Ruth and Max enjoying a beautiful rainbow at the Natyra e Qete Restaurant & Camping near Berat, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Berat, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? South towards Greece.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

What a great day we had!

Yesterday we did our guided hike and picnic lunch into Albania's Tomorri National Park. We had tried to go up to this area when we had a car rental back in early April but we just had a small 2WD car, and we learned pretty quickly that you need a high clearance 4WD in order to go to where we were trying to go.

We met our guide Arti from Albania Rafting Group at 9:00am, and hopped into a 4WD Land Rover. Arti a young guy, 24 years old and Berat is his home town so he knows the area well. Nice guy, and we enjoyed his company.

Here is our ride for the day...

I think if you live in Albania, you need to have a four wheel drive vehicle!

Max, in his spot at the Castle Park Hotel.

The hotel and restaurant.

It didn't take long to get onto the dirt road. With this vehicle, we were able to go a lot faster than we had been with the car back in the spring, but it was still slow going. 

Even with the 4WD, it took us an hour to do 14 kms (8.7 miles).

Uphill all the way. We gained almost 1,000 meters (3,200') in altitude.

Tomorri Mountain National Park.

We stopped here for a break.


The road we had come up on.

Eventually, we came to a spot where Arti said "okay, we will park here and walk".

This is the view from where we parked.

The first part of the hike.

You can see the city of Berat in the valley.

Looking up.

We were not hiking to the top though. We would like to some day, but it's a strenuous all day hike and you actually have to start on the other side of the mountain. Our goal for today was a much shorter hike to a remote castle ruins called Maja Gradishtit.

This picnic table shelter is where we would end up having lunch.

What a beautiful spot!

We left some stuff at the picnic site, and continued another 20 minutes or so up to the ruins site.

Arti said it's tradition up here to write your name on a rock using a different color rock.

Arti, Kevin, and Ruth.

There is not much left of the castle ruins.

Us, with Tomorri Mountain in the background.

Can you see me?

Arti and Ruth.

Scenery along the way.

We love this stuff!


He brought us over to a viewpoint that looks down on the remote villages of Tomorr 1 and Tomorr 2.

The viewpoint over the remote villages.

There are actually quite a few homes in these villages.

Despite the fact that these two villages are located only 25 kms (15 miles) or so from the city of Berat, they are very isolated. Arti was telling us that a lot of people are trying to open the area up for tourism, but for that to happen they need to build a decent road. Currently, there is one bus every day to and from the villages from Berat, and it takes an hour and a half one way.

Arti says that the people who live in these villages liked the communist era better. They were looked after by the government, whereas today the government has largely forgotten about them. They've been asking for a new access road for years, but the money is never approved.

There is one school there, and the teachers are paid extra because of the remote area.

Strangely, the villages are not marked on Google maps!

The farmland has been layered over hundreds of years.

The only road into the villages.

Ruth and Arti enjoying the view.

Then we hiked back down to the picnic shelter and had some lunch...

Lunch!

Bread, cheese, olives, cold meats, yogurt sauce, dolma japrak (like a cabbage roll, but made with grape leaves), and byrek (layered pastry with meat, eggs, and cheese).
And of course a shot of raki.

Selfie of me and the mountain.

Heading back down.

One final view.

Notice the clear blue sky at the end of the day. It was perfect weather, and just continued to improve as we hiked. We were lucky, because the day before the entire mountain had been in cloud most of the day. We really enjoyed our day, and Arti was great. He leads the river canyon hikes that are done in July and August. Now that would be a lot of fun! We'll have to return in the heat of the summer some day!

Thanks to my Mom for covering the €60 ($85 CAD, $68 USD) per person cost of this trip. Not something we normally would have done at that price, but we really loved it!

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12 comments:

  1. Thanks, Kevin's mom! And thanks for taking us along!

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    Replies
    1. It was our pleasure to bring you all along with us! We are glad that you enjoyed the post and the pictures. :-)

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  2. Looks like a beautiful area. Was the bread gluten free?

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    1. The area is stunning, we love it here. There is no lack of hiking in this area that is for sure.

      No, unfortunately the bread was not gluten free. Kevin had some but I didn't, and I also couldn't have the byrek, which was such a shame because it looked delicious! :-(

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  3. Wow, that is rugged country! But beautiful.... that escarpment above Berat reminds me of the cliffs along the Columbia River, here in Oregon, the folding in on itself and rolling....

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    1. In some areas it is definitely quite rugged and very beautiful. This is the type of landscape/scenery that we love. Yes, Mount Shpirag looks pretty neat standing in behind Berat. It is an interesting formation when the mountains can have a look like that.

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  4. Replies
    1. It was a fantastic hike, we had such beautiful weather for it and the scenery was outstanding. Arti was a great guide and we food was delicious. :-)

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  5. Dear Ruth and Kevin!
    Thank you for promoting our country with so much love as we sincerely need it. For the team of Albania Rafting Group it was a surprise that after rafting in the Osum Canyons last year you returned to visit another natural treasure that Berat has, the sacred mountain of Tomorit.
    I wish you a beautiful life full of travel. You deserve to be happy because you forgive so much goodness!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Alma and for the hospitality that you have shown us. It isn't hard to promote your beautiful country, it has so much going for it, especially the gorgeous scenery and the friendly, welcoming people. We are already looking to our return visit here and doing another wonderful hike with you.


      Thank you for the dried flowers/plants that you gave me, I am drinking some of the tea I made with them right now and it is really nice. :-)

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  6. What a wonderful excursion in such an exquisite landscape! That photo of Ruth & Arti going down (just above the notation "he brought us over to a viewpoint that looks down...")should be in the Albanian Rafting Group's brochure. This guided hike is where the genius in Kevin's mom's idea to give you guys a petty cash fund to splurge on memorable treats like this really shines through.

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    Replies
    1. The scenery really is gorgeous, we love this type of landscape. Yes, that photo of Arti and I it a beautiful one, I love it too.

      The money Kevin's mom gives us is for our birthday and Christmas gifts each year, it is our decision to use it for things like this, that we wouldn't normally do/buy ourselves. By doing this way she gets to enjoy it too from reading about our experience and enjoying the pictures. :-)

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