Saturday 3 February 2018

Valbona MTB Riding

It's a great pleasure today to host the article and the video made specifically for Cubo Viaggiatore by Paolo of Crazy Camper. Paolo for me was a pleasant "meeting of destiny", initially virtual, which later turned into reality. I was immediately impressed by his great ability to create compelling documentaries of his travels, with his faithful mates, Crazy (the Camper) and Camilla (the bicycle). I highly recommend to follow his youtube channel, in particular his compelling documentaries like Journey to Albania, Journey to Montenegro, and many others, I'm sure you'll like the videos.

By Crazy Camper

Hello dear friends. To describe this beautiful valley I immediately go seeking more detailed information of those that can be found on the web that concern this natural paradise still almost completely uncontaminated.

Back at the beginning of Valbona, pseudo agglomerate of houses, I see a sign ("traditional food") that can fit my needs.

I enter into the property and what happened next is surprising. In fact, after the first presentations in English, a few seconds pass by in order to understand that I'm dealing with an Italian.

The owner is called Franco. Born in Trieste, he married Lieta, Vale's sister present in the picture, with his son Gabriele.

 every year  during the summer months Franco moves here with his family to recharge his body and soul from the frenetic western culture. I therefore ask him for information about the various mountain bike routes.

By the way Franco tells me about an episode occurred during the Albanian popular revolution in which the rebels have destroyed an hotel in the area (as showed in this photo) with a bazooka. Thus begins a long conversation where I acquired important information.

Meanwhile that we chat, I take a look the adjacent fields. Other than agricultural machinery, here everything is done by hand, also because the economy of the Albanian Alps is based more on sheep farming than on agriculture, as the cultivated areas form small patches dispersed and as a whole even  insufficient to feed the scarce local population.

Having concluded the pleasant conversation with Franco and Vale, I head towards the valley floor where I can taste the difficulties of a mule-track placed right in the middle of a stony ground, which is actually the former bed of an inactive river.

During your stay in Valbona, meeting on the roads and paths of cows, bulls and other animals is a custom ... let's say that it is part of the package "all inclusive" of each trip I undertake.

Here at the end of the valley we find a perfect location to begin to describe this wonderful scenery through the images.

Here is a mysterious, perfectly squared block whose base proceeds downward with a wedge-like shape.
A rock for which I just can not find a justification.
Surrounded by rugged precipices and jagged ridges, wherever you look among the daring peaks of these mountains that reach the 2700 meters of height, you are stunned by their disarming beauty.

Congested by the landscapes that can be admired from the bottom of the valley I go back to the village and then venture on another path that will allow me to document the views taken from another point of observation.
In these territories there are innumerable biodiversity. The woods are composed of chestnut beech and fir trees, among which the rare red spruce is present.

Among the fauna we meet the large mammals such as the wolf, the bear, in addition to lynx, wild goats, roe deer, wild turkeys and mountain eagle.

Once the glimpse of the panoramas offered by this side of the valley is over, the path will be rediscovered. Given the short distance that separates me from the house of Franco I extemporize myself as mountain singer and with a screeching nozzle ugola, I call his attention to greet him.

My today bike tour ends here not before but to capture other beautiful images here in Valbona and that I wanted to define "jaw falling".

The next day I venture into another excursion on the west side, but less fortunate excursion than the others. The path after only two kilometers of climb suddenly stops and something tells me that between the directions taken at the intersections of the different paths, some of those were wrong.

In addition to the opportunity to camp, always respecting the environment and the areas allowed, the most popular activities at the national park are outdoor walks and trekking, the rebel river and the steep rock faces are a great challenge for fans of extreme sports.

The paths used for cycling are numerous, but it should also be considered that if you adore the descents, this practice can sometimes be counterproductive and cause some ruinous falls, as happens to me.

The blow to the face taken during the fall has given me some problems to the jaw but all in all stuff ... will mean that for a while 'I will avoid the landscapes "jaw falling" :-) .

The next day, the last day of stay in Valbona, I launch in the descent that will take me back to the beginning of the valley.

The reason for this initiative is soon said, in fact the vivid turquoise emerald colors expressed by the limpid water of the Valbona river deserve a quote and entice at least a timid entry into the water. Bbbrrrr ... no thanks!

The temperature is actually prohibitive and does not reach 10 degrees so the bath is limited to wet only the feet.

In the crystalline waters of this river lives the otter, a species in danger of extinction in the world and abounds the presence of golden trouts also thanks to the fact that fishing, like hunting, is not among the activities practiced by the local population.

If the descent was fun the ascent to the village of Valbona is less, because the battery is almost empty and then what Camilla can not give me I have to put my energy.
This trek will do well to my health and my slight overweight, moreover the effort remains limited considering that every three for two I stop to make the inevitable shots to these other glimpses of beautiful nature.
To be honest to fully enjoy these alpine paradises, I would be tempted to hike a hiking trip, but using the excuse that reminds me of how many other wonders I have yet to see, I feel less guilty with myself and abandon the idea.

Continuing the ascent towards Valbona you will encounter some structures used for tourism and at the widest point in the valley it is impossible not to notice the hotel previously mentioned by Franco and knocked down with the bazooka during the civil rebellion that occurred in 1997.

Last effort and I reach again the home of Franco where I met his friendly Italo-Albanian family.

Known both the father and the mother of Franco's wife, it is time to say goodbye to these lovely people and leave this lovely alpine village. Hello Valle di Valbona and who knows! .. maybe in the future we will meet again.

The Video

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