back to Albania site    back to hikes and climbs   back to Locations and Travel

Maja e Cukalit and Maja e Muleqithitblueblue hike

Summary: When it is getting hot in summer, you want to look for shorter hikes that can be combined with interesting approaches and still offer a great outdoor experience. Cukalit is one these destination.

Mali i Cukalit is the major mountain to the East of Shkodra and north of the Vau i Dej√ęs lake and dam. It has two summits. Maja e Cukalit is the summit seen from almost Shkodra and the coastal plains. Maja e Muleqithit is more to the west, not directly visible, but 14 Meter higher. This puts the summit-collecting hiker into a dilemma, as you do not want to leave the mountain without having been on top of both.

The two summits are separated by a high altitude grassy valley called Fusha e Liqenit - indicating that it used to be a place of a lake. It is about 400 meter elevation gain from the Fushe to either of the summits.

Our strategy was to drive to the Fushe arriving in the afternoon, climbing Maja e Cukalit in the evening, camping in the fresh mountain air, and climbing Maja e Muleqithit in the morning of the next day. In July, the sheep had not yet moved in, and the meadows were strewn with flowers. A major hazard was the abundance of strawberries, that made you forgetting the time.

Ruga e Cukalit: This is a long road, about 35 kilometers from Shkodra. Follow the road in the direction of the Kir valley, which is the backroad to Thethi. Near the village of Drisht, turn off from the main asphalt road and cross the Kir River near Ura e Mesit, a beautiful old bridge with several arches and natural plunge-pools. From here, it is still 25 kilometers to the Fushe near the top of Cukalit. The road is solidly built, but has a few exposed spots. A high clearance vehicle is definitely needed after waypoint 03, which is the fork to Muri i Turkut village. The road is very rocky, and movement will be slow. Estimate 2 hours for the trip from Ura e Mesit to the trailhead. The road is used mainly by timber trucks and the few farming families that still live on the mountain. There are no minibuses.

Maximum altitude: 1419 meters
Minimum altitude: 106  meter
Cumulative height: 1388 meter
Cumulative length: 35 kilometers one way
Difficulty moderate
Time: 2 hours
Date of this record July  2014
Download GPS info: Ruga e Cukalit

Hiking Maja e Cukalit: We parked and camped at waypoint 09, which is along a disused forest road. If you are worried about the paintwork of your car, park at waypoint 07 (a fork) or somewhere on the grassy plain and walk from there.

We initially tried a rather direct route, to cut short some of the switchbacks of the old timber road. We recommend to stick to the road, per our GPS coordinates, as the otherwise resulting bushwhack is rather painful, owing to the ubiquitous thistles and nettles. The views from Cukalit are great especially to the Adriatic Sea, with Rumija Mountain beyond Shkodra Lake. The summit is also a good opportunity to survey the next day route to the summit of Maja e Muleqithit.

Maximum altitude: 1717 meter
Minimum altitude: 1350  meter
Cumulative height: 391 meter
Cumulative length: 3  kilometers
Difficulty moderate
Time: 1  hour 45 minutes
Date of this record July 2014
Download GPS info: Cukalit Hike

Hiking Maja e Muleqithit: You may have to climb only 400 Meter or so, but be ready for a serious bushwhack. We believe there must be easier ways to climb Muleqithit, but this would require detailed local knowledge, and most likely an approach from the backside (eastern side) of the mountain. Still, our route is probably the shortest. Be prepared to fight your way for an hour or so through undergrowth, brambles, profuse vegetation, karstic deadfalls and mantraps of all sorts. Recoup your energy, if you hike in July, with the seemingly never-ending supply of strawberries.

Once you clear the woods, there is an exhilarating climb up a steep grassy slope to the summit. Our return way is longer, but involves less bushwhack.

Maximum altitude: 1729 meter
Minimum altitude: 1328  meter
Cumulative height: 442 meter
Cumulative length: 6.9  kilometers
Difficulty moderate
Time: 5.5 hours
Date of this record July 2014
Download GPS info: Muleqithit

General location and approach: East of Shkodra

Other Information: Mali i Cukalit is subject to heavy deforestation. This means that many forest (or timber) roads have been constructed, but many  of these roads have also fallen in disrepair once the trees were cut. In many places, uncontrolled secondary growth and bush have taken over, making orientation and cross-country hiking very difficult. In other places, particularly those on steep slopes, new growth is very slow with high risk of damage through erosion. One can only hope that policies and plans for appropriate forest management are developed quickly and enforced.

GPS and trailmaps: The map and trailinformation is generated by wikiloc, based on GPS information collected from the actual hike. Waypoints can be downloaded to a GPS device from Wikiloc. If necessary, use GPSBabel to convert GPS data to different formats. For more hike descriptions by Palmtreetreeproduction, browse this website or visit Wikiloc and search for "Palmtreeproduction". You may also find nearby trails from other authors.

Google Earth: You may also view the trail in 3D by clicking "view in Google Earth" when on Wikiloc. You need to have Google Earth installed on your computer.