Dare to drive the dangerous Road SH-21

SH21 is the name of a spectacular yet dangerous high mountain road, located in the northwestern tip of Albania. The road is 55km long and climbs up to Thore-Pass. 

How long is the Road SH-21 in Albania?

Set high in the Albanian Alps, the road 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 SH-21 in Albania paved?

Surrounded by outstanding natural beauty, the road features paved and unpaved sections. From Koplik to Thore Pass (the highest point of the road at 1.691m-5,547ft above the sea level) 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 SH-21 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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