Our Story

The birth of The Shepherd's Way Albania

In March 2021, our founder, Nina, a budding documentary photographer looking for her first project, found herself in Tamarë, in the heart of the mysterious Accursed mountains of northern Albania. She was invited by an anthropologist living there to help document the life of Malësorë shepherds living in the region. Not knowing what to expect, she showed up with a small backpack, a second-hand camera, and a lot of curious excitement. As fate would have it, it was all she needed for a trip that would change her life.

From the moment she arrived, she was humbled by this region and the community of vibrant individuals within it. Over time, she came to learn a lot about the shepherd's unique way of life and was astounded by their resilience to many of the adversities that they faced. She was introduced to many shepherd families, including the family of our second founder, Fonsi. She quickly fell in love with the region and its people.

She wanted to learn and document so much about their lives, so she committed to work on her project long-term, only leaving the region periodically to work part-time jobs elsewhere to afford to return. She travelled back and forth for over a year until she could finally save enough money to return for an extended period.

But to her surprise, many community members didn't see the value of their way of life. They were always asking her why she kept leaving her residence country, Germany and returning repeatedly to Albania. Many of the people she met confided that they were desperate to leave Albania to try and live in places like the USA, Germany, Italy, or the UK for the chance to live "better" lives working underpaid, unskilled jobs as undocumented migrants there.

Determined to try and do something about this, Nina teamed up with a local shepherd, Fonsi, to create The Shepherd's Way Albania, a social business aimed to empower local shepherds and help them gain the recognition they deserve for upholding their unique cultural heritage.

They hope that by inviting conscious-minded travellers to experience an authentic taste of the everyday lives of Malësorë shepherds in northern Albania, others will fall in love with the region just as they do and more can be done to protect this vanishing way of life.