Maja e Thatë is a 2,406 m (7,894 ft) high mountain peak of the Albanian Alps (Prokletije) in Albania. It is located within Valbonë Valley National Park, roughly 2 km (1 mi) northwest of Valbonë and it has a high relative altitude of more than 1,500 m (4,921 ft) from the village. The mountain’s southern and western lower slopes are relatively rich in beech and pine forests, while the higher slopes consist of very steep dolomite and limestone rock walls, suitable for mountaineering and rock climbing.
Geographic setting and description :
Maja e Thatë has an altitude of 2,406 m (7,894 ft) and is located northwest of Valbonë village, in the district of Tropojë, Kukës county, in Albania. It lies within the massif of Kolata, in the eastern part of the Albanian Alps (Prokletije) mountain range. Maja e Thatë has a very high relative altitude from the village of Valbonë of more than 1,500 m (4,921 ft), but being surrounded by higher peaks within its massif and because high-altitude mountain passes connect it with them, Maja e Thatë’s topographic prominence is insignificant.
Biota is especially rich in the southern and southwestern part of the mountain, mostly favoured by the abundant water sources of Valbonë river and the stream of Kukaj.
The European black pine (Pinus nigra) and Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii, P. leucodermis) as well as beech (Fagus Sylvatica L.) are widely spread in the south and west of the mountain. The Norway spruce (Picea excelsa) is sparsely found in the lowest slopes and mostly in the valley of Valbona.
Because of the diversity of natural conditions, a rich variety of animals lives in the Alps region and in Maja e Thatë’s area specifically. The most common animals are wolf, fox, the European hare (Lepus europaeus), squirrel, and chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). Few specimens of the potentially endangered Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) still live in the central part of the Albanian Alps, while its hunting is prohibited by law.
Characteristic birds of this region are the chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus), the Shore Lark (Eremophila alpestris) and the Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta). The most widespread species are the Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) and Golden Eagle, which is also Albania’s national animal.
Maja e Thatë has a well-distinguished peak and represents a tourist attraction for nature and mountain lovers, mountaineers and hikers in general. Apart for the mountain’s aesthetic values, three natural monuments are located in its southern vicinity.
Cave of Haxhia :
The Cave of Haxhia, a Nature Monument of Albania, is located on the southern slopes of Maja e Thatë, near Valbonë village, at 1,630 metres (5,350 ft) above sea level. Its length was previously affirmed as being 120 metres (390 ft) long, but in summer 2009, Polish speleo-expeditions explored 365 metres (1,198 ft) length of the cave. A very cold water spring of +5.4 °C (41.72 °F) was discovered inside it.
Norway spruce of Valbona :
Situated on the valley of Valbonë, between the villages of Rragam and Valbonë, the Norway spruce of Valbona (Albanian: Hormoqi i Valbonës), is the largest forest of its kind in Albania. It is declared a Nature Monument of Albania.