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Top of Albania  (Tomorri) and Gjerbes Loopblue

Summary: This 4WD tour leads to the highest point in Albania that you can reach by car - 2379 meters high. It is not even very difficult, and is done by hundreds of cars every year especially around the Bektashi feast of Abbas Aliu.

For the Bektashi the mountain is a place of pilgrimage, they call it  Baba Tomorr. On the lower south summit is the mausoleum of Abbas Aliu, raised in 1620. A sign on the outer walls of the mausoleum quotes the the poet Naim Bey Frashëri (1846-1900):

Abaz Aliu zu Tomorë / Erdhi afër nesh / Shqipërija s'mbet e gjorë / Se Zoti desh. (Abbas Ali captured Tomor / came close to us / Albania didn't stay poor / so God willed it)

Abbas Aliu Tomorri is said to have travelled to Albania on his horse from Karbala. According to history, he died at the battle of Karbala in 680 AD and wanted to be buried here. Karbala lies in the present-day Iraq and is one of the sacred places for Shi’ites worldwide. Abbas Ali was a half-brother of Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Mohmed. Similar to Shi’ites, the Bektashis admire Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed who died in 661. Abbas Aliu is believed to have stayed five days at Mount Tomori before he went to stay on Mount Olympus.

The Bektashi require to celebrate the 20-25th August, a multi-day festival on the Tomori, which is usually attended by some thousands of pilgrims. See also https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tarikati-bektashi/476262345731676.

On the Kulmake pass, between the south summit and the Mali i Kulmakes,  is a also a Tekke.

There is a guesthouse on Kulmake pass, and its grounds are getting bigger every year. It is possible to stay the night; there are eight bunk beds and communal bathroom and kitchen facilities. We are not sure about the rules for staying; there are no fixed rates, as this is a place of pilgrimage, and one is encouraged to give to the best of one's abilities. We slept well there. During the celebration of Abbas Aliu, many tents are set up.

The road from the guesthouse to the summit is 7 kilometer long, climbs 800 meter and takes about half an hour one way. It is in good condition, but has tight switchbacks.

For those inclined to decry the construction of roads to outstanding summits, just consider that roads, even asphalt roads, are routinely built to high summits - such as Mount Washington and Mount Evans in the USA. Mountains do not belong to hikers and climbers only, and we find it ok that opportunities exist for everyone to enjoy the views from a high summit. In the case of the south summit of Tomorri, the primary purpose of the road is to give access to a place considered holy by the Bektashi faithful. For the mountaineers among us, the main summit of Tomorri is a little higher, almost 10 kilometers to the North.

Our trail, before reaching the guesthouse, has a short excursion to the trailhead of Maja e Kulmakes, a summit which we climbed the next day.

Having been to the southern top of Tomorri, we continued the road to Gjerbes and around Malai i Kulmakes to Corovode. The trail is not very difficult, but fairly long. It offers great views down the valley of the Tomorri River, and across to Gramsh. The roundtrip, including the trip to the top of Tomorri, is certainly one of the highlights for the 4WD enthusiast in Albania.

Maximum altitude: 2379 meters
Minimum altitude: 281  meter
Cumulative height: 2873 meter
Cumulative length: 74 kilometers
Difficulty moderate
Time: n/a
Date of this record July  2014
Download GPS info: Tomorri Drive

General location: South of Berat. The trail starts near the town of Polican, a place previously known for its ammunition factories.

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