Scenic Travels Along the Albanian Riviera - Two Day Trip
BUTRINT NATIONAL PARK NATIONAL PARK(Approx.21 km south of Saranda – approx. 35 minuteson secondary roads)First heading south from Saranda, pay a morning visit tothe National Park of Butrint which encompasses Butrint,the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint. Situatednear Butrint Lake and the Municipality of Ksamil, theNational Park maintains a large part of the forestryeconomy of the Albanian Riviera, covering an area of13.5 hectares. Consisting mostly of forest, the parkstretches from the Ionian Coast, directly across from theGreek island of Corfu, inland to and including Butrint Lake.
Government property, the park is covered with treesthat are typical to Mediterranean forests, such as oak,alder, elm, ash, and laurel trees. The maximum heightof the trees is 12m, with an average diameter of 80 cmand an average age of about 200 years. The forest is invery good condition and is most lovely for a morningwalk and picnic. The National Park charges noadmission. VIVARI VIVARI CHANNEL(Adjacent to the Butrint National Park)Adjacent to the Butrint National Park is the VivariChannel which links Butrint Lake with the Ionian Sea.Channel,The channel is 2.5km long and only 6-7m wide, with asimilar shallow depth 6-7m. The water in the channelchanges direction every six hours, depending on thetides. At the end of the channel, the castle of Ali PashëTepelena is located. RRËZËS LAKE(Approx.10 km of Butrint National Park – approx. 20minutes on secondary roads)Cross over the Vivari Channel on the car ferry andcontinue south towards the commune of Xarrë. TheLake of Rrëzës is situated in between Butrint Lakeand Xarrë commune, and is a coastal lagoon, linkedthrough a natural canal with the lake of Butrint. Boththe waters of Rrëzës and Butrint lakes have some saltcontent and are of tectonic origin. Rrëzës Lake has alength up to 1,600m, a width up to 400 – 500m, and adepth of only 2- 3m. Fishing in both Butrint Lake andRrëzës Lake is strictly monitored, and visitors shouldfirst check with the Butrinti National Park staff beforeengaging on any fishing or trapping activity.Return to Saranda for a light lunch before continuingyour journey northwards towards Borsh.
BORSH SPRINGS(Approx.40 km north of Saranda – approx. 1 hour 15minutes on the National Road)After leaving the Butrint area you may decide to stopfor lunch along the coastal road before getting to theBorsh Springs situated in this harmonious village, Springs,about 100m above sea level. Known as Meandria inancient times, Borsh has plenty of green fields, beachesand sea. The village is located on a narrow pit formedby the delta of the Borsh Spring which comes out of arock in the middle of the village. The water is pure andpotable, and is used by locals for drinking and wateringof plants. The springs are a good place to fill up emptywater bottles or to stop for a local coffee.
BADLANDS OF VUNO(Approx25 km north of Borsh – approx. 1hour 10minutes on the National Road)After leaving Borsh, follow the coast north. Locatedbetween the villages of Vuno and Ilias are the Badlandsof Vuno Creating striking scenery with red quaternary Vuno uno.clay deposits, these 10-15m thick deposits came fromthe surrounding limestone mountains. As a result oferosion and human activities such as grazing, woodcutting and fires, all the plants have disappeared and allthat remains are rocks marked with evidence of thesmall rivulets which continuously destroy the plain,especially during heavy rains. CANYON OF GJIPE(Adjacent to the Badlands of Vuno)The nearby Canyon of Gjipe is situated in the lowerpart of the Gjipe Brook, between Vuno and Ilias, twovillages close to the Beach of Gjipe. This canyon Gjiperepresents a narrow strait, created by the activity of thebrook flowing through its narrow pass. It measures over800m long, 10-20m wide and possesses a few shallowcaves. The cracks on the cliffs make it very difficult toclimb down the walls of the canyon without professionalequipment. Climbing up and down the Gjipe Brook isvery dangerous because of falling rocks and is inadvisable.The scenery is amazing and close by is the beach ofGjipe with clean sand and sea, small caves and a rockyshore. To explore the canyon, drive towards the beach
from the National Road (about 20 minutes) to Gjipe Beachand explore the bottom of the canyon from there.Accommodation and dinner is possible in the nearby villagesof Vuno or Dhërmi. LLOGARA NATIONAL PARK LLOGARA NATIONAL PARK(Approx.21 km north of Dhërmi – approx. 25 minutes onthe National Road)From Palasa, return to the zigzagging Vlora-Saranda NationalRoad up to the Llogara Pass and the Llogara NationalPark As the road turns away from the sea and climbs upPark.into the mountains, roadside vendors sell honey, beeswax,olive oil and local brandy (raki) to passersby. As you reachthe top of the mountain near the entrance to the Llogarapass (910m above sea level), turn back around enjoy thebreathtaking views of the Ionian Sea. A few wise investorshave built cafes and restaurants for travelers to enjoy theview over coffee or a traditional snack of yoghurt with honeyand walnuts or “kos me arra dhe mjalt”. On a clear day,visitors may be able to see the Greek island of Corfu in thedistance.Continuing north through the Llogara Pass (910m abovesea level), watch for a small sign indicating the Flag PineNational Monument or “ Pisha Flamur ”. A marvel ofnature, this 100 year-old pine tree, 20m high and 75cm in
diameter, is shaped by the strong winds blowing northfrom the Ionian Sea through the Llogara Pass to theAdriatic Sea, shaping the tree’s limbs into the form of aflag. ORIKUM LAGOON(Approx.20 km north of Llogara Pass – approx. 30minutes on the National Road)The last destination on this itinerary will be the OrikumLagoon home to numerous restaurants and cafes thatLagoon,have sprung up in the “tourism boom” that has captivated the area. An ideal place for bird watching, while away the evening by the beach, overlooking the Karaburun Peninsula and the Bay of Vlora. After visiting the lagoon, visitors may choose to spend the night in a guesthouse in the town of Orikum, or return to Vlora to stay in one of their luxurious hotels. Dinner may be taken at any of the numerous seaside restaurants in either city, or along the stretch of National Road joining them.
The Albanian Riviera’s most stunning features of naturalbeauty are featured on this two-day itinerary.Complemented by the region’s historic sites and seasideculinary delights, visitors will be captivated by thevariety of natural formations and those with anexperienced, scientific eye will certainly appreciate thecomplex beauty of the Albania Riviera.Please note that travel and visitation times areapproximate and may vary depending on the season,weather, and/or vehicle used. As of January 2008, theVlora-Saranda National Road has only been improvedas far south as the village of Dhermi. Travelers shouldbe cautioned that the road is in the process of beingimproved and road construction may delay theirjourneys. Travelers are advised to travel these segmentsby daylight if the driver is unfamiliar with these winding,secondary roads. Public transportation will onlyprovide access to locations on the main Vlora-SarandaNational Road; private transportation is recommended.Walking shoes in good condition are also advised. Nosites on this itinerary are handicapped accessible. For more Information: www.albaniantourism.com www.tirana-airport.com.al; www.bashkiavlore.org; www.himara.eu; www.saranda-guide.com Celesi Tourist Guides; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Car Rental Companies: Sixt; EuropCar; AVIS; HERTZ Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Clean Up Project