Peaks of the Balkans

Off the Trail: Fever, Rest, and a Sudden Beach Vacation

After a night plagued with fever dreams for Antonio we decided to stay another night in Kujtim’s Guesthouse, allowing a full rest day before making a decision.

His fever broke in the morning but was replaced by a pounding headache and a swollen and sore throat.

In the afternoon we went on a short walk around the village to try. It was not good. Even walking slightly uphill on a track without packs left Antonio winded and stumbling.

Not even the mountain tea with a shot of raki helped (as recommended by Kujtim’s wife, who took very good care of us).

Getting Off Trail

The next morning over breakfast we discussed our options. Continuing hiking as planned wasn’t one of them: Antonio was still feeling weak and the sections after this would be getting more remote.

We could do shorter days and camp whenever we wanted to stop, but wouldn’t complete the trail. It is very easy to cut sections short on the PoB, but it would get tricky to get resupplies this way (cause we would shortcut our planned resupply stop), which we would need if we couldn’t rely on guesthouses for meals.

We could stay in Çerem until fully recovered and then see how far we’d get? But who knew how long that was going to take, and it would make us blow through our cash reserves (the only ATM on trail is in Plav, about 6 hiking days away) and then what?

None of these seemed great, and wasn’t even counting for the fact that Antonio still felt terrible and only managed to function with a large dose of painkillers (of which we also had a limited supply).

So we made the decision to go back to Dragobi (a town next to Valbona along the same the only road). We drove there together with Kujtim and arrived at our very new guesthouse (Mountain Oasis, highly recommended). Antonio promptly went back to bed and I set out to run/hike the 11km back to Valbona to return a key we accidentally stole from the guesthouse we stayed in. Whoops!

Following the river to hike back to Valbona

Lake Koman Ferry

The easiest way out of the Valbona Valley is to take the Lake Koman Ferry. This is a ~2,5hr boat ride over an artificial lake that’s basically in a flooded canyon. It’s insanely beautiful and fun.

Lake Koman scenery

Beach Mode

After an overnight in Tirana we hopped on a bus South, to Himara, one of the supposedly nice and not too busy coastal towns. The bus dropped us off near the old town from where we walked 30mins to a very quiet and chill camping (Himara Camping) where we would stay the next 5 nights. Antonio recovered quickly, luckily.

He tried to sneak into our tent

Not much to write about. Our days consisted of befriending the local stray cats (mixed results), hiking to ‘hidden’ beaches, swimming, sunbathing, reading, trying all the local restaurants and drinking cappuccino freddos until hyped up on caffeine.

Lounge chair, book, coffee, views

Good days!

Not the vacation we signed up for, but fun times nonetheless. And a very good excuse to return to Albania once again to complete the hike.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.