Thursday, 13 November 2014

Albania: Around Kukes

Our offroad guide book recommended a route over the back of the mountain range pictured below as being one of the most beautiful routes in Albania.  Unfortunately on the day we followed the route much of it was in the clouds.  But we decided to go for a look anyway.

The start of the route.  Winding into the mountains.


On the track

And then just as we started to see some interesting things, like these straw roofed constructions, we found ourselves shrouded in the clouds..... but on we went anyway.  It was a loop circuit returning to Kukes.

Although to us the villages we drove through were nothing but just a few farm houses, we were told later that one of them is very popular in winter as a skiing competition is organised there every winter.

And the higher we went the colder it got.  At the 1800m altitude we reached, in this part of Northeast Albania at least, the frost has little chance to thaw during the day and so builds up.

Polka: I had to brave the temperature of 0 to get out of the car and take these photos. They make me feel very Christmasy.


While up high the clouds cleared away to allow us a lovely view over to an adjacent mountain top.

 Descending back below the clouds

Polka: Aaron kept telling how much he would like it to be summer to be able to wild camp anywhere we'd like. I would like summer for that reason too but otherwise I loved the autumn scenery!

Micky Moo enjoys a snack.  That little leg is often to be seen casually placed as pictured here.  It must be comfortable.  The box is fill of surplus items we were going to post, but Micky Moo might miss her foot rest.

Back in Kukes the following day and preparing to depart, bound for Shkoder in the Northwest of Albania.

Beany and I getting photos from the roof of the Hotel Amerika

And with that we departed from Kukes, this time travelling on-road.  This photo shows a recently built highway that we took from Kukes to Shkoder.  It was obvious as we drove this road that it was a massive undertaking to build it, especially so for relatively poor Albania.  Albania is so mountainous that building this road would not have been easy, with large areas of rocky mountainside needing to be levelled.  

We found Shkoder in the West to be relatively wealthier than in the East, with an attractive pedestrianised area through the middle, many flashy cafes and some classy (and expensive) hotels.


Something that took my interest as a Mitsubishi Pajero fan is that the Albanian police run Pajeros, but not late models like we are driving.  Rather the police Pajeros are 2nd Generation Pajeros, which are now around 20 years old.  2nd generation Pajeros are on the roads in vast numbers in every country so that part is not surprising, it's more that I was surprised to see a police force running a fleet of 20 year of vehicles.  I suppose this is another indication of Albania's limited resources.  Indeed in Albania 1st generation Pajeros from the 1980's are still on the road in significant numbers.

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