Shködra, Albania

Accursed Mountains

Forrest Mallard

In the past, things haven’t always gone to plan in Albania, but one thing you can count on today when you walk the well-marked trails through the Accursed Mountains is a transforming experience of nature.


Theth National Park, Albania




Accursed Mountains

It is a spectacular and almost impenetrable setting, with just a handful of high passes allowing access to the small farms and communities in deeply incised valleys that seem almost cut off from the outside world.

One of many trails begins in the historic town of Shködra and passes down into the Borga Valley (where sealed roads come to an end) and over the Diagonal Pass and into Theth (“teh-tah”) National Park, an untouched world of waterfalls, caves, and canyons dominated by the verticle 1,000 meter (3,280 foot) south face of Albania’s version of the Matterhorn, Mount Arapit, which is that rarest of things – an as yet unclimbed vertical European rock wall.

Follow in the footsteps of shepherds over the Valbona Pass and then descend into the breathtaking beauty of the Valbona Valley as you make your way to the fjord-like Lake Komen, where a ferry–if all goes according to plan–will take you back to the Albanian capital, Tirana.

Legend of the Accursed Mountains

There’s an old Albanian story about how the Accursed Mountains got their name. Long ago two brothers went out hunting, and as they were making their way through the forest, they discovered a beautiful fairy. They asked her to chose one of them, but she liked them both-one for his looks, the other for his bravery. When the brave one killed his brother and took the fairy home to meet his mother, she was so enraged that she placed a curse on the fairy and the mountains where they found her.


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