Precautions for hiking
Mountains of Southern Albania are not only beautiful and majestic – sometimes, they may also be dangerous and abandoned. Every tourist has to be prepared accordingly. We’ve gathered a few recommendations and some advice that you should follow every time you visit.
Don't overestimate yourself
Plan your trip so that you always travel during daytime. If you are not in an extremely good physical state and trained for mountaineous terrain, you always have to calculate a time reserve in a similiar ratio.
Always carry enough food and water
While it might be true that the chance to stumble upon a stream or other source of water is quite high in this environment, it might happen (especially during summer!) that the water source will be dry. If you are not 100 % sure that there is a water source on your route, always carry enough with you, the same applies for basic food.
Carry a fully charged mobile phone and emergency contacts
You can find the contacts here. At some places, there is no signal available.
Do not leave the official trails
Mountains and canyons can sometimes be confusing and harsh. Try to stick to our trails, NEVER LEAVE THESE WITHOUT GPS AND A SUFFICIENT AMOUNT OF SUPPLIES!
Learn a few words in Albanian
Local people are usually very open towards tourists and their hospitality is incredible, it is however fitting to mention that most of them don’t speak any foreign language. It might come handy to know (or at least carry on a piece of paper) at least a few basic words and phrases in Albanian.
Treat the locals and the moutains with respect
When you meet someone, greet them! Albanian hospitality is unbelievable and they will gladly invite you to their home. Accept the invititation, but please, do not abuse it! The income of local people is usually much lower than the income of most people, who come from other european countries. If you feel that you’ve already accepted too much without contributing, give something in return. Show your respect and you will be respected. Carry your garbage away out of the mountains with you or burn it, if possible. If you visit a cave, don’t damage the stalagmites and stalactites!
Let someone know about your intentions
It is crucial that you leave some information about your plans in every destination on the way (where you are headed, how long do you plan to stay, how many of you are there, your phone number). In case you make an error or something unpredictable happens, it is important that somebody else knows about your trip. Even if you go just for a short walk, make an entry in the nearest evidence book, or let know one of the locals – be it an owner of a guesthouse, or a man who invited you to taste some raki and cheese.
Dogs and other animals
Yes, there are dogs, wolves, wild pigs, vipers, even bears in these mountains. You will stumble upon many dogs that guard the herds and belong to the herdsmen - they tend to protect the sheep or goats by scaring away strangers. If you hear dogs, it is always better to find a stick around you to eventually keep them away from you, if they approach near. Although none of us has ever met a bear or any other of these animals yet here, it is always good to keep in mind that you could meet some of them.
Choose adequate equipment
Never forget to choose your shoes and clothes accordingly to the time of year and terrain. It rains here during summer too. Always carry a sleeping bag, a tent or other equipment that can be made into a shelter. Albanians are used to local conditions and their style of clothing reflects it, therefore, we advise you never to get inspired by them in this matter.
Don't swim naked
The crystal clear waters of local mountain rivers might tempt you to swim without any appropriate clothes on – it is however considered extremely rude by most of the local people and as such, it is absolutely not advised.