Debar before crossing the border into Albania with only about 12 miles to go to Peshkopi. This is an area popular for it's mountain activities and parks. Peshkopi is a town of about 15,000 with a long history, but it is off the tourist path. It has a couple hot springs that are popular with the locals.
Day 6 - Kukes, Albania
Today is a very hilly ride to Kukes. The original Kukes was located at the confluence of the White Drin and Black Drin Rivers, but due to a Chinese built dam contructed in the 1970's the entire town of about 50,000 people was relocated to a plateau at 320 meters above sea level. Kukes has the distinction of being the only town ever nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. It was nominated in 1970 for housing 500,000 refugees during the Kosovo War.
Day 7 - Dardhe, Albania
You are in the thick of the Accursed Mountains today. It's nothing but up and down. You will be happy to arrive in Dardhe which is primarily known as a ski destination since the early 1920's.
Day 8 - Fierza/Shkoder
From Dardhe we make our way to Fierze where we catch a ferry boat which takes us on a very beautiful cruise on Lake Komani. Not many people get to see this corner of Albania. We need to be at the Ferry departure point by noon so it is a good thing that most of the ride is downhill. After the ferry ride we transfer to Shkoder, where our tour ends. It's easy enough to arrange transport back to Tirana, or, even better, sign up for our follow on tour which ventures into Montenegro and ends in Croatia (Dubrovnik). From Dubrovnik, you can fly home or directly to our next tour in Crete! :-)
8 nites accommodations.
Dinners (except the first night of arrival in Tirana and last night in Shkoder)
Transport of baggage
Stocked Sag Vehicle with driver and a local bi-lingual guide.
Transfer from Tirana to the ride start outside of Tirana.
Ferry ticket and vehicle transfer to Shkoder.
Beer, wine, booze
Lunches are excluded. There are many places to stop and eat along the way and food is inexpensive.
Immunizations from your doctor or travel clinic
Airport transfer upon arrival - not hard - we will give you instructions.