I have had the desire to visit Thethi (also called Theth), a remote mountain village in the northern part of Albania, for a long time. Many authors have written books and reports about this mysterious area: the Dutch writer A. Den Doolaard mentioned the place in his novel “De Herberg met het Hoefijzer” and Edith Durham was fascinated by Thethi when she travelled through Albania in the beginning of the 20th century (“High Albania” is her most famous book about this region). The German development organization GIZ recently published a hiking guide and map with suggestions for magnificent hiking tours in Thethi and its Nature Park.
But Thethi remains isolated, although it is situated at less than 100 km distance from Podgorica. The easiest way to get there is by passing the border at Hani i Hotit and continue this road in the direction of Shkodra. Turn left at the new turnabout near Koplik and drive another 30 km to Boga, where the asphalt road stops. Do you have a 4WD? No problem then, just continue on the unmade (and very bad) road for the last 26 km to Thethi!
We did not have a 4WD, but found another solution with the support of Roza Rupe, who runs a family guesthouse in Thethi. So we spent the night at Nikolin guesthouse in Boga, with simple (and clean) accommodation and abundant food. The hosts were friendly and we enjoyed the view from the nice terrace, from where we could see sheep, cows and goats returning from the pastures in the evening.
Roza had booked two seats for us in a minibus that came from Shkodra, at the price of 5 € p.p. It appeared to be an old yellow Mercedes “furgon” (van) with some building materials on the roof and young passengers from different European countries inside. The trip lasted almost two hours and I really wondered how the driver could use his mobile phone, smoke, drive and listen to folk music at the same time, on one of the most dangerous roads I ever saw in Europe.
But we safely arrived at the Rupe guesthouse and got a nice room. The price for full board was 23 € per person and the food appeared to be excellent, almost everything was home-made: the bread, cheese, marmelade and honey, vegetables and fruit.
In the afternoon we explored the village. Thethi has a nice wooden church and one of the very few remaining “lock-in towers”, a historical form of protection for families that were “in blood”. Apart from the lock-in tower, other attractions include spectacular waterfalls and a working watermill (still used to grind the local inhabitants’ corn). We also hiked to the Grunas waterfall. Untouched nature, high karst mountains and authentic stone houses – it was as if we got lost in a fairy tale!
In the evening we took a seat in front of the old stone guesthouse. Roza cooked a delicious meal for her guests and after dinner we made a fire, as the nights in the mountains are pretty cold.
The next day we made a hiking tour along the Shala river to Nderlysa, also visiting the narrow Grunas canyon. We decided to return by the other side of the river, using the so-called “Thethi stairs”, a dangerous rocky path along a steep canyon. The signposting was excellent, but the path is obviously rarely used, as it was overgrown at many places.
Two days in Thethi passed like a dream. Roza made another exquisite dinner for her guests and on the third day of our trip we returned to Boga by minibus and further by car to Podgorica. Fascinated by Thethi – we will certainly come back!