Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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DBM
Posts: 3
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 12:04pm

Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Post by DBM »

Has anyone cycled through Albania, particularly the north of the country? Any advice? What are the roads/people/drivers like?
toyotakev
Posts: 74
Joined: 11 Jan 2007, 3:23pm

Re: Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Post by toyotakev »

HI

last year i rode from england to jordon, crossing into albania from montenegro, and hence down into tirana.

if i could do it again tomorrow, i would!
the people were so friendly, and really made an effort to welcome you.
they really want their country to get a good name on the international tourist scene!
i admit to being a little apprehensive about cycling on my own, but i loved it.
i spent 3 weeks in tirana, then went due east to lake ochrid, and crossed over into macedonia.
another awesome country!

one word of advice; there are absolutely no spare parts for modern japanese equiped bikes, so take chains, tubes, spokes,in fact, the whole kitchen sink!
but, the roads were fine, until i reached the suburbs of tirana, then the road in was like a construction site, but dont let that put you off?
go and stay at their only backpackers, on Rruga elbasanit, no. 85.

you¨ll love the country too; in the north its very green, not how i imagined it to be at all.
the interior is quite mountainous, and the must thing you must have is a bloody good map, cus they dont exist anywhere in the country.

city maps yes, but not for cycling in the hills they dont!
and water, carry loads, as fill ups are, and will be, very few and far between!

well, i hope i have been some help to you?
let me know how your plans progress, and good luck with the ride

toyotakev
DBM
Posts: 3
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 12:04pm

Re: Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Post by DBM »

Thanks for that! Yeah we start from Zadar and head down the Croatian coast through Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, maybe even Kosovo, depending on the circumstances, and then on to Bulgaria. The Foreign Office has some warnings about Albania but the latest Lonely Planet guide declared it perfectly safe (good enough for me). So I think we may only have time to pass through the north of Albania where the roads look tough (if not non-existent)! I was wondering what your mileage per day was in Albania?
toyotakev
Posts: 74
Joined: 11 Jan 2007, 3:23pm

Re: Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Post by toyotakev »

HI
your route is very similar to mine, coming down from lake bled in slovenia, then coasty bit to zadar, split, dubrovnik, into bosnia, serbia, montenegro, albania, macedonia, bulgaria, and then down into northern greece.

you should have a great time?

as it was high summer, we(my girlfriend joined me in tirana) stuck to 60-65 miles per day.
there were any photo stops, and we had no rush, as such,but some of the passes are quite severe, especially crossing over into
macedonia near ochrid lake.
its only about 2000ft high, but its a twisty and tight son ' o' a bitch.
but not as long as the ochrir lake pass up and over to prespa!
that took us 5 hours, but what a view, and no tourists.

great camping around the lakes, otherwise there are no official campsites anywhere.
wild camping is ok, as long as you cannot be seen from the road, of course, otherwise the cops might ask you to move on.

oh yes, the border into bulgaria from macedonia( near to blag!), it closes at 8pm.
and the road up to it is a bugger, it just goes on and on and on!
we thought we would do it in no time, but after a 1 hr sleep by the roadside, we made it with 10 minutes to spare.
the guard then asked us for accomodation stamps(technically, every hotel will stamp your receipt from hotels etc, ), but seeing as we camped wild, we just said we never were given any.
it pays to keep those you do get, as you can get a room for 3-4 very cheap, even motel ones that look very pricey.
and never take the first price offered, when asking at any hotel, motel, b and b type, they will always give you a cheaper price if they think you will go elsewhere!

wish i was coming with you again.
how many of you are there, and what sort of equipment will you have(bikes, trailers, etc etc.

oh yes, the small gas cannisters that we get in the uk, the blue ones you puncture when inserting them, they are all over the place in albania!

keep in touch

kev
they will certainly stop and ask you if they see you camping, but generally they are more inquisitive than harmfull.
DBM
Posts: 3
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 12:04pm

Re: Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Post by DBM »

cool, yeah i'm prepared for some steep hills. we'll be travelling light, as usual, just two rear pannier bags about 20 litres each. so we will only be taking the bare essentials. although i'm worried about having to carry a lot of spares for the bike. 60 miles a day is what we've estimated we can do in that terrain but we'll be prepared if we can't manage that. i'm one of three guys doing it. cheers for your help, no doubt i'll be asking you a few more questions!
jamesofyorkshire
Posts: 325
Joined: 14 Jul 2007, 11:39am

Re: Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Post by jamesofyorkshire »

I had 3 months in Albania last year......without getting into much detail I'd just say be careful up towards Kosovo......it's a bit dodgy in that part of Albania. The most beautiful part is the south. great scenery, little traffic, and very friendly people....plenty of hills too.
kile2
Posts: 7
Joined: 6 Feb 2009, 11:11am
Location: london

Re: Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Post by kile2 »

Which parts/routes in s.Albania? Toyotakev. You mention having good maps? I've found one by the world mapping project at 1:220 000. But was also thinking of just printing off from viamicheline. What maps did you have? Also for Macedonia.
Thanks
DaveFY7
Posts: 80
Joined: 16 Jun 2009, 12:42am

Re: Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Post by DaveFY7 »

I cycled down to Albania from the North a few months ago. Bulgaria, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia.... followed the road through Debar, South to Struga which is on the Northern edge of the lake at Ohrid. Entered Albania at the border crossing near Lin and followed the road South on the Western shoreline to Pogradec. Onto Maliq, Korce, Erseke and Leskovic before crossing into Greece and onto Turkey.

If that route is of interest I'll provide some input. (used viamichelin maps printed off at a suitable scale. No problems) I thoroughly enjoyed it in Albania. Nice and friendly. Unspoilt and scenic. As cheap as chips. Kosovo and Macedonia were superb as well. I'd love to go again. (Maybe a tour from Slovenia down through the Balkans to Greece)
sebgiambrone
Posts: 16
Joined: 31 Jul 2009, 10:35am
Location: Kings Langley

Re: Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Post by sebgiambrone »

Great too see other people touring in the same area as me. My trip, which will take place at easter, will take me from Berlin to Athens. Does anybody know of or have any blogs that I might follow? Thanks S G
"You speak for a whole generation when you keep your mouth shut".
alex-skp
Posts: 1
Joined: 28 Apr 2010, 8:39am
Location: Skopje, Macedonia

Re: Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Post by alex-skp »

All of you ... when heading Macedonia from Albania, try to cross the border at Saint Naum cross point, which is named after the Saint Naum monastery which is right near the border in Macedonia. You might sleep there as well, as the area can provide a great comfort :D and rest.

The entire Ohrid area is simply wonderfull - you should stay there for at least one day, to visit the Ohrid old town and more other things. Remains of Via Egnatia are still visible on the western side of the lake.

For any other Macedonia info plase let me know...

Regards,
GavinRitchie
Posts: 1
Joined: 25 May 2010, 4:57pm

Re: Cycle Touring in N. Albania

Post by GavinRitchie »

I have travelled exstensivley in Albania over the past 5 years. By and large the people are very friendly and accomodating. The majority of the country is very mountanious apart from the plateau that runs from Tirana to Durres and down the cost. The tempreatures during the summer soar into the high 30's so take plenty of water. Once you are in the country accomodation and food is cheap until you hit Tirana where prices are a bit higher you will also find that if you cant speak the language you will be charged a bit more for things.

The roads over the past number of years have seen a significant improvement however their sign posting is nearly non-existent apart from on their autostrades. Some of the roads at the moment are in a shocking condition so make sure that you have a lot of spare patches and inner tubes. Also the driving of the Albanians is far from the best as they certainly have no concerns about over taking going into blind bends etc. You will see from all the road side memorials at the large number of fatal crashes that they have.

Also make sure that you take something with you that can help with upset stomachs as during the summer they tend to suffer from a lot of power cuts which then effects the storeage of the food that leads to a significant amount of food poisoning during the summer months.

It is still a greatly misunderstood country but one that is open and welcome to all that visit and you will find that a lot of pepole will come up and speak to you to practice their English.

Have a great time.
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