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By Julia Van Peer
"Everywhere I looked I saw mountains thrusting into the sky, chunks of snow finding their way down the overhanging rocks, and unmarked paths well known to the local shepherds but undiscovered by the outside world, branching out in every possible direction."

As I arrived in the remote village of Bogë, in the middle of December, vast stretches of snow covered the surrounding mountains, and I immediately fell in love with the area. While this region is mostly visited by local Albanian tourists for the famous hike from Theth to Valbone, during wintertime only the most qualified drivers come up here with their four by fours to conquer the dangerous snowy dirt road. 


I was fortunate to catch a ride on the only road leading to Theth, since my van was not equipped with the necessary tools to face this slippery road. With one hand the driver was steering the wheels in a surprisingly relaxed way, whilst holding his cellphone to his ear with the other hand, and occasionally switching gears in between.


The view from the mountain pass between Bogë and Theth, at 7 am.

After a distressful 30 minutes we had to stop the car because his friends, who were driving in a similar manner in front of us, got their jeep stuck in the snow at the side of the narrow dirt road. Luckily, most of these men know what to do in this kind of situation, and whilst pushing the jeep from left to right, they gradually freed the car. Another few minutes later, we arrived on the top of the mountain that connects Bogë to Theth, where we had to break off our journey by car as the snow was too deep to beat. From here I was on my own…


All of the men jumping up and down in the trunk of the jeep.

Everywhere I looked I saw mountains thrusting into the sky, chunks of snow finding their way down the overhanging rocks, and unmarked paths well known to the local shepherds but undiscovered by the outside world, branching out in every possible direction. Since only a few of the countless hiking routes have been put into a map, major tourism hasn’t found it’s way yet to this undeveloped, isolated region. 


During my descent from the mountain I spotted crystal clear rivers pouring down. And as the veil of white pine trees opened up, a chain of breathtaking mountains became visible as far as my eyes could see. This mountain range is home to a challenging hiking path, better known as the Peaks of the Balkans Trail, a 192 kilometre long hike traversing Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.


Nothing but impressive mountains surrounding me.

Meanwhile, on both sides of the road tracks appeared in the snow belonging to either a hungry wolf forced to leave his territory during wintertime, or a playful dog. I chose to believe it was the latter, seeing I was alone on an isolated road, knee deep in the snow, and I didn’t feel like being overmastered by fear. As the height of the snow began to decrease, so did my uneasiness, and as luck would have it the first houses of the traditional village of Theth caught my eye. Scattered across the eight mountains that surround the village, wooden mountain huts appeared with here and there smoke coming out of the chimneys. 


One of the main roads in the village of Theth.

With the temperatures dropping every half hour, and no internet connection whatsoever I found my way to the centre of the village. Fortunately every centre of every village, has a bar (or as the locals would say: a Kafana) where all the men come together (it is traditional that women do not join this pastime). And as luck would have it they had a spare room on the upper floor for me to stay in. 


Flocks of sheep roam the snowy grasslands.

During winter time, only 25 families hibernate here, while the rest retreat to the nearest big town, Shkodër. After a delicious home cooked meal of grilled lamb, fresh vegetables from the vegetable garden, steamed potatoes and a refreshing local beer, I lay down in bed, satisfied with the day I had. Tomorrow I would try to cover part of the famous hike from Theth to Valbone, but for now I ventured off in a deep sleep and dreamt of the gorgeous isolated area where I had ended up.


View on the Valley of Bogë.


  • Length of the trail: 19 kilometres

  • Duration: 4h (experienced) – 5h (averaged)

  • Elevation gain: 600 metres 

  • Highest point: 1 600 metres

  • Starting point: the village of Bogë

  • Optimal period: June – October (I did the hike in winter time and it was breathtaking)


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On track off track.

Hi there!

I'm Julia, a Belgian native who loves to travel and explore off the beaten places all over the world. Discover more on how to fill your travels with adventure, warmth, and colour. Learn more about me here.

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