Theth, The Wild Paradise Of The Fairies

English / June 9, 2011

Ky postim ekziston gjithashtu në Vesionin Shqip

If you’re at odds with yourself on whether to believe or not in fairies and muses, why don’t you take the trip to Theth to finally get convinced? A feeling of a magical existence pervades you at the very first moment you see the Theth valley from the belvedere that hosts the memorial plate of Edith Durham, the British historian who delighted in every detail of this area…Since thousands of years, the Theth valley remained the very same: plenty of flowers, bees, foxes, squirrels, wolves, and peaceful humans, who have transformed their dwellings into guesthouses for the tourists. The later seem to appreciate the natural beauty of the place. The view is thoroughly peaceful, myriads of springs gush everywhere, by converging in what becomes the Theth river, which has a deep aquamarine color…

Getting there

It takes a three hour’s drive to get to Theth starting from Shkodra, even though the distance is only 72 kilometers. You need a 4 x 4 or one of the sturdy minibuses that go back and forth in the Shkodra-Theth route to be able to reach the high valley. The ride will cost you some 600 Albanian Lek if you choose the minibus, or a bit more if you’re a foreigner, as the driver will eventually try to increase his profit. The road winds between Koplik and Boga in an area filled with natural beauties and a mild landscape.
Once you leave Boga behind you should forget about paved roads. A tricky, off-road track follows, here and there badly damaged because of the winter rainfalls. The road is narrow, and you feel lucky no car is coming from the opposite direction. There are no road signs, so drivers have to honk frequently so as to make their presence known to the other cars that eventually might show up in the next curve. The ravines come to an end in the vicinity of the village. If you want to visit one of the guesthouses you have got to cross over a couple of fences. All the gardens are encircled with fences, it’s hard to find anywhere any door that is not locked, and you need ladders to get from the one meadow to the other. These are measures to prevent the sheep from leaving the meadows if one absent-minded fellow would happen to leave the door open.

Places worth checking out

Starting from Fran Molla’s house it takes a 30 minutes walk to reach the centre of the village. In the village centre you can find the only club in the area, that is, the only place you can have an Expresso. The ‘vendetta’ tower is located there. Yet there were never any vendettas in Theth, even though the Kanun Law was quite known in the village. The Vendetta tower was used by clans from all over the region for holding meetings to discuss the solution of vendetta cases. More than 300 cases were solved in this tower over the years. One of the most used methods to stop a vendetta involved putting the child of the person who had committed a vendetta in front of the representative of the family of the victim which had to commit its vendetta in return. The child’s crib was placed upside down, and the child, who was tied to the crib would risk to choke to death, if the crib would not be turned right. The crib almost always turned in the right positions and the vendettas were stopped…

The ethnographic museum

The ethnographic museum is built on a rock. It is a rare cultural monument. Its first sight is quite striking. Its interiors are miserable. The museum is poor in artifacts that represent the local culture, and there is a risk that the pavement can fall down under your feet. Curious people are warned against trying to enter the characteristic bedroom, which starts to crack under your feet. Half of the pavement of the ethnographic museum has already fallen down. For these hopefully convincing safety reasons, “Sky Magazine” advises you to have a look from the outside only, until the Ministry of Tourism decides it’s time to do something about it…

The Church

Built in 1892 it has undergone a reconstruction over the recent years. The money for the reconstruction was donated by Thethi people who immigrated to the U.S. Three large lime-trees spring to the eye. They were brought from a far-away region and planted in Theth many years ago. There are no other lime-trees to be seen in Theth.

A full day

If you don’t have sufficient time to visit Theth, you should hurry up a little bit. An option would be to start out a little early, because Theth is full of little places that are worth a visit. If you want to have a glimpse of them all, you should be physically fit, at least one month of gym would be advisable. It takes one hour and a half at a normal pace to walk to the Theth waterfalls, that are located a bit further than the Grunas village. Seen from afar, it looks like it’s not worth climbing that high. Yet, once you’re there, you will most certainly think it was definitely worth it. The waterfall is 30 meters high at least; ice-cold water surges from its heights. We would advise not to dive into the nearby lake unless it’s mid July. The waterfall has been declared as a monument of nature by the Government.

The Theth canyon and the terraces from the bronze era

Thanks to a GTZ project you can make out your own way in the labyrinths of the canyon by simply following the signs written on the rocks. Still, it’s preferable to take a local inhabitant with you or some local guide. “Sky Magazine” used the services of the “AlbAlpin” agency, and our guide, Erion Temali was really helpful, so that we were able to avoid walking around in a circle. Our guide explained to us that the terraces of the Theth canyon were build in very ancient times, and they have remained almost unaltered ever since. The Theth canyon is one of the most beautiful canyons in the area

The natural pools of Kapreja

In order to reach the pools you have to go past Nderlysa. This is a village that spreads along a valley surrounded by steep mountains. The Kapreja pools have interesting shapes and sizes. The pools are an astonishing natural beauty, yet you should mind your step, as the terrain is very dangerous, and any stepping on the wrong spot could bear fatal consequences.

The Blue Eye

The blue eye spring is located some two hours away from the Kapreja natural pools. It is reachable only by foot. You have to walk along a very deep ravine that looks over the Theth river. Luckily, this path has plenty of orientation signs. Yet, in order to reach the Blue Eye, you have to walk on a very difficult terrain, by grabbing the rocks with your bare hands. The view is wonderful. The Blue Eye resembles a large pool that collect that waters falling from a height of two meters. It resembles the Blue Eye of Saranda only color-wise. Differently from the Saranda Blue Eye, this basin only collects waters gushing from elsewhere, being therefore not a real water source. The local population uses the Blue Eye for bathing in every time of the year. Paulin, a well-known inhabitant of the area explains that he actually bathes in the waters of the Blue Eye in winter time as well. “When you get out of the water,” he says, “you feel as if you’re walking inside an oven…the ice-cold water creates a huge difference with the outside temperature”.

“Strong legs”

If you have got strong legs, and if you’re willing to walk a lot, you can walk from Nderlysa to Theth. It takes three hours at least, and that only if you choose to follow the main road. If you think you can take another path, you need to walk for nine hours, and in order to do that, you need to rent a car well in advance, so that someone can pick you up, when you’re done walking. The rent for the Theth-bound 4 x 4 car is 2000 Albanian Lek.

Also worth seeing

Two caves one the side of the “Arab’s top” mountain have been discovered quite recently. They’re filled with stalactites and stalagmites, the biggest of which measures some 80 metres in length. At any rate precautions are quite helpful when it comes to these caves, as it is thought that three Czech tourist went lost in them. Sadly for the moment, the caves should be treated as off-limits for non-professionals. To climbers, the “Arab’s top” is a must. One can also choose among a variety of mountainous paths that bring you to the Peja, Valbona, and Throe pass. As we said, the variety is large and the choice – quite good.


An overnight, including breakfast and dinner will cost you 2500 Albanian lek. The cost for the lunch will vary depending on the tourists’ requests. At the house of Fran and Lula Molla, they’re never lost for the type of food they have to offer. Both are quite aged; Fran is 74 years old, whilst Lula, his wife is 70. Lula doesn’t speak any foreign language, yet she manages to get along quite well with all nationalities. Lula will tell you that when her guest want to pay her, they just show her their money in their hands, and she takes what is her part. “God be my witness”, she exclaims afterwards by looking up in the sky, where God is making his notes…In the Theth area you get only local food, if you’re fond of dainty metropolitan bits you should have a second thought before embarking on the trip to Theth. It’s strange that electricity is never cut in Theth. At any rate the inhabitants have to buy voltage stabilizators, as the quality of the power supply is rather poor. You can hardly get your boiler to warm up your water, so if you want a proper bath, your water will be warmed on the stove, that is always running…

The village

The village is situated in the northern part of the Shala commune. It lies in a valley at a height that varies from 740 to 950 metres above the sea level. The village of Theth has seven neighborhoods. The first one you get to see when you come up through the Sheep Path is the Gjeçaj neighborhood, followed by the Gjelaj, Nikgjonaj, Okol, Ndreaj, Kolaj and Ulaj neighbourhoods.

Ky postim ekziston gjithashtu në Vesionin Shqip

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Irena Shabani
Is an Albanian freelance journalist and human rights activist specialising in investigative journalism. She co-founded Panorama, the leading newspaper in Albania, where she served as managing editor from 2002 to 2003. Prior to Panorama she was a journalist at Shekulli and Gazeta Shqiptare and has been part of the Albanian Human Rights Group from its beginning. She has collaborated on programmes for the International Research and Exchanges Board, investigating topics involving crime and political corruption and continues to collaborates with foreign organisations and local media focused on social problems and minority rights.

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