The best overlanding and so many nice people in Albania

Albania was the first country where I could really overland! Going these offroad routes, finding a place to stay and live there for a while feels just incredible good to me! And in Albania there seems to be the room and the freedoms to do right that. And if you are more into lonely beaches, you will find them there as well. Because I described that a lot, I will focus on something else in this post.

In addition to the great overlanding, the people in Albania are so nice, helpful, friendly and interested in what you are doing, it’s just super cool!

For example I met Ayse @aysiji and Carsten @nykzynh, two lovely and warmhearted backpackers from Germany, on a small beach. To go to the beach, you have to walk 20 minutes a very hard offroad track. The stone steps were so big, that I didn’t want to go down there with Rosinante. Once you got down there, you had to deal with some crazy barking guard dogs going around you and once you managed that, there is a small restaurant, a small campsite, a bar and of course the beach and the ocean. Because of the winter off season, the campsite and the bar were closed and in the small restaurant you could only buy beer and some basics. When the two nice backpackers from Germany got there, they just set up there hammocks in the closed bar because it was closed, really run down but perfect for there needs. At some point they heard someone coming and were thinking that they had to leave this little paradise they found. I have my prejudices what would happen if the owner of a bar notices that you camp in his beach bar in Germany. Here it was totally different: the owners of the bar and campsite just welcomed them, talked to them and from there on they provided food to them for free, came around to talk a bit and provided them with a free place to shower and of course they let them stay in their beach bar. Isn’t that wonderful?

Aishe had some Pois with here and she let me try them and gave me lot of tips how to handle them. I quickly got into doing some basic stuff and for the first time in my life, I was spinning around burning Pois and had a lot of fun doing so. Later that night the campsite owners came along and we had some cool fire show.

Another example is how I met the owner of the Garden Restaurant: I had to buy some groceries and parked in front of a small super market in a little town. After a while Albanians came around and as always the friendly asked things and started a conversation. So met four people and one of those were the owner of the Garden Restaurant located just five minutes from the super market. He told me that he knows a lot offroad routes and if I want, I could check his restaurant and he will tell me about the routes. So I just went there, had some super delicious food in that beautiful restaurant where you get only organic/ bio food and learnt a lot about offroad routes, Albania, the culture and history of Albania and just had a great time.

These are just two examples of so many! If I will be around Albania again, I will definitely go there.

I’m very grateful for all these nice places, conversations and everything. I feel like my perspective on foreign people, foreign countries and what the interacting with others is about, is changing. It’s hard to describe. Maybe I can describe it better in sometime in the future. All I can say right now is, that it feels fantastic to me.

My craziest offroad tour so far

This offroad route in Albania just started really easy but then it got fucking intense and in retrospective I think at especially one point Rosinante has been in real danger.

After the excitements of the Schatzi Racing offroad event the day before, I enjoyed the easy asphalt roads. After that the light and medium gravel started and everything was still easy. Then there were two easy riverside crossings and Rosinantes snorkel was crying for deeper water as always. I followed a sign leading to a waterfall, got into a village, didn’t find the waterfall and got back to the beautiful route.

From here onwards everything got more and more difficult. Like in a video game when from moment to moment things get harder and harder. The road got really muddy and soon the ruts got so deep that Rosinantes underbody armor got dragged on the mud from time to time. Having no experiences with real mud up to this point, I did as experienced offroaders are recommending: keeping the momentum, be aware of sliding everywhere. And that worked out really well. Rosinante digged her way through all the mud and had no problems getting up steep muddy inclines as well.

And then there was this tight, muddy corner! Because a lot of the road broke away this corner was really narrow. Especially at its apex. On the inside of the apex there was a steep slope. And the corner had an angle leading to the inside and this slope. Everything that slides on this angle to the inside of the corner falls down this slope and stays there. I thought about which type of car would be able to get to this point of the route and would be able to get Rosinante back on track in the case she slides down there. I came to the conclusion that in the muddy conditions there won’t be a chance. Of course I could have turned around but I didn’t want to and I thought that I can prepare the corner so that going around will be safe. So I started to dig gravel and mud from the outside and throw it to the inside of the corner. This made the corner wider and reduced the angle pointing to the inside. I searched for an anchor point to use the winch as a safety measure but couldn’t find one.

When I thought that everything is prepared well, I activated the low gears and the rear differential and started to go around the corner. I sticked to the outside of the corner as much and long as I could and when I had to turn the wheels around as far as possible and Rosinante got a bit around the corner I felt her rear drifting and sliding towards the slope. If I had stopped here, I think she would have slided down the slope. So I accelerated just a bit and turned the wheel in the best way I could think of. Rosinante made it around this corner. On the photos you can see how close the rear wheels passed the apex. After this corner I felt relieved and kind of bad at the same time. And in this moment it was clear to me that I couldn’t do this corner again. So there was no turning back. Now writing this, I think I would do it again.

After this special corner the mud only ended when there was the steepest rocky slope I did until then. And when I got down there and took a break at a nice lake newr a tiny village I thought that everything is fine and the rest of the tour would be easy.

So I started, drove into the village and had a chat with one local who said that the route ahead will be muddy and bumpy as hell and that it could be a problem driving it. Turning around was not an option because of the special corner I survived and I was not willing to this again at that point. When the guy asked me if I’d like to have a tea I kindly declined because it was already in the afternoon and driving the route ahead in darkness I could not imagine to do. Staying until the next day was no option as well because the weather report said that the next day it would be raining all day.

So I continued the route and the local guy was absolutely right. The route was even more muddy and bumpy then before and got narrow as well. I did not take any photos because at this point I was pretty exhausted and my only wish was to make it to the end of the route. But there was no extrem situation as the special corner and Rosinante and I got through everything.

As soon as the road got safe and easy driveable, I looked for a spot to stay. And the next day hanging around that spot it was really raining all day. I hope that no one tried to go that route on that rainy day with even more mud.