Albania is distinguished for its rich biological and landscape diversity. This diversity is attributable to the country’s geographic position as well as geological, hydrological, climatic, soil and relief characteristics. The mountainous terrain combined with steep cliffs creates ideal conditions for maintaining and protecting a large number of ancient species, some of which are endemic or sub-endemic. The high diversity of ecosystems and habitats (marine and coastal ecosystems, wetlands, river deltas, sand dunes, lakes, rivers, Mediterranean shrubs, broadleaf, conifers and mixed forests, alpine and sub-alpine pastures and meadows, and high mountain ecosystems) offers rich habitats for a variety of plants and animals. There are around 3,200 species of vascular plants and 756 vertebrate species. There are 27 endemic and 160 sub-endemic species of vascular plants.
The tectonic lakes of Ohrid and Prespa are some of the oldest lakes in the world and form an area of extraordinary beauty and biodiversity. Surrounded by high mountain peaks and centuries-old juniper forests, the region is home to several species found nowhere else in the world, while the surrounding wetlands and reedbeds provide habitat for hundred of thousands of wintering water birds. Our tour includes a boat trip on Great Prespa Lake to Maligrad Island, keeping watch along the way for the lake’s most famous residents, the rare Dalmatian pelican, as well as hundreds of pygmy cormorants.
We shall spend three nights in the mountain village of Voskopojë, an important cultural centre during its glory days around 1750. At its zenith, the city was bigger than Athens and housed a university and a printing press – the second in the Ottoman Empire after that of Constantinople. The small town will be our base for local forest walks, looking out for varied birdlife including goshawk, red-backed shrike, and hawfinch amongst the pine, fir, beech and oak.
Our tour will then transfer to the coastal town of Vlorë, surrounded by mountains and overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The ‘Albanian Riviera’ is a patchwork of different habitats, from the forested mountains of Llogara National Park to the lagoons of Orikum, Narta, and Divjaka-Karavasta. Whilst here we look out for wetland birdlife including flamingo, great white egret, avocet and spoonbill, as well as numerous migrating waders from Russia and north-eastern Europe.
We stay at three-four star hotels throughout.
Participants should be comfortable walking over sometimes rugged terrain, and a good level of fitness is required for this tour.
This tour will be led by conservationist and ornithologist Dr. Denik Ulqini, from the University of Shkoder, who is also an environmental consultant with a special interest in birds, mammals and ecotourism.
Meet with the local guide and the driver at Tirana International Airport and travel to Pogradec for overnight stay. On the way, lunch at a local fish restaurant by the lakeside of Ohrid Lake
Visit at the village of Lin (ruined paleochristian church with beautiful views and floor mosaics) and Lake Ohrid (where, depending on the season, you might be able to see: Whooper Swan (Cygnus Cygnus), Black-headed Gull (Larus Ridibundus), Pygmy cormorant (Phalacrocorax Pygmaeus), White pelican (Pelecanus Onocrotalus), Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus Crispus), Ferruginous Duck (Aythya Nyroca), Tufted Duck (Aythya Fuligula), etc.). Lunch in hotel at Lin. After lunch, drive to Voskopoje for three nights stay.
Walks in the woodland around Voskopojë (Scots pine, silver fir, Valonia oak) and exploration of the town (St Nicholas’ Church with wonderful frescoes, and other monasteries).
Drive to Lake Prespe (where, depending on the season, you might see: Black-necked Grebe Podiceps Nigricollis), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis Falcinellus), Northern Pintail (Anas Acuta), Mallard (Anas Platyrhynchos), Little Egret (Egretta Garzetta), Great egret (Egretta Alba), etc.) for boat trip to Maligrad island and local walks.
Llogara National Park: pine forests with trees shaped by the wind, breathtaking views, habitat for abundant wildlife including migrating birds of prey such as short-toed eagle and steppe buzzard, followed by Orikum Lagoon: reedbeds, wetland birdlife.
Narta Lagoon: salt pans with wide variety of avifauna including black-necked grebe, Mediterranean gull, ferruginous duck. After picnik, visit of Divjaka-Karavasta National Park: lagoons, sand dunes, pine forest, colony of Dalmatian pelicans. Continue driving to Kruje (one of the oldest and most important cities in the ancient times and found at an altitude of 600m), for overnight stay in Hotel Panorama. In the afternoon, visit of the old bazaar of Kruje and if possible the castle of Kruje and the ethnographic museum and the tekke.
Depart for Tirana International Airport (about 18km away from Kruje).
The price will be quoted based on the group size, meals, hotel quality, etc. Please enquire now.
We will return the full amount if you notify us 60 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within 3 weeks and 100% if within 10 days. Please put your cancellation in writing to [email protected] We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.