Guess what? Another valley, defined by a river, with a town at the base of the river – which are ALL called Tropoja. Tropoja Valley, Tropoja River, and Old Tropoja town. With of course the added confusion that ALL of this is just part of the whole region (district?) which is also helpfully called “Tropoja.”
From the South:
• In Tropoja Vjeter is also the gem of Aste Guesthouse which is lovingly and sensitively restored, and run for the family by a really nice local couple. Makes a great base for a few days – and (unless too many people read this) it’s almost guaranteed that you won’t see another tourist.
• There are also some interesting Bektashi shrines (or Tyrbje) and a small mosque in the town, for those interested.
• From here you can follow an easy to find trail up to the bjeshk of Sylbica – large parts of the trail are now a dirt road (although I think some of it fell into the river last year) but it passes through really dramatic canyons and forest, right next to the river, until emerging into the bjeshk of Sylbica. Sylbica is one of the bigger shepherd’s stan villages, inhabited only in summer – think rolling green hills surrounded by towering mountains next to the (now much narrower) river. The only drawback to camping near the shepherd’s houses is that there’s absolutely no cover if you need to pee (things you don’t think about until you face them), but it’s easy to find great camping places nearby.
• Further north you get to a cluster of small alpine lakes, the best known of which is Dashi lake. They can get significantly smaller around August and September, but they’re always pretty.
• Above that is Doberdol – the shepherd’s village made famous by the Peaks of the Balkans trail – so far up in the mountains that you need several blankets at night, even in August. Unfortunately, the successful marketing of the trail has made Doberdol one of those weird tourism-driven development casualties, so that people are now building big four story hotels and things, which is a bit weird as it’s still only inhabitable in summer, but . . . we will see what happens. It’s also even more exposed than Sylbica, re: the peeing problem.
• Just a tiny bit further up you get to “Tre Kufi” – the place where the borders of Albania, Montenegro and Kosova all meet – so a hub for further treks.
• Although the (questionable) dirt road that goes all the way from town to Doberdol makes hiking a bit more of a plod than it was as a trail, it does make it great for horse trekking or mountain biking (if you don’t mind biking uphill for a solid day or more).