Where Next?

Three Two more trips in the pipeline for 2018….

Summer 2018: Highlights of the GR10, French Pyrenees Albania: Walking in Northern Albania – Into The Accursed Mountains

Trip No. 2 of 2018 is now booked, and Hazel and I are off to Albania rather than the French Pyrenees.

Destination: Albania.

When: June 2018.

What: A week’s walking in Northern Albania, with Hazel.

How: On Wild Frontiers’ recce trip, Walking in Northern Albania – Into The Accursed Mountains

Why: More mountains! Europe! Summertime!

I find the Balkans fascinating – the history and the culture, the legacy of the Ottomans – and I’ve looked at various trips in Albania a few times over the years – winter ones, summer ones – but never quite found the right thing at the right time.

This time, serendipitously, once Hazel and I had decided against the GR10, a Wild Frontiers email newsletter popped up in both our inboxes flagging their recce trip. For one week off work we get 5 days trekking plus time in historic towns and a lake ferry. We’ll be up in the Albanian Alps – aka The Accursed Mountains – most of the time, doing day hikes in the Parku Kombëtar Lugina e Valbonës (Valbonë Valley National Park) and Parku Kombëtar i Thethit (Theth National Park). We’re going a day early, to give us some time to explore Tirana and because BA’s flights are cheaper on a Thursday.

Although it’s been a while since we’ve done a trip with Wild Frontiers (the last one was Turkey in 2012 on their Wild Walk in the Taurus Mountains), they have always been great at getting to places that are a little more off the beaten track, plus the trips are all inclusive, right down to drinking water.

Itinerary:

Day 0: London – Tiranë (Tirana)
Day 1: Tirana – Shkodër
Day 2: Shkodër – Liqeni i Komanit (Lake Koman) – Fierzë – Grykat e Hapta – Valbonë
Day 3: Valbonë: Kukaj, below Maja Jezercë (2695 m)
Day 4: Valbonë: Çerem – Bori Pass – Sqapit Peak
Day 5: Valbonë: Qafa e Valbonës / Valbonë Pass (1860 m) – Thethi
Day 6: Thethi:  Kanioni i Grunasit / Grunasi Canyon – Ndërlysaj
Day 7: Thethi – Kaprea Creek – Qafa e Thorës / Thore Pass (1685 m) – Krujë
Day 8: Krujë – Tirana – London

Autumn / Winter 2018

We’ve pencilled in the dates and destination for the third trek I’ve got planned for 2018. I think I can just about eke out my LW vacation days to cover it…

Destination: Manaslu & Tsum, Nepal.

When: November 2018.

What: The Manaslu Circuit with Val, Steffi and Charles. Our 2nd attempt. With a week in and around the Tsum Valley en route.

How: With Val Pitkethly and Sirdar Chhiring, who else?!

We’re allowing three and a half four weeks to complete the Manaslu Circuit (excellent map) anticlockwise around the mighty Manaslu (मनास्लु) – the eighth highest mountain in the world (8163 m / 26781 ft) – and including a rest day in KTM at the start to get through the jetlag and to allow for more thoughtful repacking than we’ve managed previously! Once we’re in the we’re in the Manaslu Conservation Area we are going to spend a week in the Tsum Valley before backtracking a little to rejoin the Manaslu Circuit at Gampul.

Why: Same reasons as last time – primarily more high altitude trekking in the Himalaya, plus some “Val specials” in an area where Light Education Development (LED) funds have provided school and medical supplies for many years – plus it means I’ll cover one more one more section of the GHT….

Itinerary: Who knows – it’s Val!  January Update: Val was back in the UK as usual over Christmas and the New Year, which provided a perfect opportunity to flesh out some of the detail of this year’s big trek. Read Manaslu & Tsum: Update for details.