Qafa e Thorës

Driving the SH21 road to Thore Pass is not a piece of cake

Thore Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.691m (5,547ft) above the sea level, located in Shkodër County, in the northwestern tip of Albania. The pass is traversed by the infamous Road SH21.

Can you drive Thore Pass in Albania?

Set high in the Albanian Alps, in the northwestern part of the country, the road to the summit, also known as Qafa e Thorës and Diagonal Pass, is called SH21. The pass is 55.5km (34.4 miles) long, running west-east from Koplik (a city and urban municipality, serving as the capital of the Malësi e Madhe District) to Theth (a community in the Shalë municipality, Shkodër District, in Shkodër County). The road was built in 1936 and is usually impassable from November to May.

Is the road to Thore Pass in Albania paved?

Surrounded by outstanding natural beauty, the road features paved and unpaved sections. From Koplik to the pass (the highest point of the road) it’s well paved (since 2015). It is narrow though, with a few turnouts in the newly paved section. Beyond the pass, the road is totally unpaved and pretty bad.

Is the road to Thore Pass in Albania dangerous?

Located within the Theth National Park, the road is pretty challenging and hairy. It features steep sections, hitting a 15% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. The rain and the constant traffic of 4x4 have deteriorated the road. From the top of Thore Pass it’s passable by standard cars, but at a risk. Flat tyre and damage underneath the car are usual in passenger cars. 4×4 is not absolutely necessary, but high ground clearance is. It’s narrow with high drops. Nothing too bad, just rough, but it requires a reasonably high clearance vehicle and no fear of heights. Avoid Sunday afternoons.
Pic: Rrustem Haradinaj *Mulosmani*


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