Theth National Park is located in the far northern part of Albania near the midway point of the border with Montenegro. The park covers an area of only 10.15 square miles (26.3 sq km) creating another small park within the country packed with astounding natural wonders.
The Albanian Alps and the Shala Valley are at the heart of the national park. Generally speaking, the park represents the characteristics of a high terrain landscape with sharp steep mountains. Along with the mountains of the Alps and the Shala Valley, the area is characterized by thick forests, meandering rivers, beautiful waterfalls, and striking rock formations.
The park is comprised of a diverse ecosystem that changes with elevation transitioning from the oak-dominated lower elevations moving into the beech forests as the elevations change. The alpine terrain at even higher elevations features junipers, shrubs, and alpine bluegrass.
These diverse ecosystems serve as home to a variety of wildlife species. The brown bear is the largest and for many the most exciting. Other popular wildlife includes chamois, roe deer, lynx, wild goat, and the gray wolf. The lesser kestrel and the golden eagle are two of the more exciting sightings from the 50 species of birds nesting or migrating through the park.
The park delivers stunning landscapes that are often highlighted with rugged sharp rock-faced mountains that create some of the most picturesque scenes. The mountains are the pinnacle attraction of the national park with the incredible mountainous landscapes being the highlight for many people.
The Albanian Alps are locally known as Prokletije which translates “cursed mountains.” The range extends well outside of the park boundaries as part of the larger Dinaric Alps stretching over 621 miles (1,000 km).
The Albanian Alps are situated along the western Balkan peninsula. The mountains of the Albanian Alps are characterized by steep, sharp rock-faced summits. They create striking landscapes.
The Shala Valley is home to the Shale River meandering within the Albanian Alps. The mountain runoff feeds the river which flows south through the park. The valley and initial slopes of the mountains overlooking the valley are thick with forest and vegetation. The water source and protection from the forest make the area excellent habitat for the deer and other wildlife species.
Trails of Theth National Park
The landscapes are the pinnacle attraction in the park and hiking amongst them is a special treat. There are several trail opportunities for exploring the rugged terrain. Many of the trails are well-groomed and easy to track.
Theth Waterfall Trail: This trail ascends 2,793 feet (851.3 m) while traveling over 5.18 miles (8.33 km). The trail is rated easy even though it has that amount of elevation gain. The highlight of the trail is a waterfall.
Volbona Valley Trail: This trail originates at the Theth Center and covers a distance of 8.22 miles (13.22 km) while ascending 3,783 feet (1,153 m). The trail is fairly well marked and is rated moderate. The trail meanders through the forest and up to the valley with several scenic views along the way.
Grunas Waterfall and Canyon Trail: This is a trek rated easy. It meanders along the river and through the forest providing scenic views and pretty waterfalls. The 4.58-mile (7.37 km) trail ascends 663 feet before circling back. The trail is a partial loop trek.
Maja Arapit (Great Wall) Trail: This is a difficult trail that covers 13.5 miles (21.73 km) while ascending 4,334 feet (1,321 m). The trail provides views of Arapit which is the most popular mountain in the park. There are panoramic views along the way of this picturesque region of the park.
Theth National Park was created to protect multiple facets of the region. First and foremost, the park protects biodiversity and differing ecosystems. Second, the park protects a variety of cultural and historical features investing in the heritage of the country.
The park has been recognized as a Protected Historic Center for the country as well as declared an Important Bird Area and an Important Plant Area by the IUCN. Protecting both the natural and cultural facets of the park is important to the Albanian government.
- Albanian Alps
- Shala Valley
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