Trekking Albania With a Baby: Theth Valbona Hike

Theth Valbona hike is a journey every nature lover or hiker must experience. Join us in the Albanian Alps, even if you have a baby!

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The Theth Valbona hike in the Albanian Alps will surely be one of the highlights of your Albanian trip. If you consider yourself a hiker, this hike should be on your bucket list. Now listen. We are -not- hikers by definition. We walked from Theth to Valbona with a baby and too much weight on our backs, and still, the hike was a transcending experience for us. Nature lovers among us should visit Albania, especially for this hike. 

So what if you have a baby? If you love hiking don’t let it stop you. It was the first long hike we did with our baby and we were really nervous. But it felt the same as before. We just needed a few extra preparations of food and snacks. Most importantly our ErgoBaby carrier made it easy to carry our one-and-a-half-year-old child (10 kg) for hours. He felt comfortable and we were calm. For more tips about Backpacking with a Baby.

  • Distance: 16 km, from the church of Theth.
  • Time: 8-10 hours
  • Climbing Elevation: 1000m
  • Ascent: 5 km
  • Descent: 11 km

The Climb to the TOP

You have the option to walk from Theth to Valbona or Valbona to Theth. In both of them, you are climbing up a mountain and descending it. While the main difference is that the walk from Theth to Valbona starts with a steeper climb compared to the opposite path. As mentioned, we walked from Theth village to Valbona, where after around half of the total climb, there’s a cafe with cold drinks, coffee, Byrek, and a nice view.

The delicious traditional dough pastry is usually filled with spinach, cheese, or minced meat. You can find it all over the Balkan, but Albanians make the best Byrek.

Somewhere up in the steep walking path, the view of Theth valley will show up. As hard the climb was for us, it was the view that took our breath away.

When reaching the top, you will have the option of an extra climb to get a panoramic view of the valley. Don’t skip it for your life.

By the way, unfortunately, we didn’t take pictures from the climb as we struggled our way up. So learn from our mistakes and don’t carry too much weight.

The Descent of the Theth Valbona Hike

After taking your time at the top and enjoying the view, you will start the slow descent towards Valbona. The way down is long and tedious but pretty average in difficulty.

There are some steep areas and even snow and ice leftovers if you do the hike before mid-July. So, It’s better to be attentive on those parts.

For us, it was an excellent opportunity to enjoy the dramatic view of the valley. You can use this time to think about everything and nothing. This kind of overwhelming scenery made me meditative.

Snow caped mountains and green hills on the trail down in the hike from Theth to Valbona with a baby
The descent

The valley is vast, with mountains higher than the clouds. The slopes are covered with shades of green, while a dominant white color covers the peaks. This combination makes you understand how small you are, and that exact feeling is why I love hiking.
About an hour after the beginning of the descent, you’ll see another cafe with a freshwater river flowing beside it. The atmosphere is no different from arriving in the Garden of Eden. The stream is another spot to fill your bottles. So you defiantly don’t have to carry too much water during the hike. For us, it was a blessing not to carry heavy water bottles when we trekked the Theth Valbona hike with our baby.

A mother with a baby by a fresh water river stream on the Theth Valbona hiking trail
You can drink straight from the river.

After approximately 30 min of walking, the path enters a forest, which provides a greatly needed break from the heat of the sun. Keep walking on the marked road till you reach Ragam village.

The Hidden Village of Ragam

Ragam sits in the Theth Valbona hike trail, 2 or 3 km before the arrival to Valbona. If you are looking for an authentic untouristic Albanian village, you found it. The look from the top down to the village, and its bright green field crops, made us hungry. We stopped there for a quick bite that lasted an hour. In that time our baby stretched his legs and we got a bit of rest. When we left, another hungry hiker stopped there. Proving we’re not the only people that an agricultural sight made them hungry.

Ragam is a self-sufficient village and has no electricity, which makes it even more romantic.

The village has some guesthouses that can provide you with a bad and shower. It’s definitely an option to consider if you wish to end the walk for the day and finish it the day after. It also can be a good option if you’re tired and/or sun-sensitive as the rest of the trail is white gravel, which raises the sun’s reflection, especially in the afternoon.

The End of the Road

Snow caped mountains and green hills at the valley of Valbona
The Last Part of The Hike and the Arrival to Valbona

The last part of the Theth Valbona hike is a walk on the Valbona River. It flows underneath the gravels, beneath your feet. A tip from us: Choose a hostel close to the end of the hiking trail. As the village of Valbona does not have a center, the hostels there are scattered all over the valley. For that reason, the wrong choice of a hostel can add 2 hours to your hike.

What to Pack

The gear you decide to take with you on a hike can make or break your trip, so choose wisely. To be completely honest, our packing routine for the Theth Valbona hike was pretty similar to any other trip to the mountains.

Make sure you have a comfortable daypack with a waist strap for better back support. The best backpack is the one you can hardly feel.

You should also have sunscreen in your backpack as most of the hike is with no shade and don’t forget a water bottle you can refill with Albanian glacier water right from the stream.

In addition, if you have bad knees, trekking poles are helpful.

If you’re over the age of 25, proper hiking boots are a must, especially when hiking in the mountains. 

We do not recommend arriving at Theth with many things or an additional backpack. Because eventually, you’ll have to carry everything to Valbona. Though it is possible! We did it.

Plan to stay for a few days in Theth or travel with a baby like us? It’s crucial to have the best travel backpack. 

If you are a backpacking parent, choose a baby carrier comfortable for your baby and yourself. 

Some stops on the path offer coffee and byrek, but if you prefer a lighter snack, energy bars are perfect as you have a long day ahead.

Where to Stay in Valbona

Guesthouse Kol Gjoni

We stayed at ‘Kol Gjoni’ and paid 50€ per night, including dinner and breakfast. It was a day we chose not to cook for ourselves. Even on a budget, you need to know when to lay on your back. They were generous enough to offer an extra dish for our child, as they always do in Albania. After a long day of a hike from Theth to Valbona with a baby on our backs, we felt we were being spoiled. The hostel is family-owned and run by two sons. They have some farm animals and make amazing honey. One of the brothers we spoke with is knowledgeable about the area and a tour guide in his profession. He gave some great tips for the rest of our trip to Albania, and thanks to him we got the idea of Exploring Southeast Albania.

Kol Gjoni garden Guesthouse in Valbona's village
Guesthouse Kol Gjoni

How to Get Out from Valbona

We decided to stay only one night in Valbona and started our journey back to Shkodra. Our host in Guesthouse Kol Gjoni arranged the trip for us. The total cost is 18 € per person and includes two bus tickets and a ferry ticket. So, if you plan to stay just one night in Valbona, don’t forget to tell your host to book it for you when you arrive from the hike. The buses tend to fill up quickly.

Mountain ridge and trees around in Valbona's valley
Valbona Valley

The road back to Shkoder is an attraction and acts as a nice closer to an unforgettable journey. To make it easier for all of us, here are some points illustrating the headline.

1. Bus ride from Valbona to Fieirze– one hour, 700 LEK (approx 7$) per person.
2. Ferry ride from Fierze to Koman lake– 2 hours, 800 LEK (approx 8$) per person.
If it’s the high season, you should book a ticket online.
3. Bus ride from Koman lake to Shkoder– one hour and a half, 700 LEK (approx 7$) per person.

Final Thoughts

We were traveling in Albania for a bit more than two months. We ran into the Theth Valbona hike in our second week in Albania. It still is the highlight of our Albanian trip, and I mean every aspect related to the Teth Valbona hike. If it’s the arrival to Theth with its windy challenging ride, the stay in the village of Theth and experiencing Theth’s national park, and of course the never-ending trail between the two villages.

Our memory of the Theth Valbona hike will continue to exist for a long time.

And if after that mountain wandering all you wish to do is lay on your backs and do nothing, go check out the two secluded beaches we found in the Albanian Riviera. Or if you’re more of a freshwater type of person, Shala River is one boat sail away from Lake Koman.


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