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enter image description here[enter image description here[][1]1enter image description hereenter image description hereI am walking from Sarajevo to Skopje as part of a larger walk. I have to potential routes: north-south route through Montenegro through Podgorica and northern Albania followed by an eastward leg through northern Albania, or a more direct route through eastern Montenegro and southwestern Kosovo (which is quite far from any likely conflict zones).

I have received a recommendation for Albania due to its many awesome sights, but this route will take 46 hours longer and I am pressed for time.

If anybody has been to both regions (southwestern Kosovo and northern Albania) I would be keen to learn about the difference in terms of hospitality, friendliness toward foreigners, culture and scenery (I am interested in all of the natural, agricultural and built landscapes of a country).

NB, I am already following and up-to-speed with the political situation in Kosovo, and choosing to follow official British travel guidance (I am ready to adjust my route if the situation deteriorates!) So I am not missing any information about that, my decision at this point basically depends on the things described in the previous paragraph.

https://www.komoot.com/tour/1201367603?ref=aso&share_token=aw8H32W58y23...

https://www.komoot.com/tour/1201451251?ref=aso&share_token=a1fBMmYziI1h...

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    @Willeke if I understand this comment correctly: I did have difficulties in an anti-migrant area of Croatia within 15km of the Croatian-Bosnian border, as well as in one remote hamlet in Sripska, but this wasn't because people tend to be unsympathetic to me in real life. Even in those two situations there was always a bystander who saw what was going on and tried to strike a friendly tone or help me out.
    – novice
    Jul 8, 2023 at 15:41
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    In areas of Bosnia away from refugee camps and migrant routes I actually have been finding it very quick and easy to hitchhike, and generally people are very kind here, I sometimes feel more at home in the federation of Bosnia than in my own country!
    – novice
    Jul 8, 2023 at 15:41
  • FWIW, southwestern Kosovo is virtually 100% Albanian, so I wouldn't expect there to be much cultural difference to northern Albania. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Kosovo#/media/… Jul 11, 2023 at 1:47
  • @lambshaanxy I think that may be true. However I would like to add that one example of an important difference that Kosovo, unlike Albania, is a recent conflict zone whereas Albania is not. Would this make Kosovar Albanians more insular (perhaps via politics of religious identity) and suspicious of outsiders, or would there be gratitude for support from the international community? So this conflict legacy could affect their friendliness toward foreigners one way or the other, but I think I may need first-hand experience & perhaps research of somebody who has seen the outcome for themselves.
    – novice
    Jul 11, 2023 at 9:39
  • I think I see a difference on the EU's 'wilderness quality index' map: eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/wilderness-quality-index/wilderness-quality-index-including-terrain Could it be my potential route through Kosovo wouldn't pass through areas scoring as high on the 'wilderness quality index' as the Albanian route? Would be good to be directed to a higher resolution version of this map! Separately, are there any forums (perhaps bikepacking, German-language, or Italian-language forums) which might have more community members who have been to Kosovo and Albania than travelstackexchange?
    – novice
    Jul 11, 2023 at 10:31

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I visited Northern Albania for 10 days, about 5 years ago, and crossed into Kosovo for a day. I found southern Kosovo very friendly but obviously I wasn’t there very long and did not travel more than 20 miles from the border so cannot really say with any certainty that I would have got that reception everywhere.

The scenery was hilly and mountainous in places (they have brown bears in the area, walkers need to keep an eye out for). I liked it a lot.

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  • I have finally managed to get a report as well from somebody who cycled through Kosovo, who says it's ultra-rural and he'd go back there 100%. If it was very friendly for you as well, then that's good enough for me. So you were in Northern Albania for 10 days as well though, how was Northern Albania in comparison? Was the landscape any less rugged/mountainous steep? Did you think the people were more or less friendly than in Kosovo, or was it difficult to judge?
    – novice
    Jul 11, 2023 at 22:25
  • I went on an organized trip with a UK based travel company. We flew in and out of Tirana. Toured some of Albania but not all of it. Focus was on history and wildlife. Mostly in the mountains near the Montenegrin and Kosovo borders. Stayed in some great local hotels. Food, wine and beer excellent. The locals were eager to welcome visitors. (And to join the EU too as most told us) We did meet an American lady who lived there who had been mauled by a bear whilst walking in the mountains, and had the scars to prove it. Hence my reference to that. I’d have no hesitation in going back. Jul 12, 2023 at 0:59

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