Gashi Valley is defined by the Gashi River, which runs north-south and combines with Valbona River near Bajram Curri. The northern ⅔ of the river is declared as a strictly protected area, part of the European Green Belt and a UNESCO world heritage beech forest. This means that it’s so precious that no one is supposed to go there except biologists and park rangers – but it’s not enforced. So you can go but we urge you to respect the spirit and NOT drive 4x4s or rally bikes all over it, or dynamite the fish, play loud music (this actually destroys breeding grounds as most animals will flee from human music) or do any of the other stupid and horrible things humans do to nature.
From the North:
• It can be accessed on foot (or horseback) from either Doberdol (in Old Tropoja) or Cerem (in Valbona) and there’s a nice hike between the two (including in the Peaks of the Balkans route).
• There are traditional stan villages in Trokuz and Balqin (maybe 10 houses each?) where you could easily camp and count on getting water, food and maybe firewood (although these are precious in the bjeshk – especially firewood above the tree line – so you should offer to pay).
• For those interested in traditional agriculture, this is the center of wild blueberry collection in August and September, which is actually one of the major products of the area, but still collected by hand by shepherds high in the mountains.
• There are also a lot of medicinal herbs which have traditionally been harvested, although the local herbalists tend to guard their knowledge a bit jealously.
• Not surprisingly, this area, heading west to Cerem, was historically the site of some pretty epic border skirmishes, commemorated with a lonely monument in Kungji Armeve near Markofshe.
The Southern End:
• This part is a lot more mysterious. However! I have also heard that there is some kind of mad wooden suspension walkway lashed to the side of a cliff over a rushing river somewhere, which sounds pretty cool to me (in an action film setting kind of way), and which I will definitely be looking for soon.
• Around Babine and Kernaje there are hectares of chestnuts and apples, which could be interesting at harvest time!