Never Change A Winning Team!
Tirana to Saranda
Tirana - Karavasta - Narta - Flag Pinetree (Llogara) - Cave of the Pirates - Ksamil - The Azzure Eye - Plane Tree of Libohova - Viroi - Cold Water of Tepelena.
This is a particularly appealing itinerary for visitors. It provides access to a variety of destinations: lagoon beaches, woods of a rich plant and animal life, rugged mountains, where the mountainous and coastal landscapes are perfectly intertwined (Llogara - Dhermiu beach), interspersed with striking natural monuments whether animate or not (Flag Pinetree, Cave of the Pirates).
Traveling from Tirana towards the Lagoon of Karavasta one gains sight of its spread between the downstream of the Shkumbin and Seman rivers. It covers an area of 4,330 ha and borders the southern part of the Park of Divjaka. Inside its perimeter, there are several small islands characterized by dense vegetation. The lagoon is very rich in fish.
To the side of the National Park, the special attraction is the presence of the colonies of pelicans of the Dalmatian family known by the name "Pelicanus Crispus", comprising 6.4 % of the overall number in the whole world.
In general, the animal life in the Divjake - Karavasta ligattinous coastal area is very rich and diverse, a result of the various and numerous ecosystems and habitats existing within it. Nearly 220 species have been observed, largely dominated by the waterfowls, and then by those of the sparrow family. The number of species increases during winter given that many birds migrate from the mountainous regions or those in the north of the country. These characteristics make the area interesting both from a tourist and scientific point of view.
Traveling southward, in the proximity of Vlora, another natural attraction comes into sight: the Lagoon of Narta, part of the tourist sector of Zvernec - Treport of 600 ha, 8 to 9 km long, 200 to 1,200 km wide and endowed by striking geographical, climatic and natural characteristics. The Lagoon of Narta is situated to the east. It communicates with the sea through a natural canal. Between the peninsula of Zvernec and the Cape of Treport there are several small picturesque inlets. Two particularly scenic islands, worth visiting, are situated within the Lagoon. One houses a byzantine monastery of the 13th century representing a cultural monument of significant value.
The lagoon itself has an area of 32 km2, 1.5 meters deep. It is ideal for fishing but also for the production of salt.
The most important area for the tourism industry is that of Zvernec - Treport. It comprises also two beaches, with an overall area of 40 ha and conditions meeting contemporary standards. In the proximity of the beaches, there are hills of gentle slopes 30 to 80 km above the sea level, offering very favorable locations for building summerhouses amidst vegetation.
The Cape of Treport leads into the Bay of Vlora, the largest in Albania and a major tourist destination. Its coastline is dramatically uneven for the most part. To the west it is rocky, whereas to the south and especially north it is flat with vast and well-known beaches such as the Old Beach, the New Beach, etc.
Further south lies Jonufri, a choice destination for its quiet, cleanness, sun, vegetation, and small but unrivaled beaches.
From the seashore one can easily notice Karaburun, the largest peninsula in the country of 15 km in length with the highest peak of 826 meters. Tourist attractions include the Inlet of Dafina, the Knoll of Bitri, the Cave of Panai, and in the most northwestern corner, the large cave of Haxhi Aliu, with plenty of places to explore inside.
Continuing our itinerary along the national road Vlore - Llogara, one is impressed by the surrounding landscape accompanying all the way as the road winds up towards the Pass. The National Park of Llogora, in accordance with the altitude above the sea level, is a self-contained sample of all the climatic characteristics one meets in Albania.
Near the Pass of Llogora one notices trees whose branches are modeled in very interesting shapes by the wind currents. One such is the Flag Pinetree, a rare product of nature, which makes it both a tourist attraction as well as a phenomenon of scientific interest. Overall the Park is characterized by wonderful and spectacular landscapes, unique sights and dominant vantage points. The area is amenable to both sea and mountain tourism.
The tourist visiting the Ionian seashore can also satisfy his or her curiosity of what a river canyon looks like, to remain at the same time struck by its majesty as well its fierce and frightening beauty. We are talking about the Canyon of Ngjipe, near the sea line, 100 to 150 meters deep and 10 to 15 meters narrow, with cliffs rising vertically on the beach with the same name, a unique attraction in Albania given its particular geographical location. Here one finds also the fascinating Cave of the Pirates, which can only be accessed by boat.
Further south, in the direction of Saranda, the islands of Ksamil offer a gorgeous oasis-like environment, both appealing and relaxing. Situated 7.5 to 15 meters above the sea level, they are covered by characteristic and luxuriant Mediterranean vegetation. To get to the island, one should follow the Saranda - Ksamil road. The islands are then reachable by boat. The area is uniquely beautiful and highly representative of the Albanian rocky Ionian seashore.
Yet, the islands are not the only attraction. One cannot overlook the Inlet of Tetranisiva, part of which they are in fact. The shore of Tetranisiva is a result of abrasive activity combined with karst, resulting in faults and gaps of various sizes, and even caves, like that of Manastir in Ksamil. There are several armlets along the sea line with faults up to 10 meters as well as sandy or fine gravel beaches. Ships can anchor on the northern side of the inlet between the bigger Ksamili Island and the seashore.
Ksamil is a pearl of nature from the tourism industry point of view, a consideration that informs the choice towards the development of quality and elite tourism for the area.
The Azzure Eye is located to the left of the Bistrice - Muzine segment of the Sarande - Gjirokaster road. The forest of the same name is composed of a mix of oak and all types of lavish hygro-hydrophilic vegetation making it uniquely attractive and most representative for Albania. This is moreover the only environment inhabited by a new bat species (Myotis bechsteini) in the country, protected by international conventions. In places, the forest becomes very dense with the presence of lianas recalling the "Mediterranean jungle". The karstic spring of the Azzure Eye is part of this natural ensemble. The water gushes out from the depths of the ground in a circular area 5 meters in diameter. It makes for a particularly captivating attraction.
While traveling on the direction of Gjirokastra, one can deviate by taking the exit towards Libohova to visit another attraction known as the Plane Tree of Libohova, a stand-alone tree 32 meters high with a trunk diameter of 220 cm and perimeter of 692 cm. The tree is 220 years old, making it an interesting sight to visit from the historical, aesthetic, purely tourist or scientific viewpoint.
In the outskirts of Gjirokastra, precisely 3 km northwest of the city, one finds the Spring of Viroi, a rising siphonic formation, with the water reaching the surface through a funnel shape cave 3 to 4 meters wide, 6 meters long and 26 meters deep. It has created a picturesque lake surrounded by willows and other vegetation, in an area approximately 1.7 ha. By the end of August, the flow of water stops and the lake starts to dry.
To conclude this itinerary, a stop at the Cold Water (Tepelene) is in order. It is located approximately 6 km south of the city of Tepelena along the national road Kakavije - Tepelene, 300 meters above the sea level. The main spring is supplemented by secondary ones. As the water flows down, it creates an imposing view. The whole area represents a major tourist destination, whether recreational, mountainous or ecotourism.
Tirana - Karavasta - Narta - Flag Pinetree - Cave of the Pirates - Ksamil - The Azzure Eye - Viroi - Cold Water of Tepelena.
Tirana - Cave of Pellumbas - Table of Scanderbeg - Lukova Lakes - Stone of Kamje - Island of Maligrad - Stone of Cap.
Tirana - Cape of Rodon - Lagoon of Lezha - Island of Franc Joseph - Cave of Puc (Boga) - Theth.