Time  3 hours 35 minutes

Coordinates 1156

Uploaded August 10, 2014

Recorded August 2014

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3,926 f
678 f
0
5.5
11
22.13 mi

Viewed 6894 times, downloaded 471 times

near Kuç, Vlorë (Albania)

If you enjoy high mountain passes with some exposure, toying through gravelly riverbeds and splashing through fords with crystal clear waters, this outing is for you. While mountain ranges and rivers in this part of Albania generally follow a north-south direction, this trip moves from the west to the east, with a lot of up and down.

The trip comes in three parts, which we connected to a day's trip during the hot August season. All three can be combined with other trails described elsewhere. The first leads from Himarë at the Ionian coast to the old village of Pilur at 700 meter altitude, and then descends into the Kurvelesh valley near Kuç (wikiloc # 7498252). We then continued from Kuç to Gusmar on the the Lekdush plateau, via the course of the Kuç River. From there - rather than going the regular way via Bence to Tepelene - we crossed over a 1200 meter Pass to Golem, and down to the highway connecting Tepelene and Gjirokaster. These two parts are combined here in this description.

This is a serious off-road adventure, requiring 4WD and possibly engagement of low range for better traction or to better control steep descents. Kurvelesh authorities have been generous with roadsigns giving directions, though not necessarily with advice on what type of makina (vehicle) to use.

Needless to say, this is a trip of great scenic beauty and wilderness.

The trail from Kuç to Gusmar, Golem, and the Drinos Valley starts in Kuç, at the signpost of the junction for Borsh and Gusmar. The turn off to Gusmar is about 50 meter behind the sign, not directly in front of it (which seems so obvious!).

The trail soon enters the riverbed, and stays there for about seven kilometers. It fords the waters several times, and while there was no problem in August (a dry month in Albania), some of the crossings can be quite deep.

The trail is normally well visible, but might change depending on the seasonal rains. At some point, you cross (almost) under waterfall. Eventually, the river bed widens and views open up. Take care to take the right turns, where the arms of the river split. Be aware that going upstream, the trail climbs more than 400 meter while in the river bed.

At the end of the river trail, a sharp turn takes you up for another 100 meter along a rather rocky face. The road is very narrow. Traffic is likely to be almost non-existing, but it would be impossible for two cars to pass. The next breathing stop is at way point 06, from where one can walk back to a nice viewpoint (07) - in case you didn't feel like stopping when inching up along the narrow trail. Likewise, in case you undertake the drive in reverse direction, it might be a good idea to stop at way point 06 and check on foot whether a car might be on its way up.

Another two kilometers or so take you to the asphalt road connecting Progonat, Gusmar and Nivice. Here, you might take our trail from Tepelene to the trailhead for climbing Maja e Kendervicës (wikiloc #2925804), one of the six "Ultras" or ultra prominent mountains of Albania. If you are pressed with time, or had enough of 4-wheeling for the day, take this road to Tepelene (wikiloc #2926033). Note, along the way, the deep canyons cutting through the plateau.

If you wish to continue with more excitement, continue with the third part and take the turn to Golem at waypoint 11. The road starts out very rocky and continues with some rocky patches later on. The road is not in much use, and certainly requires not only high clearance but also 4WD and possibly low range. It climbs to a pass at 1200 meter, with a small Teqe. An exposed stretch takes you down to Golem, at 1000 Meter altitude, situated in a high valley with abundant grazing.

While Golem did not appear to us as a very lively place, it must still have some economic viability, as from here the road has been leveled for salon cars and furgons. This being said, the road is still very exposed. We had a puncture and were forced to change the wheel en-route, and oncoming traffic had to stop until we were done and could get out of the way.

From Kolonje, the road gets decidedly better, and from the junction to Picard it is asphalt until the Tepelene - Gjirokaster highway.

View more external

Intersection

01-Fork

09-AUG-14 13:00:39
River

02-Ford

09-AUG-14 13:07:00
River

03-Waterfall

09-AUG-14 13:10:24
Intersection

04-Fork

09-AUG-14 13:27:48
Mountain pass

05-mountainpass

920 m
panorama

06-point

09-AUG-14 13:56:46
panorama

07-Viewpoint

Waypoint

08-Stan

09-AUG-14 14:02:04
Intersection

09-Fork

09-AUG-14 14:03:16
Intersection

10-Fork Asphalt

10-Fork Asphalt
Intersection

11-Fork to Golem

09-AUG-14 14:21:10
Mountain pass

12-Pass and Teqe

09-AUG-14 14:46:47
Waypoint

13-Golem

09-AUG-14 15:05:48
Waypoint

14-Kolonje

09-AUG-14 16:13:35
Intersection

15-Fork

09-AUG-14 16:28:35

11 comments

  • demilo Aug 12, 2014

    Wow! https://www.wikiloc.com/offroading-trails/the-kuc-connection-part-2-amp-3-kuc-gusmar-golem-7498443/photo-4276589

  • Photo of Gams

    Gams Aug 12, 2014

    I have followed this trail  View more

    This trail is so much fun, it feels like in a playground to follow the faint tracks in the river-bed. The white pebbles of all sizes are so much kinder to your tyres than the usual black ones. These, however, await you on the Golem stretch. For sure, part 2 in particular will become an all time summer favourite for Off-roaders in Albania.

  • franz_appa Aug 15, 2014

    Needless to say it's not possible for a Magirus Truck???
    ... laughout
    We were at Progonat waterfall two years ago - very nice!!
    We came the road from Tepelene and the waterfall is before Progonat, down under the street (you will not see it - we have a young teenie from Progonat to show us the falls).
    At Golem the road was ending - the rest was destroyed so we had to go back to Tepelene - but was a nice trip!!!
    Greets
    natte from Germany

  • Photo of Palmtreeproduction

    Palmtreeproduction Aug 15, 2014

    The Magirus could probably could make it through the river, with patience. Would not recommend to try the ascent out of the river to Gusmar - very narrow and tight corners.... The Golem stretch both ways (i) from Progonat and (ii) down to Kolonje are ok now, but have some exposure.

    The entire Progonat areas is very dramatic - just a question of time until commercial canyoning starts!

  • suzali Jul 17, 2016

    I have followed this trail  View more

    Absolutely the best trail we drove in Albania.
    Perfect description and waypoints. Marvellous scenery.
    Many, many thx!

  • BernardG Oct 11, 2016

    I have followed this trail  View more

    beautiful

  • Ciacco Jan 27, 2017

    I drove it in april 2016.... Very fun and marvellous view....

  • Photo of parabanbu

    parabanbu Feb 11, 2017

    I have followed this trail  View more

    Exellent drive with light Enduros, water somtimes more then 1m deep. Absolute fantastic landscape. Truly one of the best drives you can do in Albanien. Aslo the Vally from the Coast to Kuc is breathtaking!

  • Photo of parabanbu

    parabanbu Feb 11, 2017

    possibel to drop into the Vally to Kaparjeli from Golem? A Local Guide told me but we get stuck in the deep water with our Bike whene we tryd from the south.

  • pinimage Sep 2, 2017

    Hi,
    What is the possibility to do it in mid October ?

    Pini

  • Photo of Palmtreeproduction

    Palmtreeproduction Sep 2, 2017

    October in Albania is ok for most outdoor activities. There can be rainy days, and many sunny days. Do not take this route after a long rain, or if there is a risk of heavy rain, which may cause flash floods. If unsure, ask someone in Kuc. Enjoy!

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