Albania has a total area of 28,748 square kilometers and has a coastline 362 kilometers long which extends along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The lowlands of the west face the Adriatic Sea. The 70% of the country that is mountainous is rugged and often inaccessible from the outside. The highest mountain is Korab situated in the district of Dibra, reaching up to 2,753 metres (9,030 ft). In the far north of Albania, a range of rugged peaks rises to a high point at Jezerca (2694m) and is known locally as 'the accursed mountains'. Centred on the Thethi National Park, this is a remote, inaccessible and rarely-visited area, with a rich folklore and a wealth of predatory wildlife that includes wolf, bear and lynx. The country has a continental climate at its high altitude regions with cold winters and hot summers. The capital city of Tirana, has 800,000 inhabitants. Over a third of the territory of Albania - about 10,000 square kilometers (2.5 million acres) - is forested and the country is very rich in flora. The forests are home to a wide range of mammals, including wolves, bears, wild boars and chamois. Lynx, wildcats, pine martens and polecats are rare, but survive in some parts of the country.
The time in Albania is GMT + 1 hour and GMT + 2 hours in summer time.
Albanian is a unique Indo-European language spoken by nearly 6 million people, primarily in Albania, but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population. English will be spoken by some people in the main tourist areas, but not in the remote areas we will be visiting. We recommend you try to learn some simple Albanian phrases and greetings. Attempts to speak in the local language will always be appreciated and is all part of the fun.
Daytime temperatures in the lower valleys will vary between 20ºC/68ºF and 30ºC/86ºF at the times of year we operate this trip. The weather in summer is generally excellent - with hot days, clear skies and little rain. Note that temperatures do drop in the evenings by several degrees. High up, we may encounter cooler conditions and stormy weather cannot be ruled out at any time of year in this mountainous region.
Albania's unit of currency is the Lek. For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com
By far the easiest way to obtain your travel cash is from ATM's using a credit card or a debit card linked to the International Plus or Cirrus system - remember you will need your PIN number to do this. ATM's are available at the airport in Tirana and in Shkodra and in Kruja. Credit cards can be used to purchase goods and services in some shops, hotels and restaurants in Albania.
A passport with at least 6 months validity is required. Visas are not required by UK, USA and most EC passport holders. You must check the individual visa requirements for your chosen holiday. The link to detailed visa information for each trip can be found on the trip page.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. No special vaccinations are required for this trip. UK residents should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling. The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only, and you'll be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. Remember, this might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care. You can obtain an EHIC from the Department of Health by phone, online, or at the post office. fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Albania (The Bradt Travel Guide). Gillian Glover
Western Balkans. Lonely Planet
The Accursed Mountains. Robert Carver
Broken April. Ismail Kadare
General of the Dead Army. Ismail Kadare
High Albania. Edith Durham
The Albanians : A Modern History. Miranda Vickers
Albania Road Map. Freytag and Berndt. 1:400,000.
Albanian Alps Top Tour. Huber Verlag. 1:100,000
Thethi and Kelmend. Huber Verlag. 1:50,000