Walking between highland villages on the slopes of Korab mountain, and enjoying the hospitality of the friendly locals.
DAY 1 (19/9): PESHKOPI
The Peshkopi Backpackers Hostel. Perfect location in the middle of Peshkopi, with nice views over the town and surrounding mountains. The house was used by the former dictator Enver Hoxha when he visited Peshkopi, and much of the furniture inside is preserved from that era.
DAY 2 (20/9): RABDISHT
The son of the guest house we were going to stay at picked us up with his car.
Our wonderful hosts, Festa and Sabri.
Sabri showing us 180 years old doctor’s equipment from his ancestors, while we enjoyed the tasty fruits from their garden and nuts from the surrounding nature.
Oragnic food. Bean stew, nettle pie, stuffed cabbage rolls etc. A paradise for vegetarians! And all the ingredients were 100% organic and produced by themselves.
Making byrek the proper way.
Sabri showed us the way to some caves outside the village. They were constructed during communism to function as bomb shelters.
Scary caves can also be a lot of fun
600 years old pine trees clinging to the rocks above Rabdisht.
We were told that this woman was 100 years old. She sure looked strong and healthy!
Bringing back some firewood from the forest.
DAY 3 (21/9): MORE RABDISHT
This day we walked on our own. We took the path towards Zagrad village, but only to the top of the ridge to get some nice views. We then returned the same way back to the village. This section is part of the High Scardus Trail, but it still not marked or signposted. Finding the way was easy anyway.
A small glimpse of Zagrad village (below to the right). This was all we saw of Zagrad, since the guesthouse we planned to stay in had to cancel because of a funeral. We look forward to go there some other trip
We returned to Rabdisht. We said hello to someone on the street, and next thing we knew we were sitting in their living room eating snacks, fruits and drinking coffee and yogurt.
In the evening I went for a small run above Rabdisht.
DAY 4 (22/9): BELLOVË TO CERJAN
We shared a car with Sabri and Festa, before the car dropped us of by the school in Bellovë village.
The bridge in Bellovë.
Hazelnut season. The standard snack among the locals, it seems.
“Thana” berries were in season, very tasty.
Lunch on a meadow
A friendly local showed us the way, and Simon got to ride the horse
Here we just arrived at the guesthouse. Our host Hassan (white t-shirt) and his family were very friendly and hospitable. Finn & Simon had a lot of fun playing with their kids too.
Using wild herbs for tea (and medicine) is very common here. Hassan told me that he once went up to the mountains by horse to spend a whole month up there riding and picking herbs.
We went for a walk with Hassan & his sons, around the village.
Most inhabitants have left Cerjan. There are only about ten permanent families, but a few decades ago there were a couple of thousand inhabitants.
Many houses are in ruins. But the remaining houses are very rustic and nice.
There is no sound of motors whatsoever. Most streets look more like paths. Very pieceful and charming!
A wonderful peak of the Korab massif
Tired legs? Then you get to ride on the horse
DAY 5 (23/9): CERJAN TO BELLOVË
We said goodbye to our nice hosts and walked down to Bellovë by a different path.
We just said “hello” to these ladies in Bellovë and asked if there was a bus or taxi in the village. “No bus, no taxi” they said, but gave us a big bag of walnuts and hazelnuts
The man in the red t-shirt came down the street towards us, waving some car keys and asking “Taxi?”. Perhaps the ladies had spoken to him. We replied “Po!” (=yes)
Then man drove us back to Peshkopi. On the way we made a short stop by the natural hot springs, where locals bathe in the hot sulfur-smelling water to relieve their joint pains.
To summarize, Albania is a wonderful country. Diber is a wonderful region. And Rabdisht, Cerjan and Bellovë are super-picturesque villages whose friendly inhabitants we will never forget.